12 Lessons from 12 Workouts in 12 Hours
Here's something a little bit different from our normal blog posts. Digital Mindset Gym athlete, Becky, attended Sage Burgener's Bad Bitch Camp. Becky had so many incredible mindset insights from this experience, that we wanted to share them so that you can get some of this benefit too.
Here's Becky's story:
The first Saturday in February, my stepdaughter Morgan and I spent sunup to sundown doing 12
CrossFit workouts with eight other women at Coach Mike Burgener’s garage gym. We were
attending a weekend camp put on by Coach Sage Burgener, training sessions that Sage has
christened “Bad B* Camps,” and we indeed came away feeling badder and, at least when we were
recovering, perhaps a bit more of the other “B” too.
We’d trained with Sage before, when we went to an Olympic lifting camp she coached in October as
a way to celebrate our respective 25th and 50th birthdays (it was pretty cool going through the
Burgener Warm-Up with Coaches Sage and Mike Burgener themselves). That weekend, the work
had been spread out over three days. This time, we went through some snatches and clean and jerks
on Friday, but Saturday we met at 6:00am and dedicated our lives to WOD after WOD after WOD,
until we’d performed varying combinations of at least 22 different movements and completed 12
workouts. By the end of the day, we’d run close to three miles, completed 108 thrusters, 230 sit-ups,
422 lunges, 490 squats (340 of them air squats and 150 goblet squats), and 425 burpees, to highlight
just a few of the movements. Thankfully, Sunday was devoted to rest and recovery starting with a
sauna-cold pool plunge cycle and Sage’s delicious baked oatmeal.
In the immediate aftermath, I walked away from our experience with an excruciatingly heightened
awareness of my anatomy, every muscle feeling as if I’d gotten so strong that I’d surely be splitting
the sleeves of my shirts. But it was obvious, even going into the weekend, that this would test us
mentally as much as physically, and the psychological wins have in fact been the most lasting and
The mindset gains weren’t necessarily new or different from what we get to embrace each day at
CFV, it’s simply that the concentrated intensity of the weekend, like a competition, helped strip
everything else away and made these truths that much more evident:
1. Just Show Up: Yes, the sun was shining and the workout jams were rocking with Britney
blasting in the background, but what was first workout of the day? A brilliant combination for time
that added up to 60 thrusters and 75 burpees. Yummy! Wasting time on wondering if we can do
something, wishing we could do something, or thinking there’s something better to do, is just that –
a waste of time. Showing up is the easiest way to be an athlete and move well. If I’m the type of
person who consistently shows up, picks up the bar, and does the next rep, it’s nearly impossible for
me not to become an athlete who moves well. And after showing up, what to my wondering eyes
did appear? I got fitter and had a good time!
2. The Mental Game – Technique and What’s “Heavy”: The second workout was 30 rounds
for time of five goblet squats, five dumbbell push presses, and one heavy power clean (155# for
Morgan, 99# for me). Only one power clean, thirty times. The fail here, when I dropped the bar in
round 29, didn’t come from a lack of physical strength. There might have been some fatigue, but
this is still early in the day and I froze in doubt. Even though I’d just lifted the bar 28 times, I started
thinking about it being heavy. That doubt changes things, puts me in my head and takes me away
from anything I do know about technique. So reset, go back to the fundamentals, and make that bar
3. The Value of Coaching: Every workout, we were all doing the same workout, but we were each
doing our own workout, sometimes with different weights or variations of a movement. Sage knew
when to correct mechanics or adjust intensity, either by pushing us harder or easing us back. She was
dialed in and surgical, she’s an expert. Every day we are fortunate to witness how wonderful it is to
have great coaching like this; to be guided by someone who can see farther down the road than we
do, who views us more comprehensively, and who has a good plan for our progress and
development. I have a tendency to get in my head and think about how I should move, rather than
be in my body and actually move. Instead, I can turn off my voice and trust my coach to guide me.
Revel in this freedom!
4. Someone Needs You: We began as strangers and by the fourth workout we were packing each
other’s sweaty bodies down and up a hill in between dumbbell snatches and clean and jerks. There is
joy in sharing the struggle; that camaraderie helps us do hard things. We also don’t know when our
presence might encourage someone else who is wavering and help them decide to stick with it.
Besides the assurance I gained from knowing that Morgan and I were in this together, I distinctly
remember two moments when I felt absolutely bereft and found the will to keep going because I
looked up and drew strength from one of the other athletes who gave me encouragement, even
though they were deep in their own suffering. Be there for yourself and you’ll end up being there for
5. Come in Hot! (At least some of the time.): Workout five alternated between air squats and pull-
ups and was a great chance to test out some speed. Instead of anticipating a particular level of
performance, whether good or bad, sometimes it’s worth laying it all out there and seeing what
happens. It’s worth being willing to be faster, better, stronger, quicker, and fiercer than you ever
hoped you could be. So what if you blow up every now and again? It feels good to let loose and just
go for it!
6. Scaling is Fun: Our sixth workout was Randy, 75 “light” weight snatches. I reduced the
prescribed 55lb weight to something closer to 25 or 30 pounds at Sage’s recommendation, but quite
resentfully. I don’t like not being where I want to be, where others are, or where I think I should be.
