Mid-workout, I turned to my judge (my husband) in a blind rage. I had flopped to the ground off the wall after stretching like a giraffe to get my 12th HSPU of the workout, my pride in shambles.
“I can’t wait for the Open to be over,” I said, panting.
He laughed, because he knew it wasn’t true.
Of course it wasn’t true. I love the Open, and the electricity that comes with it.
The CrossFit Open is fantastic for a lot of reasons, and I could write a long, feel-good post about how it brings us closer as a community.... how it pushes our limits as athletes, and tests skills that we’ve been working on all year.
Yet there are plenty of those articles to go around. And to be honest, what makes the Open great is the hard stuff. The hard stuff is what we end up learning from.
So, buckle up, because I’m not here to stroke your ego (or my own). I’m here to shift your perspective, refocus your mental energy, and remind you that progress isn’t made without putting in the work. Hard work.
Because in the end, the only thing that 'sabotages' our Open performances isn’t Dave Castro, new movement standards, or the workouts - it’s ourselves.
Here are four lessons we can learn from the 2018 CrossFit Open...
Yeah, I’m starting with this one. Trying to decipher Dave Castro’s clues, and arguing about it on social media is comparable to debating what the next winning lottery numbers are going to be.
Waste. Of. Time.
So chill out with the guessing games. It’s a perfect example of wasting time, energy and mental capacity over something you have NO control over.
So instead of stressing yourself out over what will be programmed, a better approach would be to shrug, and say outloud to the stranger next to you,
“Regardless of what the clue means, I can’t control what the workout will be. Everything is going to be okay, and my life will continue.”
Then give that stranger a high five and you carry on with your day.
Can you control what the 2019 Open workouts are going to be? No.
Can you control how much you’ve practiced each movement the previous 12 months, your attitude going into workouts, and the reaction you have when you face adversity? Yes. And that’s a much better use of your energy.
It happens every year during the Open.
No kidding, during the 2018 CrossFit Open, at WODprep HQ we got thousands of messages like this: “Hey guys! Trying to learn _____ for 18._ and I’m doing it tomorrow. How can I get my first _____? I’ve been doing CrossFit for 5 years and always scale this, but I want to Rx tomorrow. Please help!”
Step 1: Get a time machine.
Step 2: Go back to a few months ago.
Step 3: Practice the movement using real, old school discipline.
Yes, this means actually having to do things that are difficult and not being good at them. Because unless you've already been working on it, and are right on the edge of finally breaking through and nailing that movement... it's very difficult to start from scratch and try to learn your first (fill in the blank) in two days.
I know that there are a ton of athletes out there who may have grabbed their first ring muscle ups during the 2018 Open. And I’m not trying to steal your thunder if you’re one of those who got lucky, and saw success.
Ring muscle ups are one of the most challenging movements in CrossFit. Unless you already can manage a handful of strict C2B pull-ups, ring dips, and can hold a false grip... it’s not even safe to attempt RMU’s without facing the risk of ripping your arm out of its socket.
I managed to get my first strict RMU during the 2018 CrossFit Open. But, I set that goal in the fall of 2017, and had been practicing (and failing) RMU’s, going through Muscle Up Madness, and filming/analyzing videos of my drills for months at that point.
So when Dave announced 18.3, I didn’t panic. I didn’t see the “12 ring muscle ups” and have a full meltdown. I didn’t message Ben and beg him to Facetime and coach me through the workout (but I did consider that).
I said to myself, “The 2018 CrossFit Open is a better time than ever to finally get above the rings. You are ready for this.”
Because I had prepared for the past several months, I was confident that I could grind one out. I knew what I had to do, and it was time to execute.
Getting my first ring muscle up during the Open this year was WAY cooler and more gratifying than when I managed to chicken wing my first bar muscle up in Open workout 17.2, without any prior training or drills.
On that same note, you shouldn’t make a big scene if your failure to prepare leaves you with failed reps and a lackluster score on the leaderboard. Instead, own your lack of preparation and head back to the drawing board.
