The Whiteboard : A Tale of Joy and Woe

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Oh, the Whiteboard. The source of a many a mixed emotion, from disappointment as you see your score or time decimated by another athlete, to elation as you find out that you did better than you thought you were going to. It’s an amazing feeling to enter your time for a benchmark WOD or your weight for a lift and see that gold ‘PR star’, but those PRs aren’t always guaranteed. There can be times when you are outraged at someone else’s score (there’s no way he/she could have moved that fast), and times when it feels like there’s no point even entering anything because you scaled a workout so much. So why do we bother with it? Why not scrap the whole thing entirely, or keep all our results private?

Here are 5 reasons why we believe the whiteboard is vital at CrossFit Cochrane, and some suggestions for how to keep a healthy and balanced relationship with it going forward 🙂

  1. Data

This comes down to the very essence of what CrossFit Cochrane is. One of the limiting factors for many beginner athletes is just not having any data. Not knowing your numbers for what you can deadlift, snatch, clean and not knowing your times for any of the benchmark workouts means that a lot of the time you won’t know your own abilities or what to aim for. How do we gather data? By keeping track of everything. We use the Whiteboard on Wodify because it has such an excellent athlete tracking system in place, which builds over time so that you have accurate and up-to-date performance history figures. Without keeping track, you won’t know if, for example, you have PR’d your deadlift by 5 pounds. Why is that important? Because it’s empirical evidence that you are getting stronger and fitter. To quote CrossFit founder Greg Glassman:

The methodology that drives CrossFit is entirely empirical. We believe that meaningful statements about safety, efficacy, and efficiency, the three most important and interdependent facets of any fitness program, can be supported only by measurable, observable, repeatable facts; i.e., data. We call this approach “evidence-based fitness.” (‘Understanding CrossFit’, 2007)

2.CrossFit Cochrane Community

It’s not just about you. One of the most successful and rewarding aspects of CrossFit Cochrane is being on a fun, rewarding fitness journey with others, and celebrating in others’ successes, and being motivated and inspired by the achievements of others. The Whiteboard is a central part of this. We can see everyone else’s progress, and feel excited for them, and take joy in being part of such a supportive community. And you know what? If you can see others making progress on the whiteboard, that probably means you are as well. Coach Joe and I love to see ‘likes’ and comments on the whiteboard at the end of the day when all the results are posted. The shared experience of the ‘WOD’ helps unite us and makes our community stronger.

3.Strengths and Weaknesses

Yes, the whiteboard is all great when you’re posting a something positive. Woo hoo! PR day! It’s exciting when you feel proud of your WOD time, and have a good lifting day. But what about those days when you’ve scaled every single movement, and stand there staring hopelessly at the rope, while others around you zoom up and down it? It’s not fun. It’s humbling and can feel demotivating and exhausting. However, it takes a lot of hard work to be good at every aspect of CrossFit Cochrane. It demands so much from the athlete, and it’s absolutely guaranteed that there will be days when all of your fitness weakness are exposed. So we are often faced with a choice – we can either:

a. ‘WOD pick’ – only ever turn up on the days when the workouts feature your strengths.

b. Do the workout but don’t enter anything on the Whiteboard.

c. Accept the fact that this is a day that is about working on your weaknesses, enter everything in detail on the Whiteboard, and feel excited when you see progress the next time that movement is programmed.  

I think you probably know which is the right answer 🙂

Remember that every single athlete in the box will also have those days – they won’t be the same day as you, because everyone is unique and individual. Your best day will be someone else’s worst day. It’s part of what makes CrossFit Cochrane so unique!

4.They’re Just Numbers

The Whiteboard tells a very small part of the whole picture. They’re just numbers, and give no context. Not listed: age; how long someone has been CrossFitting; fitness background; how much sleep they had last night; whether they’re hungry/post flu/getting a cold; whether this was an all-out effort or a low intensity/recovery day; whether those movements were strengths or weaknesses; whether they are coming back from an injury… get the picture. All of those other factors matter immensely. In one sense comparisons are useless because the playing field is not level. In any CrossFit Cochrane competition it takes many workouts to find the overall winner, never just one. The Whiteboard on Wodify is limited when it comes to athletes who are scaling the WOD, because it automatically ranks athletes based on time. If you were snatching 55 lbs and practicing lowering yourself slowly during pull-ups to build strength, your time will be slower than someone snatching an empty bar and doing jumping pull-ups – but does that mean your WOD was ‘worse’? Of course not.

Nobody is ever judged based on their ability to perform one workout. So don’t judge yourself.

5. Competition is fun 🙂

That may not be a very politically correct view, but competition is fun. Again to quote Greg Glassman:

“In implementation, CrossFit is, quite simply, a sport—the “sport of fitness.” We’ve learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition, and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means.” (‘Understanding CrossFit’, 2007).

Working out often isn’t fun – but when that clock counts down ‘3, 2, 1, go’ – you will get a burst of energy that will carry you through many a difficult workout, and a bit of competition helps with that. It’s fun to chase another athlete who is at a similar level to you. You’ll achieve more than you thought you could. Just don’t take yourself too seriously, keep it lighthearted (it’s just a workout!), be sensible (injuries aren’t fun), be proud of whatever score you put on the Whiteboard, and keeping WODDing 🙂

6. Tips to help manage the whiteboard at CrossFit Cochrane:

a. Add detail in the ‘notes’ section to help give context – what weight you lifted if you scaled a WOD, how things felt, if this was a de-load day, etc.

b. Keep your sense of humour – it’s just a workout. Don’t take it all too seriously!

c. Turn off your notifications on the app so you aren’t getting constantly reminded of any activity on the whiteboard.

d. Limit the number of times per day that you check the whiteboard status.

e. Focus on encouraging others’ performances, and be proud of your own achievements, no matter how small.

f. Don’t record data – if you’re a happier athlete without data we’re okay with that. If you don’t want to log everything and only record benchmarks WODs or weightlifting data, that’s cool with us too. Use this tool to better your “overall” personal experience and results with CrossFit Cochrane.

To summarize (cliche alert!) –  fitness is a journey and not a destination. You got up, got off the couch, came to the box and worked out. That in itself is a win, regardless of your placement on the Whiteboard. In our sedentary culture, where obesity rates are steadily climbing, anything you do to fight for health and fitness is to be celebrated. You are getting fitter and stronger. Be patient with the process. And remember, the Whiteboard is like being at the swimming pool. Everyone else is too busy worrying about what they look like in their swimsuit to judge you for what you look like 😉

By | 2017-03-02T14:50:23+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Coaches Corner|Comments Off on The Whiteboard : A Tale of Joy and Woe