By: Colm O’Reilly
Three weeks down. Two to Go.
Somewhere, we’ll bet, at least once, you’ve said you can’t wait for the off season. You’ve looked forward to The Open all year, if not since this time last year, and now you’re looking forward to it being over. What gives?
Well, part of it is just the fact we’ve a tendency to race from one thing to the other. Always looking to the future.
Secondly, and the bigger one, is that it’s very draining and bruising to the ego. We’ve chosen to engage in a sport that by design stops us in our tracks. We just tend to forget this when we sign up to The Open. Chest to Bar Pull Ups come up you’ve yet to get your first? Dang! Gotta go scaled. Wish you could do everything and go rx’d? Remember this happens to Regionals athletes too. They worked their ass off to get to 2016 Regionals then find out they don’t have strict muscle ups. Or Games athletes who couldn’t do the pegboard or ring handstand push ups.
The entire sport is about finding our limits. Sure, it’s more fun when the limit is just how fast we can go and “everyone” can do burpees or wall balls, but getting fitter doesn’t just mean getting faster at things you can do. It’s regularly learning and developing new skills, new motor patterns, exceeding what once was impossible. Part of that journey is getting stopped by the impossible, then finding a way to overcome it. We’re doing The Open to discover where our fitness at this point in time. It’s okay if you get stopped. It’s a lesson.
Maybe we’ve found that we haven’t been giving it everything during the year? In that case we need to look at our why. Looking at our why is hard, and we tend to avoid this uncomfortable self reflection. Do we want to get better at our chosen sport? Absolutely! Everyone will answer yes. But, is that the number one motivation and are we willing to pay the price? Or is it 90% about staying active, moving in a fun way, with some great people? Is it more about stress relief for you? Both are AWESOME reasons to train. We just tend to forget these when we don’t have our bar muscle up or can’t reach that third bar!
If our aim is to get better at CrossFit, we have to look at the sacrifices we made? Did we spend the consistent time training? Did we do bonus work where necessary? Did we invest the time in recovery, sleep, stress reduction, nutrition, physiotherapy? Did we ignore niggles to only have them become injuries? (I did, and paid for it! Completely my responsibility!)
Or maybe you’re frustrated because you’ve felt you have worked so hard, made the sacrifices and still haven’t progressed? Well, for one, life isn’t fair in respect to the amount of work it takes to succeed. This is just as true in the gym as it is with finances, job satisfaction, relationships, and everything else. Accepting this fact and then searching for ways you can improve is a more productive use of your energy than bemoaning your station.
Sports are meant to be the ultimate meritocracy. Everything is mean to be fair. And it can drain on us when we see others get away with reps that clearly don’t meet the standard put out by HQ. We can see a judges call that gave a high squat good. We see a chin assisted bar muscle up that shows up legit on the scoreboard.
It’s infuriating. Judges are human like us and make mistakes. They give reps to their friends, the lose concentration and focus . They get excited and miss an important point of performance. Remember, Adrian Bozman made a mistake on 17.1, it happens. A tiny tiny proportion of people are trying to cheat. Most of us are just making mistakes. Yes, these mistakes add up, but what others do and what score they post is out of our control.
We’re faced with a choice here. One of them is to relax your standards “because everyone is doing it”. Let reps go that are fifty fifty calls, approve scores without a spotter, etc. Or, and the harder choice. That is, focus on you and you alone.
The easy choice is to give up. The harder choice is usually the correct choice. You’ve a limited amount of time and energy. The best use of that is to focus on what we can do to be better for the last two tests and ensure our game is on point. We can hold our standards and our effort. We can look on the last three weeks as failures, lucky breaks, or lessons learnt and experience gained. It’s entirely in your control how you do it.
What can you do now? With 10-14 days left in the competition you can’t get a lot fitter. But you definitely can reduce the stress on your body. It might be time to wind down on Double days, extra cardio sessions, or hell, heaven forbid, take an extra rest day. Stretch some more or just go the cinema and switch off for a night.
At this point in the game, everyone is hurting. No one has gotten through the last three workouts without some toll. It could just be the stress of competing and coming into the gym on Friday or Saturday with a judge. It could be the no reps you should have made. It could be the DOMS or muscle strains you’ve picked up by going the extra rep. It could just be the resultant fatigue from so much adrenaline in your system.
We’ve two weeks left. That means we’ve two weeks left to do our best effort on the day whatever the test is. Not two weeks left to survive, but two weeks left to give it our all and get what we can from The Open. We can adopt the attitude that we’re suffering through it or blessed to be able to compete. Give it your all for 17.4 and 17.5 and leave The Open knowing you did your absolute best.