I Feel Your Pain

By Coach Manny Alayon

I rarely talk about or express my feelings and emotions. It’s not that I am uncomfortable with them, it is just something that I’ve worked on for awhile. As I grew older, I saw the importance of keeping certain emotions, like frustration, in check. Over the years, I’ve worked really hard on controlling my emotions so I can make better decisions and more logical decisions. In my earlier high school years, I’d throw temper tantrums after a loss in a wrestling match. I was always respectful of my opponent, but after shaking hands I’d run off the mat, throw my headgear, punch the lockers and cry for a bit. I really hated losing and still do. Even as a kid, I would reflect on how I reacted after a loss and was sometimes embarrassed at my behavior. I’ve always admired athletes who took defeat with grace and wanted to be like them. I guess that’s when I started reflecting and working on keeping my emotions in check. When I first started doing CrossFit, I loved the quote “leave your ego at the door.” Even at 19 years old, I saw this as another way for me to grow into a more mature human, because like many competitive people, I had an ego. To this day, I still have an ego that I constantly have to put in check. To be honest, it has been really hard for me these days. 

Like many of us, I don’t like the feeling of having my ego checked. Sometimes it’s refreshing, but usually getting kicked down to reality feels really shitty. It is why many of us avoid it and stick to what feels safe. We avoid burpee day because we know it’s going to make us feel crappy, but we show up on heavy power clean day. I rarely avoid the things that I know I need to work on. It has become very habitual for me and is something I’ve been working on for the past few years. However, I have always had an issue with my confidence when I don’t feel prepared. I am a very confident person and thrive when I know I have done the necessary prep work to succeed. When the preliminary work has not been put in, I get anxious and really frustrated with myself. Having a “no nonsense” personality makes any attempt to make an excuse invalid. I put the blame solely on myself, which makes this feeling of disappointment even worse.

My past year of training has been inconsistent and the effort I put forth is just simply not the same as it has been in the past. Without the confidence, I lack the fire. After last year’s Open I knew the upcoming season of training was going to take the back burner. I purposefully made the choice to not prioritize my own training in order to make time for more important things going on in my life; expanding my business, starting a family and buying our first house. So in a way, I was supposed to be OKAY with knowing my performance was going to take a dip. But, the reality of it is not settling in well. I absolutely hate the feeling of regression. Every workout I do feels harder than it has ever been. I can’t help but compare a workout to what I would have done under normal training circumstances. I’ve been starting to question if I’ll ever make the time to be good at exercising again. Am I past my athletic prime? Will I be so discouraged that I lose the love for something that is a massive part of my life? I still get anxious over a silly CrossFit Open workout because I know that I didn’t do enough to be as effective as I wanted to be. 

Part of my personal growth is putting things back into perspective and swallowing my ego because that is the only thing that is really taking the hit. It is still something I am having to battle with each and everyday. It totally sucks. But, I think at the end of this I will have found the rhythm in my life for everything to make sense for me. Perhaps the competitive part of me will always want to be the best I can be at exercising. I am hopeful that over time this part of me will mature more and can be used to help others. So, just because we are your coaches doesn’t mean we don’t share the same feelings or get self-conscious about exercising. It is all relative as we all put different expectations on ourselves. 

To help ease my ego I practice positive self talk a bit more often. I don’t make excuses for myself and I have honest self reflection. I know even with the craziness in my life, I can afford to be more consistent and put in better efforts for my training. I still can’t expect to be at the top of any leaderboard, but I know I can be a little bit better. All we can do is continue to self improve. Don’t shy away from the uncomfortable. Attack it head on and grow as a human.