Train Yourself Not to Suck: Surround Yourself with Those Who Don’t

by ~jenniferlynn on May 22, 2014

in CrossFit, inspiration

Once upon a time, February, 2012 to be exact, I began life in the globo gym. Months later, I later moved on to my own garage gym. I had followed New Rules of Lifting for Women and advanced to Stronglifts 5×5, falling deeper in love with the barbell. My support system was great, but was made up of just one person. Having no strength training prior to this, I embraced every gain that I made and was constantly pushing myself to be a little bit better than the week before.

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But it wasn’t until I started Crossfit that my commitment and drive increased significantly, largely attributed to the coaching and athletes that I surrounded myself with. So many moments stand out that were defining moments in my fitness lifestyle, attributed to those around me. It was in working with multiple athletes and coaches who I could look up and aspire to be like, that gave me even more drive.

Train yourself not to suck by surrounding yourself by those who don't.


I think back to the Open last year, where there was a 7 minute time cap, starting with 3 95# clean and jerks. I had never done that weight before, but I had so much time to try. This was one of the first moments that I truly felt the total family-atmosphere within my Crossfit box. I wanted three reps so badly, and fought so hard through so many failed attempts, only to eke out two reps when time was exhausted. But with every single failed attempt, I had a section of cheerleaders screaming with excitement as I became closer to hitting my goal, athletes that were new like me, veteran athletes, and the coaches. Feeling like a failure at the end of the 7 minutes, I cried, so full of emotions of frustration, but also overwhelmed at how much pride and support with the community around me.

Another defining moment during the Open was when I was able to get my very first kipping pull-upCoach Lynn (Regionals qualifier and team competitor), knew that I had it in me to do it, and talked me through my nerves. I knew there was no way I was going to get my first C2B at the time but I really wanted to at least manage the pull-up. How was I going to learn to kip a pull-up five minutes before the workout began? After much advice and tips, I was able to do one right before the clock went off. And then proceeded to do even more.


I remember one of the first times I hit a big PR on my deadlift; I was just a few months into Crossfit and where I first learned about the mental aspect of lifting. One of my good wod-buddies, a crazy strong 5’2″ gymnast (who happens to be headed to Regionals this weekend), was watching me perform my lifts, slowly increasing 5-10# at a time. As I rested in between a set, she looked at my bar, which probably had 155# on it, my recently established max from just a few weeks prior. Alexis glanced at my bar, looked at me as if she was sizing me up, shifted her eyes to her bar, and then said, “Jen. Come lift this.” I asked how much was on the bar, full knowing it had to be more than what I had on mine. She shrugged, said it’s a weight I can handle, and I went and lifted that bar up. For a 30# PR.

Fast-forward just over a month later, with some of my closest gym buddies and coach standing by watching, I PRed my deadlift again- this time by an additional 50#. It wasn’t the prettiest lift, but I never would have imagined going into the day to not only crush my goal of 200#, but to surpass it.


Last year I had the crazy idea to sign up for a half marathon. I despised running, and struggled so much with it, to the point of crying nearly anytime I went out for a training run. I started to train with our Crossfit Endurance group, where my Coach, Kate (a BQ, and national triathlon qualifier), not only taught me a more efficient running form, but also helped to push me out of my dark running place. When I had to run my longest run ever at the time of 7 miles, we started off as a group and as usual, I was the last in the pack. After about two miles into the run, Kate came back from up ahead to run with me, a babbling mess with tears streaming down my cheeks. She gave me a pep talk, reminding me how strong I am and to let the negative thoughts go.

Since I started working with her, I not only ended up finishing a half marathon 20 minutes faster than my goal,  but also running my fastest mile and PRing my 10k time by 13 minutes. I won’t admit to liking running because of her, but her constant attention to me helped to make peace with running and have the strength to keep training.



