Surviving (and thriving in) the Open

This is it. The time of year a lot of us have been waiting for: the 2019 CrossFit Open. The first week is off to a stellar start with a workout that is very accessible to many of our Alchemy athletes. 15 minutes of wall balls and rowing, what could possibly go wrong?

It’s a great time of year, filled with exciting challenges. Here is some advice for helping you make the most of it:


Make allowances for schedule changes

The CrossFit Open may disrupt your regular workout/training schedule. Some of us work out at 5 or 6 a.m., utilizing that energy to power our day. Others love the mid-day workout or can only make evening classes. That routine is naturally interrupted by the Open, and our fun ‘Friday Night Lights’ or ‘Saturday Showdown’ events. These events are great because you’ll get a lot of adrenaline from performing for the crowd. But that surge of adrenaline doesn’t last forever.  By the next week, it can feel like you’ve been hit by an anvil from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. This is a natural consequence of shaking up your schedule to participate in the Open. Your body has become so attuned to its specific routine that it’s thrown into a bit of shock by the sudden change and the high level of exertion. Reduce that effect by incorporating rest into your week, especially after performing an Open WoD. So, after the Saturday Showdown, for example, take Sunday off. This practice is especially necessary for those who are adding in a whole extra workout each week to accommodate the Open.


Level out the intensity

Not only does the Open play funny with our recovery schedule, it may mess with our training scheme overall. If you’re like me, and you have set movements or days designated for intensity, or if you generally let your body decide what you’re doing each day, then it may be a shock to force yourself to get into high intensity mode. To avoid poor recovery, I advise you to forget about adding an extra training day to your week and instead do the Open WoD on a day you’d normally train. You can also reduce the intensity of your other classes through the week to force a peak on the special days/times. But more than anything, be sure to take rest days no matter how great you feel. Personally, I have the best success when I don’t do anything new in my normal training during the Open and maintain the same amount of rest.


Reality checks are helpful

Feeling intimidated by an Open WoD? Put it in perspective. In reality, you’ve done hundreds of similarly tough WoDs and challenging movements at Alchemy. The only difference is that there’s a greater expectation on performance in competition and that can manifest as anxiety. This feels especially true when you suddenly have 50-plus members cheering you on during Friday Night Lights. That new environment comes with some awesome rewards. You will no doubt get new PRs and may experience breakthroughs in your movements. It’s an incredible experience and feeling, but you’ve got make sure to spend time rolling and stretching afterwards. Even the simple task of wall balls and rowing is done at such an intensity during the Open that your legs will struggle to support you the following day, so I stress caution and self-care.


Don’t forget the mental game

Our bodies are stressed to the max during the Open, but our mental game is challenged too.  The Open is a very funny beast and can see us go from big highs – Yeah, I’m awesome, I did it – to serious lows –I should have paced better! It’s an emotional rollercoaster that can be set off easily when you see the person next to you perform more rounds, reps or weight, or when you feel self-conscious about doing the scaled workout. Still others will finally achieve the hard Rx standard, getting their first muscle up, t2b, pull up or hspu, but will undermine their success by saying it was just one or two reps.

Do not do this to yourselves! The only thing that matters is that you tried your best, had fun, met the challenge and did so in community with hundreds of thousands of other individuals around the world. Everything else performance-wise is just the cherry on top of an unreal CrossFit event that you were brave enough to take on. You did the same event that the “fittest people” on earth also did. How cool is that?

Everything we do year-round is what makes the difference, not just this one event. So please, take care of yourself by continuing your typical routine and appropriate rest, by allowing your spirit to shine bright and motivate others, and by keeping your own mind safe from the negative thoughts that would otherwise attempt to diminish all the amazing things you have accomplished.

Be healthy, be fit, and be safe!


Craig Latendresse is a coach at Alchemy Crossfit.


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