Your Role in the “Open”

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The CrossFit Games Open is upon us once again. 2013 went by in a flash and 2014 brings a new year with new opportunities and possibilities. It’s your chance to seize the moment and enjoy every minute of it. I think we all have different goals and things in mind over the upcoming 5 weeks but we should all have one common thread.

You may just be on the fence, unsure wether you should try to compete in the Open or not. Do it, give it a shot and enjoy it. What’s holding you back? Fear of failure, is there any other reason not to do it? It’s an opportunity for you to be a part of one of the largest fitness competitions in the world and still compete in the comfort of your home box with your friends close by. You may find out you could do more than you thought possible. I encourage you to stop worrying about what others think and compete for the fun of it plus there are plenty of people that would love to participate but may not be able to.

Some of you are doing the Open to participate as a member of your gym or the global CrossFit community. Your goal is to have fun, maybe improve upon a score or placing from last year, or just put some of that new found fitness that you have worked hard for to use in a fun competition, the Open. You drive our community, you make me want to walk in the gym everyday when I teach classes and the enjoyment and freedom you have is something I often envy.

Others have put more on the line this year. Maybe you came close to making it to Regionals last year and missed it by a hair. Your goal is in sight and the time has come to go for it. Don’t doubt, don’t overthink, just act. You’ve trained hard over the past year, put in the work and now you need to let go and let it rip. I look forward to seeing your results and the thrill of making it to the next level of competition in the Games season.

You may have your eyes set solely on the top 3 at Regionals and to qualify for the Games. The Open is a necessity but the goal is ahead. Be patient, enjoy the Open and use the workouts as a gauge but don’t weigh on them too heavy. The goal is Regionals, not the Open. Do you’re best to stop leaderboarding and keep your focus on your goal. There is still plenty of time to improve before the month of Regionals so do it. You know as well as I how brutal some of the Open workouts can be when you press on the gas. It makes us better mentally and physically.

Regardless of where we fall with our goals during the Open we should all have a common thread. To be a part of the CrossFit community. To motivate, support, and drive those around us to be the best that THEY can be. Cheering them on for one more rep to qualify for regionals, or even just gathering around the last person in the gym trying to get their first chest to bar pull up and staying in the competition, and if they miss it… welcoming them in for the next workout even if their score didn’t count from the previous week. We all have a chance to drive this community and steer it in a direction that shows the rest of the world what is possible when we work hard and have a community of likeminded dedicated people beside you. A garage gym just starting with 4 people cheering one another on to the “mega” boxes filled with equipment and members… we are all a part of the community. We are all a part of what I hope we treat as larger than ourselves. A group of people that want to be the best that we can be and help change other people’s lives as well. I’ve said it before and I still believe it. The finishing point, the place, the result is never what motivates people. It’s the heart we pour out into each effort that changes us and those around us. Now is your chance. The Open is your chance.

Training CrossFit vs. CrossFit as a Sport

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The more seminars I teach, emails I receive, and people I cross paths with the more I think there is a need for a “heart to heart” with the community. One of my main focuses at a Level 1 aside from presenting the best info possible in ways that everyone can clearly understand and relate to; is to emphasis how important it is for us as a community (especially those that run boxes or train at them) to identify the distinction between training CrossFit and CrossFit as a sport. The time has come that there is a clear difference.

One of the things I love about CrossFit that is communicated in our programming lecture and some of the other reading material that we see is that “Our needs don’t vary by kind, only by degree.” I whole heartedly agree with this statement. Essentially we are saying that everyone from the most deconditioned participant to the most elite athlete have the same needs. All of us will be required to squat, press, deadlift, push, pull, run, jump, etc. in different forms or fashions. The KEY that we need to recognize is that this vary’s tremendously by DEGREE. Particularly between those training CrossFit for what it’s truly designed for, and those that have chosen to seriously pursue CrossFit as their sport at an ELITE level. The difference between these two pursuits is going to be dictated by your goals. When you set goals you should be realistic but confident and depending on what they are it will require more or less sacrifice from yourself and even those around you. I think we can all fall into 3 basic categories.

Training CrossFit:

-This is who the vast majority of my clientele are and I absolutely love it. These are people that use CrossFit for what it is truly designed for and in many ways it’s a means to an end. They don’t just want to be good in the gym but outside those walls as well. They want to be better cyclists, skiers, hikers, parents, grandparents, athletes… you name it. They use CrossFit to increase their base level of GPP (general physical preparedness) and this correlates to better performance in their specific sport or life.