It’s not a newsflash that there are athletes at gyms around the world who hide from certain types of workouts, or even particular movements. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, crap that’s me.
“Pull-ups? Yeah no way, I’m going to hit some active recovery today instead. See you tomorrow buddy.”
The CrossFit Open exposes athletes like this with stunning accuracy - myself included.
18.5 called me out big time. I remember waking up that Friday, being upset that 11.6/12.5 had won the online voting, after setting an alarm for 1:30 AM to vote for 14.2/15.2 in an attempt to completely dodge thrusters.
“It’s a short, boring workout to end the Open with,” I said to a friend at the gym.
Yet as I stood with my hands on my knees four minutes into the workout wondering if I was going to throw up my protein bar, I realized that by ‘boring’ what I meant was, ‘I’m scared of thrusters and I avoid them.’
I skipped workouts with them in it. I’m pretty sure my gym had programmed Fran at least 3 times in the months leading up to the 2018 Open, and I didn’t do it once. I conveniently found a way to avoid the gym.
But in the Open, you don’t get to cherry pick.
You can’t hide from your weaknesses.
Don’t let your weaknesses get to you. You’re a badass, you do CrossFit; who gives a crap if you think you “look stupid” while struggling through those double unders that you hate? Keep your chin up, and put in the work.
And once the dust from this next Open settles, take time to make a game plan for how to fix those weaknesses. Keeping in mind... we get second 2019 Open this fall 😉
Here’s a hot topic. Raise your hand if the mention of handstand push-ups still makes you want to cry a little bit (raises hand).
I feel you. Last year. I had worked on HSPU’s all year long to make sure that they wouldn’t bite me in the butt in the 2018 CrossFit Open (because they bit me hard in 17.4).
But guess what? They crushed me. Again. For a variety of reasons, the new standard completely destroyed my HSPU game, and 18.4 tanked my standing and temporarily shattered my spirit.
I had a spectrum of emotions after that workout, and I did the workout twice. I was confused after the first run, and then pissed/annoyed and being a huge baby after the second go at it.
“Why would Dave do this, this isn’t fair. If these are the standards then why didn’t they warn us of the drastic changes!?”
Wah wah wah, so on and so forth.
A lot of interesting posts came out the week after 18.4 came to a close - this is a good read if you haven’t already seen it.
As I read them, I not only realized that I wasn’t alone in the struggle, but that playing the victim about the standard was pretty pathetic. And it was doing nothing to fix my situation.
Of course it did. But remember, CrossFit is supposed to be hard! Handstand push-ups are no exception.
It’s the challenge of it - both mentally and physically - that actually leads to true growth and transformation. The new standards in the 2018 CrossFit Open were set for that very reason… to challenge us, the quality of reps, and to perform the movement in a safer manner.
So once I stopped wallowing and carrying on to my dogs about how Dave Castro was mean (it took about 24 hours) I decided to shift my mindset to:
“I haven’t been doing HSPU’s with the right stance, and I’m going to fix this moving forward.”
What are you going to do about it?
The Open teaches us as much about our character as it does our physical abilities. And I love that.
I’ll say it again: CrossFit is meant to be difficult. So is the Open.
We’re lucky to have the opportunity to challenge our bodies with this style of fitness. Take the “hardships” that were presented from the 2018 CrossFit Open, and turn them into positives as we head into the 2019 Open season.
“I GET to practice toes to bar today. And before long, I’m going to dominate them.”
(For some context, this was after I told him that I was nervous about having to do ring muscle ups for 18.3. I didn’t know how I was going to perform under pressure, fatigue, etc.)
His response was: “Be happy you have arms and legs.”
It’s a great reality check. We’re exercising for fun, learning new things, and spending time with close friends. How incredible is that?!
I hope you enjoy this year’s Open. If you haven't yet, be sure to opt-in to get our free 2019 Open Strategy Guides - they're clutch when it comes to Open coaching.
Kait is the Editor-in-Chief for the WODprep blog, a long-time CrossFit athlete, and lover of pretty much all things fitness. She's been on the WODprep team now for three years, and received her CF-L1 in 2017. She lives in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two huskies.
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