Whenever it’s time for some heavy lifting during my WODs, we’re generally given two options: Grab a partner (or two), or be the Lone Wolf.
Although I’m a pretty social person, I almost always choose to be the Lone Wolf. I’m not really sure why, but it may have something to do with the issues I have with people watching me—I really don’t like it. So I think it’s the same with partnering up…I always feel like there’s more pressure on me to succeed or impress, and I feel embarrassed when it doesn’t happen.
It’s the same with partner WODs. I don’t generally LOVE them because I don’t want to feel like the asshole who couldn’t get as many reps as my partner or lift as many pounds quite as fast. Not gonna lie…I like to be the Alpha Wolf, not the Slow Wolf. (So, then, it follows that I like to be the Lone Wolf.)
There have been few circumstances during which I feel partnering up has helped me instead. It’s been (mostly) beneficial to participate in competitions with a team or a partner, exactly so you’re NOT the Lone Wolf—so you know that someone (or someones) has your back all the time.
And, after this past Labor Day, I’m thinking that really intimidating WODs are just a little bit better with some alliances.
At Albany Crossfit, each Labor Day we do a hero WOD of our own, called Stephen, named after one of our dear members who passed three years ago. It’s a grueling mindf*ck of 10 rounds of 10 burpees, 200m run, and 30 air squats.
At first glance, I was thinking, Ehhh…I hate running, but that’s gonna be the worst of it.
But then you look at it again, and all of a sudden you’re like HOLY CRAPBALLS! We have to work in 100 burpees and 300 squats?! What in the ACTUAL f*ck?!?!?! Clearly, between running a mile-point-five and 400 other movements, I’m thinking that I would either pass out or puke…or die. Or maybe all of the above.
And then my mind is reeling, and all of a sudden, I’m realizing that if none of that happens, I am going to be absolutely, positootly, dead last.
WORST FEAR REALIZED!!!
I suppose my solution was both simple and self-serving, and came to fruition when I heard a few of my dear friends complaining about how slow they were at burpees.
(Side note: If you say you’re slow at burpees, I guarantee you cash money that I am slower. You can deny it all you like, but it’s absolutely true. It takes me, on average, twice as long to do a burpee as the average burpee-doer. I wish I were exaggerating, because God knows I exaggerate a lot, but I’m not. At all.)
So, immediately, a lightbulb turns on, and I have the most brilliant eureka moment.
“Would you,” I begin, “maybe be interested in tackling this as a team?”
“I mean, as in, we do our burpees together, and we wait for everyone to finish. We start to run together, and we wait for everyone before we finish our squats. And we yell at each other until we all finish. Then…no one of us can be last.” (Which was obviously the fear of each of us.)
This was such a brilliant idea! And of course, in my mind, I would be busting through ALL of these movements, so I’d clearly be getting lots of rest time while everyone tried to catch up to my fast self (HA!).
In all seriousness, though, for once this group mentality immediately took off loads of pressure for this community/memorial WOD.
We all showed up the morning of slightly pukey, but mostly ready to get the show on the road. We confirmed that we would all, indeed, be working together, which was a great relief and comfort. And all of a sudden, it was 3-2-1-GO time, and we all started out on the burpees.
I immediately realized that my team’s version of slow was, like I had expected, much faster than my version of slow. Before I knew it, I had done 8 burpees, and my team was staring at me to finish. Or, rather, I had to just move on, because even though the people leading Round One were going slow, I was going much slower.
Oh great, now I’m being the slow one! I told myself.
Then running—not horrible. But then squats. Aaaaand………what the hell………they were the WORST part of the whole WOD. Even after round one, I could feel my legs cramping from the burpees and the running.
Something was going to have to change. Could I convince my teammates to quit after maybe four rounds instead of ten?
I quickly understood that that would not be an option, but I still needed to change, because, frankly, my team was just too badass for me—I wasn’t able to keep up with their burpees or squats. Which is when some humble scaling worked in my favor; I quietly scaled burpees to 7 per round and squats to 20, obviously not messing with the run.
Each round I finished last. And each round, I looked up to see Mary or Sarah telling me to get up or squat just once more.
By the beginning of round nine (which…I’m not sure how I even got that far), I looked at Mary and was just like, “Can this please be our last round?” To which she pretty much gave in and said yes. (Note: So…Mary kindly pointed out that she didn’t actually say “Yes,” but that “Yes, it FEELS like it SHOULD be our last round.” Goes to show how delusional/delirious I can get during WODs. Ick!) But then Sarah, bless her heart, asked which round we were on, and
neither of us had I didn’t have the gall to tell her round ten. So we did the tenth round.
And yeah, we were pretty much last. But whatever. It wasn’t a big deal. And it was really, really nice to have a few people burpee-ing and running and squatting in solidarity with me.
When I was debating attending this event, someone told me that I should go because it’s a really great community-building, feel-good event. I can’t say I felt particularly awesome (the next day, at least), and I didn’t really feel like I had a huge connection with everyone else who came out to remember Stephen, but damn if I didn’t feel just a helluva lot grateful for my Team of Awesome.
I also can’t say that I’m going to immediately turn around and reject my Lone Wolf ways. But I will say that I am certainly more open to it.