It is officially Open Season (week 2 here we go!) and with it comes a host of emotions. Namely, anxiety, fear, nervousness, and, for some, hope and excitement. I name the negative 3 first, because many people experience these feelings much more than they experience hope and excitement. As with anything, these feelings come down to mis-steps in expectations and preparation. Think back to when you were in college or high school. When you had a big test coming up and didn’t study appropriately, how did that make you feel? Probably anxious about how you would score, right? Now remember the one time you actually prepared and studied appropriately. You felt confident. Ready. EXCITED. Because you knew you were going to do well. Let’s work on resetting your CrossFit Open Mindset for 2019 to the hope and excitement end of the spectrum.
This is especially important in week 2 of the open, and the following weeks as well. In week 1, it is easy to be excited - who knows how well you could do! Week 2 is when you realize you're either on pace to meet your goal (pressure mounts) or your goal was not realistic and you can lose that drive to push hard in these typically grueling workouts. Developing a sound CrossFit Open mindset will help you avoid either pitfall.
CrossFit Open Mindset Improvement: Step 1
Asking yourself why you compete.
If I were to ask you, “why do you want to start CrossFit?” listen to your answer, and ask you at least twice more, maybe then we would start getting to the truth. In fact, in our Mindset Program (currently in product - stay tuned) we force you to really dive deep into your why and discover the truth. It is no different in the Open. Maybe you signed up because your coach pushed you to do so – or maybe you’re telling yourself that’s why. At the end of the day, everyone who signs up for the CrossFit Open does so for a reason deeper than outside pressure.
I’ll give myself as an example. In 2017, I didn’t want to sign up. I hadn’t trained how I felt I needed to in order to be happy with my performance. Yet, I felt it was my responsibility as a box owner. I had missed 2016 since we were in the process of opening, and legitimately didn’t have time to train. 2017 I felt that I needed to do it because I was encouraging my athletes to do the same. Or at least, this is what I told myself outwardly. The truth was a lot deeper: I needed to get over my fear of not being enough. As a former Division 1 athlete, and an affiliate owner, I felt like I had some sort of responsibility to be “good” at CrossFit. I knew the Open would show just how not “good” I was, and that felt like public embarrassment. I knew just competing would get me out of this absurd mindset. So, I took the step. It was a blast, and it felt like a weight was off of me after that first workout.
2018 was a much more enjoyable process. I was simply excited to test my fitness, and to discover how and where I could improve. This was all a shift in mindset - it wasn't easy, and there were still workouts I really had to dig deep to push through, but it allowed me to enjoy the process rather than focusing on the result.
CrossFit Open Mindset Improvement: Step 2
Setting the RIGHT expectation.
There is no difference in the expectation you set for yourself and how it affects you between the tests you took in school, the presentation you’re giving next week at your job, or the CrossFit Open. I would imagine if you’ve signed up, you take your health and fitness seriously. You’re in the box 3 to 5 times every week. If you travel, you do workouts in your hotel room. You treat your body right by getting enough sleep, fitting some mobility in at least three times a week, and are paying attention to what goes into your mouth.
But, let’s be honest, you are not Mat Fraser, Katrin, or Rich Froning. Which is great. You don’t need to be them. Therefore, your expectation for the CrossFit Open cannot mirror their expectations. CrossFit Games athletes such as them devote so much time to their fitness. These 5 weeks are just the start of the payoff for the 12 months of hard work leading up. If Katrin goes out and bombs the workout, she will understandably be crushed.
You, however, have a different level and a different goal: do your absolute best, because that is enough. It is what I love most about CrossFit and fitness as a whole. You get out exactly what you put in. You have other priorities in your life outside of the box. You have kids to take care of, a demanding job to excel in, and a home to maintain. The fact that you can even make it into the box consistently is a huge win. The CrossFit Open is all about testing yourself, not worrying about what the person next to you is doing.
CrossFit Open Mindset Improvement: Step 3
Run a “fear assessment.”
