Open Is Here!
Well folks, for those of you competing in The Open, at this time next week you will have likely completed your first Open workout of 2018. At this point everyone is wondering if we’ll see a barbell this year and what crazy workouts CF HQ will come up with.
Here are some light tips for Open Season 2018!
There is no “cramming” for this exam. The body takes a lot longer than a week to adapt from training, so where your fitness is at now (more likely a month ago), is what you will have to work with. You will not get stronger/better engine from this point on until after The Open. So, this is a great time to practise some Stoicism. Accept what you have to work with and make the best of it. Accept the workouts that come out without emotion, as some will be good for you and some will not be. After you submit your score, that workout is over forever. No amount of worrying, self-criticism, or comparing to others is going to change what you did. Furthermore, do not drastically change your diet or routine in a last ditch effort to improve your performance. Your body is used to what you’ve been doing with it for the past few months, so it is most likely to perform at its best when its not being introduced a bunch of new factors in addition to the stress of The Open.
The second part of chill, is to try and not judge yourself. This is more for the hyper-competitive folks out there. You can chose to diminish yourself based on your results and how you do against others if you want. But, the best frame of mind to have is that you are expressing your fitness against one workout, on one day of the year. In no way does that define the entirety of your fitness, or worth as a person. The Open is a test of fitness, but its also part chance based on who you end up competing against, and also what the workouts may be. Express, don’t judge.
This goes hand in hand with the former tip. Your focus during The Open should be recovery and keeping your skills fresh, maintaining your strength/power, your aerobic system, and keeping your CNS primed for the work it needs to do. Think of touching each of these things throughout the week, not smashing them. We are maintaining, not gaining during this period. Low volume is essential during The Open, as the focus is on hitting 1 workout/week to the best of your ability. It is also essential that your sleep, nutrition, and hydration is on point. After you finish your last attempt of the workout, your entire focus should turn to recovering and preparing as best as possible for the next workout.
Pace and Plan
It amazes me each year during The Open and Regionals to see high level athletes not pacing. The mentality of going as hard as you can from the start of the clock only works if you can maintain that blistering pace until the workout is over, or if you can give yourself enough of a lead that you don’t get passed by others while you are crawling to the finish line. Furthermore, trying to go unbroken is rarely the best approach to a workout, unless you can maintain going unbroken for the entire workout without having to take massive breaks in between movements. Very few athletes are at the level where this is an advisable strategy.
The ideal pacing for most workouts is going to reflect a messy crescendo meaning that you slowly increase your output towards the end. Moving consistently at a sustainable pace is going to get a better result than going super hard, then stopping and staring at the ground, then going kinda hard for a shorter period of time, before stopping and holding your knees again. You don’t want to necessarily be a tortoise, but you should aim to move at a sustainable pace which is as close to your threshold as possible.
Going to failure at any point before the last inches of the workout is a recipe for disaster. So, you should have a plan of how you are going to break up reps before you start. If you try to “go by feel” you will likely over-do it quickly. Pacing is an art, and takes a great understanding of ones’ own ability. So, look at the workout, and be honest with yourself about what you are capable of, make a plan, and stick to it.
Seriously, how many times in your CF career have you said to yourself "I started too slow" compared to how many times you've said, "FML, I started way too hard".
Very few people will move on from the Open and this point doesn’t apply to those who are within striking range of moving on. A whopping 5 Girls and 5 Guys in the Rx’d Division from Canada West will make it to regionals this year. That means that this is the last stage for most folks, and that is ok. The atmosphere will be great, and the adrenaline kick you’ll get will make you feel a bit super-human, so the urge to push will be strong. BUT remember that your ability to train all year round injury free is more important than a couple spots on the leaderboard which is largely arbitrary for the vast majority of people doing The Open. Push yourself, but do not forget that the “Why” behind your fitness journey is more important than how you finish in an Open workout.
Have Fun and Cheer Loud
Yes the Fikowski’s, Fraser’s and Dottirs are truly amazing human specimens that are awe-inspiring in their own right, but in my opinion, the most amazing aspect of The Open isn’t the ability of the top individuals. The craziest thing of the open is that it is a mass expression of fitness on a global scale never before seen in our history. The Crossfit Open is a strange phenomenon in which hundreds of thousands of people from all ages and locations across the globe will be performing the same physical task and enjoying the hell out of it. Anything that has that number of people expressing and celebrating their own fitness and the fitness of others is great in my books. If Crossfit is a cult, it is the cult with the most positive influence on peoplekind (Canadians will get it) in history. We have things like The Olympics, but that is a bunch of highly skilled people competing at a bunch of different sports. The Open is something else.
So, compete, go hard, but seriously have fun. Make sure you give lots of high fives. Be thankful and proud that you are in a position to be able to express your fitness in something like The Open. You are a living, breathing, sweating, jumping, squatting, and capable human, and that’s pretty darn cool in and of itself.
Good luck this year!
If you are single and spent last weekend looking up at the moon wondering if the love of your life might be somewhere out there also looking at the moon, probably not. Sorry. But based on the numbers, its a lot more likely that the love of your life will be doing The Open on Friday. Because well there are probably more Cf’ers than moon-gazers right?
Grit Human Performance