An old post of mine from my first Open. I pulled this out of the ol’ archives from my Tumblr while prepping for the 2016 Open, and I think a lot of what I talk about here is relevant for any competition.
With 4 of the 5 Open workouts done and dusted, well, at least for me, I figured it was a good time to take a moment and reflect a bit on what I’ve learned from the past little bit of prepping for the Open.
1. Goal setting is so important. Having been really training-training for CrossFit for only about 6 months, there are a lot of weights and exercises where I really don’t know what to expect from myself, so pacing is really difficult. I know I can do double unders, so after looking at 14.1 I thought it was going to be a breeze. Turns out, stringing 30 of them together is a bitch, and I was initially devastated by my score (166). Once I thought it over though, I realized that the type of scores I was hoping for initially were just unrealistic, for right now, but not necessarily forever. Reevaluating what I want to get out of this year’s open has helped me enjoy the 5 gruelling weeks more, but also start setting up what I want to start focusing on going forward, instead of the whole experience just sucking the life and motivation out of me.
2. I hate my voice. Oh dear lord I hate my voice. This year I’m competing as an un-affiliate, and I’m just doing the WODs at the gym I normally go to. None of the trainers have their judges course so I’m filming and submitting my scores. Actually watching my videos and checking my form on some things actually isn’t that terrible – I used to figure skate competitively and we would constantly do video analysis of jumps and spins, so just seeing myself isn’t the part that makes me cringe. Hearing myself though? Sweet baby Jesus. Just listening to myself state my name, region, and explain what weights I had set out made me cringe. Then again, I suppose this happens to everyone at one point or another.
3. I’ve learned to hang around the right people. No, I don’t mean I need to stop spending time with the mean kids at lunch, but actually training for something has reminded me of the benefits of surrounding yourself with people that are better than yourself, so you constantly have someone to look up to. Most of my friends who go to the same gym as me are definitely in shape, they just don’t do CrossFit-style training, and aren’t working towards a particular event like I am. As a result, I started to develop a false sense of comfort in my abilities since so many people saw me as ‘one of the strongest girls’ in the gym. By connecting with more CrossFit-focused people, I’ve seen what training with really strong CrossFitters is like, and it’s made me step my game up. I’ve found there’s always a set of snarky remarks and eye rolls at your average gym that’s associated with really pushing yourself with CrossFit style workouts, or even pushing yourself to compete in something like The Open. It may not seem like much at the time, but changing your training environment to something you can really thrive in makes all the difference.
4. I’ve upped my food game. I have no other way to describe this, but committing to something as physically demanding as The Open takes a lot out of your body, no matter where on the leaderboard you end up. Up until I graduated university last year, I went through 5 years of switching between an OK-diet and moderate exercise (during co-op work terms) and barely keeping my diet together and not really exercising (when I was in school), and I didn’t realize the toll it was starting to take on my body, even though I was usually averaging out in OK-ish shape and a normal body weight (BMI-wise anyways). Since deciding to train for The Open, the main changes I’ve made have been counting my calories religiously, cleaning up what I eat, and stopped being scared of protein. The details of those I’ll probably write more about later, but finally grabbing the diet bull by the horns has made the biggest difference out of anything in my training routine, and I love how I feel as a result now.
5. I’ve found a love for athletics again. After I stopped competing in skating, I always found a real struggle in keeping active. Not necessarily focused around actually doing activities themselves, but as I didn’t really have a goal or event to work towards, at times I would really feel like the wind was taken out of my sails. The excitement of hitting a new PR still wouldn’t stack up to the rush of preparing for months and then competing under pressure. Working towards simply competing in The Open, with no other major goals on top of it has brought back that thrill for me. I realize not everyone is a total A-type, crazy competitive nut like me and therefore wouldn’t get the same thrill out of competing as I do, but if you are my same kind of crazy, then you can definitely appreciate how happy I am now.