In Coaching

January 06, 2012

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Ben Bergeron teaches a few CrossFit lessons based on the bumblebee and the racehorse.

One of the most powerful and motivating coaching mantras I have ever stolen (yes, I steal from other coaches) was given to me while I was a triathlete training for Ironman in my former life.

Joe Friel, a world-class endurance coach and author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible, has a powerful message he uses to get his athletes to stay focused and believe in themselves during the long training season.

His message is “think like a bumblebee and train like a racehorse.” This message works as well, or even better, for CrossFitters as it does for endurance athletes. I have employed this message with every top-level CrossFit athlete I have coached, and I believe it is enough to bring an athlete from good to great.

Last spring when I was coaching the CrossFit New England Team to prepare for the CrossFit Games, this was a constant theme at every practice. The women on the team even got bumblebee earrings to remind themselves of this powerful message.

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13 Comments on “Think Like a Bumblebee, Train Like a Racehorse”


wrote …

Not to take anything away from Ben's article (that makes many great points), I wanted to just add that research done in 2009 showed how bumblebees do overcome the inefficiency of their flight surfaces to actually fly. Far from negating anything Ben said, it further shows that the bees' succeed maybe less because of faith and more because of an overwhelming intensity of effort (something we all in CF know and always strive for).

You can Google the ref by using "DOI: 10.1007/s00348-009-0631-8" or the author Dr Richard Bomphrey, the paper was published in Experiments in Fluids in 2009.

"Our observations show that, instead of the aerodynamic finesse found in most other insects, bumblebees have a adopted a brute force approach powered by a huge thorax and fuelled by energy-rich nectar," said Dr Bomphrey. (in an interview with ScienceDaily 5/7/2009)


wrote …

Way to go, Jonathan - you're a buzzzzzzzzz kill!


wrote …

Good motivational article. Quick, to the point and hits home.

I think Jonathan is over thinking the metaphor.


wrote …

Actually, I like Jonathan's addition. It shows that the bee does it through shear will, tenacity and effort. I guess a huge thorax (strength bias) and energy rich nectar (bees are paleo?) also seem to help.

The pun it presented was so heavy and fluffy that I had to take a swat at it.

(Ok, I'll stop now)


wrote … guys crack me up:) great article Ben. to everyone, happy crossfitting! be smart and safe but get after that mf'er!


wrote …

I agree...Jonathan's addition is right on point, particularly the point about: "...overwhelming intensity of effort..."


Joseph Alexander wrote …

Good stuff Ben. Keep it coming!


wrote …

Brute rich nectar? Hmmmm...Barry Bonds, et. al.?


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Excellent insights,thanks!


wrote …

I can think of several CF athletes that should read this, do their training, and stop worrying.

Excellent article!


wrote …

The racehorse thing is nice if you have a strong coach like Ben - the message is "stop second-guessing your coach and do what you're told". But if you're doing this on your own and don't really quite grok CF programming, or you're at a box run by someone who isn't as strong a coach as Ben, or you have obvious weak points that need more work than just following main site WODs, just buckling down and doing what you're told without question or second-guessing can lead to undertraining, overtraining, or emphasis on the wrong parts of training.

Or did I misunderstand the analogy?


wrote …

Ben, you've written a masterpiece. Thank you for this excellent contribution to the CrossFit Journal and the CrossFit Community. Your article is now required reading for Athlete's at CrossFit Amundson. - Greg A.


wrote …

What an awesome read! I"m currently about to begin my training for a local event, FiteNite, the largest Amateur boxing event in Central Texas. I will be defending my title from 2 years ago, around the time I started crossfitting. This article was just what I needed to get in the mind set and I can't wait to defend my title and represent Crossfit San Marcos!

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