Ebbs and Flows


I am going through a bit of a CrossFit mood swing at the moment. Last week I felt on top of the world: I Rx’d Fran, I’ve made a bunch of PR’s in the last month, and I’m having great physical results from the zone diet. This week, however, I’m feeling exhausted, weak, kind of lame, and I think I might have only done 2 snatches in one of my 3-snatch sets this morning but can’t quite remember for sure.

This is not the first time that I have had a little bit of a slump in my CrossFit enthusiasm. And I think what it comes down to is that now, almost a year into CrossFit, I am struggling to find my place in the CrossFit community as a whole. I definitely have a place in the community at my box, but even then I sometimes feel like I am not taken seriously. And if there is one thing in my life that I feel like I have struggled with more than anything, it’s not running, or even wall balls, but the feeling that I’m not being taken seriously. I think that is part of what drew me to CrossFit in the first place, really: it’s hard to ignore someone who is as physically capable and mentally tough as most CrossFitters. But I don’t feel that way yet.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but here it is again: Being an unathletic person in a very athletic community is tough. And really, there is no logical reason that I should be sticking with CrossFit. My lack of athletic background means that it takes me twice as long as most others to master basic movements; my asthma significantly slows down cardio gains; the mechanics of my petite frame will never allow me to lift heavy enough to be a competitive CrossFitter. The list goes on.

And all of these are things I am usually fine with. But then occasionally I have this reality check. I am totally head over heels for CrossFit–it is by far my favorite sport I’ve ever tried, and this is coming from someone who was a raft guide, worked at a ski resort and skied every day, has backpacked for weeks in the remote mountains of the Yukon, and has rock climbed and ice climbed in some of the most beautiful places on earth. And yet, with all those skills at my fingertips, I find myself in the box every day, trying to throw half my bodyweight over my head, flopping around on the pull-up bar, and running when I would rather be puking. It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t make it easy to clearly see where I want to/am able to take CrossFit in the future.

Why does any of this matter, you ask? Why not just enjoy it for what it is and worry about “the future” later? That is a great question, and the answer is, this is just the kind of person I am. I worry about things WAY in advance, I plan and make lists and think about what comes next. But more importantly, I wish that I had some long-term goal or vision that could pull me out of these slumps–something I could look at and say, “Today might have been a hard day, but it will be worth it when X.” Because right now that sentence typically ends with “and tomorrow is probably also going to be like this.”

If you are a CrossFitter, what motivates you? Is it enough for you to be in the box just because it makes you happy? Do you hope to compete one day or become a trainer? Do you even worry about it?

  • Barbara LaRosa

    Claire – Don’t give up on it! I am not a CrossFitter but a Boot-Camper & I myself have said these same things before. I think maybe you should try something else. While CrossFit is a great workout, you might find your connection in another activity. Good luck on your journey! Your such am inspiration!

    • clairechapman

      Thanks Barbara! I definitely feel connected to CrossFit, which I think is the problem… If I could just decide that it wasn’t for me and move on, I wouldn’t be so hard on myself! But maybe it is time to try to bring back in some old activities like running, yoga, or skiing that remind me why fitness for the sake of being active is more than enough of a reason to stick with it!

  • Ange

    Hi Claire. I started at my local crossfit in August last year hoping to lose some weight and get fitter and stronger, so I joined the women’s group and did 3 six week programmes. I can now say I’m fitter and stronger and slowly toning but as I venture into mixed crossfit I feel completely out of place! Everyone else if fitter, stronger and leaner but I remind myself that we all have to start somewhere, some days are tougher than others but everyone is supportive – even when I come last. I guess at the end of day always having goals is what keeps me motivated to return but I don’t think I’d ever be a competitor and do it for enjoyment.i think you’re doing awesome and find what you write is how most people feel! Keep it up from ange in New Zealand!

