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Should You Bother With the Open?


The short answer is “Yes.”

I have been doing the Open for the past three years. Only last year did I actually register and enter my scores. Previously, I had completed all the Open workouts but just tracked my scores locally to see how I did compared to others at my own box.

Last year I got the opportunity to write for the CrossFit Games site; therefore, I thought that it was a good idea to participate in the Open. Although it was not required for my job, I thought it would be good to have that commonality with the athletes I’d be interviewing. We added a flare to it at our affiliate where our members could sign up and compete to beat my times each week. Why me? Because I was a good sport about it, and let’s be honest, if you’re looking for a score to measure yourself against, who better than a Grinder? Thus, the “Beat JTol Open” was run as a secondary competition for those of us doing the CrossFit Open. I think these kinds of local incentives boost participation in the worldwide competition.

While I would recommend to any affiliate to do something like this local version of the Open to help get more people involved, the question remains why would an individual who has virtually no chance of making it to the Games, register and compete? The answer is, “Why not?”

I know that I have very little chance of qualifying for Regionals. At 39, I am in my last year of competing with the “general population” before becoming a Master’s athlete. I don’t believe that I have any more of a chance of making the Games in the 40–44 age group as I do making the Regional at 39, but I’m still willing to take a shot at it. There is nothing to lose (except the small entry fee). People talk about not wanting to be embarrassed about their scores compared to the best in the world. But I have the exact opposite mindset. I love to see what I can do in the five stages of workouts alongside the best of the best. I am in awe of the numbers they put up. I think it’s amazing that in some way I get the chance to do the same work with the same time limits, movements and weights as every athlete who makes it to the CrossFit Games. Nowhere else would you ever get that chance.

As a CrossFit writer, I don’t get any extra kudos or incentives if people read this and decide to register. The simple fact is, regardless of whether I broach the subject or not, the registration numbers for the Open have been increasing significantly each year. I would venture that the same thing that stops many people from walking into their first CrossFit affiliate would be similar to the rationale for people who don’t attempt the Open; fear of trying something new. I’ve never known anyone who registered, did all the workouts and then did not learn something about themselves or come out on the other end as a better person.

Last year I struggled with the combo of burpees and snatches. I was fine for the first set of burpees and the 75 pound snatches. But when I got to the round of 135 pounds, I hit a wall. I had a PR of 135 (on paper) which I did while I was fresh and I’m sure look very little like a snatch. Attempting to match my one rep max after two rounds of burpees and a round of snatches at a lighter weight proved to be more than I could handle. But what I’ve done since that time was to work every week on my Olympic lifts and I’ve come to not only be much improved on that movement (I hit 155 doing a full Olympic–style squat snatch) but it has become one of my favorite lifts to do.

This is like a lot of the unmeasurable aspects of CrossFit in that it is an offshoot of the main activity. I went in to do the Open. Realized I sucked at snatching weight over my head. Instead of quitting or giving up I worked twice as hard and got better at it. This is the reward of the Open for a Grinder like me. I’m not in it to qualify for the Games, I’m in it to have it show me what my weaknesses are under the microscope so that I can work on them and get better as an athlete and a person.

If you’re reluctant to try the 2014 CrossFit Open, I understand. I’ve been there. Even though I’m registered this year I’m still a little apprehensive as to what will be thrown my way. But just like so many things in CrossFit you can be assured that some place, Grinders like me will be hammering out reps, one at a time, slow and steady.

Stay on the Grind.

Jamie Toland (JTol)