Welcome Sam!

You may have noticed a new bearded face leading Wednesday morning CrossFit Classes as well as Monday and Thursday SWOD and Oly. He is a seasoned coach whose CrossFit career began in D.C. and is thrilled to join the UB community.  He is passionate about movement and ready to help those willing to do the work.  He recently wrote an article about staying humble, staying positive, and working for the long term.   I thought sharing it would be a great way for him to introduce himself.

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I’m not much of an athlete. I’ve never been. I tried all sorts of sports growing up — baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming, wrestling, karate, boxing, football — but none of them really fit. I didn’t move quickly or with great agility, and had allergies, asthma, and glasses.

So it was much to the surprise of my family and friends when I started in on this “CrossFit” thing. The very idea of me working out was foreign — I think I hit the gym a maximum of ten times in all of college — but the idea of doing high-intensity anything was out of the question. Honestly, who knows what drew me to CrossFit. I think I wanted to try the most hardcore thing I could do to get in shape and change some things in my life, and there was a CrossFit gym close by.

I started CrossFit six years ago, and haven’t looked back. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing; in fact, the disappointments have been widespread — challenging movements, stubborn body fat, and meltdowns caused by slow times and failed lifts. Yet I continued to steadily improve — day by day, month by month I went from a complete beginner to intermediate, and finally began to get my sea legs. I’m by no means elite, but I do my best day in and day out to perform as best I can.

Each year, athletes all over the world compete in the CrossFit Open. According to CrossFit,

“The Open is the first stage of the CrossFit Games season and the largest community event of the year. Every year, hundreds of thousands of athletes come together to compete in the worldwide, online competition.
[…] Workouts are released on Thursdays at 5 p.m. PT, and athletes have four days to complete the workout for the week and submit their score. […]
At the end of five weeks, the fittest move on to the next stages of competition: The Regionals and The Online Qualifier”

The Open starts in late February, and serves as a check-in point for a lot of ambitious athletes — a chance to say “How am I doing? Am I where I want to be?” It’s always been that for me, at least. I love the camaraderie of working out with your friends and compete strangers, pushing to be a better you. Everyone works hard, does the same workout, commiserates, and celebrates at the end. I was particularly excited for this year’s competition; I’ve had a huge year of training, and am a much more confident athlete than I was a year ago. I’m more confident, and feeling better able to achieve my goals.

Then in November, my right knee started to hurt. At first it was nothing major — it had hurt on and off for a few months, and I hadn’t thought much of it. Then things got progressively worse, until I was having trouble walking up stairs and standing for a long period of time. I was freaked out — surgery seemed frightening, and I did not know what the recovery process would look like. My doctor determined I had LCL and Meniscus sprains, and we agreed that I needed some time off the knee.

That was January. “I’ll be fine by the Open,” I thought. I kept thinking I’d wake up and things would be fine. Boy, was I wrong. It’s been ten weeks since I last ran. Twelve since I squatted. It’ll likely be 6–8 more.

My injury has caused me to miss the Open this year. I’m sure that sounds dumb to a lot of you — I’m not an elite athlete, I’m not a sponsored athlete . I’m just a dude who used to be fat and likes to lift weights. But for me, it’s a whole lot more than that. It crushed me for most of January — I was pretty bummed for a while. But a few weeks back things changed.

You see, it’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in the short term. It’s easy to be sad about your current situation. It’s a lot harder to see the value in the challenge. It’s a lot harder to trust the process. I realized that my injury (a very minor one by most athletic standards) is simply a detour, and on that detour a lot can be learned. I needed to slow my roll, survey my surroundings, and chart a new path.

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[My medium posts] frequently discuss topics of growth, challenges, and my process. And this may be the most important one of all. I no longer feel any pressure to perform to the standards of others; I only have to succeed for myself. The injury showed me that I can grow as much from training and coaching as I can competing — and it pumped the breaks right when I needed to slow down and look around a bit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to training. Only fifty weeks until next year’s Open.