Sunday, April 7, 2013

What I Learnt From The Crossfit Open

My training buddy Jenny and I

So ... the Crossfit Open is over for another year.  A year ago I would never have imagined I would participate, let alone get 3 scores on the board.  My coach and workout buddy talked me into participating this year and I am glad they did.  Here is what I am taking away from the the 2013 games.

It's All About Participation
Really, to be part of a global community all participating in the same thing is something quite amazing.  This year 138,000 people around the world registered to compete.

Benchmarks Are Great Things To Have
When I said that I would do the games, I honestly expected to do all the workouts in a scaled form as I am so new to Crossfit and still have not mastered many of the skills.  I never dreamed that I could do any of the workouts RX.  My little scores (way WAY down on the leaderboard) were pretty much personal bests for me.  I pb'd burpees ... I pd'd snatching (heck I learnt the basics of snatching 2 weeks before 13.1) and I pb'd  my overhead split jerk.  I got 75lbs up for the first time three days before 13.2 and to do that workout and get it up 15 times (although one was a no rep because I forgot to bring my feet together under it - darn it!) was a really incredible thing for me.

Best of all, I have a good sense of where I am at on many of the movements - as well as where I am not!  When I made the decision not to do 13.4, I felt like I made that out of a place of strength rather than a place of fear.  Previously, I didn't want to do workouts because I was afraid.  This time, I was able to look at it and know that I was likely to injure myself trying and the smart thing to do would be to do a scaled workout and then go cheer my training buddy on!

Having a good sense of where I am now, makes me clearer about where I would like to be in a years time.  For example, I would like to be able to do toes to bar.  I would like to be able to do handstand pushups.  I would like to be able to clean and jerk 95lbs.  And ... if I can sort my stinky archilles out, I would like double unders!

Warming Up for 13.2

Increased Confidence
Having a better sense of what I can and can't do, has given me more confidence.  For example, when training the other night I had some sets of burpees to do.  I was trying to keep my pace on the workout high (and since I was sucking air at the end of each round, I think I did!).  When I hit the burpees I remember that I just kept hurling myself to the floor and getting up, to immediately hurl myself back to the floor.  At one point going through my brain was the thought that not so long ago I struggled to get down and kick my legs out and back, let alone get up again.  However, after doing 13.1, I was like ... Burpees ... I got these!

Form is Everything
One of the great things about the games is that every workout is judged, so you must maintain good form.  I learnt how costly a no-rep is in 13.2 when split jerking my 75lbs overhead.  This was an incredibly hard weight for me and it took EVERYTHING I had.  The deadlifts were super easy and I was managing the box step-ups fine too.  By forgetting to bring my feet together under my weight when it was up, I no-repped that effort.  It was the difference between the 4th and 5th in the set.  If I had my feet together, I would have been able to go straight onto deadlifts and box stepups, had a small rest from the jerks and probably got another 25 - 28 on my score.  Instead, because of that huge effort and a small failure in form, I wasted the energy and spent nearly two minutes trying to get ONE more rep over my head.  That one rep cost me a LOT.

Bumper Plates Are A Gift
Because I often train in our weight room and we do not have bumper plates, I cannot drop the weights when pushing hard.  This also means I don't push as hard on heavier weight, because bringing it down is hard work too.  When I was doing 13.2 at the box, I seriously messed up my shoulders (they were black and blue for two weeks after the workout) by not dropping the bar and not having the strength to bring it down tightly controlled!  I learnt quickly ... when you have bumpers, drop the weight.  SO much easier and you save a lot of energy. Seriously, bumper plates rock - drop the weight people!

Never Underestimate the Power of Encouragement
This is what I love about the crossfit community.  People cheer and encourage others.  It's not only about the hero athletes ... the elite ones ... its about Joe Normal - you and I, those ones that just get in there and give it everything they have.  I love that people are thrilled for people's achievements, no matter where they are at!  Everyone has been there at some point.  I was inspired watching others workout and being able to cheer them on.  It's thrilling to watch someone do their best and give it their all ... even when they are new like me and struggling, to see them persevere and push through is powerful!

A New Definition of Athlete
My training buddy and I thought it would be fun to get a tshirt for the open and surprise our coach wearing them to one of the open workouts.  One night at training, my buddy was wearing her shirt.  My coach looked at me and asked if I had worn mine yet.  My response, "nope".  When he asked why not, I responded that I had a problem with it.  When asked what the problem was, I said, "the word ATHLETE".  And I did have a problem with that word, because it conjured up someone physically amazing (which I am not).  My training buddy (who happens to be a very good athlete) and I had a chat about athlete and she redefined it.  In our conversation, she mentioned that people often think of athlete only in terms on the "doing" or achievements - and how well you do defines whether you are an athlete.  We talked about the qualities of an athlete - not the doing, so much as a state of being ... dedicated ... consistent ... courageous ... willing to push beyond ... try again and again ... and not accept failure and defeat.  When I thought of an athlete in those terms, I find myself starting to believe that maybe, I am becoming an athlete after all.

Am I thankful I registered?  Heck yeah ... Bring on 2014  :)

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