One of my favorite authors, Tim Ferriss, talks about this process often. It was first published in the 4 Hour Workweek, and it is all about taking what you fear is going to happen, and bringing it into your reality. For example, if you’re nervous about the CrossFit Open, ask yourself why. Is it any of the following? 1) you are worried the workouts will be extremely difficult and you’ll feel terrible during them, 2) you’re scared you’re going to embarrass yourself in front of a crowd on Friday Night Lights or your Saturday Open Party 3) you simply don’t believe you can do what Dave and the CrossFit HQ team are going to come up with. Let’s address these one by one to improve you CrossFit Open mindset.
- Yes, the workouts are going to be extremely challenging. Embrace that. Be ready for how it will feel. Know your legs are going to burn, your lungs will feel like they are on fire, and you will end each workout in the sweat angel position on the ground. How many times do you do that weekly? Oh, right, at least a few with your box’s programming. (If you aren’t, come talk to me.) You can handle this! Plus, is there really a better feeling than the moment the timer ends and you get the intense feeling of accomplishment from finishing? 10-20 minutes of discomfort is well worth the reward.
- Guess what, just competing is already reason enough to be celebrated. You already workout with a group every day, and it isn’t embarrassing. Most of the people watching are just impressed you can even do it. Besides, for the 1 or 2 naysayers who think, “I could do that,” the fact remains they aren’t. This Teddy Roosevelt quote should help, too.
- Look, Dave Castro seems to make up diabolical workouts every year. You aren’t wrong to believe that. But, your box is programming things which push your limits daily. It is just a workout. You can do this. I hear more stories about people PRing their snatch, clean and jerk, or getting their first muscle up during the Open than any other time. Go be one of them.
CrossFit Open Mindset Improvement: Step 4
Prepare the best you possibly can.
CrossFit talks about being prepared for the unexpected and unknowable. Never is this more true than in the CrossFit Open. However, there are 5 areas you can always control: training, recovery, nutrition, sleep, and mindset. We’re already talking mindset here, but I’m going to spell out one way you can improve in each of these areas leading up to this weekend’s workout.
- Training: now is not the time to be missing your regular workouts. Schedule them into your calendar now and don’t let people book over them. This is a great time to make fitness a priority.
- Recovery: you do have a lacrosse ball or foam roller at home, right? If you do, spend 15 minutes rolling out while you watch TV at night. If you don’t, spend that same time stretching each night or after class.
- Nutrition: this is when you should be as dialed in as possible. If you count macros, be within 5 grams of each macro every day. Plan your meals ahead of time, and bring food with you when you are even slightly worried you won’t have a chance to eat. If you do Whole30 or Paleo, or simply just “eat clean” don’t be as relaxed during this time. Ramp it up. Say no to the cake in the conference room. Test your self-control and will power now.
- Sleep: sleep gets a lot of attention nationally nowadays in the news. You don’t need to go out and buy a sleep tracker this instant, but take some steps to improve your sleep. An hour before bed turn off the blue light electronics (phone, computer, TV) and read a book.
- Mindset: what a great excuse to set aside some quiet time. If you’re spiritual, spend time reading your spiritual book and sitting with your thoughts. Meditation is another great idea.
Follow these steps, and I bet you’ll feel better come your Open workout. As they say, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Don’t let that be you. Your CrossFit Open mindset is going to determine that preparation level.
Last but not least…
Remember to have fun.
This is a 5 week celebration of all your body can do. Whether you’re a 25 year old trying to make the top 20 in the world for the first time, a 45 year old who has found new energy to play with your kids again, or a 60 year old who just found CrossFit in January, the next five weeks will be an amazing experience. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can do. Take note of all the incredible things your body can do, and don’t take it for granted. You’re going to do great. Your CrossFit Open mindset determines how much fun you’re going to have. Take a few minutes before it begins to really set yourself up for success, and go crush these next few weeks.