We love the box. We love everything about the box. The sights, smells, and sounds. Our fellow athletes have become friends and now are family. We miss the box on off days. We even enjoy the pain of the WODS. But sometimes, you have to step outside the box to optimize your performance.

You never thought it would happen, but now it is. The discomfort of the daily WOD is actually becoming comfortable. You have a routine. You show up, spend time chatting with friends in your class, do the warm up, and complete the WOD. You are learning, improving, challenging yourself still, but are you beginning to become a little too comfortable with short WODs?

One of the things that makes CrossFit so amazing is also the thing that draws the most criticism. You’ve seen them—the jokes and memes about CrossFitters being the best at exercising. I do think we can be in danger of being too random. Of being too scattered in our training. I mean, there are definitely worse things than being good at exercising. But if CrossFit is all about becoming a well developed athlete and thinking outside the box about training, then sometimes we just need to step outside the box.

Running—Many WODs involve 400M sprints. On occasion, there will be the 5k WOD. Running helps build cardiovascular strength, is a great stress reliever, and teaches suffering. I enjoy running because it provides some much needed alone time and because it’s great training for WODs—like the WOD, running isn’t comfortable. If it is, then you need to run harder or longer.

Swimming—Here’s another example of exercise that many CrossFitters ignore. Swimming is extremely uncomfortable. It’s a great non-impact form of training that forces you to focus on timed breathing and smooth, efficient movements.

 Yoga and Stretching—Maybe it’s the quietness, the stillness, the silence that makes yoga so intimidating. Yoga is an excellent practice for learning body awareness and developing balance. And you might be surprised to find that you can work up quite a sweat in a yoga session. Likewise, stretching should be part of every CrossFitters regular training. And I’m not talking about the 10 minute dynamic warm up. I’m talking about long, regular stretching sessions.

Sleep—This is probably the most important and most overlooked part of your training. Is soreness a problem? Are you finding yourself sleepy during the day? Are you struggling to focus? Sleep more. You will recover better and your performance will likely improve.

Eat Clean—Regardless of whether you’re Paleo, primal, keto or on no named diet whatsoever, you should be eating clean. What you are feeding your body outside of the box can either greatly enhance or undo the work you are putting in inside the box. Cutting out the sugar, processed and fried foods, and drinking more water will make you feel better, look better and perform better.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead. Step outside the box a little.

About Amy Lawson

Amy Lawson is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, English teacher, wife of a strength coach and mom to 2 teen boys. She competes in CrossFit, Elite Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, and just about anything else that presents a new and different challenge.

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