When I scale a workout, it’s tempting for me to qualify my achievements and make myself less than,
even though I’ve properly adjusted it based on what’s best for my overall development. The
asterisks can be discouraging - I feel compelled to note that, although Morgan did complete the 425
burpees mentioned above, my sum total was closer to 300, because I reduced the reps programmed
in our burpee EMOM. So what? The work I’m doing is real work, it counts. I don’t look at anyone
else and minimize their efforts. Just because I’m not doing it the way it happens to be written on the
whiteboard today (whatever the reason), am I therefore not going to do it at all? Move from where
you are right now, not where you were yesterday, where you think you should be, where you think
someone else is, or where you want to be tomorrow, and count the reps!
7. The Mental Game – Physical Pain: Starting with a 700m hill run for two rounds of that run,
75 deadlifts, and 100 sit-ups offers a great opportunity to question the line between the pain of
discomfort and the pain of injury. We were diligent about hydrating, fueling, and tending to our
mobility throughout the day and at no point did I feel at risk of being hurt. However, hot tears did
spill unbidden out of my eyes as I shuffled up that first hill because my quads had decided they’d
rather be done for the day. Yet, that pain faded – in the moment, with a little movement, and in my
memory, with a little distance. There’s an inherent messiness, awkwardness, misery, irritation – what
we’d typically deem bad stuff, that’s part of the price of admission for all the good stuff. There’s a
lot about this day that didn’t feel good in the moment, but given the chance, we’d both do it all
again (I just might have to wait longer than Morgan before I do).
8. Be the Hype Man: It feels good to cheer others on, be a fan, and root for your teammates. At
one point, I was asked if I was part of a program and I thought, treatment program? But she meant
cheer program. I did create a bit of a ruckus and, hitting the eighth workout of the day, had to dig
deep for any motivation to expend effort through my vocal chords. At first, all I could come up with
in the middle of this 20-minute AMRAP grind of dumbbell devil’s presses, dumbbell sit-ups,
dumbbell hang cleans, and dumbbell step-ups was a croaking, “Yeah!” But then, the joy of noticing
what’s going right, witnessing people fight the good fight and work through it, became its own
source of energy and the buzz was back in the house. Heck yeah!
9. The Mental Game – Emotional Overwhelm: I broke somewhere near my 75th kettlebell swing
in this one rounder of a two-mile run, 100 push-ups, 200 35-pound kettlebell swings, and 300
lunges. I started future tripping and doing the math, counting how many reps were left and
absorbing the reality of how hard those 300 lunges were going to be. It was slow because, after
about rep 20 or 25, my push-ups went one brutal rep at a time. I abandoned the physicality of
CrossFit, and went back in my head, thinking about how long this was going to take. Surprisingly,
my body was actually working fine, but I suddenly started sobbing while still swinging that kettlebell
and my sobs were all about those lunges that I wasn’t even doing yet. This stuff can be hard, and it
doesn’t always go the way we want it to; we feel fleet and powerful in one moment and weak and
lumbering in the next. It doesn’t matter, let the past and the future go. Stay in the present and do the
work. It’s worth it and you’ll get through it.
10. Our Bodies are Resilient: We can do more than we want to or think we can. If we treat
ourselves right in how we talk to ourselves, fuel ourselves, and the technique with which we move,
our bodies will carry us through. Morgan and I showed up with a solid and consistent foundation of
training, so we didn’t enter into the weekend recklessly, but it was still an extreme experience. As we
did more burpees, more push presses, more air squats, more sit-ups, more lunges, I was gratified by
our resiliency. Training builds trust, so do the boring stuff consistently and you’ll be ready to do the
fun stuff when the opportunity arises.
11. The Mental Game – What’s Hard?: Sage said this was the hardest workout. I didn’t believe
her, I fell into the simple means easy trap and made it even harder for myself because I thought I
shouldn’t be struggling so much. After all, this was just a 30 Minute EMOM of 10 Burpees, you
can’t fail a burpee (but you can take a long time getting back up again!). Mentally, this was the
hardest workout. We did it without music, on hard floors, after we’d done so much already and still
had so far to go, when everything hurt, everything was tired. It was hard, but it was going to be over
in 30 minutes. It was hard, but somewhere around round 12 in the fog of my second-guessing, I’m
so miserable, I should be able to do this better internal monologue, I saw Coach B’s Marine Corp
flag on the wall and thought, “What’s hard?” From that moment, my perceived effort eased – my
breathing evened out, my pain face relaxed, my gaze rested on the horizon and I began to move
better, gradually adding back the reps that I’d reduced. I forgot about my own suffering that,
moments ago, had been so captivating and remembered instead, I get to do this.
12. Give Yourself Grace: Our last workout of the day was Grace, 30 clean and jerks for time. To a
person we were fatigued in body, mind, and soul, but the energy level was high because we were all
feeling the satisfaction of our shared perseverance. The relief at the end was profound. And yet, in the days after, when the endorphins had subsided, our group had disbanded, and my muscles were
still sore, I was reminded that it helps to have a plan for recovery (it’s hard to think of and choose
the right habits in a state of Central Nervous System fatigue). And, to acknowledge that in exerting
myself like this, there are longer range impacts. My need for recovery (and the fact that this recovery
didn’t go exactly the way I expected it to go) doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have done this, am not fit, or
did something wrong, it just means I did something hard.
At the end of all this, the scores put up on the whiteboard that really mattered were that we showed
up, we were adaptable and resilient, we were there for each other, we used our minds for good, we
trusted the durability of our bodies, we went with the process and didn’t worry about the outcome,
and we had fun. Truly, it’s amazing that we get to do this, together. How cool is that?!