It’s that time of the year again, time for The CrossFit Games, and we have been gearing up all year to compete, or watch and cheer on our favorite competitors. As a CrossFit athlete, who is not competing in The Games, or an enthusiast, there always lies the question of "how do these competitors stay so mentally strong through their training and competition?"

I was inspired by a podcast interview by Abel James on The Fat-burning Man and his guest Dr. Jeff Spencer. Dr. Spencer is “a former Olympian, team member of eight Tours de France, renowned chiropractor, international lecturer, and “life coach to the stars.” The podcast was about “fear,” and why fear should be your friend. Fear is likely one of the largest and most primitive driving forces for professional athletes or great leaders and their successes.

We come from a society that instills a “fear-avoidance behavior,” and if you have not conquered your fears, then you will fail. But, did you every notice when you compete, give an important presentation, or interview, that fear is always there no matter how prepared you may be? That maybe if fear was missing then that means something is wrong?

Fear places us in a heightened state of awareness; all of our classical senses (smell, taste, hearing, sight, touch) are pumped up to the max. In this sense (literally!), fear should become our friend. If you are about to do something important, or remove yourself from any type of hazardous situation, wouldn’t you want your body ready for anything?

Unfortunately, fear can give us a greater confidence in our ability to lose than to win because it exposes us to risk. Take a step back for a second and think about our perception of champions. They look strong, powerful and in control… we never see their fear. The key is learn how to maintain and control fear—recognize it, embrace it, but not let it get the best of us. This is where practice and training come into play.

We need to remember a few simple things: have a good workout, keep good form, maintain a focused mind, and not muscle through a workout. If you are over trained and fatigued then your likeliness of controlling fear based thoughts will be lessened.

One important tip Dr. Spencer mentioned was to have a mentor. This person has been there before, and is at least one step ahead. They will know how to responsibly move to the next level.

Remember, we don’t go to a CF box just to have the access to awesome equipment and never have to think about what to do for your workout of the day. We go to a box for the coaches, and their support, advice and mentorship on our “gainz” in and out of the box. They are there to guide us in decisions such as “Should I use the Rx weights today?” or “Do I have the mobility to safely perform this movement?”, or maybe even “what should I eat after this workout or tomorrow morning?” The coaches are our mentors, and if we heed their advice along with our focused training, then we will continue to reach towards our highest potential.

One last point to mention from Dr. Spencer: high achievers are open to suggestion, awesome support teams, are gracious, pro-active, and honor their biology (don’t do too much too soon or for too long). You only have one body, so embrace all it has to offer!

Note: While this post is directed towards CrossFit athletes, the concepts can be applied to any aspect of life!

In positive motion,