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The Princess and the PWOD

PWOD - Personal Win of the Day

This is a phrase coined by my friend Iain Maclean. Captain of Team BRIO, 2017 CrossFit Games qualifier, and all around super-human, Iain has lots of wisdom and leadership to provide when it comes to attacking your training.

Rather than always shooting for the best time or score, the PWOD is a way of setting a goal within each workout. Even though we all follow the same program there are ways of approaching the day's training that can help you get better at your particular weaknesses. It doesn't always result in the best time or score or an RX on the board on that specific day, but it makes you better in the long run. It is short term pain for long term gain.

If you always chip away at your pull ups in singles or small sets, a good PWOD would be to go for unbroken sets, even if it means taking a bit longer break before starting.

If you always dog a row or a bike sprint, a PWOD would be to maintain a certain pace or wattage well above your normal comfort zone even if it means suffering through significantly more pain.

If you always step down your box jumps, your PWOD could be to choose a lower box and work on rebounding your reps, cycling them at a much faster rate, even if it means forgoing an RX on the board that day.

Possibilities are endless! The PWOD approach is something that can work for every person at every level in CrossFit. All it takes is putting some thought in to your training for the day, being honest about your weaknesses and humble about addressing them.

Princess Fitness

Princess fitness is a condition that develops when we become psychologically reliant on a specific bunch of conditions in order to perform well - Your favorite pull up bar, at your favorite time of day, in your favorite temperature, after your favorite warm up, etc.

When CrossFit crosses the threshold from casual fitness activity and into the realm of competitive sport, pushing boundaries becomes even more important. We train in the comfort of our own gym, under familiar circumstances but are put to the test under unknown, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable circumstances. While it is important to know how to perform your best, needing a specific set of conditions in order to perform creates a huge psychological hole in your game. This leaves you vulnerable to panic and then ultimately failure when things inevitably don't work out exactly as you require.

These are actual circumstances that I, or people close to me, have encountered in competition:

  • Muscle up rings were set too high or too low

  • A box was not available in order to reach high rings

  • The airline lost an athlete's luggage and they did not have any of their usual gear

  • Events were scheduled for the early morning when the athlete was used to training later in the day

  • Events were scheduled late in the evening when the athlete was used to training early in the day

  • The team got stuck in traffic on the way to the venue and did not have time for a proper warm up

  • Pull up bars were either more rough or more smooth than the athlete was used to

  • and on and on...

Imagine yourself in any of these scenarios and try to gauge what your reaction would be. What if you had to squat without your oly shoes? Sprint at 6am? Snatch without a warm up? Does a sense of panic and self doubt creep in? Would your self-talk sound like "I can't squat!" "I'll never be fast!" "There's no way I'll be able to lift!"? Then you have likely become a victim of princess fitness, creating a vulnerability in your mental game. Where panic exists, your best performance (under the current conditions) cannot. It's not that the rings were too high, you didn't have your gear, or it was too late at night. It's that YOU couldn't adapt.

Any of those above listed scenarios are circumstances that are beyond your control. The equipment is the equipment, you can't make your bags appear, and you don't control the flow of traffic. But what you CAN control is your reaction to any of these events. The event plus your reaction, not the event itself, will determine the outcome. Urban Meyer calls this the Success Equation.

On the flip side, if you can imagine any of these scenarios and that your reaction would be along the lines of "well this isn't ideal, but I'll still be fine", then you have done a fine job of bulletproofing your mental game.

On the way to Portland, OR for the West Regionals in 2017, the airline really did lose the luggage of one of our athletes. With no shoes, workout clothes, hand wraps, or knee sleeves Lance's reaction, with a non-plussed shrug, was "well, I guess I get to get some new shoes!". Several on the team breathed a sigh of relief that it was his bag that was lost and that he was able to handle it so smoothly. Others were well aware their reaction to the situation would not have been nearly so calm. Several times that weekend we reminded ourselves to be more like Lance!

In order to free yourself of psychological baggage, a PWOD for a competitive CrossFitter would be to challenge any of your normal habits and train under unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar situations.



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