The Hard Routine And My First "I AM CROSSFIT" Report Card

I recently read an excellent article in the CrossFit Journal called “The Hard Routine,” and it had a real impact on me. When British commandos begin a mission, they say that they go on the “hard routine.” As the article explains,

From that moment on, the rules are strict, the focus is singular, and all available resources are brought to bear with an intensity that is necessary for success. When they’re on the hard routine, there is no room for selfishness, indulgence, compromise, or distraction.

In life-or-death commando missions, that kind of focus is essential to survival. But, scaled back a bit, the hard routine has applications to a day-to-day CrossFitters life, too. Really, all of us who are participating in the I AM CROSSFIT Challenge are taking on a hard routine, it’s just scaled to our lifestyle and our goals.

Over the remaining seven weeks of the Challenge, I want to see how much control I can exert over my diet and my body if I really put my heart into it. I don’t want to deny myself all fun, but I want to plan the times I’m going to eat outside the Zone or skip a workout , rather than randomly surrendering to an impulse.

I’m posting the following list on my bathroom mirror and my kitchen cabinet to remind myself of my commitment. (I’m also wearing my I AM CROSSFIT wristband and writing in both my journals and blabbing to y’all here and talking about it almost non-stop… it takes a lot of tricks to keep me on track.)

The principles of setting up a hard routine are simple. Following them is, too, but it takes total commitment.

1. Recognize that there is a benefit to not getting everything you want.

2. Understand that mental toughness is born of adversity; that it will atrophy if not consistently engaged; and that it carries over to everything you do.

3. Objectively scrutinize one or a handful of things in your life that you think you need but could actually do without.

4. Deny yourself those things for a specific period of time.

I like the first one the best. There is value to not getting everything I want — and I have to remember that when I pick up a spoon and make a beeline for the freezer and that damn low-fat ice cream.

So… how did I do on my hard routine for the first week?

I’m giving myself a B+. Coming out of the sleep-late, eat-cookies habits of the holidays into hardcore Zone and 6-days-in-a-row workouts was a big challenge, and I did a pretty good job tackling it, I think. My eating will be worthy of an ‘A’ when I stop eating junk right before bed — and I’d like to roll with the stress of work more efficiently.

I definitely noticed a pattern this week: awesome all day, then a carb-y snack at night. That’s not a very good habit! I’m hoping I can chalk it up to “transition week” and “hormone poisoning” — but I’ve gotta go all “hard routine” and eliminate that this week. My goal is to have my low-fat ice cream treat only once this week and no popcorn (!).

Here’s what my workout plan was going into the week, and how I performed against it.

M – Bootcampdone!
We did our assessments, and I was really pleased with my new squat record.

T – CF Workout + Runhalf done
I did the first I AM CROSSFIT workout at level one, but didn’t go running on Tuesday. It was raining, and I had to be at work an hour earlier than usual.

W – CF Women Indoordone!
Our workout was tough, and I finished right in the middle of the group but used heavy weight.

Th – CF Workout + Rundone!
Did the second I AM CROSSFIT workout and a CF Endurance running workout, too. Definitely pushed on the running.

F – Bootcampdone!
Crystal had us do a really challenging workout, and I finished first and well under the cut-off time, even with the heaviest weight and liquid air.

S – CF Workout + Runhalf done
Did the third I AM CROSSFIT workout, but took a pass on the run. I did, however, do 10 practice pullups on my new plyo box and bars in the afternoon.

My mood regarding I AM CROSSFIT was excellent, but my attitude about work and the associated stress was lousy. I’m cutting myself some slack on that because a) it was a ridiculously challenginge week at work and b) hormone poisoning will make even the sweetest, most serene girl a raging lunatic. But that excuse only works for last week, so I’ve got to get it together moving forward.

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  • NathanM says:

    Reminds me of the line from 300, "There's no room for softness…not in Sparta. No place for weakness. Only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans. Only the hard…only the strong."

    Nathan M.