I am just about at the end of a 10-week Olympic lifting program with Coach Matt, certified in Soviet Programming, among other credentials. With programming starting with a PVC pipe and empty barbell, focus is on form and movement efficiency, not just throwing heavy weights on the bar and seeing what happens. As our weeks went on and loads progressed, he dictated what weights were to be added onto the bar for various movements on top of the standard Oly lifts, such as jerk behind the neck, a movement I had never done before. When your coach suggests adding weight based on your performance, even without some self-doubt, there is an increased level of confidence. I ended up PRing both my Oly lifts, snatch, and clean and jerk, and have goals to max them at the end of the program again. Though a coach cannot physically move the weight for you, it is the mental push of feeling confident in you that helps establish even more self-confidence.


My latest super-goal is a muscle-up by July, so I have been working with my favorite coach (shh.. don’t tell the others), Morgan, to work on the strength and skills needed to achieve it. Through much pain and torture of ring rows and strict pull-ups and lots of work on the rings, he is confident that I will be able to reach this goal, even though most days it seems like it will forever be an impossible undertaking for me. Having that special one-on-one attention with someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses is so important to coming up with a plan to help reach your goals.


Even most recently while working on my own doing some Oly lifting and muscle-up progressions, each of the owners, both coaches, made comments about my progress from when I started. Both remember things I had done in the past that I struggled with that now come with much more ease. It is little comments such as those that make me want to strive to do even better, but also realize how far I have come.


I frequently run into a lot of self-doubt when it comes to my workouts. I have been much better recently, but so many times over the past year I have been full of, “I suck” moments. I was never an athlete. I never ran a mile up until 2011. I never touched even a dumbbell until 2012. And now it’s 2014. I have run a half marathon. I can deadlift 255# and squat 150#. I have done so many things I never would have even imagined I would be interested in doing just a few years ago, and it is the coaching and the community that has bred me into the athlete I am today.

For me to succeed, I need to be pushed. I need people that I look up to telling me that I can make a lift, or that I can do all those wall ball shots, or how to pace myself. I need direction on how to approach a workout or where I should focus my extra time.

Aside from being coached and gaining confidence from those I look up to, I love hearing when others tell me that they look up to me, or that I inspire someone. Having others recognize my efforts makes me want to be so much better, as I have something to prove. There is not much more rewarding then when you are putting it all out there and become someone else’s inspiration.

At our annual “Crossfit Prom” event, members of the box voted me for best transformation of the year. It is these people that push me to become better. Not only those that have been coaching me and helping me make progress, but also those that look up to me. More than one person, including a Master’s athlete that is headed to the Games (ranked 11th in the WORLD – BIG deal here), said there was no one more deserving. Talk about an ego boost!

Despite the outside motivators that have helped me get to where I am at today, I still haven’t become comfortable with self-motivation. I need constant feedback. I thrive on the support of others. I need direction and I need reassurance. I do best when others not only cheer me on and support me, but help to make me really believe that I can do these things.


There is something to be said about the community that comes along with Crossfit. It is so hard to explain to other people that you are getting so much more than a workout when you walk into the box. You are gaining strength, confidence, and a support system. Surround yourself with people that are better than you. Don’t be intimidated to workout with anyone that can lift more than you, or run faster than you, or that is in overall better physical shape than you.

Find those around you who will stand behind you, no matter what their physical ability or your own. Find those that embody the characteristics that you are lacking, whether it be confidence, strength, optimism, or determination. Find those that believe in you and your abilities and that will push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to do better than you think than you can yourself.

Sometimes it is pure confidence and reassurance coming from someone else that can push you to that next level. Train yourself not to suck by surrounding yourself with those who don’t.

Your turn…
Do you have a defining fitness moment that you can attribute to a coach or fellow athlete?
Are you a self-motivator or do better when others cheer you on?
Do you prefer being cheered on or yelled at during workouts?
Do you personally know any athletes that competed in Regionals or are going to the Games?

Megan Richards May 23, 2014 at 2:59 am

Remember when you asked me if I thought you should do CrossFit?!? Look at the beastette you’ve become kicking ass and exuding confidence all over the place! I’m so proud of your progress and gains… Now only if I were there to promote and motivate the erg love out of you!

I too thrive on the support and encouragement of others. I struggled with that in Chicago, I feel like I got the most support on the erg, not so much WOD and skills bc I was an AM athlete. Totally different now in SF, look at that 619 CFT! And I maxed out on attempts, not weight!!! Need bigger jumps!

