You know how we in CrossFit often talk about not comparing yourself to others? About focusing on how you're doing and not going over your head trying to chase down everyone else? Starting today, we're going to change “Don't compare yourself to others” to “Don't compare yourself to others.*” Like so many world records, that asterisk is going to make all of the difference.
In much the same way as there are two forms of the word “can't,” one reasonable and one never allowed, there are two different ways to compare yourself to others. The first way is the bad way that we always tell you to avoid. Looking over at the people running faster than you, lifting heavier than you, being more “CrossFitty” than you (whatever that means in your deranged middle-of-the-WOD brain) and thinking “Why can't I be that good? What's wrong with me? Why is everything going fuzzy and black?” Fight hard against these kinds of comparisons, because giving in to them is how injuries happen. Trying to keep up with someone too far out of your range generally leads to trouble. Ugly trouble.
I knew about the other kind of comparison in the back of my mind and even vaguely refer to it on day one of On-Ramp. It really clicked with me when I was talking with one of our athletes after yesterday's WOD. To stay anonymous, we'll call him Moe Nevaten. Moe was a little down on himself afterwards, but was able to tell that there was something weird going on with his body that was causing the performance issues. He was able to figure it out by comparing himself to the other people around him. He knows he's usually a minute or two behind athlete A and a few ahead of Athlete B, but tonight, A was a few minutes ahead and B was a little ahead of him. By knowing where other people usually finish in comparison to him, he was able to verify that something weird was going on.
This is a valuable kind of comparison to have, though it's a fine line to walk. Keep focusing on yourself, but start to get an idea of where you are in the grand scheme of the WODs. Not to drive yourself crazy trying to be the A-Number-One-Bad-Ass, but to track yourself and your progess. The same way we use our notebooks and Beyond the Whiteboard, we can use each other.
So start looking around at the end of the WOD. Make a mental note of where you wind up, but a mental note written in pencil. Some folks will be faster & stronger, some won't, but that is no big deal. Just know where you are so you can know when it changes.