I understand the feelings of doubt and anxiety that come hand in hand with the CrossFit Games Open. I feel them too.
Actually, I have an unending knot in my stomach throughout the duration of the competition. I watch the release of each workout on Thursday night, I do the math to figure out what kind of stimulus we should feel, I set expectations for my own performance, and I feel a growing sense of anxiety and fear.
Oh, I try to hide these emotions in a false sense of confidence or an overbearing demeanor of competitiveness but, bottom line, I feel all the feelings. I even wrote about it on this very forum when we went through the 2020 Open about 18 months ago.
It’s simple – the Open is hard, emotionally and physically. But as Coach Shelley often says, “we can do hard things,” and she is a really smart lady so we should listen to her.
With Week 1 of this year’s Open just about in the books, I’m happy to report that I have noticed a slightly different emotion creeping in – pride.
I’m proud of what CrossFit has done this year. I’m proud of how thorough their preparation has been. I’m proud of how hard they have worked to live up to their promise of making the Open the most accessible athletic competition in the world. And I’m proud that we, the Fairwinds CrossFit community, get to be a part of this process as a direct representative of the larger organization.
I’m proud to be a CrossFit Affiliate and you should be proud too because each and every one of you has kept rolling along with us.
On top of that, I’m excited that we are coupling this year’s Open with our initiative of recalibrating our understanding of what prescribed (Rx) and scaled means in the context of our own training.
In the past 96 hours, I have personally seen over 50 athletes complete this first week’s workout. In these past four days, I have also seen six different versions of the workout completed. Incredibly, that’s not even the complete totality of options available to athletes around the world. There’s three more versions we could try in case you are wondering.
Amazingly, across those six different versions, performed by an incredibly diverse sampling of athletes, the stimulus has consistently held within an incredibly tight distribution of work capacity. That is absolutely incredible programming. Well done, Dave Castro.
I bring this up to highlight just how accessible this year’s Open is to anyone and everyone who wants to complete it. The simple fact is no matter who you are, what your fitness level is, how long you’ve been doing CrossFit, or whether you see yourself as a competitor or not, if you WANT to do the Open you CAN do the Open. And you can do it in a way that allows you to hold to an objectively measurable standard that meets your current fitness condition while experiencing the same exact stimulus as the most fit people in the world.
Show me another world-wide fitness endeavor that facilitates that for an infinite number of people for only $20 and I will gladly participate.
However, in the past 96 hours, I have also witnessed a disappointingly voluminous amount of negative self-talk. I have heard statements like, “I’m not a good enough athlete to compete,” “Well, I’m not as good as her so I’m not doing it for real,” “Oh don’t cheer for me, I’m not doing the workout as good as everyone else,” “Oh, no, I don’t deserve a judge, I’m just doing the slow version of the workout,” or some other version with slightly different words.
Believe me, I hear it all. And I recognize all of it because I’ve probably said it or something very similar in my own head at least a dozen times.
Despite these destructively critical self-narratives, I will also point out that not one person who showed up on the Creek these past four days walked away or quit. Everyone, no matter what obstacle they faced, found a reason to step up, challenge themselves, and find a new version of what was possible for them.
And that’s what has made me more proud than anything else. For me, that is worth recognizing as the real prescription of this entire process – changing the way we see ourselves and learning to silence the inner critic for just a few extra seconds.
We have one week down and two more to go. Is it all downhill from here? Do we think Dave Castro and his band of merry fitness elves will take it easy on us for these next two weeks?
You can expect the next two weeks are only going to get harder. You can count on the fact that no matter how well any of us have prepared, the Open is going to challenge us at the edges of our margins of experience. You can 100% count on being just as nervous this week as you were last week. And you can count one other thing – You. Can. Do. It.
We will always have our inner critic. It’s natural. It’s hard wired. And in some settings, it can save your life from unforeseen danger. But in the gym, we need to figure out just who that voice is serving because I’m pretty sure it isn’t you.
I challenge you – when someone, whether it be me, a classmate, a friend, a loved-one, or whoever, says, “Hey, you got this. You are going to do great.” Instead of letting that inner critic take the microphone and broadcast all your doubts and fears…stop, take a breath, and accept the confidence being offered by those around you.
You are allowed to have those doubts and you are allowed to share them but you are also allowed to accept that we aren’t lying to you. We aren’t just telling you nice things because we want to make you feel good about yourself.
We are telling you what we see. And what we see is a strong, powerful, and capable athlete who has stepped up to a challenge and who has the courage to be a little curious about what might be possible for her today.
Is that athlete allowed to be scared? Hell yeah. Is that athlete probably thinking he feels more nervous than the athlete next to him? Probably. But guess what? It doesn’t really matter.
We are all nervous. We are all scared. If you weren’t, do you think what you are about to do is really worth it?
But no matter how nervous or scared you are, you can also count on the fact that we are all going to be there to cheer as loud as possible for each other. And in the end, we are all going to do the version of these workouts that lets us be the best version of ourselves at this moment in time.
If that’s Rx, Scaled, Foundations, or an adapted version because of injuries, limitations, or cautious doubt, so be it. You showed up, and you got it done. That’s the prescription for calling yourself a competitor in the CrossFit Games Open. Period. No extra self-doubt required.
So the next time I tell you you look good, don’t tell me you don’t. Don’t call me a liar. I don’t lie. I see what I see and I see you. And you look fucking good.
I’ll see you on the Creek.