My new cycling coach instructed me to ride for an hour with a heart rate between 137 and 158–what endurance athletes call “Zone 2”.
My resting heart rate is around 62. But I LOVE CYCLING. When I hear my feet snap into the pedals of my Scott Gravel, my heart rate jumps by 10 beats per minute. And most of my workouts are hard, so the little dose of anxiety bumps my heart up another gear. I was coming off some huge personal bests, and was eager to see even more progress. And I had just watched Julian Alaphilippe win a Tour stage on a solo breakout. I wanted to go fast and hard. But I listened to my coach.
For the next hour, I coasted a lot. I slowed my climbs to try and keep my heart rate low. I listened to Bon Jovi (no joke) instead of my usual playlist. It was extremely challenging to slow down. But I did it, because I already knew the value of going slow. I learned it from my first business mentor.”
This story was shared with me today by my business coach, but it’s so relatable that I just had to pass it along.
Six years ago, I was weak and exhausted. I was young, but living the typical busy life of a married professional with little kids. I was trying to take care of myself – doing workout videos at home (when I could make myself and even then with 20 interruptions per hour from my littles) and trying to maintain a strict calorie goal. But, it wasn’t working and I realized that it was time to get some help. When I made my first appointment with Will (the owner of my original CrossFit home), I expected that he would have me jump into classes, work hard for 10 minutes and I would get a rock hard body and a huge smile for my efforts. That expectation came from a couple months of spying on the classes while my kids took gymnastics next door – that’s what I thought I was seeing.
What I got instead was a foundations course…that required me to go slow and workout with a PVC pipe. What?!? How was I supposed to get a rock hard body with a PVC pipe?
It didn’t get much better when I entered classes…my PVC pipe was upgraded to a 15 pound barbell (insert face palm). Again, I struggled to see how I would ever get strong using such light weight – especially when I just knew that I could handle more. But, I looked around the room at all of the amazing people lifting heavy, I reminded myself that they too started with a PVC pipe and made the decision to trust the process.
If you’ve been at Jubilee long, you know that “easy” exercises are the foundation of everything we do. A continued focus on virtuosity – doing the ordinary extraordinarily well – is what will lead to constant progress.
But, the discipline to go slow is the hardest of all.
As CrossFitters and fitness enthusiasts, we’re taught that intensity>everything else. But every professional athlete knows that’s not true: that the body adapts and down-shifts its output over time. Max effort workouts become “sorta hard” efforts. We self-regulate with over-training, injury, and plateaus. But amateur athletes try to go hard every single day, because they’re drawn by the novelty of short-term results. Pros know better. Pros take the time to revisit and remaster the basics, frequently. And they also take the time to recover.
The same can be said about nutrition clients looking for the silver bullet – the perfect meal plan to follow that will solve all their problems. About a year into CrossFit, I knew I needed to up my nutrition game in order to catch my rabbits (you know, those people in the gym whose scores you constantly chase). I went searching for the perfect diet. I knew my problem, after all – I just needed to know exactly what to eat, how much and when. It took me a lot of trial, error, and education to realize that there is no magic bullet meal plan, as a plan only works as well as it can be implemented on your worst day. Instead, good nutrition starts with a foundation of good, “easy” habits – things you can do every single day – eating slowly and mindfully (without distractions), drinking 80 ounces of water each day, etc. If you jump to a using a “perfect” meal plan without mastering these basic habits, you will hit a wall pretty quickly, and most will never see long-term success.
The discipline to do the slow work is the hardest of all. I couldn’t do it until I had tried everything else. The good news is, you don’t have to try everything else because you have coaches who have been there and done that! You may not always understand the purpose behind our methods, but I promise – if you trust the process, you will be ready when it’s time to go FAST.
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