I was listening to a very interesting podcast the other day about what causes anxiety and depression, and I was reminded of a very important (maybe the most important) aspect of athletic training and performance. That is, the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
What do you find yourself thinking about when it comes to CrossFit? What motivates you to workout? What thoughts have your focus? To be more concise, why do you do CrossFit?
There are two driving forces that inspire the answer. You are either focusing on intrinsic or extrinsic motivations.
When you think about doing a workout (or The Open ;), do you find yourself focusing on what your score will be, how you will compare to other people, or maybe even impressing a hot babe (that's a gender-neutral term people :)? These are extrinsic motivations which are essentially desires to earn an external reward.
On the other hand, when you think about a future training session/workout, does your attention seem to be more on the enjoyment you feel at the gym, how much you love training with a buddy, or how good it feels to exercise your mind and body knowing it will greatly increase your health? These are examples of intrinsic motivations - reasons of performing an activity for its own sake, not for an external reward.
What this podcast was describing, and what has been known in Sport and Exercise Psychology for years, is that extrinsic motivations create feelings of anxiety and depression. Whereas, intrinsic motivations trigger more of a sense of enjoyment, calm and peace of mind.
This isn't very black and white, but a seemingly valid test you could run on yourself is: "when I think about the reasons why I do Crossfit, how do I feel?" From the answer to that question and the visceral response that comes up, you can learn a lot about your training mindset, and whether or not it may be a good idea to consider "why" a little further.
The intention of this post is to shed light on the possibility of making the whole process of CrossFit more enjoyable. When you find intrinsic motivations for training, everything naturally becomes more enjoyable and less stressful. Can you find some?
One sort of paradoxical secret to this is that those extrinsic factors are more easily accomplished when you don't focus on them - when you let go of them. This is because when you are intrinsically motivated and enjoying what you are doing, your body much more easily goes into high performing flow-like states where everything begins to run more smoothly and efficiently. Enjoyment is a performance enhancer (Adult Recess And The Secret To Success).
If I may use my own example, this idea is understood in my mind and applied easily when I focus on "the process." I love everything about CrossFit. I love showing up to the gym, putting lifting shoes on, the feeling of a barbell in my hands, throwing weight around. I love seeing friends, training with friends, talking with friends after a workout - smiling. I love that I am taking care of my body and getting more fit and healthy every time I come in, I love tracking workouts, seeing and feeling progress. These are all intrinsic motivations that when focused on increase enjoyment and then theoretically performance.
Love The Process.
For more: Intrinsic And Extrinsic Motivation
Perry and I shard a bar today. Another thing to love about CrossFit - partnering up!
15 minutes - 3 Position Power Snatch:
1 High-Hang Power Snatch
1 Top O' Knee Power Snatch
1 Power Snatch
12/9 Calorie Row
12 Power Snatches (95/65)
12/9 Calorie Row
8 Power Snatches (115/80)
12/9 Calorie Row
4 Power Snatches (135/95)