Make Up Sunday

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15.2 Games Open, So Hott, God Bless Saturday & Skills
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By: Josh Bunch

I’ve learned how to make the Open the most fun and productive five weeks of fitness for me and the athletes at my affiliate.

This will be my fifth Open season, and every year I’ve gotten worse.

That’s what the worldwide leaderboard says anyway.

I’m not weaker or slower or less powerful—quite the opposite. But the Open pond has transformed into an ocean and I’m no longer a big fish. If I really want to compare my score to the entire world, I’m more bait than piranha.

Thankfully, I know better than to compare myself to Rich or Julie or even the guy I was three years ago. Things change and so do my measures of success. I’ve learned how to make the Open the most fun and productive five weeks of fitness for me and the athletes at my affiliate. It all comes down to simple methods that can make seven horrible minutes of burpees rewarding for months to come.

Commit.

For the Open to truly work for its magic, you have to feel the steam of a dozen athletes a little closer than usual. Absorb the vibration and slightly quickened rotation of barbells banging and crowds cheering. Succumb to that memorable mixture of sweat, dry-erase marker and rubber.

You have to commit, submit a score every week and thereby permanently record—for the entire world to see—“I suck at wall ball, but I still try.”

No cherry picking, no going for a jog instead, no more excuses. The Open is sucking at wall-ball shots and throwing that damn ball anyway.

Prepare.

Most of my athletes have kids, careers and places to be. Some seem more like chauffeurs, but who am I to judge? The majority will not go onto regionals or find themselves beside Camille or Annie; they compete because it makes them feel better. That’s all. Few, if any, have time to waste or even extra time for the gym. The last thing they want is more responsibility.

The Open, however, doesn’t have to be another obligation; if done right, it’s a welcome distraction.

I heard a story once about a Vietnam POW, who when imprisoned regularly imagined playing an 18-hole round of golf. When he was finally set free, he played his first game of golf in decades and it was like he never left. I don’t know if that story is true or where I heard it, but it makes sense. Your workout should be your release, not your prison.

Instead of the normal sprint onto the workout floor, one wrist wrap short and T-shirt on backward, get ready the night before. For once, don’t check the whiteboard three seconds before the workout. Watch the Open videos and imagine yourself two or three rounds in.

For five weeks, get to bed 30 minutes early. Turn down the noise an hour before that. Try preparing your meals ahead of time if you haven’t already. Do all those things you think you don’t have time for and see what happens. Maybe, just maybe, the Open will be the beginning of something you’ve always been capable of, but never had a reason to try.

Don’t get lost.

“I’ll just cry if I don’t get double-unders,” she said, forcing a laugh.

Last year she ended her second Open season with a few simple goals. One of them was to whirl that blasted rope twice beneath her feet on a single jump. Days ago, she nailed it.

“I’ve worked and worked and failed and failed, but tonight, magic happened,” she said. “I got one (double-under) and burst into tears of joy.”

The fifth worldwide Open hadn’t even started yet and she’d already achieved her colossal CrossFit goal. That’s the Open I know. The Open isn’t just a competition; it’s a frame of mind that helps us discover that we’ve got more in the tank and motivates us to burn through every drop. It’s a can-do attitude, and a belief in effort.

The leaderboard is an invaluable tool we can use for our entire CrossFit career, but it doesn’t have all the information. It may record our first toes-to-bar, but it doesn’t know the hours and bloodied hands it took to get there.

Only we truly know how much we’ve worked for what we wanted most. It’s easy to get lost in the numbers, and forget the journey.

“I’ve been doing this for eight years,” I said reaching for her rope, “and this thing still trips me up at times. It doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten better, it means I measure my success with more than a few feet of rope.”

Five years ago, I couldn’t imagine CrossFit with the Open. Now I can’t imagine CrossFit without it. It’s more than five weeks of workouts; it’s something to prepare for, something to fight for, and something you’ll never forget.

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