    • clairechapman

      Wow ok first of all I’m really excited that someone from NZ reads my blog! Haha! But thanks for bringing me a little dose of reality–it’s easy to sit here and feel like I’m the only person who struggles with CrossFit while everyone around me is just fluttering through the workouts, but I know that’s not the case. And I definitely am motivated by knowing that there are people (all over the world, apparently!) who feel the same way that I do sometimes. Thanks!


    The group that I work out with everyday motivates me. I have been working out with the same group at 6 am for about a year now and I would consider a few of them some of my closest friends. I also experience some of what you are going through right now too, though. Being 35, I wish I would have started CrossFit about 5-7 years ago to really see where I could have taken it. I recently competed in a team competition, which was a lot of fun. I would like to compete individually, someday. Also, have thought of getting my Level 1 cert, but not sure how I would use it. Crossfit has gotten me in the best shape of my life, even better than when I played college football, and I want to maintain this lifestyle for my wife and daughter. I still get really excited every night to check the WOD for the following day and until that stops happening, I am going to continue on. That is enough for me at this point.

    • clairechapman

      Well if it makes you feel better, I’m only 25 and still wish I had started 5 years ago! But I love what you said about checking the WOD every night and still feeling excited. I definitely still feel that way, too, and I need to focus on that feeling of just looking forward to it instead of trying to find some deep meaning I think.

  • merlin

    I’m not a crossfitter but my motivation is Claire

    • clairechapman

      and squirrels.

  • Linnéa i Colorado

    Oh come on! Claire to me you are one of those I look up to in the gym. I have done CF for over two YEARS and today in the snatched I could only have the weight of 45 lbs. I don’t know how to do a proper squat, I don’t know how to OH ANYTHING and I really really really SUCK at CrossFit. I still like it but some days ONLY bc of the community. And other days, like today, I just don’t understand why I continue doing this damned sport when I compare myself with people who started last spring (hint hint) are miles ahead of me!

    • clairechapman

      Thanks, Linnéa, that means a lot. Also I am glad to know that I’m not the only one who struggled with the snatches yesterday… WTF, snatches. Also I agree that the community is SO important–honestly, the CF Jai community has totally saved Brandon and me since moving to Denver, literally 90% of our social lives totally revolve around the gym and the habits we’ve picked up like eating paleo–and I think that is what I should be focusing on instead of wondering about the deep hidden meaning of CrossFit!

  • Kelly Paul

    I know this is not what you were looking for when you wrote this, but you are one of the most inspiring women at the gym. Watching you Rx Fran gave me inspiration to one day Rx Fran. Not trying to get all emotional ( I am blaming tonights workout. It was hard and I wanted to cry halfway through and never did). You have a powerful presence and you skill is beyond being taken seriously but looked up to.

    This post helps me with the vulnerabilities that I experience. It is nice to know that CrossFitters have emotions too. :)

    What are the star things in the corner? I keep clicking them and it goes negative.

    • clairechapman

      Um I might have gotten a little teary reading this. I usually feel like the only thing I inspire people to do at the gym is goof off during couch stretching :) But thank you, it really means a lot to hear this!

      Also, yesterday’s WOD was a bitch. Snatches make me want to kick someone in the face. And last but not least, your last sentence made me LOL–I have NO idea what that star thing is, this comment app has about a bazillion functions and I dont’ know what any of them do other than leave comments…

  • http://twitter.com/winetoweights Jennifer

    Claire… I don’t like those thoughts since you are a huge inspiration for me, a fellow non-athlete. And when I read your workouts and about all the things that you have done, I don’t see a non-athlete.. I totally see a Crossfitter! You inspire, motivate, and encourage me, so just keep rocking it, girl!

    I hope you can move past this slump soon and realize how many people ARE looking up to you and how strong you are as an athlete and a person!!

    • clairechapman

      Thanks, lady! I am definitely inspired by you as well. It is not easy to stick with CrossFit some days, and I definitely get into little drama slumps like this post before I remember that I am not the only one struggling with snatches or pull-ups.

