01 Apr 2017 – What I Learned from the 2017 CrossFit Open

Another Open has come and gone. We wait so long for the Open to arrive and then it goes by so quickly!

Every Open I've participated in has given me an opportunity to learn more about myself as an athlete; what motivates me, what my goals for the next year are, etc. It also serves as a welcome reminder of the progress and development the past year has brought me.

Here's what I learned from the 2017 CrossFit Open...

I do better when I don't have a goal or target for a particular workout.

Setting a goal for a particular workout, especially one I have never experienced, is like shooting hoops in the dark.

Goals of certain times or scores are inherently arbitrary and more often than not, when we set these targets, we sell ourselves short, aiming lower than we could potentially achieve. We do this because the harder the target, the higher the likelihood of failure, and nobody wants to fail, right?! On the flip side, sometimes when we decide on goals for ourselves, we unintentionally set unrealistic targets, which can often lead to frustration.

A more productive (and less stressful!) approach is to focus on the effort instead of the outcome.

My goal for each Open workout was simple. I would try my hardest, push into the 'dark place' and leave everything out on the floor. The result will be what it will be, but if my effort was my all I could walk away happy.

The effort is what gets you all the good stuff.

I have improved my mental toughness.

Giving your best effort is hard to do. This is because your best effort often results in you becoming very uncomfortable during a workout. Legs cramp, shoulders ache, lungs burn... you know the feeling!

Remember this is uncomfortable, not painful.

"Pain is stepping on a nail, breaking your leg, or losing a loved one." – Ben Bergeron

What you feel in a workout is just discomfort and, as humans, we are capable of withstanding very high levels of discomfort for very long periods of time.

What makes this possible is that thing that sits between the ears.

Your brain gives up long before your body. That voice in your head tells you to drop the bar, or you need to slow down on the rower, or you need a chalk break. But that little voice can also tell you to stay on the bar or to pick the pace up. What your body ends up doing just depends on which suggestion you listen to.

Improving my mental toughness is not something that just happened in the five weeks of the Open. Definitely not. I practiced this approach of pushing myself as hard as I could every time I trained throughout the past year. In doing this, I was able to develop my mental strength alongside my physical strength and conditioning in my workouts. I was ready for anything the Open could throw at me.

Control what you can control, forget about the rest.

How often do you find yourself, mid-workout, wondering what rep the person next to you is doing?

How often are you checking the leaderboard to find a score you should be able to beat?

Are you able to control what any other person is doing or what they are capable of?

Of course not! So why worry about it?

The key to success within any sport is focusing on the elements under your control. Comparing yourself to others or a position on the leaderboard is rarely a positive step. Instead it blinds you from the one thing that can give you the results: your best effort (refer back to my first lesson).

I am proud of my progress.

I like to use events such as the Open to see just how much I have progressed over the past year. It's rewarding to see that I have made gains in pretty much every aspect of my fitness. I am stronger, faster and with better endurance than this time last year.

The Open also serves as a reminder that there are always areas to improve upon.

"Happiness is a direction, not a place." – Sydney J Harris

Whenever we achieve goals or "arrive at our destination", we get a brief moment of satisfaction. The true feelings of joy come when we look back at the steps we took and the obstacles we overcame which lead us there... the journey! The journey of self-improvement and working to be better is where I find the most enjoyment. 

You are what you repeatedly do.

This can apply to any aspect of your life, but if we look at your health and fitness, we could be talking about your training, nutrition, sleep, stress management, recovery etc.

If you want to make giant leaps before next year, the time to begin is now.

Getting a month away from the Open and then deciding to dial in your nutrition, or finally spend some time on those double-unders or working on your pull-ups is too late.

"If you want to know who you are, just look at your habits over the past years. If you want to change who you are, change your habits. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today." – Ben Bergeron

So if you already have goals or things you know you want to improve for next year, what are you waiting for? Get cracking on them!


A) Strength: Deadlift

1 x 5 @ 70%
1 x 5 @ 75%
1 x 5 @ 80%
1 x AMRep @ 85%

B) Strength: Accessory

3-5 rounds:
10-12 Dumbbell bench press
10-12 Single arm dumbbell row, per side
10-12 Bulgarian split squat, per side

*Move with purpose from movement to movement
*Rest 2-3 minutes between rounds

Reminder: The "Hanging Out with the Crazy Ones" Challenge starts 1 April! Have you taken your progress photos yet??