You’re Probably a Human Specimen

By Colin Farrell

I was recently listening to the CrossFit Podcast episode with Chris Spealler, and something really struck a chord with me, especially as we continue our way through the 2018 CrossFit Games Open.

As many of you will surely not forget anytime soon, workout 18.1 was a beautiful triplet of toe-to-bar, dumbbell hang clean-and-jerk, and rowing for calories. I did okay with it. Or, well, I thought I did alright. Then I started to see some of the other scores roll in. Guys I thought I was as fit as or fitter than were absolutely crushing me. And then some athletes redid the workout, and it seemed to only get worse for me.

Despite my commitment to “one and done,” I sincerely contemplated doing it again, and for all the wrong reasons.

It is really, really easy to get caught up in the competition, stress out, monitor the leaderboard, and lose sight of why you started CrossFit in the first place. Until last Open season, I had become really burned out on The Open for that exact reason. As I was validating scores, I became more and more convinced that my fitness was in a really, really bad place. I had to snap out of it.

I did not re-do 18.1.

When listening to the aforementioned podcast, and I fail to remember in what context it was mentioned, Spealler said to one of the hosts as he was lamenting what he thought was a lack of fitness, “You know, comparatively speaking, you’re probably a human specimen.”

I do not want athletes at PCF to get into the habit of gauging their success or failure in terms of their accomplishments relative to others, but let’s at least put things in perspective.

It is really easy for me to think of myself as a slouch if I try to compare myself to Coach Gretchen, or her husband, or — really — a bunch of athletes and coaches at Patriot and Potomac CrossFit. If I start looking at other perennial Regionals and Games athletes, all of a sudden I look like a washed up, balding bum. But I know very few people who started CrossFit, or stick with CrossFit, based on their performance during The Open. That isn’t why we do this, that’s not why this is so much fun. Most of us are still engaged in constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement because it makes us healthier than we were and we enjoy the people around us at the gym.

Compared to the average person, especially compared to the average American, you are all probably human specimens. If you eat relatively well — meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar — and do CrossFit two-to-four times each week for a year you will probably be among the fittest human beings on earth. I don’t mean the fittest 0.001% (the Regionals and Games athletes), but I’d wager you’d be in the top 5-10% fittest and healthiest people on the planet. Again, I don’t want us to get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others in order to decide on whether or not we are fit, healthy, or successful. But, if you have to do it, compare yourself to the world at large.

You have all made a commitment to your health, a serious investment, and that needs to be celebrated. I’ve been really hung up on, in a good way, the following quotation from Coach Glassman:

    “We have a really elegant solution to the world’s most vexing problem, and we’ve disguised it as sport.”

Nutrition and exercise, the more we learn, seem to be the cure for (or a way to mitigate the effects of) a massive number of the world’s health problems, including everything from Type II Diabetes to Alzheimer’s. You have all committed yourself to a lifetime of really good and healthy living. You could come in dead last in every Open workout, and many of us will not do a single one of them as Rx’d. This is not a fact to get stressed out about or upset about. Do not let what you would consider a disappointing score on one event of the Open to ruin your experience in the coming weeks.

Focus on the positive, know that when you walk into the grocery store, walk into your office, or head over to the playground with your kids, that — compared to everyone around — you’re a goddamn human specimen.