by Michael Plank

Everything important in life involves balance. You need to be firm with your kids, but you also have to be flexible. You need to take life seriously because it’s the only one you’ve got, but you also have to have fun. You need to be disciplined, but you also need spontaneity. You need to work, but you also need to rest. The game is trying to find that line that runs smack down the middle, and then to walk it.

Coaching is really helpful for that. Fitness coaching, spiritual coaching, life coaching, is largely about having someone who can help you focus on the big picture and see what action is most helpful now to get to where you want to be down the line. But even if you don’t have a coach, you can zoom out for yourself and try to take a 10,000-foot view. A question I ask myself all the time is “What’s the point here?” Not in a this-is-hopeless kind of way, but in a see-the-big-picture kind of way.

Training is a perfect place to examine this. We do CrossFit. Which means we do hard things and we like doing hard things because we see the benefit from doing hard things. Running 400m with shin splints is hard. Doing push-ups with a shoulder impingement is hard. Deadlifting with a back strain is hard. Should we then do those things because they’re hard?

I hope the answer for you as you read this is an obvious “No.” But the reason it’s tricky is that in the heat of the moment, in the middle of the workout, when you’re so focused on lifting that weight or getting that time, your performance becomes the most important thing and you’ll sacrifice anything to achieve your goal of 8 rounds or whatever measure is in front of you that day. And this is where zooming out can help a lot.

Because what’s the point of training? Is it to set a new personal record or get to the top of the leaderboard? In a competition, yes, but in training? No. If you push through the pain and turn your back strain into a full blown tear, you might get the score you wanted, but are you stronger tomorrow than today? Are you happier? Are you a better parent, friend, and spouse? Are you more functional? Are you more helpful to society? I’m not.

So what’s the point of training? The point of training is to be better tomorrow, next week, next month than you are today. So what action do you need to take right now to make that happen? Sometimes, it really is pushing hard and digging deeper than you thought possible. But sometimes, it’s backing off or changing movements. It’s a balance. And that’s precisely the point. When you can zoom out and get some perspective it can help you figure out how to make the right call today.