What Makes a Benchmark Different?


 What makes a benchmark different?

Last Monday we approached the whiteboard and saw “Fran”.  We last did this workout in October 2015 so it was probably time to have her visit again. Many new athletes haven’t met Fran yet so they showed up, a little excited, a little confused, and they had a lot of anticipation.

Each class was instructed how where one should aim for a time frame, if they didn’t have a history with Fran, they were provided with appropriate scaling options to hit that time frame and spent a long time waiting for Fran’s arrival while warming up. It wasn’t until nearly the end of each hour that Fran finally showed up.  And she was only there for a few short minutes.

In Foundations, the coach will talk about benchmarks, about how these are the few repeated workouts that are done in CrossFit and we highly encourage athletes to document weight and scaling used, the reps, and the time. So that the next time we see that particular benchmark, we will see that the weight has increased, the scaling has decreased and the reps have increased or the time has decreased.  However, many in this phase don’t consider themselves “CrossFitters” yet, the community has welcomed them but to a new CrossFit athlete looking at the seasoned athletes, it’s a common misperception that they are somehow different in an almost magical unicorn-way.

After a while, each one of us moves over to the “we are CrossFitters” side. I find that the "CrossFitters" often times don’t celebrate the small progress made, yet we consistently continue to improve, although we should. How often we forget where we started because at times it’s a challenge to get into the box on a daily basis, to work hard on form and intensity level, to work on improving skills and becoming proficient at movements because once we have one down, there are always 8 others to work on next. We forget we couldn’t lift anything more than a 15 pound bar or we couldn’t squat full depth when we started. We forget that we had to break up jumping pull-ups into sets of 4 in order to get our chin over the bar. As CrossFitters we are often over-critical of ourselves. Remember, we are willing doing what 98% of the general population would choose to not ever do.

So when Fran comes to visit the box, the CrossFitter, walks in feeling those balls of nerves in his stomach, he’s been strategizing all day about how he is going to break up the sets or if he goes unbroken will that help his time for the set of 15. The CrossFitter regretting that late night food choice she made over the weekend, or she’s looking back on her training and questioning if she can PR, if she’s really put in the work to earn a PR.

It’s just a workout, a workout on a Monday, but to a CrossFitter, it’s something entirely more.

To a new CrossFitter, it’s a rite of passage. And to a seasoned one, it’s a look at the training he or she has put in, and the reflection of the quality of sleep and nutrition he or she has put in; it's a way to keep us all honest. 

To the coach, to the coach, a benchmark workout is an absolutely exciting day. It’s a day where we get to help push people harder than they imagined. We get to celebrate PRs, we get to see first timers proudly write their time on the board. We also get to discuss why there wasn’t a PR, and how that’s ok too.

Overall, we get to watch those daily efforts come to fruition and see people improving, how the weight felt lighter and the times got faster. Monday night, as I looked at the whiteboard and scrolled through SugarWOD, I saw a lot of PRs, I saw 76 people log their results and 707 fistbumps and “Fran” was all over social media.

Fran came to visit, how’d she treat you?