The CrossFit Open: Why I Hated It and Why I Can’t Wait for Round 2

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Do you sometimes remember insignificant details about extremely emotional events in your life?

Did I blow your mind? I bet you didn’t see that question coming. But really, I am sure there are times where you remember a song that came on the radio or the food you were eating when some significant occurrence, be it traumatic or totally joyful, happened in your life.

Well, I can tell you what I was wearing when I did my first workout of my first CrossFit Open (granted I only have one under my belt), down to the sports bra and socks.

I was just shy of a year into my CrossFit journey and had rushed like a bat out of Dante’s 7th circle of hell to get to CrossFit Roux to get the workout done that Friday with my friends and coaches. It was 17.1 which consisted of an unholy number of dumbbell snatches and burpee box jumps. Not only had I never done a single dumbbell snatch before, but the idea of 75 burpee box jumps that I was about to WILLINGLY put myself through had my head spinning.

I had 20 minutes to get it done. And you know what? I did it and I did it in 18:23. That was enough to earn me a top female score at my gym. During the following workout I earned my first bar muscle-ups. 3 weeks (and many welts) later, I mastered double-unders in the last workout.

I did so well for my first Open and I was so miserable when it was done.

No, not that miserable after vacation when you went from a crazy high back to normal life, I was strung out. The Open wrecked me mentally and emotionally and I couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t like it was my plan to try to make it to Regionals. I mean y’all, that was never in the plan. My now husband asked me to promise him that I would never do it again. Living with me was less than a treat at that time.

Yet fast forward a year and the Open begins in a few days and I am so pumped to do it again.

If you didn’t think I was nuts before, I’m sure you do now. But hold that thought for a moment, because I think I figured out why.

Last year, I was a CrossFit baby (I mean, I still am 2 years in) and yet I had set a completely unattainable standard for myself. I didn’t even know what it was, but whatever I did, it wasn’t enough. I always could have gone faster, or done more reps, or worked on this or that during the year more. Everyone at the gym thought I would do well, and I did, but I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t enough no matter how many times I turned it over in my head. And anyway I spun it, I became completely obsessed with how others perceived my scores and feeling like I let people down. “Damn, I only got 4 bar muscle-ups. Tommy and Bradley are going to feel like they wasted so much time working with me. They invested so much and I couldn’t get 5.” Okay. Yes, I’m totally nuts.

However, once I stepped back, I gained a helluva lot of perspective.. I learned how to be myself in many facets and I am a much more confident and competent athlete and person than I was a year ago. And while it has been quite a year with many life changes, the Open was a catalyst.

I have finally become confident in my own abilities; physically and mentally. See, I was always going to have a tough time last year because people saw more in me than I saw in myself. And I have to say, this version of me could kick last years version of me in her much less developed glutes. It forced me to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. And while the physical changes are the most obvious, I believe those come from a mental shift that you can’t see. I believe that the ability to be in control of your body in a positive way requires a strong mind as well.

With all that being said, here’s my 5 tips for getting through this next CrossFit Open:

    1. Have fun. I know this sounds totally corny, but it is key. The coolest part about CrossFit is the community. And while the physical benefits are nice, we keep coming back because we love the people we do it with. So why would you make these workouts anything less than fun? You enter the pain cave with these people on a daily basis, this isn’t different.
    2. Know yourself. I have learned how I work best and I know my body better than anyone. I have learned that I can’t look at the clock in a workout, I stress out. Last year, I obsessed about the clock. Don’t change your workout because it’s “the Open”. Just get your fitness on and do your thing.
    3. Give 100%. This seems obvious, but wait! There’s a catch. Give it your all, but remember that your all changes everyday. Last year, I judged a member in a workout and y’all, it was rough. He is a state trooper and the night before worked an night shift. He rolled into the gym right after getting off and was not having it. He was exhausted. But you know what, he gave that everything he had. When he recently re-did the workout, he did it 14 MINUTES faster. But both times, he gave it his all.
    4. Embrace the failures. These workouts suck. They’re supposed to. And there’s a reason that only the best of the best make it through. So remember that there are times you will bomb but, there are also times you will surprise yourself. Learn from it all and use it to set goals.
    5. Have a cold beer ready for after. Or 6. You’ll need it. Write me a thank you note later.

So, there it is. My one and only experience with the CrossFit Open. I now firmly believe that whether you have been doing CrossFit for 3 months or 6 years, there is no reason for not doing these 5 workouts. For us regular CrossFitters (HA! I’m sure a lot of people would have something to say about that) it is a chance to learn, grow, and be involved in a community that is desperate to give you as much support as it can.

Jump high. Run fast. Lift heavy. Get better everyday. You got this, I believe in you.