It’s finally here – 18.1, the first workout of the 2018 CrossFit Games season is released tomorrow. Some of you are nervous, some of you are excited, and some of you are just curious. I personally fall into all three categories. The Open is such an awesome time for you personally as an athlete and for the gym and community as a whole. For 5 straight weeks we get to push each other and celebrate with each other. There’s truly no better time during the year.
Today I want to chat about how to approach each weekly workout. Here’s the thing, the Open is vastly different than the normal weekend competition you may be used to. Instead of preparing your body for 3 or 4 workouts in one single day, you have to be prepared for maximal output in one workout. The Open is all about doing one single workout AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. You have to prepare your mind to give 110% in that workout, there’s no saving anything in the tank.
Take a look at our typical daily class structure – we normally only do one metcon per class because we want you to give maximal effort in that one single workout. When there are strength sessions added into class, or maybe a second metcon added, there inevitably will be a drop in effort. Whether it is due to fatigue or just subconsciously preserving energy for that second workout, we typically see output drop from 95-100% to around 80%.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying increased volume can’t be a good thing. In the truest sense of CrossFit methodology, to keep things constantly varied we definitely need days that are longer and harder. BUT these days don’t help train us to give 100% in one singular workout, so as it relates to the Open, these days are likely to hurt our performance more than help it. Where we see the most trip-ups is from advanced athletes who like to pack in an extra session or two into one long training day.
This is a common pitfall among a lot of competitors, myself included. We get used to doing these long sessions, packing a metcon or two and even a strength session into one long training day. We’re definitely working hard, but we aren’t working intensely. In actuality, these types of days typically see average intensity drop to about 70% across all your training pieces. For a local weekend competition this is fine because it’s exactly what we expect to do come competition time. But as already stated, when we get used to going 70-80% in practice, it’s devastating during the Open.
So that begs the question, if you’re a competitive athlete who’s been packing multiple workouts into a training session, how do you make the shift from submaximal to maximal effort? How do you make sure you’re truly giving 100% when you do the Open workout? Great question! Never thought you’d ask!
There are two components: mentality and practice. First is the mentality piece. You have to get your mind comfortable going back to that maximum intensity. It’s not comfortable, it’s not fun, and it hurts. But you’ll survive. Your self-talk is extremely important for this – you have to routinely remind yourself these things. Tell yourself you look forward to going into the pain cave. And if you think this is mumbo jumbo, then you’re already a step behind. The pros are experts at self-talk and convincing themselves that it’s ok. Mat Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir are two of the most notable examples, and they were both back to back champs.
Second is obviously the practice piece. Don’t expect to just walk into the gym on gameday and be able to truly give 100% if you haven’t been practicing it. You have workouts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week – that’s three opportunities to practice pushing yourself towards that 100% effort before you perform the Open workout at the end of the week. Don’t waste these workouts, use them for practice, learn from them, and get better for subsequent workouts.
Good luck guys, and remember, have fun with it! Competitions are challenging, but they are intended to be fun and enjoyed! Like the old adage says, if you aren’t having fun, why are you evening doing it in the first place? Can’t wait to watch you all crush it!