Last year I wrote an article warning you that you would NOT make the CrossFit Games. I went so far as to say that you wouldn’t make Regionals nor the Master’s Qualifier. I hope some of you proved me wrong, or least gave it your best effort. I know I did both. But the purpose of last year’s article was to give you 10 good reasons to do the Open. All 10 reasons still apply – and those 10 reasons are exactly why I will do the Open for as long as there is one. But this will be my 5th Open and my perspective has changed a little in terms of how I approach it and what I get out of it. So this year’s article is all about why it’s OK to feel a little “different” when the Open rolls around. Many of you who have made it through an Open or two (or five) know what I’m talking about. For those of you who are signing up for your first one, go back and read my original article and then read this one once the Open is over. So, let’s get some stuff about the Open out in the open:
1 – LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS…
It’s a COMPETITION. Call it what you want, people compete. Against themselves. And yes, against one another. If you are highly competitive and have been feeling like a shit because you are checking the leaderboard every 10 minutes, STOP. I now refresh that thing like a mother f*cker and I make no excuses. I want to know where I stand. For me, that’s the point of a competition. Just like it’s OK to not care, it’s also OK to care A LOT. I had to come to terms with the fact that it’s who I am. I’m a refresher. Maybe you are too. Free yourself and admit it. And you people who do the workout 8 times before you submit your score? You are still f*cking crazy as shit. Tone it down a little and keep it around 2. Ok, 3.
2 – IT’S JUST EXERCISE, PEOPLE…
At the same time, they are JUST WORKOUTS. There. I said it. It’s just a workout. Not very different from the workouts you do every day in your gym. Sometimes I know that looking at the workout on the whiteboard can bring a wave of nausea and cause your life to flash before your eyes. It’s just like that, but 300 bazillion times as big. Swallow hard, close your eyes and pull up your big girl/boy panties. Just like yesterdays’ workout, it will be over soon and you will survive. Monday will come and you will be back at work, then back at the gym, and then yes, anticipating the next one.
3 – GREAT EXPECTATIONS…
You did well in the Open last year and now you have…EXPECTATIONS. Expect this…you might NOT do as well as you expected. I know you got a muscle up the day before the Open started and that means you TOTALLY can do them now. Umm. NO. Be ready for those muscle ups to decide not to show up to the party (I mean, you did just invite them yesterday) and be ready to be OK WITH IT. Accept it. A little humility is part of the journey toward accepting responsibility for your training. And if they do show up to your party but not to others, remember the way it felt when it was you they snubbed. That said, expectations can lead to some incredibly magical moments. I got to have one last year. But one thing I have learned after 3 of these things is that MANAGING MY EXPECTATIONS is key. I am now fully prepared to be OK with all those party-goers who RSVP’d and now have decided to stand me up and accept someone else’s invitation. Especially when I didn’t exactly make a big effort to be friends until a month before the Open. (See #6 below).
4 – CLOSE YOUR EYES AND JUMP…
I have learned to RIDE THE WAVE. If it’s your wave, take it and don’t look back. If the crowd is behind you, let them carry you all the way to shore. Don’t worry about how far ahead you are or how close everyone else is. The Open is one place that I truly think it’s OK to get caught up in it. Sometimes your EXPECTATIONS (see #3) will try to wipe you out. Leave them onshore. But once you jump in, you HAVE TO commit and go hard.
5 – I’LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT
If you have the opportunity, BE A JUDGE, especially if you are a coach. Some of my favorite moments of the Open last year came while I was judging an athlete. What touched me the most was when an athlete specifically asked me to judge them. It meant the world to me when they told me that it was my coaching during the workout that inspired them and pushed them to do better. It was those same athletes that I could hear during my heat cheering me on and pushing me the way I had pushed them. See the WAVE in #4. I let them carry me in when the voice in my head made me doubt myself and it was glorious.
6 – IT’S ALL MY FAULT
At the end of the day, it’s really all about EVERYTHING I HAVE DONE IN MY TRAINING UP TO THAT MOMENT. I now know that if I haven’t put in the work over the last 12 months, no matter how hard I try, some things are just not going to happen. And that is nobody’s fault but mine. The Open has a way of exposing your deficiencies. Exposing them is one thing, but taking responsibility for them is entirely another. Learning to own your moments of defeat is just as important as celebrating those moments of magic.
7 – SURPRISE, SURPRISE…NOT.
DUMBBELLS. One word and people online lost their shit. Remember the “unknowable” part of CrossFit? Well, now you know it. I know all the noise is gym owners worried about how many, how much and how am I going to do this. Just do it (sorry, had to say it). Find a way. Just like you borrowed rowers when “gasp” – rowing showed up. Really? Borrow some. Buy some. Have a bake sale. And if you are an athlete, your gym doesn’t have them and have never touched a dumbbell, go find a globo gym and touch one. Or any fitness room in a hotel. Every travel WOD I have done included dumbbell thrusters because it was what I had access to. I hate to tell you this but dumbbells will not be the biggest surprise this Open.
8 – PONY UP OR SHUT UP…
IT’S TWENTY DOLLARS PEOPLE. Really. 20 bucks. It’s 5 and a half cents per day for the next 365 days. Save up. Hell, you can probably find that in your car seats and the bottom of your gym bag. And yes, I realize there may be people who it causes a true hardship for. Email me if that’s truly the case and I will find a way to help you. I believe in the Open that much. But if you are holding out on principle…I’m not listening. Pay to play or don’t. But don’t tell me how you didn’t pay the $20 bucks because of corporate greed and all that crap and that you still did all the workouts and you beat me. Bullshit. I don’t see your name on the leaderboard, I see mine. And yes, tell me I’m being a bitch about it. You gave up your right to brag about your Open scores when you decided to keep that 20 in your pocket. It’s like anything else. If you decide to participate, great. If you decide not to, that’s great too. But don’t tell me I’m feeding the corporate machine and in the same breath brag about how you beat me. Ok. Rant over.
9 – LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY…
BE UNEXPECTED. Cry. Laugh. Be brave. Take off your shirt (keep your pants on, we don’t need that kind of trouble). Yell loud. Fight hard. Hug everyone. Tell your friends how proud you are of them, and of yourself. Leave it all out on the gym floor. Call your mom. In fact, invite your mom to watch. Make promises. Keep them. The Open is all about you. And about her, and about him. It’s about all of us waiting for that “unexpected” thing to show up in the Open. This year, be that unexpected thing.
There. I’m done. I know it’s only 9, and I’m sure there are things I missed but those are the things that stand out for me after 4 of these. Some of you might want to punch me right about now (get in line, it’s long). others might want to hug me (that line is shorter). Others probably want to know who the hell am I and why does my opinion matter. I’m just one of you and it doesn’t. And yes, I paid my 20 bucks, I don’t have a muscle up and as usual, I’m taking my shirt off. I also plan on refreshing that leaderboard every 90 seconds or so, getting through all of the workouts and doing whatever Dave Castro tells me to do with that dumbbell. And I plan on flying my flag proudly and being unexpected – whatever that may be. I guess all 400,000 of us will just have to wait and see.