It doesn’t mean they are any less of an “athlete” than any one of us out there, but they have different goals. In my opinion people can train CrossFit like this for a lifetime. We can come in the gym once a day, follow a 3 on 1 off cycle, or a 3 on 1 off 2 on 1 off cycle of training and see results for years to come. With good varied programming we will get strong, increase our endurance, see improved times, etc. Our work capacity across broad times and modal domains will increase which is the goal regardless. Over time we may need to target some of our weaknesses to help “level out” our work capacity but realistically it could take years and years to get there if at all. For some of us that day may never come depending on what our previous athletic/training background may be.

The sacrifice here is minimal. In most cases these people may just be switching training programs and their time commitments and priorities won’t change. Likely we would see these athletes making sacrifices for other goals they may have if any (qualifying for the Boston Marathon, winning a local mtn bike series, working to become a pro surfer). Either way CrossFit is there to develop their base and if any sacrifices are made they would be due to other avenues.

2. CrossFit as a Recreational Sport:

-This is the person that has been introduced to CrossFit and enjoys the competition aspect of it. Maybe they enter a local competition and find themselves more attracted to this side of CrossFit. Team competitions, local throw downs possibly offering “scaled” divisions as well as “rx’d”, and CrossFit is starting to become more of a sport to them. These athletes may pay closer attention to targeting some of their weaknesses in order to “fast track” their fitness. This is a legitimate goal and one that I think a lot of people fall into.

Having specific and realistic goals here are going to be important to helping us define where we are along the line of the competition realm. A good association here is the difference between any recreational and professional sport. You may like to play tennis, golf, compete in a local soccer or softball club, go to swim meets, etc. but it’s a different demand and commitment than those that play those sports professionally.

Sacrifices may start to be required of those that are treating CrossFit more as a sport. Generally it’s going to be more time spent in the gym with either consistency or additional work. It may include some more specific programming outside of the regular class. We may need to pay closer attention to our diets and learn how to treat competitions and train for them as well as how to manage them. Overall it should still be FUN for us though. We can take it seriously but we also haven’t invested “all” of ourselves into an event so we SHOULD be having fun with the journey as well as the competitions along the way.

3. CrossFit as a Sport (Elite Level):

-Some may think it’s a stretch to call it professional but I disagree. Those that are at the top of the field these days generally make it a living to train. The sacrifices here are heavy and things are not always fun. It’s work, hard work and these athletes are willing to put it in regardless of the outcome and they risk the time invested. I know a number of Games athletes and almost ALL of them either train at a gym, own a gym, or simply compete and do nothing else. Their lifestyle allows them to focus primarily on training and this is what it takes to be at an ELITE level. Most of them have lengthy previous experience in athletics or some kind of strength and conditioning program. Having a base level of fitness and having good exposure to strength training is a plus and although not mandatory it is rare to see people competing at a high level without this. It just takes a whole lot of hard work, and that takes time.

This athlete is someone that can basically do every workout on crossfit.com as rx’d, no scaling necessary and posts competitive times/scores with top Regional (top 5 or so) athletes and Games competitors past and present. They may go to some of the more well known competitions and place well. Qualify for Regionals without specific training for the Open and are legitimate contenders for the Games (Top 5-7 in a Region). Truthfully it’s a small percentage of the population of our community. One that makes sacrifices just as any other athlete trying to reach the peak of their sport would. We may find them working through aches and pains, potential injuries, and having to pay close attention on their training programs as well as maintenance outside of the gym as well. Specific programming is often required in the area of the athletes weaknesses and they have to be ever evolving as the demands of these competitors continually increase. Volume will typically increase depending on the age of the athlete and most of them will either have a coach or a group of likeminded individuals at a similar level to train with.

The sacrifices that are made in the present for these athletes may or may not effect their overall well being in the future. Some of those aches and pains may turn into something more and the risk is worth the potential reward for these athletes. The goals they set in the near future can come at a high price.

So where do you fall? First thing is first. Have a real conversation with yourself on what your specific goals are and what you can achieve in a reasonable timeframe. A couple things to keep in mind when you are setting goals:

-Have short, medium, and long term goals. For me this typically falls into 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year blocks.
-Try to choose 3 goals for each time period.
-List 3 reasons WHY you have this goal.
-List 3 WAYS you will help reach this goal.
-Make your goals REALISTIC. This doesn’t mean we don’t push ourselves or challenge our traditional thought of what we think we can do. It does mean that we present ourselves with actions that we can take that will lead us to success. If we don’t reach the exact goal we should be remarkably close. Setting ourselves with goals that are too far out of reach is setting ourselves up for failure. It some cases you may not need to change the end state goal, just the timeline that you place it in.

