Why Do We Compete?

By Kristin Steinmetz

This is a good question. My gut reaction is to say, “I have no idea!! It’s torture: difficult WODs, weeks of anticipation and training and anxiety. Who do I think I am?? Aaaaah!!!”

Now, I’ve been doing CrossFit for about a year and a half. I’ve got a few friendly “throwdowns” under my belt. Even the small ones can get pretty nerve-wracking - especially your first one- but they’re pretty low-key, the judging is friendly, and the environment is very supportive. But there are so many factors that could throw you off: Who else is competing? Who’s watching me? Why does there have to be that ONE lift or movement that will keep me behind? 

Then there are bigger competitions. They can vary from full-day local competitions, to ones with regional qualifiers like SuperFit, to the ultimate: the CrossFit Games. Last year, I decided to sign up for my first competition: The Garden State Open at CrossFit 908. I was assured it was fun and well-run and my coach encouraged signing up. After a particularly good workout, I confidently ran home and registered for the women’s scaled division. I immediately regretted it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I was never an athlete. I didn’t grow up in a physically competitive atmosphere. When I started doing a couple 5K races and mud-runs before CrossFit, my goal was always to beat the senior citizens and obese people and not break my foot. Good enough for me.

But I took it as an opportunity to train. Publicly, my goal was to do my personal best. But privately, it was to not come in dead last. I was freaking out!!! But working hard. Luckily, I had the list of the 3 WODs and knew what I had to improve on. I ran sprints, I worked on my snatch, and I improved my rowing technique. I took this as a real opportunity to improve my mental and physical fortitude. And, of course, the community part of CrossFit that I love so much kicked into high gear: my husband wrote my training program, my friends ran the WODs with me, they encouraged me along the way and a couple even came out that day to support us and coach me along the way. 

The day of the competition arrived and I wanted to throw up!!! “Don’t come in last, don’t come in last. Why did I do this to myself?” And why did I? I’m a mother with two young children and not one, but two freelance careers. Why did I take time out of my busy schedule to pile on training and stress? Because sometimes you don’t get better without a specific goal to shoot for. Because unless you push yourself to what you think is your limit, you will never exceed it. Because being mediocre was no longer okay. I was ready to roll with the big girls and see what I was made of. And when it was all over, I was proud of myself and did NOT finish dead last. In fact, at the end of the day, I finished 19/30. And some people laugh when I proudly declare that, but I wear it with pride. Because I set a few PRs that day – my first competition, 200 unbroken singles, probably my fastest row ever. I even finished in the top ten of one of the events. Still technically in the middle? Yeah. But the best I could do? Hell yeah! And at the end of the day, it was me against myself. 

So I have anxiety and stress and more training ahead of me as I sign up for another competition. But I do it because I need the push, and I love this community, and I want to see what I’m really capable of. I will still secretly hope not to be last. But you can be sure I’ll give it everything I have.