As I was writing my “10 Worst Nightmares Every Runner Fears” post, I thought to myself, it’s not just runners that have sports specific nightmare experiences. I don’t want to leave my CrossFit friends out of all the Halloween fun. A quick Google search will readily display hundreds of memes, video’s, and pictures of horrifying CrossFit misses and fails. While I’ve, thankfully, never sustained a serious injury, I’ve certainly had my fair share of close calls and near misses that were enough to make my heart race just a bit faster. That in mind, I submit to you, seven nightmares every CrossFitter fears, and has likely experienced a time or two.
Jump Rope Lashings
Because I self-identify as a runner, many of my CrossFit buddies have made the erroneous assumption that I like cardio. I do not like cardio. I like running. Burpees, rowing, and double-unders all make my “no thank you” list. While I’m not a fan of burpees or rowing, I actively hate double-unders, and it’s not because I am incapable. It’s because I am only capable of about 15-25 on a good day, and I never ever just step on my rope or drop my arms like a normal person. No. I always, and I mean always, smack myself on my arm or leg (sometimes both, I’m talented) with my rope. For WODs that only have small sets, I can deal, but when I see more than 3 rounds or more than 35 in a round, I know I am going to walk out of the box looking like I just lost a battle against a cat of nine tails. 2019’s CrossFit Open included on WOD featuring sets of 50 dubs, and I had a lot of fun explaining to my coworkers that I was not in fact involved in a violent relationship, but had willingly subjected myself to my own torture.
Everyone has bowels, right? We all fart, even the most ladylike of ladies lets one rip every now and then. I’m not sure who, then, decided that farting was a shameful act that needs to be covered with a cough or blamed on a dog, but here we are as a society. As adults, most of us enjoy the autonomy and control we exert over our own bodies and their functions. Typically, we know when a farts coming, and we can make the necessary preparations; running to the bathroom, shifting in our seats, spotting a baby in the crowd that we can project blame onto, etc. Unfortunately, when one is exerting oneself in a way that requires calling out to God and every angel for our survival, we may well lose sight of the oncoming gas escape. Couple that with some of the more abdominally taxing movements like heavy squats, weighted sit-ups, and the absolute WORST culprit, handstand push ups, unanticipated farts are just going to happen. If you are lucky soul, they will occur at a point in the WOD where the music is so loud and everyone is so near death that no one will notice. If you happen to be less fortunate, you may experience the ego-shattering effect of mid-burpee demonstration shart. Good luck to you, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Peeing on the Floor
As embarrassing as it may be to be the victim of an audible ass symphony, losing control of your bodily functions mid-workout is definitely more mortifying and horrific. Interestingly, stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is not an uncommon phenomenon, and is certainly not limited to women (thankfully). It is the result of lifting a weight that puts so much pressure on the body, that the bladder essentially gives out, and you pee yourself. If you’re lucky, and smart, you abort mission as soon as you realize there’s a problem, and walk away with a minor leak. If you’re stubborn and on a mission to PR though, well you just might leave a full blown puddle on the floor beneath you. CrossFitters are extreme people, man, willing to pee themselves in the name of fitness (runners are actually not excluded from this mindset, either).
Washing Your Hair With Ripped Hands
If you CrossFit for more than a few months, you are bound to tear the once soft skin on the palms of your hands. Whether it’s toes-to-bar, pull-ups, muscle-ups, or just good old fashioned high-rep barbell work, at some point you will experience the appearance of stigmata. Tearing your hands hurts, there’s no getting around it. Anytime you literally rip skin, there’s some pain involved. The real pain though, my friend, likely comes several hours later. After you’ve cleaned and bandaged your hands, you will start to think the tears are manageable. But then, you will need to wash your hair. Have you ever gotten soap into a cut? And then proceeded to massage the soap into a healthy lather over the wound? That is the joy of shampooing with newly torn palms. It’s a fresh new level of Hell the first time you experience it, and you will probably think, surely I can just use my fingertips. Well, unless you have 2 hours to spend washing your hair, you’re gonna have to suck it up and hope that the pain will just make you stronger. Or something.
Smacking Your Chin on the Barbell
Sudsy, torn hands are painful in a slow burn sort of way, but it is certainly not the sole source of painful trauma that one may experience in CrossFit. A fairly large percentage of CrossFit workouts involve taking something heavy that is on the ground, and throwing that heavy thing over your head. There’s several different methods and ways that this is accomplished, but the overall goal is the same. Heavy thing goes over the head. When this heavy thing is barbell-related, you will undoubtedly receive the advice of “keep the bar close, and the barbell path as straight as possible.” Know what’s directly between the ground where the heavy thing starts, and over your head where the heavy thing goes? Your chin. So it should come as no surprise that 13% of CrossFit injuries are a result of smacking the heavy, metal barbell into your chin (I made up the statistic, but it sounds close to accurate). Sometimes this results in stitches, sometimes just a giant chin hickie. Either way it absolutely sucks, and is something your coworkers will enjoy lording over you for a good, long while.
It is a WELL known fact that the fashion industry has all but destroyed the concept of functional athletic wear for women. While some of what is available may be cute, thin knits and cheap textiles washed regularly and often lead to one result: see-through leggings. Comfortable as athleisure certainly is, and I have been known to go months without wearing anything else, it simply is not made to hold up against deadlifts, squats, or sprints. Few things in life are more mortifying than realizing your leggings have met their untimely demise AFTER a WOD. It’s also not generally a fun experience for anyone else forced to witness.
Box Jumps Fails
Once again, I’ve saved the best for last, my friends. Jumping straight up into the air is a skill most of us have mastered by age two. It’s simple. Push off the ground with solid, quick force, and up you go. Simple as this movement is, when you add the presence of a wooden box, some sort of witchcraft occurs. Your right foot still follows simple rules of bio physiology. The left one though, it goes rogue. It now leaves the ground a half second later than its counterpart, and best case scenario, you fall flat on your butt. Worst case scenario, you offer half your shin up as a sacrifice to the box spirits. What’s worse, once you’ve truly experienced the terror that is potato peeling your leg with wood, you’ve now been gifted with a case of diagnosable PTSD. I’m a therapist, so I know the criteria. Unfortunately, the more you fear the box, the more you become it’s victim. On the upside, I hear vitamin E creams have come a long way in minimizing scaring.
BONUS NIGHTMARE: No One Knowing You CrossFit
Lol, just kidding. Mostly. But seriously, don’t be that guy. He’s a real effing nightmare to be around.
Unfortunately, I don’t really have any hacks for these horrors. Nike and UnderArmour make some solid leggings, but you’ll need a buddy to squat check you every couple of washes to be on the safe side. I’ve heard that over time, you’ll become more efficient, your form will improve, and you’ll encounter these terrible experiences less frequently. I say I’ve heard, because after five solid years of CrossFitting, I still end up rotating through these anxiety-inducing scenario’s about every month or so. I will say my hands have toughened (not sure I’m super enthusiastic about this), and it’s been at least a year since my face has met my bar. So maybe there’s hope that one day I can rest easy knowing 5 sets of 75 double-unders will just be hard. And not traumatic. We can all dream, right?