The Open is here.  Everyone is amped.  Profile pictures have switched to Games logos.  The internet is a buzz with scores and strategies. Don’t have muscle ups yet? Best get to working on them. No chest to bar pull ups? Oh boy, you know they’re gonna show up!  When the Open began, it was with the idea that anyone out there could be the fittest on earth.  Everyone had a shot.  Sure, technically that’s still true.  Really though, if we’re honest with ourselves, for the majority of us it’s a yearly chance to do the same WODs that our favorite CrossFitters are doing for five weeks and see how we fare on a worldwide arena.  We can feel like we are competing with the world, and in a factual sense, we are.  There is no other sport that allows for participation on such a massive scale.  This is both the beauty and the curse of the Open.  Everyone, from Annie Thorisdottir to Joe First-timer can do the same workouts and be in the same pool of people.  The great thing this does is make everyone feel a part of something much bigger than their every day box.  For the next 4 weeks, every Thursday at 8pm EST, the WOD will be announced. We will analyze, strategize, and scrutinize. If it’s your first Open or your fifth, here are 5 mistakes to avoid making to keep yourself happy and having fun for the next four weeks.

1. Don’t Do One Rep
It didn’t take you seven minutes to do one burpee. You bailed. Sorry. I don’t care how out of shape you are or what injury you have.  It doesn’t take anyone seven whole minutes to get to the floor and back up…once.  Sure, all you need to have a score posted is one rep, but did you seriously pay $20 to do 5 reps throughout 5 weeks? If you’re going to sign up for the Open, at least give it your best effort.  You owe it to yourself.  Don’t just sign up for the sake of signing up so you can post “Im in!” to your Facebook for all your friends to see how badass you are.  Sure, there will be WODs where it may legitimately take you the entire WOD to get one rep.  If you haven’t been practicing proper wall balls to 9’/10′, yea…you may be stuck doing them for ten minutes just to get one rep.  Never hit a 75# snatch before? Yup, you may spend the entire time getting one.  One rep is a win when you work for it.  If you struggle the whole time to get one good rep then good for you…that’s a VICTORY and you should be damn proud of yourself! However, if you just don’t feel like doing the whole workout and say “I’ll just do one rep so I can submit something.”, I’m calling bullshit.  You signed up. You’re part of it now.  You owe it to yourself to give it your best try. You’ll be much happier at the end if you can look back knowing you gave it your all.

2. Don’t Take it Too Seriously
I am guilty of this one, as are many of us. This is the biggest thing that can take the Open and ruin it for you, and everyone around you.  In years past, I have Stressed about them for days. Worried about what my score would be.  I’ve done workouts two, even three times (7 Min of Burpees, thrice.  Snatch WOD from 2012, three again.).  Why? Because I was sure I could do better. Did I? Yea, by one or two reps.  Did it matter? Nope. Did I learn from my mistake? Of course not.  With the Open this year, I find myself dealing with a back ‘injury’, unable to workout the way I would like to. I was debating if I would even do the workouts.  What’s my hesitation? Well, I’m probably not going to be able to do as well as I have in previous years, or as well as I believe I could and that is going to piss me off and ruin my day.  That is the dumbest damn thing I have ever said.  The Open, in the grand scheme of things, is fun.  I know it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it…but it’s pretty stupid to. How you do in any given Open WOD should not ruin your week.  Does doing CrossFit pay your bills? Does how you perform in these 5 workouts effect your life in any real way? No? Then calm the fuck down.

3. Don’t Get Mad at Your Judge

ImageIt’s not your judges fault your score was low. Stop yelling at them for no-repping you. Don’t storm out throwing a tantrum because you didn’t get away with the half-assed reps you’ve been getting away with in class when your coach isn’t looking.  This is why we should always practice good reps, even when we’re not in competition.  If we do, when under pressure, we’re more likely to keep the good reps, instead of reverting to bad habits. Even though this is meant to be fun, you DID sign up for a COMPETITION. This means there will be standards.  Don’t be shocked.  They are explained in detail upon the announcement of each workout.  Box jumps? That means you’re gonna have to extend your hips at the top – stop crying because your judge is holding you to that.  Push Jerk? Welp, you’re going to have to lock out your knees AND elbows before it counts – don’t be a bitch because your ‘bro reps’ are being called out.  You know damn well what the standards are.  Everyone else is being held to them – you’re not special, princess.  Your judge isn’t trying to be an asshole.  They are not trying to keep your score low.  They are doing their job.  YOU are the only one in charge of your score. When you’re in a WOD, your judge is not your teammate, your coach, or your friend.  They are there for one purpose: To make sure you do every rep and that you do it right.  You will be a better CrossFitter for it…so stop passing the buck.

