What I learnt doing the Crossfit Open

The Crossfit Open is long gone and now those mega athletes who qualified for the next stage are in full regionals prep. I thought I’d just revisit my experience a little bit and share some things I learnt or thought about along the way from taking part in the Open.

1. The pressure can get to you

I signed up a bit on a whim for the Open and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was going to do my best and not try to be stressed about it because it was meant for fun. It was just a competition against myself and see what I could do. However, as the weeks went on I felt some kind of pressure to do well. It was when we were starting to do the WODs I knew I wouldn’t do well in due to lack of skills or strength and whilst I had loads of people around me when I was doing my WODs who were supporting me, I felt slightly awkward and uncomfortable they were watching me struggle. I know it doesn’t matter but I suppose I have a bit of pride and being vulnerable and really struggling at times sometimes got to me. I felt like I wasn’t good enough even though I was doing way better than I thought I would. I managed double unders, chest to bars and handstand push ups, things that I had never really been able to do before or haven’t been doing for very long. However, once I was in the WOD all the people watching and cheering you on actually helped but at the beginning of  the workouts I just felt a bit like I wanted to hide. It gets you out of your comfort zone these workouts and when you’re in it, all you need to focus on is getting through it the best you can.

2. You are better than you think you are

I by no means am saying I’m the best or am super good at Crossfit but I think I struggle to realise that I’m quite good at this stuff by now. I still have so much more to learn and get better at but even a couple of months ago I couldn’t have done what I’m doing today. I don’t give myself enough credit for what I do and it’s a shame because you work so hard to accomplish something and all you want is to get double unders or get a handstand push up and when it happens I feel like I’m not praising myself enough. I more think, well that’s good and then just carry on. I work hard for all the progress I make but I don’t celebrate it enough, I’m almost already over it by the time I get it. I need to get better at stopping and appreciating when I nail something. Ending up far higher on the leaderboard than I thought I would and doing all of the workouts RX (as prescribed) rather than scaling also showed that I guess I’m doing alright in my training. I did not think that would happen. It’s realising that you’re doing well and you’re making progress and being happy and proud of that progress. I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet but maybe I just need to be a bit more proud of my progress along the way. Do you guys struggle with this?

3. It finds your weaknesses but also pushes you to get better

Oh god it did. Doing these WODs it was impossible in some instances to move on to the next stage because there was a movement in the way, which made you stop and you couldn’t get past it. For instance, double unders slowed me down, chest to bars slowed me down, handstand push ups slowed me down and muscle ups were just a lost cause and let’s not talk about handstand walks haha. You could do well in the first part of the workout and then you would hit a wall and that was your submission over. It’s as if someone lit a massive spotlight right at where you know you’re struggling, which was eye opening. Some instances you would be stuck there for the remaining time, being forced to practise this movement you’re terrible at, other times you struggled through. What it did make me feel was, I’m freaking going to practise all these things until next year so I can get better and get through these movements. It was a learning experience to see what you need to focus on a bit extra and also to see what a bit of pressure can make you do, sometimes you were surprised how you managed to wiggle through to the next part of the workout.

4. You get a benchmark for next year

For someone who’s a bit competitive like me and likes competing against yourself, I love that I now have a placing I can improve for next year. There’s a full year of progress and improvement until the next Open and I’m hoping next year I’ll feel more confident and feel like I could place a bit better. It’s always nice to feel like you’re moving forward and have something to strive towards. I’m not super strict wanting to smash myself to do better next year but it gives me a goal.

5. Going to a small independent gym is the best thing ever

It’s at times like these when qualifiers for competitions are happening that you realise how special these kinds of gyms are. Everyone is helping out as much as they can, giving up their spare time on the weekend even if they’re not submitting anything just to help out with judging or filming, setting up or supporting. The vibe during some of the workouts was just amazing when everyone was cheering the people doing the workout on to keep going and watching people get their first pull up. It was beautiful. We had members bring homemade cakes and at one point MJ brought down her coffee machine and was making everyone a coffee to keep them warm.

6. It’s you against you

You would think when entering any form of competition you are inevitably competing against others but the main competition you have is with yourself to be the best you can be. It’s how I always try to think whenever I’m training or competing and was once again reminded of this during the Open. It’s not so much about the leaderboard in relation to other people but it’s more about when you put it into the perspective of your performance and what you can do and if you leave the workout happy knowing you’ve done your best.

7. It’s fun

At then end of the day we all sign up because we want something to do and it’s a bit of fun. Don’t try and take it too seriously. It’s incredibly cool that people from all over the world are doing the same workouts in their own gym and taking part. If you’re on the fence next year on whether to do it or not, I’d say just do it, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You don’t finish the workout maybe, there were loads of workouts I was nowhere near finishing when the time cap was up. But that’s the worst thing that could happen, other than injuring yourself (please don’t do that!). If anything you win from even trying because a lot of people wouldn’t even dare to do that. Just see how far you can go, you’ll surprise yourself!



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