Once you know what your goals are you can have a simple way to approach your training. Maybe you CrossFit to improve in another sport. I love it. Show up to the box consistently and make sure you have good varied programming throughout the weeks, months, years, etc. Chances are you won’t need to target anything specifically but rather find different cycles of how often you are in the gym during the week depending on your priorities and activity level outside the gym.
If you CrossFit and find yourself enjoying local competitions, want to improve a place in the Open, etc. you may find yourself doing a bit of targeting. Just working to improve your overall fitness, dialing in your diet more, all the things we mentioned above. Remember, be realistic and HAVE FUN!!! This isn’t your job and shouldn’t be treated that way.
You may see the potential that you have to be one of the elite. This may take years to achieve but you are committed. Either way you will have to ramp things up slowly.
Consistency, additional training methods, volume, etc. are all things that we can’t increase overnight. This is a long, slow trajectory to a distant horizon. It takes sacrifices that may or may not pay off in the long run. It’s a very, very small percentage of the CrossFit community and that is only getting smaller.

The goal of this is not to discourage anyone for shooting for their goals. If someone told me I “couldn’t do it” I would shrug them off and keep going. I also set realistic goals for myself and have chosen for the time being to compete in CrossFit. Even this is now a day to day decision for me. At my age and some of the things I have going with recovery and some of the nagging pains I have to take it a day at a time. If I’m feeling good come Regionals I will show up. If I’m broken and can’t compete at the level I want to then I won’t. I’m training, day by day as if I’m going to the Games, it is my sport. This is a very different place than training CrossFit. A part of me envies those that do it. It looks fun, balanced, MUCH less stressful and is something that could be done for a lifetime. I love our community for the support and heart that is poured out on a daily basis from people in boxes every day. Set your goals, make them realistic, and have some FUN throwing down.

I think my friend Pat Sherwood says it perfectly. “The goal is just to get fit, make it the best hour of your day, stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people, and blow off some steam. So remember that. RELAX. HAVE FUN. WORKOUT.

If you’ve chosen to seriously choose CrossFit as a sport at an elite level, buckle up. It’s quite the ride.

The Gear List

Some kicks I got to help design

I often get questions on what gear I use and recently got a request to come up with a bit of a list so here it is!! Hopefully some of you find it helpful as you root through your bag of “must have’s” when you go to the box or a competition. Before I throw it all out there, yes, I’m a sponsored athlete so you will see a lot of things (not all) that are from those companies, BUT, I do my best to associate myself with things that I BELIEVE in. I don’t feel like it’s genuine if I don’t believe in it and it’s not fair to the company and especially others out there that are looking to athletes using those products. Again, hope it helps and feel free to throw in some of your favorites in the comments section.

 

Bag:

-GoRuck R1: This thing is bombproof and holds way more than you would think. I take it with me every weekend I travel and it comes to the gym with me just about every day as well.

goruck.com

 

Mobility Gear:

-Voodoo Band: Non-negotiable these days with my banged up knees. I take it everywhere I go and it’s helps alleviate some pain before and after workouts.

roguefitness.com

-MobilityWOD Supernova: This is the easy replacement for a foam roller when on the road and will smash the crap out of your psoas better than anything else I’ve found

roguefitness.com

 

Kicks:

-Oly shoes: I’m not a fan of them to tell you the truth. I feel like they pitch me too far forward in my lifts and only wear them when I’m doing higher volume pistols. The new Reebok Lifter Plus is a definite improvement from their old style. Some of my old faithfuls are the Adidas with thinner soles. Old school and super comfy.

shopcrossfitreebok.com

-Nano, nano, nano! I love these things for every day workouts. It’s also been very cool having some input and helping Reebok design these as they go. I wear mine every day for workouts with the exception of track workouts or WOD’s with substantial running in it (accumulating 3 miles or more). The Nano speed’s are a good go to for this and for a first year out are pretty solid. Also great to wear when coaching around the box all day since they sole is a touch softer.

shopcrossfitreebok.com

 

The Garb:

-Shorts: I will forever love lulu lemon shorts. They don’t make the ones that I fell in love with the same way but the old style “core” short are some of the best I have ever worn. Reebok is also continually taking feedback from us and making improvements as they go. Some of their updated board short versions with the abrasion resistant portions are great. Stay posted there for more options and improvements.

lululemon.com

shopreebokcrossfit.com

-Shirt: Plain old cotton tee. I hate the “techy” material that is synthetic or poly-pro… whatever. I just like a comfortable cotton tee that fits well. It’s going to get ripped off at some point anyway before or during the WOD.

