Yeah, it’s that time. 15.1, the first workout of the 2015 CrossFit Open, will be announced tonight at 5pm PST.
Maybe it’s your first Open. Maybe you only signed up to get your coaches off your back. Perhaps you barely got through the Open last year, and you can’t wait to see how much you’ve improved. Or you have your sights on Regionals and you’ve been waiting for this since you called Time! on 14.5.
Well, enjoy the next couple of hours because right now it’s all fun. The anticipation. The predictions. The countdown. But once the 2015 Open is unleashed, real life disappears for five weeks. The Open eats your common sense, self-confidence, and your ability to reason like you devour pancakes after a paleo challenge.
But it doesn’t have to.
When I think about last year’s Open, I cringe at the expectations I had set for myself and the bitter disappointments that followed each workout. At the time it seemed so…life and death. The pressure I felt in the three seconds before Go! was so fervent that the feeling often didn’t leave me until the WOD was almost over.
Over the past year, I’ve learned to chill out. And I’m happier for it. But I also know avoiding a relapse into Psycho CrossFit Chick is easier said than done.
This is my 2015 CrossFit Open Survival Guide.
1. Why did I sign up? By now you’ve probably read or seen no fewer than ten articles on why you should sign up for the Open. I can’t come up with one specific reason. All I can say is that during the Open I feel like I’m in a five week celebration with the entire CrossFit world. Watching the WOD announcements on Thursday nights is magical for me. Seeing my favorite Games athletes battle it out is better than watching the red carpet at the Academy Awards. For five weeks I share a leaderboard with of hundreds of thousands of CrossFitters, and I am reminded that I am part of something much larger than myself.
2. What do I expect of myself? Last year I didn’t think about what I needed to do to succeed at the Open. It didn’t occur to me that my success was independent of the performance of others. We hear this all the time in CrossFit – that you’re only in competition with yourself. Well, that’s impossible. But it helps to believe it during the Open. If I’d focused more on my victories – like my first chest to bar or finally getting below parallel on my overhead squats – instead of how my score compared to others’, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed in myself. Don’t ignore those brilliant moments of triumph. They are not a fluke and they deserve to be celebrated.
3. How will I react when I totally blow it? Maybe you won’t totally blow it, but something probably won’t go as planned. And I usually get really pissed and cry. This year I am not going to get pissed and cry. Or stomp my feet. Or kick a bumper plate. I am going to congratulate someone who did well and I am not going to prattle about how I just sucked. Because one WOD performance does not define me.
Sam Briggs and Lindsey Valenzuela? They had every right to get pissed and cry when they didn’t advance to the Games last year. As 2013 Games podium finishers and after a year of living and breathing CrossFit, they earned the right to stomp their feet and kick bumper plates. As a below-average-scaled-competitor who spends 6 hours a week at the box, I can act like an adult. **
**Note: We’ll see.
This is the fun part. Once Thursday night’s announcement is over, you can start your Googling marathon. After 14.1 was released (double unders and power snatches), I watched so many instructional YouTube videos, I could have coached double unders despite the fact I couldn’t actually do more than one at a time. For 14.2, it was chest to bar pull ups. I replayed Carl Paoli’s chest to bar progressions until I was sick of watching Carl (yeah, it’s possible).
Get a general idea of pacing. If you’ve been doing CrossFit for awhile, you know how long it takes you to do certain movements. Be honest, add a second here or there, account for a bit of rest, and come up with an achievable goal. You will feel more confident with a plan. And, afterwards, when you totally blow your plan, you’ll be prepared for that too (see Number 3 Above).
Take care of your hands. Maybe it’s the intensity of the Open, but it seems to bring out the rips. Throw some RipFix or topical antibiotic in your bag with some bandaids or athletic tape.
If the workout seems overwhelming (remember the outrage when 50 toes-to-bar showed up in 14.4?), focus on the PR opportunity. A few weeks prior to last year’s Open, I couldn’t do even one toes-to-bar. During 14.4, I did 44 out of 50. A definite PR. But I was so disappointed I didn’t get through all 50 of them, that I neglected to take note of what I accomplished (see Number 2 above).
Judge. Unless it’s so far outside your comfort zone that you forget how to count, take the opportunity to judge. You’ll learn a lot about pacing and efficient movement by paying close attention to the athlete you’re judging. Not only may it help your overall development, it’s also another way to try something new during the Open.
Have fun. The Open exposes a lot of weaknesses in a short amount of time. Hell, it exposes the weakness of your weaknesses. Remember why you got yourself into this mess (see Number 1 above). The Open should be intense and a bit stressful. But that intensity should lead to progress, not self-abuse. Slap that Psycho CrossFit Chick inside you and tell her to settle her ass down.
The moment you collapse to the floor at the end of 15.5, you’ll realize it’s all over. The preparation, the anxiety, the (sniff) Thursday night fun. The 2015 CrossFit Open is over. Maybe your journey to Regionals is about to begin. Or maybe you have a long list of weaknesses to tackle before the release of 16.1.
Either way, congratulations. You made it. We all did.