I love that CrossFit is measurable, observable, and repeatable. It appeals to my philosophically materialistic nature. 

In the grand scheme of existence, I am not sure materialism alone is enough, but, in the end, if we do a workout and no one is there to observe it, did it happen?

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Attempting to improve our work capacity across broad time and modal domains means we must measure, we must observe, and we must repeat those measurements if we are to test the efficacy of our methodology over time. As I understand it, that is the essence of a materialistic view of the world and, in this case, that makes sense to me.

Enough with philosophy, for now.

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This week, we finished the 2021 CrossFit Games Open. Three weeks, 4 workouts, lots of fun. And lots of data, or material, with which to move forward through another year of training.

Most of us were tested to our limits. Some of us failed to meet our expectations. Some of us succeeded in finding new boundaries. Regardless of the outcomes, I believe we all learned a lot and that’s the most important thing any of us could take away from this adventure.

I said that I love that CrossFit is measurable, observable, and repeatable and I mean that. But I also personally hate it because when my own performance fails to meet my expectations, I succumb to an overwhelming sense of loss.

I. Hate. Losing.

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I objectively lost to a handful of folks from our community in these last two workouts. As a rather competitive person, I didn’t like that. However, as their coach, I did enjoy seeing how well they did.

I lost to myself because I had clear expectations of how well I wanted to do and I failed to meet those expectations.

I also lost to myself because I said I was only going to do each WOD once this year, but I went ahead and did 21.3/21.4 a second time due to a misplaced sense of ambition; and I did worse than the first time. 

Did I mention how much I hate losing?

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Viewing the Open as a competition means we will innately determine winners and losers. I am pretty sure that’s why there’s a Leaderboard. 

But there are other ways to view the Open and not everyone needs to, wants to, or should enter into this adventure with the competitive aspect being their focus. 

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The series of conversations we’ve been having the last month, an exploration of the terms Rx vs. Scaled, hasn’t been about competition. We’ve been talking about what these metaphors offer us in terms of facilitating a training stimulus that improves our work capacity. 

In other words, attempting to meet an intended stimulus as often as possible through a better clarified understanding of what Rx and Scaled means for each of us individually will yield faster and more lasting results for our stated physical goals. 

We aim to work smarter so that we can work harder at the things that matter so that we can get fitter, faster.

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The Open is just one test of that training journey and, if done incorrectly by an athlete who is not yet or no longer capable of meeting the intended stimulus of a workout, could feasibly degrade their training or worse, cause long term injury.

For me, this final test identified a clearly observable hole in my training over the past 18 months – chest to bar pullups and bar muscle ups.

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Here’s the deal – I can do bar muscle ups. I “have the skill.” But when challenged through fatigue, the movement SIGNIFICANTLY degraded. Emotionally, that feels like a failure. I have a memory of when that was not the case. I THINK I should be able to do more than I actually can. I WANT to be the athlete I was just a few months ago.

But from a materialistic perspective, that just ain’t the case. The test we just took let me measure and observe the reality of my current athletic state in this area. And I am a slow learner, so I took the test twice.

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Most of us are not actually participating in the CrossFit Games Open as competitive athletes. 

And that is a good thing.

It’s what makes the Open and CrossFit’s attempt at being as inclusive as possible so impressive. 

They have created a platform where we honestly get to FEEL like we are part of the competition while at the same time, are offered the opportunity to get so much more out of the journey than just a simple place on the Leaderboard.

When we do the Open correctly and we let go of an attachment to some preconceived reality that probably does not exist, the results from the Open offer us a clear and actionable path forward with our training.

Now is the time that we ask ourselves the question: what do I want to do with my fitness? 

Pick up your grandkids? Chase your dogs around the yard? Look better in a bathing suit? Sleep better? Just feel less….blah?

Guess what, there isn’t a leaderboard for that.

There isn’t a leaderboard for those things because those things are not materialistic, in a sense.

Yes, I can observe whether I can accomplish some of those tasks, and yes, I can know if I feel better or worse, and yes, I can assess my own personal opinion of how I look in the mirror. But can you honestly tell me that those things are objectively better or worse than someone else’s opinion of their own training objectives? 

Probably not because it’s so damn relative and it’s so damn personal; so then the traditionally materialistic perspective of measuring, observing, and repeating quickly loses its efficacy to tell me if I am successful or not. So then CrossFit’s approach doesn’t work? 

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Slow your roll, hoss. The measurable, observable, and repeatable elements of this training methodology are the path, not the goal. They are the means by which we take this journey. They are NOT the journey itself. Therefore, we get to understand them as relatively as we want in order to facilitate the journey that leads to our desired state of being. And if that state of being changes, change the freaking means by which we are on the journey. 

In other words, scale the prescription to yield the desired stimulus.

The Open is over.

The results are tallied.

The path is clear.

The song goes on forever, and the party never ends. See you on the Creek.

-Coach Jack