-Sunglasses: Yep… I always have a pair with me. I’m like a mole and having some that fit well for a WOD are key. The two models I have found work the best to stay on my small mellon are the Grio Instagator (unfortunately they don’t make these anymore. Get lucky and you can find them on closeouts online occasionally. The Oakley “Switch” has also been working well for me recently.

roguefitness.com

-Jump Rope: I got to help Rogue design a speed rope and I love the smaller handles and bearing system in it. Standard speed rope with some tweaks.

roguefitness.com

The “Supersuit”:

These are all the things I wear to hold myself together or when I have a heavy day.

-Knee Sleeves: Rehabands are what I am currently wearing. I like the 3 mil since they aren’t too restricting for everyday workouts. I’m working with someone to develop some knee sleeves so keep your eye out as they develop.

roguefitness.com

-Wrist Wraps: For some reason the INZER wrist wraps are the best I have had. Others make them and they are solid, but I LOVE my INZERS. I prefer the small since they don’t get too thick around my wrist when I wrap them.

inzernet.com

-Weight Belt: Oly lifting and just about every workout I am a fan of the Valeo belt that is velcro. It’s super thin and doesn’t interfere with barbells. Easy to pack and goes with me almost every weekend. On my big deadlifting days or back squat days the Rogue Ohio Weightbelt is awesome. 4″ and 10 mil thick this thing can help you create some serious tension. Love it on those superheavy days with the power lifts.

roguefitness.com

amazon.com

 

Tunes:

-iPod shuffle with my old school skullcandy headphones. I have to use the “on ear” version due to my cauliflower ear. The buds don’t fit in my ears anymore. The “icon” model works great for wod’s and do a pretty good job of staying put for that style headphone.

www.skullcandy.com

 

 

Recovery/On the Go Food:

-Progenex: I go to them for either their recovery or more muscle product for post workout. I’ve tried other products and they don’t sit well with my belly. Progenex sits well with me and and tastes awesome. I occasionally use the Cocoon product when I’m looking for a good night sleep and I’m always pounding their fish oil.

progenexusa.com

-Coconut Water: Use the brand of your choice, I just love it for after a WOD. That Nirvana stuff tastes pretty amazing.

-NSI: Inflamex. It’s a super small company that you probably can’t find but their inflamex product is something I’m taking to help out with… surprise, inflammation. I’ve found it helpful for achy joints and have taken it on and off over the years.

-Perfect Foods Bar: I LOVE these and they are great for grabbing and throwing in the bag to head to the gym. Morning, noon, or night they taste good and can hold me over till I get a meal. Fruit and Nut as well as the Peanut Butter flavors are the ones I am enjoying the most at the moment.

perfectfoodsbar.com

 

Hope you find some of the info helpful and keep finding what works for YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling Short…

