Life Lessons In The CrossFit Open: 18.1

The Open is my favorite time of the year. I love the workouts, the atmosphere, and the ability to see how my training over the past year has effected my fitness. It's a time to learn and have fun, and the first workout of the 2018 season was exactly that.

18.1 was rough. 20 minutes of 8 toes to bar, 10 hang power clean and jerks (35b), and 12 calories on the rower was not the ideal workout for me. Toes to bar are not a great movement for me and, due to my height and general dislike for rowing, I was going to have to work hard for those 12 calories. The only thing I was confident in were the clean and jerks. Which, ironically, happened to be my worst movement out of the three.

Having a game plan going into a workout is good. As a former runner, I know how to pace a long workout. I like strategizing about how much energy to give and where, saving a little in the tank for a push at the end. But when you begin a workout and realize your game plan was off, you need to be willing to change it.

When I jumped on the bar for my first set of toes to bar, I expected to be doing them in doubles. I'd never strung together more than 2 before Friday night. I could never quite time the kip correctly, plus my lats would tire from pulling down on the bar and burnout fast. But on Friday night, I easily knocked out all 8 reps in the first round. The first 2 felt good so I just kept going. In later rounds, I had to break the reps into 2 sets of 4, but that was still a surprise for me. I happily realized that the toes to bar wouldn't be a problem in this workout.

The clean and jerks proved to be more difficult than I thought. They just felt heavy. I couldn't stabilize the dumbbell above me for very long so push jerks, my go-to, were quickly thrown out the window. I adopted a quick push press, using my legs as much as I could to help lock out my arm, then letting it quickly drop back to my shoulder. The hook-grip was also adopted. My hands had a hell of a time holding onto the dumbbell as it swung down between my legs. Since I was somewhat looking forward to this movement, thinking I could make up ground here, I was a little disappointed at how hard they were. But I put that aside for the moment and focused on completing the reps as best I could. Even though they felt terrible, I refused to put the dumbbell down until I'd completed all 5 reps on one arm.

Out of all of the movements, the row hurt the worst. It didn't just hurt my legs, but my soul. I felt like I was on there forever, even though it was really less than a minute each time. I quit looking at the screen eventually. The numbers were moving so slow and it was messing with my head. I let myself get mesmerized by the movement of the chain and looked up every so often to make sure I didn't go past 12 calories. Definitely didn't want to be doing any extra rowing.

Having to change a plan and figure things out on the go is how CrossFit works. It teaches you to be flexible, to take things as they come and roll with the punches, instead of resisting. If I hadn't capitalized on my newfound ability to do toes to bar, I would not have done as well in the workout due to my slower pace on the clean and jerks. Similarly, if we refuse to be flexible and take advantage of opportunities in life, things don't work out as well as they could have. My training paid off in this workout, in that it allowed me to conquer a movement I've been struggling with for years and push through one that was surprisingly difficult. These achievements and learning experiences need to be utilized outside the gym as well. Your training in the gym is not only meant to benefit you physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. The lessons are there, you just need to be willing to learn and decipher them.

Who would've thought that 18.1 would be a life lesson?