There’s a difference between training, testing and competing. In CrossFit that line has gotten blurred, especially by those newer to it who are still in the honeymoon phase. I’ve been around this stuff for the better part of a decade so for me the honeymoon is over. I know what to expect. I know how most workouts are going to feel. I know how to game them. But most importantly, I know the difference between training, testing and competing.
Training is your day-to-day sessions (metcons, strength, skill work, etc). You want to get a good workout, achieve the desired stimulus, work on the things you need to work on, and then go home and recover. You work hard, but you don’t need to keep peeling yourself off the floor each and every training session.
Testing is doing a benchmark workout (or something in a similar vein) for the 2nd, 3rd, or 50th time in the hopes of improving on your previous best effort (which hopefully wasn’t done yesterday). This would also apply to strength lifts where you might do max reps of a weight at, or near, your 1-rep max. Pulling your 1-rep max for 2 or 3 reps means you had a good day, it’s not a PR. There’s a difference.
Competing is something completely different. Whether it is a competition like the CrossFit Open, some locally held event with multiple workouts in a day, or the couple times a year when you do a CrossFit, Powerlifting, or Olympic total, those are the moments when the world fades out to a muted blur, you go to that dark place and find out what kind of man or woman you truly are. That is competing. That’s when a true max effort occurs. Most people only have maybe 12 of those efforts in them per year.
Keep your training hard but fun (because if it’s not fun, why do it?). Use your testing as a barometer of your training. And leave your competition days knowing you put forth a true max effort.
You can’t max out every day (unless you’re on drugs). Sometimes less is more.