Unless you've taken the whole "live like a caveman" thing literally and have been holed up in a cave in the mountains that last few months, you've probably heard something about this CrossFit Open event that's almost upon us. Maybe you've brushed it off as being too competitive or maybe you've decided it's just not your cup of tea, but whatever the case I'm here to tell you why and how participating in the CrossFit Open will benefit you not only as an athlete, but also as a member of the CrossFit community.
1) Be a part of the community
Anyone who has been around or involved in CrossFit for even a short period of time is well aware of the sport’s dramatic rate of growth. It was only seven short years ago that 60 athletes gathered at the ranch in Aromas to compete for the title of being crowned “The Fittest on Earth” in front of 150 of their friends, family, and fans. As we enter the 2013 Games season, we could be seeing well over 100,000 CrossFitters from around the world vying for the chance to compete for that very same title. There is no other sport that I can think of that has such a strong community base worldwide like CrossFit; and the CrossFit Open has become a powerful and unmatched means of uniting our community through health and fitness. Being a part of this, no matter how small, only serves to strengthen the CrossFit community as it continues to grow and change lives.
On a smaller scale, participating in the CrossFit Open will allow you to take up a more active role within your local CrossFit community. The structure of the Open often brings all members of a particular box together in one place and at one time a week to test and push the limits of their body and mind. Use this rare opportunity to introduce yourself to some new faces like those crazies from the 6AM classes who you never see. These five weeks will come and go faster than a 5 minute AMRAP, but the relationships you form with the people you meet and connect with will continue on long after the final scores from the final workout have been recorded and submitted.
2) Get out of your comfort zone
The rules of the CrossFit Open require each athlete to complete each posted workout at a prescribed level that varies depending on gender and age. There is no scaling these workouts; to successfully advance to the next workout you’ll have to put away the bands and start piling on the plates. Please don’t read this and think the minds behind the CrossFit open want to crush you because they don’t. What they do want is everyone who’s participating to be challenged to some degree. That’s all this whole thing is, a challenge. Some will find it more challenging than others, but hopefully we will all walk away an improved athlete.
To improve one must often face the things that present them the most difficulty. We like to call them “Goats”. This is your time to stare these obstacles in the eye, and do what needs to be done to overcome them. Whether it’s practicing double unders after class or getting some extra coaching on your Olympic lifts, this is your time to push yourself to the become a stronger and more well rounded athlete.
3) Ignite your competitive spirit
Not all of us have ultra competitive personalities, but for some reason CrossFit manages to bring that side of us out quite often. The Open is a contest that has each and everyone one of us competing against others who happen to fall into our division. Use this framework to go head to head with that friend from your box who you’re always chasing on the whiteboard, or use the CrossFit Open website to track your performance and see where you stack up against the competition.
4) Surprise yourself
For some weird reason in CrossFit it seems like the most mentally stressful and physically taxing scenarios produce some of the biggest surprises. I’ve seen countless people hit PRs on lifts, get their first muscle up, or do something extraordinary under pressure. Who knows you may even qualify for Regionals. But that’s the thing, you’ll never know unless you try.
5) Take your training to the next level
If you choose to do the Open, you should also choose to perform to the best of your ability. This means that you should develop some training schedule and programming that you think will give you the best chance to give your best effort on each and every workout. Step up the intensity during your training. Instead of rowing at a two minute rate, try to push yourself to stay at 1:45.
You’ll need to learn to love this universally loathed movement because I promise that no matter how much or who you pray to it isn’t going anywhere. As evidenced in last year’s Open, we were blessed with seven intimate minutes all alone with the burpee. It’s something I’m sure we’ll see at least once in some form or another in this year’s Open, so your best bet is to practice now. To be completely honest they’re not that bad once you get used to them.
7) Eat clean, stay healthy
Optimal performance starts and depends on a foundation of proper nutrition. If you’re not filling your tank with high quality and essential fuel, then you’re less likely to run at as high a level as you’re capable of. The Cinnabon with extra frosting and deep fried butter balls can wait. Don’t cheat yourself by cheating on the quality of your nutrition.
Another important aspect of staying healthy is making sure you get enough rest. Don’t train everyday at 110% leading up to the day you do an open workout. Give your body time to recover, and remember to mobilize pre and post workout. This will do wonders in terms of you performance.
8) Inspire and encourage others
This is where the community characteristic of CrossFit comes into play again. You may not be aware of it, but your performance or the effort you put into a workout could end up having a significantly positive effect on someone else’s performance and results. Even if you’re heat finishes first, stay to encourage and cheer on that last person fighting for their last rep in the last heat.
9) Did you improve?
If you did the Open last year, you can use your results from this year’s Open as a tool to measure for any improvement. You can also examine your results from this year to see what areas of your training have holes, and then come up with some type of plan to fill them.
10) Be proud
No matter what happens after you’ve completed your final Open workout, be proud of the challenge you undertook. You made a five week commitment to join tens of thousands of fellow Crossfitters from all points of the globe, and from all walks of life to test your limits in facing the unknown.