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I finished the last set of 4 squat cleans at 225 and had pushed as hard as I could. Picking up the bar when I didn’t think I could get another rep, losing position along the way and my grip failing, but managed to set a PR from the previous time I did the same WOD fresh in my gym at home. I knew it was close, but had 4 or 5 people squeaked in between Zach and I? I dropped to my knees to recover thinking I had made it to the Games again and thoughts went immediately toward training. What Ben would be having me do over coming weeks to prepare? Reality check… maybe I hadn’t made it, it was close. I gave Matt Hathcock a hug congratulating him knowing that he had made it. Walking to Zach we knew it was still up in the air. We hugged and both said congratulations. Zach thought I edged him out, we asked each other our times and waited. Both thinking that I squeaked in again. Zach congratulated me again, a true competitor.
I started looking around feeling more unsure. My eyes caught Ben’s and I could tell he was uncertain too, if anything, now I’m thinking I may have not made it. Zach and I stood together waiting as other competitors exited the floor. One of the score keepers came up with an iPad and told Zach he would be needing him. “Me?” Zach said, doubting that he had made it. The score keeper didn’t say a word other than repeating that he would need him. Zach and I both knew that he had made it. Another hug and a congratulations from me telling him that he deserved it.
I looked to Ben, a true coach, one of the best I have ever had. A camera sits there waiting for me and my response, my head is spinning. Ben gave me some of the best advice I have heard through all of the competing I have done over the years. To handle it with grace. The circumstance sucked, it stung. I had worked just as hard if not harder than ever before. Pouring my heart into every workout and the results were what they were. Some side of me didn’t know how to deal with it, but Ben’s reminder grounded me. I still have a job to do, and it’s to show grace in defeat. Sarah, my wife, came up to me with our two kids, some of the best perspective you could ever ask for. I played with Roark and Myla on the floor, in an effort to fight for perspective on what really matters as portions of the crowd exited the stands. Some waited to hear a quick word, and a camera with Josh Everette still waited to interview me. Ben, his wife Heather, Sarah, and my kids all kept me grounded in that moment. Close friends and family sharing in a tough moment with me where not much could be said but I knew they understood where I was.
I walked out of the arena hearing the announcer calling the names of those that had placed to go to the Games. Walking with the same group that was supporting me the whole way… even though it was tough I had peace. I had done everything I could have that weekend to put my abilities and gifts to use. I walked away without a shadow of a doubt that I gave it my all. This as well as those people in my life, and a relationship with a God that loves me regardless of my performance is what gave me that peace. It doesn’t mean it isn’t hard and that I didn’t go through some serious ups and downs over the course of the next couple weeks. Everything from breaking down emotionally, to being angry, feeling fine, wanting to compete again, and needing to rest. Feeling and emotions came and went and lots of those things are still triggered with looking at an old tee or a bag that I got at a previous Games.
I will miss competing on that floor tremendously, but I don’t think I failed. My goal was to win regionals, then top 5 or podium at the Games. I believed I could and I went into the weekend thinking it. You HAVE to risk the heartbreak of losing or falling short if you want to win, but I don’t think I failed. Is a second place, third, fourth, 10th, place finish failing if you didn’t reach your goal? If you pushed the limits of your potential I don’t think it is. That day, under those circumstances, I got fourth. That can not discredit all the training, the gains, the growth that I made over the course of the past year. It’s impossible. Those achievements and that growth is already done, no one can take that from us. Does falling short mean we can be disappointed? Absolutely. The competitor in me felt heartbreak and I believe I am capable to be a top 10 or podium athlete at the Games. As a competitor reaching for the highest levels we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. To say that we can win and believe it, even when it isn’t guaranteed. We have to be willing to risk it all and fall short sometimes, and still be ok. It doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle or tough to deal with it, but it’s part of competition. Failure? No. Set back? No. Just a place, just a result, and a piece of what can help us grow and become better as an athlete and as people.

Grass Roots!!

My buddy Shahan and I working out at the rec center shortly after it all began in 2007.  No where to go but hang your rings on the punching bag rig.  So much for hanging with your arms straight and feet not touching the ground!

Grass Roots!

Call me old school but I’m one of the guys that sticks to the way it all began.  Things are different these days. I started CrossFit in 2006 and there wasn’t an affiliate in site. Not one in the state, now Utah is full of them and it’s only growing more by the month.  I got in trouble for dropping weights, taking too many bars for workouts, and doing pull ups on the cable crossover machine when there was nowhere else to go.  People made medicine balls out of deflated basketballs, sand, and glue, the occasional duct tape helped as well. I know my fair share of people that made rings in their ovens at home because you couldn’t buy them online. Bumper plates were a rarity and when we got to use them it was a treat. We used sprinkler boxes for box jumps and built pull up bars out of plumbing pipe. The first time I walked into an actual CrossFit box it was like a playground that I couldn’t get enough of.

My buddy Eric and I wore our running shoes for every single workout and even thinking of an olympic lifting or minimalist shoe was unheard of. Compression gear didn’t exist, wrist wraps… what are those. Knee wraps, weight belts, colored tape, and tricked out headbands with your gym logo didn’t exist. There wasn’t some fancy variation of CrossFit programming and people claiming they are elite coaches or athletes. We followed CrossFit.com everyday for years and found huge gains. We were a community of people at the beginning of a movement that supported one another and competed with each other by looking at the times we posted on under the comments section on .com. Garage gyms were the coolest thing you could ever create and your buddies came to throw down with you.

The advantage of an affiliate is tremendous. It’s invaluable the education you can get from a good “box” in getting started, learning the movements, nutritional advice, programming, scaling… the list goes on and on. As CrossFit grows boxes will get more elaborate and offer more options, but when it boils down to it it’s a community of people working out together, supporting one another. You just have all the fun toys, the trainers to help guide you along the way… and maybe even rocks in your sink to get a “spa” feel. If you ever lose the community, the accessibility that CrossFit offers to everyone that walks through the doors regardless of their fitness level, and just throwing down with your friends, you may have lost CrossFit. I will be keeping it grass roots… if everything went under at the box, we would have a lot of stuff for one smokin garage gym to workout with and support one another. It’s why we do it everyday anyway.

Keep Your Head In It!

