It’s that magical time of the year. No, I don’t mean Christmas, I mean preparation for the 2017 CrossFit Open. It is fast approaching and the training you have done in the rest of the year should have brought your skills and strength to the appropriate level. Now, we work on the least fun parts for the final preparation. Conditioning, Mental Game and Game Plan.
First off, why do we do the Open? Personally I think everyone should do the Open, even if you will do “really bad”. This is a great way to measure where you stand and to see next year when you redo the workouts how much better you do. That is easily measurable progress. You can look back at previous years and see movements or weights that you couldn’t overcome, and now easily surmount. It is also a great way to put a focus on your training by having a date and a goal. For many people, having a purpose to their training gives them more focus on getting better.
Strength and skill takes most people a longer time to acquire; this is one of the biggest challenges when people start CrossFit. There are a very high number of skills that will take most people awhile to learn, and unless you have a strength training background it will take a number of years to build up a good baseline of strength. The conditioning aspect for most people with the right work will not take that much to quickly bump up. The programming from here on out should be targeting conditioning by doing intervals such as Work, Rest and Tabata. By doing these you will quickly bring your conditioning levels up.
While working out at this point you might also want to pay attention to movement efficiency. The more efficient you move, the less energy you waste and the easier the movements will be. For many, as we get exhausted our movement quality declines. Watch a high level athlete like Rich Froning; his first rep usually looks as good as his last rep. Practice this and if you have to, video tape yourself.
If you are not sure what you are doing wrong, ask for your coach’s opinion.
In my opinion this is where most people fall short. You can have an amazing athlete, but if their mental game is not in check they will not perform at peak levels. The pain ends as soon as you finish. Everyone can push themselves a little harder, and usually they have regrets at the end of the workout. So mentally prepare to give it everything you have. I also recommend people pace the workouts appropriately. Many CrossFitters go “Ham” at the beginning and then drag-ass for the rest of the workout, spending a good 10-20% of the workout with their hands on their knees.
Your goal should be constant movement, and movement with purpose. What this means is pace yourself; if the workout is 100 pull ups, don’t open with a set of 26 then spend 30 seconds shaking your arms off and doing sets of 5 after the first set. Stop well in advance of failure and choose a pace you can continually move at. Another issue that people have is that their adrenaline makes them go faster than they think they are. So slow it down, go slower than you think you should. You can always speed up further in the workout. Which brings me to the final point, don’t try and keep pace with anyone. They might have no idea what they are doing and are going “ham” and will burn out after the first round. It is always gratifying to have the extra energy as the workout is wrapping up to pick up the pace and pass the person who has been slowing down.
Mentally breaking reps up into manageable sets also helps
If you have to do 150 wall balls, by the time you are counting to 87 you start to get discouraged, instead, have a counting scheme. Think of 150 wall balls as 10 sets of 15, that sounds much more manageable, and the highest numbers you have to count to is 15. For example for Fran, i think of it as 3 sets of 7, then 3 sets of 5, then 3 sets of 3. Giving yourself smaller more attainable goals encourages more positive self talk. Eliminate all negative self talk. A negative attitude will accomplish nothing, and no one wants to be around someone with a negative attitude.
CrossFit Open Game Plan
Once the Open comes upon us, have a plan. If you are going to do the workouts on Friday, have yourself a little ritual. Take Thursday off, drink your special coffee before the workout, wear your lucky pants, and prepare mentally. The rest of the training during the week doesn’t really matter, it is merely noise to try to maintain your current fitness level. It is the Open workout that matters, so give it everything you can. You will have the gym cheering for you, no matter who you are, pushing yourself past limits you thought you could never achieve. While doing it you will wonder to yourself why you do this, having questions of self-doubt in your head. Once it is all over all that negativity goes away, and you think to yourself you could have pushed a little harder, remember that next year. Most importantly stay safe and have fun.
If you have any doubts in your abilities or your conditioning, this year things will be slightly different. Last year I encouraged everyone to sign up for the Open. Proudly, we had the most people registered in all of Canada. Sadly, in my opinion, the workouts were not targeted towards everyone. They had difficult movements and rep schemes right from the beginning. Good news is this year they have a “Scaled” Open. This means no more excuses. Details are still coming in, but it appears that if you are some of the few who plan on going to Regionals, then you perform the regular Open, if you plan on competing against yourself and your friends in the Box, then you choose the scaled version.
Yours in Fitness
Owner and Crossfit Level2 Coach at CrossFit ByTown
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