I like getting call outs in wods, but not yell ats!!! I need to hear that stuff when grinding through any metcon. I’m generally a last to finish, but even with pacing myself that I gave it my all!

UB has 3 athletes (2 coaches and an athlete) competing in NorCal regionals and another coach is competing at the USA weightlifting oly nationals in July. It’s amazing to watch and be coached by such talent!

Amy @ The Little Honey Bee May 23, 2014 at 5:23 am

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Chris May 23, 2014 at 8:44 am

I know sometimes when I’m in the midst of a wod and struggling and getting near the end, those that finish before me will cheer me on. Sometimes in the moment I wish they would all just shut up and let me suffer alone. But I never really mean it. I’m so glad for their support and their pushing me to finish.

It’s true a lot of times that we are judged by the company we keep. Also, like you said, we can curb our suckiness by surrounding ourselves with people that don’t suck. I think the vast majority of people that love CrossFit don’t suck. There’s an inherit passion that comes along with a love of CrossFit, and that love brings things like drive and determination and dedication and that sense of family. It’s incredible and so glad I have found CrossFit and people that don’t suck.

You don’t suck.
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Adrienne May 23, 2014 at 10:30 am

Wow, you must have been reading my mind today! I needed to read this post. I have been struggling the past couple of months in CF. I started in October of last year, 8 mos ago, and I feel like within the first 4 months I made so much progress, and I was so excited after every workout, and now feel like I am stuck. I feel sometimes like I don’t push myself as hard as I should, maybe I should ask my coaches to push me a little harder!
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~jenniferlynn May 23, 2014 at 11:06 am

Yes, definitely! Figure out some specific goals and let them know about it! My problem was I was just so lost and misguided; so now I have this huge Oly focus and It’s liberating to just have one major focus and rock the heck out of that goal. Keeping the coaches involved in what you are trying to achieve (just overall fitness vs. specific skills) helps them to help you!

Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer May 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Love this. It is so true, the community is so important. I know something that made a huge difference for me was when I started working out with “the guys” – Instead of of trying to pace off a girls time I was constantly chasing these stronger, faster guys and it ended up making me stronger and faster!
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~jenniferlynn May 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm

And I think you as a coach (and blogger and mother and every freaking thing else that you do), have such a major opportunity to push others even more.. keep doing what you’re doing, girl 🙂

Sandy Shepard May 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

We have one coach/athlete going to the games – he’s in Masters too, #18. Pretty cool. (You made me look him up – I knew he was going but wasn’t sure what his rank was.) Next weekend, I’m going to the Regionals to cheer on one of our other coaches – she’s UNlikely to get all the way to the Games, but excited she’ll be at Regionals!

I like to hear my name in workouts, but I’m much more self-motivated in that I don’t want people “looking at” me. Because I’m always last (and scaling, in a 99% Rx time slot at our box), I like to hear my name but not have an “audience.”

I do, however, like to “check in” with Coach Bo (if he’s there – our program director) and let him know where I”m “at.” Today I PR’d both my strict press and push press and box jump, plus did the pullups in the WOD at the next lower band (green instead of black). A PR is a PR, though it’s hard to talk to any of the other athletes about it because it’s just so far below where they are. They’re happy – but I suppose not as happy as Coach Bo, who has “kept track of” where I started. As in, my box jump today in the 3rd part of the WOD I went from 9″ to 12″. Yes, that’s inches. The women’s Rx today was 36″. I did what I did without coach “input,” I keep track of what I’ve done and what I want to do. But I do like reporting to Coach Bo, after.

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May 25, 2014 at 10:37 am

I remember when I “met” you back in 2011 and reading your posts about working out in your garage. I remember thinking how awesome that was and how strong you were then! Then your moving into NROLFW and the quick gains you made with that program inspired me to push myself harder. Now look at how far you have come! You are an inspiration to many Jen. Congrats and keep up the hard work!
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~jenniferlynn May 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Thank you so much, Mary!! Happy you have been following my journey along the way! 🙂

Stacy May 28, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Totally agree. I have done SO much more when pushed by my trainer, and he usually has a better idea what I can do than I do. Similarly, my half marathon PR came when I had a teammate pacing me (and pushing me!) the entire way.

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