Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Scoreboard

Yesterday, I posted a Facebook status that went something like this:

"I am essentially positive that I am not mature enough to sensibly and rationally approach today's one-rep-max back squat at CrossFit Aspire. I am headed off to the garage for some nice calm ego-absent three-rep sets on my own instead.

Followed by a spectacular lunch of everything."

Lunch was delicious. 

This, however, is not about lunch.

It's about the rest of all that. 

I really enjoy lifting weights. I'm even okay at it; I'm pretty sure my deadlifts and farmer's carries are something that I am at least better than the "average" 52-year-old dude at doing. But recently, while I was dutifully logging the results of another day's lifting into our gym's online tracking system, I thought to myself, "I'm not a competitive lifter. Why, exactly, am I keeping score?"

There is this quirky little thing that CrossFit gyms started doing a long time ago -- referring to all their members as "athletes."

I'm a lot of things. I'm a pretty nice guy. I am a decent writer. I might just occasionally make you laugh. I am a damn good drummer. I'm an even better lawyer (but we still never talk about that here). But, really, I'm just not, by any stretch of the imagination, an "athlete." 

To be clear: Rich Froning? Athlete. Me? Not.

So, in keeping with the notion that I am just a guy who does CrossFit because he likes being in better shape to do all the other fun stuff in life, and not to "compete," I repeat, "Why, exactly, am I keeping score of myself?"

"To know when you are doing better!" you say. But... why exactly do I care about "doing better" on some absolutist scale? Lifting, to me, is something that varies wildly day to day. There's the day that a 405-lb deadlift is doable -- nearly easy --and another when 365 pounds screams, "You're done for the day, son." And usually that type of variance has to do with things like nutrition and sleep and stress and all those other health/fitness categories that we would never "keep score" at. 

I mean, really, does anyone keep track of sleep PRs? Does anyone post, "Fuck yeah. Beast mode! Ate more kale than ever today!" to Facebook?

So again, why am I keeping score of my lifting? There are days when pushing a little to lift a non-PR, but still-challenging, amount of weight is just as rewarding in a "I did the best I can do today" sense as nailing a PR. And, absent a scorekeeping obsession, maybe I would stop occasionally making foolish decisions to go harder than I should to.... beat my old "score." You know, the "score" that doesn't really mean shit in the rest of my life.

It doesn't make me a better person, drummer, lawyer, hiker, husband, friend or father if I PRd my deadlift. Or my back squat. Or my strict press (as if....). And it sure as hell doesn't make me worse at any of those things if I didn't. Remember, I'm not a "weightlifter." There is a serious difference between "a guy who lifts weights" and a "weightlifter."

And there is a serious difference between a competitive CrossFit "athlete" and a guy who does CrossFit just to stay fit.

This isn't to say that you should follow my leadership on this issue. You may have tons of reasons to keep track of your "score" in the gym. You, quite possibly, think this is the stupidest idea I have ever had. But I'm going to go with it for a while. 

And maybe, after three or so months of not logging my lifting results, and, instead, just doing the best I can do on any given day, I'll decide that keeping score has some kind of a benefit for me. But right now, I'm not seeing it. So, like every other aspect of my life, for the next few months when I grab a barbell, I'm just going to do the best I can that day, and move on. 

And enjoy the ride.


  1. Perfectly worded.
    I do track my sleep... and do enjoy when I hit a high percentage of quality.. ;) And do sometimes log my food.. but neither here nor there.

    I agree there is a difference in weightlifting vs someone who lifts weights; just as between a Crossfitter and one who Crossfits. But for me, I have never been athletic so it is exciting to log my progress. It's amazing to see what my body can do and how I am still improving, or finding areas I need to improve. I am far from being competitive on any level, but I'm an accountant by day and love numbers and stats.. so it's well justified. ;)

    Did you listen to the Barbell Shrugged podcast with Andrea Ager? She was awesome to listen to, with similar mentality, even coming from someone so much more competitive. Pretty much, at the end of the day, her mom doesn't care what can she OHS. Her friends aren't going to disown her if she doesn't make the Games.

    Great perspective, as always. :)

  2. Deadlifts really helpful for Crossfitters but I'm girl and it is too hard for me! Anyway i'm searching for analogues of deadlift. Thx for sharing, Steve!