 

It’s almost over, tomorrow is the announcement of the last Open Workout of the 2013 CrossFit Games Season.  Keep your head in it.  We have all had ups hand downs in the Open.  You may have had some performances that have left you feeling like you could have done better, maybe even after multiple attempts.  Others you may have surprised yourself and have gotten a glimpse at how far you have come which is really what it is all about.  Leaderboarding aside tomorrow is a new day.  The last workout is just as new as the first.  Here are some things that I have learned that may help you keep your head in it as you get after the last WOD.  Most of which I have learned from others, and some on my own.

 

- The past doesn’t define you TODAY:  This is a new workout that sits before you and NONE of your past performances dictate what you can do on this workout and what you WILL do if you set out to do it.

 

-Set small goals, and I mean small:  When it gets tough, like it does for all of us, set micro goals.  Ben had me working on this the week I visited him and it’s tremendously helpful.  It may be just getting your hands on a bar again, keeping your hands off your knees, turing to face the next exercise.  You have to do all of these things before the next rep and you are one step closer to it when you do it.

 

-EVERYONE is nervous:  We all think that we are the only ones that get the jitters and that everyone else is super confident and comfortable with the workout. No one is, some just manage it better than others, and hopefully all of these things help you out with that.

 

-Your performance has NO impact on your identity:  If CrossFit is the ONLY thing you have you may think otherwise, but it’s still not WHO you are.  It’s what you do.  I think the only failure is not attempting to get after it at all.

 

-Before you start the workout remind yourself WHY you are thankful that you can do this:  It may be personal growth, realizing that you have abilities that some may never have, being grateful for a community that you are part of, etc.  Either way, take a look at the bigger pic and make sure you have a reality check before the 3,2,1 go.

 

-Give yourself a grounding point:  When things get nasty, along with those micro goals get back to a phrase or word that grounds you in confidence.  I often find myself saying “Calm and Strong”, or “We’ve got this”.  I’m not alone in it and I won’t phrase things like that (make sense?).

 

-Walk away having left it all out there:  No matter what, I really believe that no one will judge you based on your performance.  We all may want to see someone or another do well.  But the reality is that we are all so incredibly motivated by ANYONE that pours their heart out and lays it all on the line.  Regardless of the outcome walk away knowing it was all you had.

 

Hopefully you can take a couple of these with you before attacking the last WOD.  Remember, CrossFit is not the Games.  The community of people that throw down every day is CrossFit.  As Rx’d or not, a regional or games contender or not.  Soccer mom to elite athlete, we make up the community.  The overwhelming majority of the community may never walk on the Games stadium floor but will have far more impact on their local community and possibly even farther by their daily efforts in the gym. THAT is CrossFit.

 

CrossFit Prayer:

Father, Thank you for the abilities you give us, for the strength and wisdom we gain in our training.  Be with us as we work that we may do our best.  Help us to be encouraging to others.  Thank you for the people you have brought into our lives.  Bless the athletes, coaches, and all those who support our training.  May the results from our training be a reflection of Your Spirit in our lives.  And finally Father, remind us that there is no failure, but only growth in the body and mind.  Amen.

 

-Author Unknown… but I love it

The Open Jitters??

It’s upon us… The Open, leaderboarding (it’s a whole new verb we have created for crying out loud), comparing scores, contemplating doing the workout again… and again… and again.  People the have never worried about a CrossFit workout before suddenly get the jitters before the Open WOD when their box  gets together to do it.

 

What’s the big deal?  You care.  You have worked hard to make gains and may have set some goals for yourself.  Now it’s time to see what happens.  Getting the butterflies before workout is a common occurrence for me.  It’s not any different for an Open WOD, but we all want to over think our strategy, worry about sleeping more, what to eat before hand, etc.  The list goes on and on and it’s one of the worst things I think we can to.  It can start to take the fun and the love out of why you are doing it.  Here are some of the different scenarios that you may fall into

 

1.  You’re doing the Open because you got sucked into it by someone:  You have NO pressure on yourself to perform any specific way.  Chill out and enjoy the competition and seeing where you stack up in the gym, region, or even world.  The last thing you need to worry about is where you fall in comparison to others or redoing the WOD.  Enjoy the competition and have fun with your crew when you workout in a different environment.

2.  You set a goal for the Open this year for placing in a specific spot in your Region:  If you are realistically not going to make it to Regionals use this as a starting point to see where you stack up in your region.  Maybe think a bit more about strategy in your workouts and come up with a little game plan, but don’t be afraid to bag it if it’s not working.  As far as a redo, I say nope.  Our pride can get in the way and try you may find yourself overtraining or over thinking some of the workouts and taking the fun out of it again.  See where you fall this year, and make assessments for next year.