4. Don’t Focus on the Leaderboard.

This is going to sting.  Many of you are not going to like what I’m about to say.  It’s time for a harsh reality: You’re not going to Regionals.  99% of us doing the Open WODs (yes, myself included), don’t stand a chance.  Top dog at your box, huh? Doesn’t mean shit.  The days of “anyone can go to the games” are gone. Sorry, but it’s a fact.  Sure, there will be rookies here and there each year, but for the most part athletes heading beyond the Open have already taken the trip and trained specifically all year to go back.  Speaking of those rookies, you think anyone new to Regionals this year will get there by MISTAKE? Do you think that they just go to their box a few times a week with no real goal in mind and POOF! Regionals bound! That’s not how it works.  I know one person at my box who is making a legit play at regionals.  He said his goal, out loud, almost a year ago.  Since then, he’s spent the year going to comps and working on his weaknesses with these next four weeks in mind.  You didn’t do that? Then what are you so worked up about? Again, calm DOWN!  Instead of worrying about where you stand in your region, worry about where you stand compared to your biggest competition – yourself.  We all know that many of the WODs get repeated, or combined from past years.  Couldn’t do toes-to-bar last year? Did you get them this time? That’s a success. Aim to beat the you from 2013, from 2012.  Aim to do the best you can do each time the clock starts.  It is fun to see where you stand in this great big CrossFit ocean? Heck yes it is. Should that be all you care about? Absolutely not. Aim to be an active part of this world wide community of people all suffering together for 5 weeks.  Don’t worry about if you’re top 60 in your region because chances are…you’re not.

5. Put Your Score Over Your Safety
The second reason I was debating not participating this year.  I am concerned that I will put getting a good score above the importance of not further injuring myself.  This. Is. So. Stupid.  After all this crap I just said about how it’s not that big of a deal, here I am, ready to really hurt myself for a good score.  Would it kill me to just take each WOD as it comes and do the best I can without sacrificing form and safety? Of course not.  Am I being an idiot by thinking that’s something that should keep me from joining the Open? You bet.  Achilles injury? Maybe you should step down when box jumps show up.  Back problems? Take your time on cleans and dead lifts.  Shoulders bugging you? Be deliberate with your pull ups and over head movements.  Don’t sacrifice your body for a score.  You still need it when these five weeks are over, and no one is going to care what your 14.3 score was when you’re sitting the bench.  Approach each WOD with a plan to give it your BEST effort. Don’t confuse my saying to relax with telling you to take it easy. That is NOT what I am saying here. Hit every WOD with all you have. Leave everything on the floor.  Do the best you can do and when the clock stops, know that you put it all out there.  That’s all that you can do and you should be happy with that.

So there you have it. Some lessons I’ve learned from a few years of being one of the many logging in my scores for the CrossFit Open.  I have made many of these mistakes myself. I have seen others make them.  It’s easy to get caught up in this thing we do.  It’s one of the funny things about CrossFit.  While most of us got in to it as an exercise program, somewhere along the line we decided that we are athletes in training. The great thing about that is it creates a commitment and a drive that no other program does.  CrossFit as a sport and CrossFit as a strength and conditioning program are not one in the same.  The Open gives everyone a chance to truly be an athlete and to compete in a world wide arena.  Take on the workouts with vigor and purpose.  Have a goal.  Give the next five weeks your absolute best. Respect the standards.  Respect the other athletes on the leaderboard.

Just don’t forget to have fun, to relax, and to do your best because at the end of the day…It’s not that serous, bro.

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