  • http://twitter.com/SnowfoxBandit Simone

    Oh wow. I’m sorry that I’ve been stalking your blog (and, um, pinterest??) since I found it, but I seriously identify with just about everything you say. (I’m having a total friend-crush on you all the way from WI.) CrossFit is HARD. I’m the girl who picked dandelions on the soccer field as a kid and dangled at the bottom of the rope climb in gym class. I’ve never believed in myself physically — and most days, it’s still a challenge. A year or so into CrossFit, I can deadlift 1.5x my bodyweight (shooting for 2x by the end of 2013!), but I can’t even do a @#$%&*! pull-up. My amazing CrossFit crew is an inspiration, but I’m almost always the one tagging along behind. (My boyfriend’s new deadlift PR is 425 and everyone there routinely beats the pants off me. Hell, I’m still struggling to coax my body into a damn clean and jerk. It makes sense when I see it, but… well, nothing physical seems to come naturally to me.)

    Anyway, my point is, you’re not the only one. Somehow my love affair with CrossFit never fails even if I feel worthless during a workout. I don’t know why, but it’s a siren song that keeps pulling me back. One thing that helps me is looking back to see how far I’ve already come — I still can’t climb the rope, I still can’t do a stupid pull-up, but I can deadlift more than I weigh and I haven’t died in a workout yet (though some of them have been close!). We all move at our own pace, and mine is pretty slow — but it’s still moving forward, even in the tiniest of increments. If you’re still showing up, it hasn’t beaten you.

    I also just registered for the WI Tough Mudder in September, which I must say has brought fresh motivation — I, too, loathe running. And heights, and just about all the other things I’ll encounter in those obstacles. Maybe that’s why we love CrossFit so much — we’re a little masochistic, a lot adventurous, and maybe just the tiniest bit daft to keep putting ourselves through it. But it IS rewarding, even on the tough days. And that’s why we keep going back. :)

    • clairechapman

      Um I think we might be related and just not know it. Because I thought I was the only person in the world who used to pick dandelions during soccer games. Why wasn’t someone mowing the lawn and getting rid of all the dandelions, is what I want to know. Their problem that there were flowers on the field, not ours! And who doesn’t want a dandelion crown in the middle of a soccer game!? Sounds like team spirit to me…

      Ok done with that rant. I kind of feel like this post could have just as easily said “I fucking love CrossFit, why won’t it love me back!?” and pretty much summed up my feelings. But it is really good to know that I am not the only one who feels that way.

  • Katie

    Claire, I love the honesty in your blog. You know, take this for whatever it is worth – coming from a long time more hard core athlete, I think of you as a serious athlete and wish we worked out at the same place. It is your approach and mindset that makes you one. Who gives a @!#% about how much you lift and what your times are. When you get kind of “up there” in the athlete world, most have a certain mindset and you girl, you’ve got that.

    About sports and working out, I think you should separate the two a little. I
    don’t do competitive sports any longer. The enticement waned as I my hormones settled down, I found a broader perspective of the universe and I grew up but I do work out and always will. You said it, it’s about your presence as a physical being amongst other material/physical beings.

    Being fit and confident (and, quite frankly feeling like you can take most
    anyone if you need to) sets you in a unique class and, while you likely never have to utilize brute force, having it there changes how you get to move through society.

    So, we get up early and make our workouts count day after day, year after year… for what it will bring today and for it means you will be in the future.

    • clairechapman

      Thanks, Katie. I definitely just needed a bit of a reality check yesterday about the fact that this is really not that big of a deal… But I bet you can sympathize with feeling like everything in your life needs to be pointing somewhere, and lately I haven’t been feeling like CrossFit really has a clear destination. But I think right now my problem is not so much that it has no destination, but that I feel like it needs to instead of just enjoying it for what it is and just letting it happen. Unfortunately just letting things happen is not really my strong point :)

  • Kristi Atchley

    I really like reading your blog. Even though you don’t know me, you motivate me! I would take each workout one at a time. Try not to think too far down the road. When you are in the moment, you learn more about yourself. Have a great weekend!


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