3.  Your goal is to make it to Regionals and it could be tight:  The OPEN then in essence is your “games”.  Schedule your rest days before you do the OPEN workout and take some time to practice some of the more technical movements.  Talk strategy, but again, don’t be afraid to bag it if you need to.  You are now in a great position that most competitors don’t have a chance to be in.  You can redo the workout… it’s a positive thing.  If you were way off on pacing or just had a bad day, no big deal.  Rest up a day or two and hit it up again.  Keep in mind that the numbers for the leaderboard will change often dramatically on Sunday so you may want to be sitting higher than you think you should.  Have fun with this though, it’s your big competition.

4.  You are a Games hopeful:  Keep your eyes on the prize and your training in check.  Why are you worried about the Open?  Is your pride getting in the way? Do you think you can beat that guy by one or two more reps and you want to prove it?  In my opinion that’s getting in the way of your training.  One and done, unless there is a catastrophe.  Keep your training focused on what you need to which is Top 3 in the Region.  Your training should be geared toward this and the Open may or may not be the best way to get you there.

 

Here is my outlook this year, and it’s a battle to keep it but it is where I need to me.  I train Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I am sometimes hitting up double days on Wednesday and Thursday I do the Open WOD AND another WOD in the afternoon.  Why?  Keep my eyes on Regionals.  If I wanted to have the best possible score on each Open WOD it wouldn’t look like this.  Here is my previous week.

Tuesday:

High Bar Back Squat 3×2

Bar Complex on the min:

Power Clean

Squat Clean

Front Squat

Push Jerk

Start at 155 and climb up 10 lbs till failure, then do it all over again

Wednesday:

1. “Amanda” with 185

2. 6 Rounds

3 Bench Press (225)

Row 300 meters

1 min rest btwn rounds

Thursday:

1.Open WOD

2. OTM for 15 min

Min 1 Bench x 5

Min 2. DL x 5

Min 3 Deficit HSPU x 5

-and so on

 

This is obviously not a way to have the best possible score on the Open WOD.  So why do I do it?  Because my focus is on Regionals and this is the way I need to train for it to best prepare myself and take pressure off of the Open.  Easier said than done but the goal isn’t the Open, the goal is Regionals.

Whatever your goal is identify it, keep your head screwed on, and have some fun in the process.  The more you relax the better you perform anyway.  When it’s game day, whenever that may be, make sure you have prepared the way you need to and relaxing will be that much easier.

 

 

Keeping it up on the ROAD

 

If you’re a competitor or even someone that enjoys staying on top of working out traveling can be a pain in the butt!!  It takes us out of our typical schedules, then norm that we are used to, what we would like to follow, and can genuinely stink.  BUT… we can get it dialed in when we are on the road if needed.  Here are some things that I’ve found helpful both mentally and physically for when I’m on the road.  I travel basically every weekend of my life to work at seminars so I have some experience in this department and can relate to those of you with similar schedules.

 

1.  RELAX…. even though we may be stuck in airports, cars, lines, etc. when was the last time you had to just unwind?  Once you accept that fact that you’re on the road and just settle in you can get some good work done or unwind a bit if needed.  Catch up on your to do list, or download a good movie on the ipad that you wouldn’t get a chance to watch otherwise when you’re trying to get the kids to bed :)

2.  Do you BEST to keep your sleep at no less than 6 hours a night.  Try to keep it at 8 hours a night if you can.  I find this to be the toughest with frequent changes in time zones but if you can hit the sack so you’re at 7 hrs a night that is pretty solid.  Plan ahead if you’re going east since you will feel it more in the morning.

3. If you can surround yourself with likeminded people for working out that’s great.  It’s one of the huge advantages that I have since the other trainers are chomping at the bit to workout at lunch together.  You may not have that convenience though so try some of these things.  Come up with new workouts that you genuinely WANT to do and will be motivated to do.  It may involve stealing some dumbells and using them for some kind of workout in the stairwell at the hotel.  Khalipa and I did this year ago and had a blast as well as a great workout with one another.  Hotel have a pool?  When was the last time you got in a little pool workout, who cares what people think of you.  Sprints and burpees outside the pool can do the trick.  Or you could get out and explore on a good run.

4. Be ok with the fact that your nutrition will most likely be less than ideal.  If you’re starving, have the sandwich at starbucks and get some calories in.  I think that starving is worse than a bit of gluten.  Make good choices when you can, but if it’s between starvation and grabbing something, I’m going to grab something.  Get to know some good chains that you can count on.  Chipotle is my fav and easy to find just about anywhere.

