Mental resiliency at the Reebok Crossfit Games: Day 1
This week is the Super Bowl for Crossfit. Athletes from around the world are gathering at the StubHub Center in Carson, California to compete for the title of "fittest on Earth." This journey began today. Unlike other sports, the Crossfit Games showcase nearly every facet of athleticism and most of the events are unknown until an hour before the workout begins. "Preparing for the unknown and unknowable" is not just a tenant of Crossfit. It's a tenant of life. These unknowns from the type of workout (endurance grinder versus sprint chipper), movements of the workout (basic skills versus advanced and new skills) to terrain and weather require a significant amount of grit. In the world of neuroscience, we call grit mental resiliency.
There's no question that today's performances at the Aromas ranch required more mental resiliency than in previous years. Why? First, the athletes had to be ready to leave at 3:30 AM. If you know anything about my research area, you know that any deviation in one's typical rise time elicits a stress response, particularly to the endocrine system. We call this particular stress response social jet lag. Not only did the athletes experience social jet lag, but they were also asked to fly on a plane. Flying also elicits a stress response, particularly to the vagal system (nerve function). Many people do not weightlift well within 24-48 hours of flying. I'm not sure if Dave Castro is aware of this basic biological relationship between flying and stress to the vagal system, but he sure did test how fit these athletes' nervous systems are. Plus, every athlete likely assumed that the first day would be at the beach and had prepared accordingly for that. Nope.
In a follow-up post, I will talk about areas of the brain that are responsible for mental resiliency that may factor into who will be crowned the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth at the end of the weekend. I will say that it won't be Josh Bridges. Ooops, did I just say that?? My point being that there is a reason why Rich Froning is "The Champ."
Professional: Academic Researcher with a focus on neurobiology @ Morehouse School of Medicine and professor at Morehouse College
PHD Info: Kent State with a focus on neurobiology (PHD from Department of Biological Sciences)
CrossFit Games Experience: 2015 Regionals - Team, 2014 Regionals Athlete, 2013 CrossFit Games - Team, 2012 Regionals Athlete
Collegiate Athletic Background: Brown University Track & Field, 4 year varsity letterman, specialist in pole vault and hurdles
About Allison Brager:
Facebook: Meathead: Unraveling The Athletic Brain
Allison's Blog: www.dormivigilia.com
Instagram and Twitter: @beastlyvaulter
Like this article? Check out Allison's book Meathead: Unraveling The Athletic Brain