Team Before Self

Do you push harder when you compete with a team?
By Jamie Toland, CF-L1 ,

In one of the video interviews from last year’s Team Series, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet said something to the effect that she always goes hard when she trains and competes, but when it comes to competing for a team, she would die for them before she would put down the bar.

After completing the 2015 Team Series, I now have a good understanding of what she was talking about.

There is no time when I have gone harder in a workout than when I have competed with a team. This Team Series competition has really changed my entire mindset on CrossFit training. When the call is “3, 2, 1 ... Go” and there are three sets of eyes watching me do my part, it completely changed my approach to training.

For those of you who competed this past month in the Team Series, you might have noticed a mental switch being flipped in terms of your approach to these events. I’ve always been a planner. Rarely do I ever begin a workout without a detailed plan of action for the WOD. For some reason, I’m willing to bust my ass for the other three members of my team. It doesn’t matter whether we are doing the events scaled or Rx, I’m putting everything out there.

Case in point: Event 5. In this one, each member selects one of the following workouts to complete before the next athlete can begin. The order is “Karen” (150 wall balls for time), “Grace” (30 clean-and-jerks for time), “Diane” (21-15-9 reps of deadlifts and handstand push-ups for time) and finally “Randy” (75 snatches for time). As a Masters team, we decided to do the scaled versions of workouts one through four during the September portion of the Team Series. Event 5 was right at the top of our combined skill levels, so we decided to go for it.

The sticking point was that we had to have a team member who could complete Diane at the Rx level because if they were unable to do all the handstand push-ups, as prescribed, then the athletes who did Karen and Grace would have to start completely over. While this was a risk, our team moved forward.

I was charged with completing Grace. It was the lesser of four evils, in my mind. The decision I made was that for the first time ever (I had done it four other times), I was going all-out. In the past, I would have taken calculated breaks either trying to split up the 30 clean-and-jerks into sets of 3 x 10 or, more likely, 6 x 5 reps. But because I knew my team needed me, I made the choice to grip it and just go.

As the first female athlete finished the last of the 150 wall balls and hobbled over to tag my hand, I abandoned reason and just started going. With the other three cheering me on, I grinded through the 30 reps and completed my part of the workout with a sub-four-minute time for the first time in my life (at 41 years old). With what little energy I had left, I tagged my teammate so he could start on Diane before I started writhing on the ground trying to put out the fire that was now where my lungs used to be.

My point is, I don’t think I would have gone alone into the “pain cave” as the Games’ athletes would say, but I would for my team. Putting my team’s success ahead of my own comfort level is one of the best aspects of doing the Team Series. I believe you really get to learn so much about yourself and about these other three people by planning and competing alongside them.

If you missed your chance to do the Team Series, I would highly recommend putting a group together for the 2016 version. You’ll be a better athlete and competitor because of it.

Did you do the Team Series events? What was your favorite part? Share your stories of triumph and tears with us.

Stay on the Grind.

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