5. Schedule your workouts so that you can enjoy the rest of the day.  Even if you aren’t a person that likes to workout in the am you may have to do it if you’re slammed in meetings or tied up the whole day.  If you suck it up and get out of bed and hit up the WOD you know you will feel better about the day.  Even if it’s not the perfect time that you perform you got the response in and that may be the goal for the day in those situations.  Otherwise take advantage of the time that you can get your WOD in.

 

Traveling may not be the best thing possible for your training but if you develop some good habits, just like anything else, you will make it work and be all the better for it.  When it comes time for competitions and people ask me if it effects me I say it’s to my advantage.  I’m in different time zones, climates, elevations, different equipment, set ups, etc. every weekend.  I’m used to things not being the way I want it all the time.  When it comes time to compete… easy day.  I’ll be ready for it.  If you train in your gym every day of your year, that’s all you know.  The competition is different.  For me, it’s just another weekend on the road out of my gym.

The Cycles of Competition

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Sitting at the CrossFit Competitors Course filled with a room full of like minded individuals, either coaches, or competitors themselves is a great opportunity. The information presented and the things learned over the course of the weekend is awesome. People walk away with some great take-aways for either themselves or their athletes. I love watching some of the light bulbs go off for the participants when they realize more effective ways to help themselves and their athetles.

It does bring up the question of why we compete though. I think back to how I got involved in competition in my life and what started it as well as where it has taken me. This is the theme I have personally found.

1. I find something I really enjoy. I love doing it and I love participating in the sport or activity.
2. I realize that I’m not too bad at it, I may have some potential and I could do ok if I were to go to a competition… but I just do it for fun. Literally for the pure enjoyment of it.
3. The competition goes down, I have a blast, and realize I did pretty well, maybe even better than I thought. But because there are no expectations on myself I perform well and have fun.
4. I get the bug. And I mean I get it… I see others that may have won, performed well, etc. and I think that is something I have the ability to do. From there, it’s go time. I have a bit of an all or nothing mentality when it comes to that commitment or wanting to reach a goal and I pursue it.

The problem I find is when we come to that last step. You start to make sacrifices and people often begin putting pressure on themselves here. It’s tough to not care so much when you do make the sacrifices necessary to be at the top or meet some of the goals you may have no matter what they are. That drive is important and we need to have it if we want to succeed, but the second that drive turns into a fear of failure we take the fun out of it. We take the joy out of what got us started and why we started competing at the beginning. It’s important to keep that as it takes pressure off of us.

When we walk away from a competition I think it’s important to put yourself out there and risk some things. Believe that you can meet your goals, work to achieve them… but when it’s all said and done did you do everything you could to get there? That’s the question. If you did and you fall short, it’s ok to be disappointed. That’s a vulnerable place to be BUT it doesn’t define who you are. Learn from it and take the positive attitude with you that you performed your BEST. That’s all you can do, and that is victory in itself. If you met your goal, time to set a new one and start chasing it down again. Don’t be afraid to take the risk, but you have to realize that you aren’t defined by your result, it’s not WHO you are, it’s just something you do.

One of those days

 

Ever have one of those days… maybe even one of those weeks?  Training didn’t go the way you wanted it to, you felt “off”, or your head wasn’t in it?  Welcome to the club.  We all have them at some point or another.  I think the important thing is not having them often.  But when they do come along what do we do and how to do we get out of the rut?

 

John Kim from theangrytherapist.com sent me this poster above and I think it’s a great way to help us get back in check and start shifting that mental process.  In my opinion, THAT, is what has us in the rut for the most part, our mental state.  Lots of other factors can come into play with this.  Overtraining, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, etc. all play a role.  But once we have a “bad” day it’s up to us to reevaluate and make sure we get our minds back on track and in check as our body recovers and does the same.  Check out some of the bullet points on the poster and they can be SUPER helpful.

-The past doesn’t define who we are in that moment

-The only thing we should be concerned about is our own growth (not a finish related to someone else, this doesn’t define you anyway)

-Realizing that these things in the gym make me better outside of the gym and I can apply those experiences to everyday life

 

I talked with Ben a while back about some of those days where things don’t go as planned and he had a great thought.  The goal is just to get 1% better everyday.  That can look different.  A mental outlook, not quitting, consecutive reps, PR’ing on a max lift, whatever.  But either way you walk away with a win and you are 1% better.  Over the course of 100 days, you are 100% better for it.  The past two days have been a reevaluating time for me.  Now I’m going to have some fun with a workout today, hit the reset button, get some rest, and hit it hard again on Saturday.

 

And I’m going to do all of it because I love it.  Not because it defines me for who I am or what I do, but because I love it, I love working hard, I love growing from the experiences in the gym, I love not quitting.