Socrates first wrote of the Seven Sages of Greece in Plato’s dialogue Protagoras: “there were indeed seven such individuals who were of high esteem for their wisdom well before Plato’s time…the seven had first become known as ‘the wise men.’” Corresponding with each one of these wise men is an aphorism. Each aphorism is as valuable as it is succinct; as applicable as it is profound. Through the wisdom of these sages, we can better understand ourselves and our direction.
The most important of these seven aphorisms comes from Thales of Miletus , who implores us to “know thyself.” Who are you? How did you get here? What past experiences influence how you see the world? Where are you going? As it relates to CrossFit: what are you doing here? Why do you show up every day? Where do you want your training to take you? Take time to reflect on these questions and answer truthfully. Your answers should direct where your efforts are best focused, especially given the time of year.
It’s Open season. An athlete’s investment and interest level is going to range from pure obsession to utter indifference. For the former, competitive juices are flowing; leaderboard-gazing is a daily, if not hourly, activity; workout attempts are multiple; you want, no, need, those extra reps. For the competitive athlete, this is a must. For the rest of the 99% of us, it may not be a requirement. If we are truly in tune with ourselves, as Thales would have it, we should be able to openly apply the advice of Chilon of Sparta: “you should not desire the impossible.”
We all know that CrossFit throw us out of our comfort zone and forces us, both mentally and physically, to challenge what we know to be possible. However, keeping perspective is essential to success in the Open and with our training. Were your goals for 14.1 and 14.2 within reach, or were you trying to keep up with Samantha Brigg’s 472 reps from 14.1? I’m not telling you to keep your aspirations low. What I am urging you to do is to keep your goals within reach and to be patient. Know that the Games competitors you see now weren’t built in a day. Don’t immediately recognize that guy in the camo shirt and red shorts? It’s Chris Spealler. Since that video was shot at the first ever CrossFit Games in 2007, Chris has since returned to the CrossFit Games a record 5 times and is making another yet another alleged final run at Carson in 2014.
Chris was recently asked how he feels about the influence that he and other Games-caliber athletes have had over the general population’s training philosophies. His answer may surprise you: “Hate it. I hate it. Because everyone thinks they need to have more volume, more workouts, more this, more that, and it’s just a different planet. You know, it’s just such a different demand for an elite athlete and even someone that just wants to go to a local throwdown or a competition or a local affiliate or something like that those are very different needs and the community as a whole doesn’t need that. It’s just a small percentage of people that do. That’s a choice. That’s why we walk around kind of beat up; but, people don’t have to walk around like that.”
Building off of the advice from Thales and Chilion, Chris’ answer blends nicely with an aphorism from Pittacus of Mytilene: “you should know which opportunities to choose.” The great thing about CrossFit is that we have tons of insight into how elite athletes train. It seems like every day there’s a new video of Rich Froning doing an absurd number of workouts in a day. As Spealler stated, it’s not necessary for the general population to be mimicking exactly what Rich does. That volume and degree of training is necessary only for the top 1% of Regional and Games-level athletes.
The North East region has 12,100 male athletes competing in the Open. 48 will advance to Regionals. That’s 1.14%. Not making it to Regionals? That’s OK! 99% of us aren’t either. The separation between “the elite athlete” and the “general population” is continuously widening. As such, our impetus for training needs to fall in line with where we stack up in the pile. If you’re in the 1% or standing on the edge, go get it. Push yourself to the next level. If not, it’s time to get to know yourself better, figure out where you’re at, and go from there. At the end of the day, your training needs to be a blend of who you are, what your SMART goals are, and what opportunities make sense for you!
Finally, take some time in your adult life to read some more about the Seven Sages, Plato and Socrates. Your mind has changed a lot since high school and college. This stuff didn’t get passed along for thousands of years for nothing!
1 Squat Clean
3 Front Squats
-The weight should not increase more than once during the 10 minutes. 90-95% of your 1RM Squat Clean.
15 Deadlifts (275,185)
15 Burpee Pull-ups
Level 3- 225,155
Level 2- 185,115
Level 1- 135,95