Silencing the Inner Critic With Jenn Ryan

July 26, 2023 by
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In the world of CrossFit, where athletes strive for excellence and push the boundaries of human potential, there is a relentless pursuit of perfection. But amidst the physical training, strategic food planning, and unwavering dedication, there’s an often overlooked obstacle that lurks within the mind—the relentless voice of the inner critic. 

We’ve all experienced it—the nagging self-doubt, the fear of failure, and the relentless questioning of our abilities. Whether you’re a professional athlete or the casual CrossFit goer,  it’s crucial to recognize and overcome this internal adversary.

Invictus talks with Jenn Ryan, a now 6th time Games ticket holder, and a formidable Masters athlete on how she uses her background as a nurse and her ability to conquer tough things to silence that doubting voice in her mind. 

Ammerman: This upcoming NOBULL CrossFit Games is going to be your 6th appearance! What advice would you give to other Masters athletes who are aiming to achieve a similar goal? 

Ryan: Be okay with being selfish at times. You have to take care of yourself and make time for yourself in order to train hard and recover. Don’t shy away from the ‘hard’ things, go head first into them.

Ammerman: Many people know that not only are you a high-performing CrossFit athlete but you’re also a nurse! Would you say that your background in healthcare has had any sort of impact on you as an athlete? 

Ryan: I think working my entire career as a nurse in the Emergency Department helped give me a sense of “it’s just fitness, it’s not that serious.” Of course I took competing a little too seriously at times, but then working a shift in the ER would bring me back to reality. As a nurse, I think we have an innate ability to care about others and want to help people, and I think that carries over to who I am as an athlete in my training environment.

Ammerman: In January of this year you had to withdraw from Wodapalooza. What was going through your mind when you made that decision and have there been other times in the past when you chose not to pull out of a competition but wished that you had? 

Ryan: It was a tough decision to withdraw. I’ve competed with numerous injuries in the past, including a fractured hand and more sprained ankles than I’d like to remember. I felt like I’d let people down by having to withdraw, but I also felt like my body had let ME down. I’ve always been able to work through just about anything, but I realized during my warm-up for the 2nd event that I just physically couldn’t do something. I was just thinking about how bummed I was not to be competing. I don’t think there were any times in the past when I wished I’d have withdrawn, I’m too stubborn for that!

Ammerman: A lot of athletes can find themselves in a place where they may doubt their abilities or feel that they’re not up for a competition yet. Has there been a time when you have truly doubted yourself and, if so, how did you silence that inner critic? 

Ryan: I have those thoughts quite often. The one that sticks out the most is the 2022 Age Group Semifinals. I let myself focus too much on the events I doubted myself in rather than just focusing on what I could do. The thing is, whether I liked it or not, I still had to compete and do the workouts. So the only option was to set a game plan and put forth my best effort. I had to tell myself that over the years, all I’ve needed to do is what I do best, and that’s to be consistent.

Ammerman: And lastly, because life is a great balancing act, when you’re not training in the gym or working, what is your absolute favorite thing to do?

Ryan: Going out for a drink and good food with some of my friends that don’t compete in CrossFit is a nice balance. And taking my dogs to the beach, I just freaking love seeing them run around like the happiest pups on earth.

Keep up with Jenn Ryan as she heads to the Games in a few weeks at  @jenn_ryan on Instagram! Looking for our ‘Top 5 Recovery Tips for Masters Athletes’? Download the FREE guide now! 

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