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By NPO Athlete, Curtis Dixon

The word ‘performance’ sparks huge internal conflict …

The Motocross Years

Every hobby, interest, and to some extent my job(s) has pushed me to focus and apply maximum effort and dedication to become the best. However, this has often resulted in me becoming exhausted and opened the door to anxiety and depression – often due to a perception that I haven’t lived up to peoples expectations!

Constantly having to perform and live up to expectation – an almost external assumption that you will always be an avid contender and be able to give 100%, takes a massive toll. It’s exhausting!

I’ve suffered with bouts of depression from an early age, never knowing what I was actually going through. I just got on with life because that’s what you were told to do, “suck it up and stop being miserable, you’re bringing everyone down” …

Between 2014 to 2019, I raced amateur level Motocross – the sport that has been my absolute passion since day one, and nothing has changed! Yet, despite my love for the sport, there came a point in late 2019, where I became saturated by it and began to hate everything about it!

To effectively compete, the money I needed to spent on the bike whilst paying for race entries, resulted in me having to work 60+ hour weeks while also trying to train and maintain my performance in the gym. I couldn’t do it, which gradually stripped all the love and fun out of competing in Motocross. This period ultimately brought on more anxiety and depression.

People would often comment:

“Why are you so moody all of the time?”

This was a recurring comment which fed into my frustration! Why? Well, I was being beaten on the track by people that were much slower than me but I was physically and mentally exhausted … You could say I was beaten before I had even set off! Arriving at the realisation that I wanted to step away and became a ‘fan’, was in retrospect, one of the most vital decisions that I have ever made for mental health, my family life, and also my bank account…

Finding CrossFit

During my last season of racing I discovered CrossFit, and met some of my closest friends that are still my training partners to this day. The CrossFit space gave me the fitness element that I was lacking after leaving racing, but was refreshingly filled with people that wanted me to succeed as much as themselves! So there it was, a win-win!

However, things quickly started getting competitive as I developed the cardio and technical base … and so it started again! Fast forward two years and I was sitting in first place going into the last day of the European CrossFit Championships. Another hobby that I had thrown every single bit of energy into – needing to be the best – and desperately seeking the approval of others …

Going into the final day of the Euros, I had never felt as tired. As I attempted the last two workouts, I was completely drained both mentally and physically. All I needed to do was finish in the Top Two on a Thruster and Rope Climb workout and I assured the win.

As soon as the start whistle sounded, I crumbled … Failing multiple lifts and ripping my hands open on the rope – just trying to compete with the other guys, and at one point, halfway through, I stood with my hands on my hips – dizzy and almost passing out – watching the one guy that I needed to beat get on with the workout and excel without issue. In addition (and this was the most crushing factor), I was fully aware I had my wife and friends cheering me on, all of whom had travelled four hours to watch me compete! I couldn’t help it, but I just stared at the floor and thought:

“You’re such a f***ing disappointment”!

This singular moment was quite pivotal and I told myself afterwards that I would never let that happen again!

Nought Point One NPO Mens Navy Pink No Sacrifices T-Shirt

Practicing Smarter Training Cycles

Smarter training programmes, healthier relationships with rest and having a more positive outlook on the notion of being beaten in competition by certain movement specialists, has been absolutely key in finding a comfortable, yet effective edge, with my mental health and well-being!

Don’t get me wrong, getting beaten by a friend who can string 20+ muscle ups together in the middle of a gymnastics workout or being out-lifted in a squat snatch by a girl, still stings – but that’s CrossFit! In these initial moments, I often go right back to the mindset I had while racing, but then quickly realise how grateful I am to now have the opportunity to train with people I know are happy to see me succeed! Being humbled is the best thing that can happen to anyone in my eyes.

Today, I focus my efforts on a more broad scope – not letting one thing get on top of me too much – staying aware and reacting to the warning signs of Mental Burnout. My wife has been crucial in helping me to realise this and establish greater balance, and for this, I will be forever grateful!

Anxiety, however, is still something I suffer with from day-to-day – constantly in a battle with my own head, reading too much into little things! Whether its a passive comment (banter) by the lads or carrying the burden of appeasing the exception of others with my performance, its always there, niggling away! Even now I am contemplating deleting this whole thing because the thought of people not being interested, is creeping in …

“What if people read this and say bad things or make fun of me behind my back?”

It is one of the hardest things to tackle, but I do believe that I am getting more confident and in turn, more comfortable in dealing with the every day by approaching it with a Healthy Mindset.

Anyway, I’m off to practice heavy thrusters and legless rope climbs!

Catch you later, Curtis x