I feel like I’m coughing up a lung as I type this. Every CrossFitter knows the feeling – that scratchy throat, burning lung sensation that comes after an all-out red-line effort, better known as “Fran cough.”
After nearly 2 ½ years of CrossFit, today I did my first RX Fran, and I couldn’t be happier with what Fran taught me, even if my lungs hate her right now.
- Benchmarks show you just how far you’ve come. No kidding, Captain Obvious. But seriously – too often, we get caught up in comparing our performances with those of the others in our class. We get disappointed when that other girl who hasn’t been coming very long finishes first, or we’re bummed when that guy can lift more than we can. But I believe it’s more important to compare your present performance with your past performances, because it shows you just how much you’ve accomplished. My first “Fran” nearly 2 years ago was a reduced rep scheme with scaled weights and a row in between each round. My second attempt at Fran about a year and a half into my CrossFit experience was the correct rep scheme, but I still had to scale the weight and do ring rows. Today, 2 ½ years into CrossFit, I posted a 5:26 RX feel like a total badass because I remember just exactly how far I’ve come and have proof that the hard work is paying off!
- Slow and steady wins the race. Fran is the kind of WOD that gets you fired up! It’s a BENCHMARK, DARN IT, so you want to put up your best performance. But in the midst of all that adrenaline and ego, it’s easy to get pulled into trying to play someone else’s game. There was another girl in my heat who is very close to me in fitness level. It was tempting to chase her as she sprinted through the first 21 thrusters and pull-ups. But before I started the WOD, I reminded myself not to go out too hard so I wouldn’t have to drop the bar. I took a slower, steady approach to the thrusters, pausing briefly at the top of each rep to take a breath. As a result, I went unbroken on the set of 21 and 9, and only had to drop the bar once on the set of 15. Meanwhile, the girl who took off too fast had to take longer breaks between sets because she had pushed too hard in the beginning. As she stood there breathing, I picked up the bar and kept moving. Like the fabled tortoise won the race, I ended up beating the hare because I kept a steady pace.
- Embrace the suck and breathe when you’re done. I have a pretty significant weakness – namely, my affection for oxygen. Sometimes my love for oxygen is greater than my love for fitness and it hinders my progress as I have a tendency to stop and breathe instead of picking up the bar. But today I didn’t. Today I took to heart what every CrossFitter knows in their head: Fran is short, it’s hard, and there’s no way you’re going to catch your breath in the middle of it, so just embrace the suck and breathe when you’re done. So when I got off the thrusters, I jumped right on the pull-up bar. And then I got right back on the barbell. And you know what? I was done a whole lot faster than I expected. The suck was shorter, and I was a happy (albeit coughing) camper.
Fran may be a four-letter word, but she’s not as evil as I thought. In fact, I think she and I are well on our way to becoming friends.