What the Open Means to Me

This year, I was one of the hundreds of thousands to compete in the Crossfit Open, for my first time.  I went into the experience excited and full of confidence. I’ve done a couple competitions and have felt great after each- I was ready for the Open.

What I experienced during the open was a completely different story. At times, it left me questioning myself as any sort of “athlete”. Being my first Open, I really just wanted to see where the cards landed for me. I felt good after each workout, knowing (or thinking?) that I had done my best.  And then I felt worse and worse as I watched my ranking fall. Every. Hour.  Obviously everyone knows the names to watch in their region, and if you have a shot at regionals you know this going in to it. Obviously I did not- like most of the world. But, I still had my target number in my head of where I thought I wanted to be ranked. I was so far from that place!  I had so many conversations with my coach about what I was doing wrong, and conversations with my training partner about how I was going to find my “mojo” again. During the Open there were times I didn’t even want to workout, because I felt so discouraged- and if you know me, you know that this has NEVER ever happened before. Ever. I’m that girl who jumps up and down with excitement when I see pistols or hand stand push ups programmed. No joke. I love them! Pistols all day, please.

pistol

So here I was in the Open, not getting my first muscle  up like the rest of the world-I was actually part of that .2% of females who scaled 15.3 and rx’d 15.4. I was getting no-repped like crazy on my hand stand push ups because I let my back arch when I’m tired, even though my arms lock out and my hands are never too wide. BUT- my heels couldn’t get past the Dave Castro line on the wall. Fail. I think I actually told my coach I wanted to quit the Open after that. Haha. Luckily, she knows me way better than that ;). I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it through the Open without this strong woman’s encouragement- Thanks Ash!

IMG_4467

She reminded me many times that life decided to throw a lot of things my way right before and during the Open, which may have affected my performance and overall outlook. It’s amazing what a lack of sleep and too much stress will do. So, all of this happened, I survived to write this blog, and my training is better than it has been in a while. My first experience with the Open has taught me a TON about what your Open scores mean, even more about what they DON’T mean, and has shown me that  you can always learn more about yourself. So, here goes.

What your Open Scores DO Mean:

  1. You aren’t afraid to make a commitment to your well-being or to take risks. The Open is five weeks, five unknown workouts. Signing up is a huge commitment to bettering your health and yourself as a human being. You have to work hard and listen to your body during the five weeks of the open. You train hard to meet specific movement standards for each movement and are honest with yourself and other about this. You need to eat well and take care of your health. All of these actions show a true commitment to bettering your health and your lifestyle.
  2. You are part of a community. A huge community! Crossfit is well known for its strong community across the world. I have yet to visit a Crossfit gym where I have not felt completely welcome like a part of their family. And I know for sure that any person who enters North Raleigh Crossfit is considered family. That’s just how it is. So, think of the hundreds of thousands of people across the globe competing in the Open, working hard, and going through the same thing as you. Talk about community! And, YOU are a part of that community.
  3. You have strengths, and you have weaknesses. Just like everyone else. The Open is programmed a specific way, and seemed to have a different focus this year. If gymnastic movements aren’t your strength, then you and I have a similar weakness, and we probably didn’t do as hot as we would have liked this year. BUT- for everything you felt you did not do so well with, you did something else GREAT! Learn from this. Get over the blow from your weaknesses, celebrate what you did well, and then start working.

What your Open scores DO NOT Mean:

  1. You are not trying your absolute best. You weren’t that happy with your score afterall? You’re not alone. But I challenge you to think about the big picture. Maybe you were going through a stressful time. Maybe you were just hungry. Maybe you were just having an off day. It happens. That one (or two or three or four or five) Open workout is not going to make or break you as a Crossfit athlete, or in life. You’ll have good days after the Open, and you’ll PR again after the Open. Life will go on! No matter what happened in the Open, you tried your hardest. And, trying your hardest every day when you step into  your gym is the best that you can do and will take you far.
  2. You should just give up. Oh, so you’re not going to regionals this year? You weren’t in the top 500? Join the club of hundreds of thousands of others. At one point I thought of giving up. Trying my hardest and not feeling “good enough” for myself got to me. Until I learned to let it go. I realized my hardest better be good enough for me, or me and myself are going to have some serious problems. My coach believes in me and supports me so why shouldn’t I? After I took that step back, I felt sortof free. And, killed the next workout. It’s amazing what your body will do when you just love yourself a little. You should not give up, and you’re still a badass no matter how you feel. You just have to believe it.
  3. Anyone is better than you, or you are better than anyone else. Sure, people have different rankings throughout this thing. People also have different strengths. There are a lot more movements than the eleven that were programmed, and even more combinations. You might have a strength that you could have place hundreds higher in- if it had been programmed. Even deeper and more important than the sport of Crossfit- people have different ages, weights, health factors, life factors, etc. that they are juggling. The workouts in the Open are about as standardized as they can be. Dave Castro is a ninja with a HSPU standard, BUT- there’s no way he can standardize life. Everyone is doing the best with what they have, no better and no worse.

So, how was my first experience with the Crossfit Open? It was awesome. Sure, I didn’t finish as well as I would have liked, but I learned a huge area where I need to work in the gym to get better in a lot of other areas, and even more importantly I learned a lot about me. There are not many times in my life that I really spend time reflecting on me (I actually really don’t like thinking or talking about myself much at all). During this reflection I read a great quote from Buddha- “The mind is everything. What you think you become. What you imagine you create”. So, deal with your wounds, do some reflecting, set a goal to start working on in the gym, and decide what you will become and create. Then figure out what the Open meant to you this year.

Jessica Uehlin
BS Nutrition, Syracuse University
Crossfit Level 1 Trainer, North Raleigh Crossfit