Reflections On an Open (Part 1)
As this year's Open comes to a close, it’s a great time for self reflection. Throughout the Open, many athletes go through a myriad of emotions, and at the end of it all, are usually left with some parting thoughts. Some participants are completely oblivious to it all and have hardly noticed anything different for these last 4 weeks, while some are just thrilled that it’s over. Some people will be left amazed at the progress they've made over the last year. Some will be disappointed. Most will fall somewhere in the middle.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum, there are some things to keep in mind:
- If this was your first open, you should be proud in just participating, regardless of your performance. I remember my first open. I had no chance of moving on, but every single week was extremely stressful. I wanted to do as well as I possibly could. I repeated workouts 2 to 3x and beat the shit out of myself. I got sick, hurt and was physically and emotionally exhausted at the end. Point being, regardless of your chances or your reasons for doing it, competing at any level is incredibly stressful, especially if it’s your first time. So, great job in surviving!
- If you are thrilled with the progress that you've expressed through this competition and are amazed at some of the things you found yourself capable of, savor those moments. We live in a society that is constantly looking to the next thing. In a competitive environment, where you are able to get a very accurate look at how you compare to others, this is especially true. You are competing with yourself, and you should really take into consideration what you have achieved. Every single person that has started here and stayed for any length of time is capable of things now that they would have never thought possible when they started. Take a second to envision the following scenario: Current you gets to meet with past you. You sit across from the you that started here “x” months/years ago and say, “in ___ months/years, you be able to do x, y and z.” The you from months/years ago will probably give you an incredulous look and say “yeah f*cking right”. If that little role play doesn’t work for you, you can take it from me that you’d never believe what I’d tell you that you’d be capable of now compared to when you started. I can be certain of that, because I go through the exact process with people on a daily basis. No one believes me when I tell them what they’ll be doing in the future, but then no one wants to revel in the fact that those things do actually come true. So, be damn proud of what you’ve done. I know a lot of you have gotten a lot of firsts over the last few weeks. Don’t be so quick to look at what you still have left to achieve. Getting in that thought cycle is a never ending journey that will leave you constantly disappointed.
- If you are less than impressed with your performance, reread the paragraph above and see if there is any truth to what I said about where you are now from where you started. If you’re still feeling the same, there are a few things to consider:
-- CrossFit as a sport is a wacky, ridiculous display of randomness. It’s not really fair to compare yourself using the “standards” of a moving target. Depending on how events are laid out, instead of performing poorly (to your standards, not mine), you may have had a banner year. Even subtle changes cause a tremendous degree of change in how you’ll perform. The first event this year was 20 minutes, with small sets of lunges, burpees and chest to bar pull-ups. Despite the fact that I absolutely suck at c2b pull-ups and burpees, I put up a decent score relative to the gym. I was able to do this because the sets of burpees and pull-ups were small in number. If they had changed those to sets of 15 instead of 8, I would have tumbled catastrophically down the leaderboard. You could spin this an infinite amount of ways, but swapping ring muscle ups for bar muscle ups would change everything. Changing squat snatches for squat cleans would change everything. I could go on forever. Point being, it may have just been a shitty series of programmed events that pushed you down further than you want. It’s impossible and unrealistic to try and prepare for everything, and you can’t tie yourself to the results of such madness.
-- Take a look at what went wrong. A lot of things can fall in this category:
- you aren’t very good at ____
- you just felt off
- you had a bad day
- you ate like crap the night/day/week before
- you didn’t perform
- you didn’t stick to your plan
- you had no plan
- your ____ hurt
- _____ was going on in your life
- you went in a bad heat
- Realize that none of the things listed above mean that you didn’t make progress or that you should be upset about your score or placing. It just didn't work out exactly how you hoped. A lot of the issues listed above are beyond your control. And for those that are within your control, I'm happy to help you formulate a plan for next year. Just learn from it and move on, recognizing that small steps toward conquering your weakness will get you where you want to be.
- Lastly, no one in here is doing this professionally, so don’t feel so burdened by your results. No one else knows or cares how you did. In fact, I’d bet that if I put you on the spot, you might already have trouble remembering what the 2nd workout was this year, let alone your placing (ok, I mentioned it above, so that's not a fair question to prove my point). But what about last year? Any idea what the workouts were, in order? How about your scores? I don't know what mine were, and I pay very close attention to this stuff.
Bottom line for everyone, enjoy what you accomplished, savor the highs and recognize that you aren’t defined by your “lows”. Remember that this is all a journey, and that it’s all about learning, progressing and enjoying the process so you can be better in the rest of your life. Competition is an extremely small part of our lives, but it can be an excellent educator. Take your lessons and use them to enhance your life and the lives of those around you.