Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Posts Tagged ‘crossfit open’

Open Season 2014

It’s Open Season both in and on CrossFit. We are now as “In Season” as we ever get as athletes as we prepare to begin the CrossFit Open, the largest, most inclusive athletic event in the world. This is the time of year when more of us extend our competition beyond “you vs. you” and put our numbers out there, up against anyone and everyone else. The CrossFit Open is when we spend a little bit of time pursuing the “Sport of Fitness”, even if, like me, one is principally concerned with Fitness as a pursuit worthy of a singular focus all its own.

Since this is competition we will necessarily push ourselves in the same manner that all other competitive athletes do. During “Open Season” we will behave like runners, powerlifters, weightlifters, and all manner of people who train for a specific event or season. There will be evidence of overreaching, of overextending, and we will undoubtedly hear of injuries in the process. Hence my opening: it will be “Open Season” on CrossFitters and CrossFit. The CrossFit Open is gonna place a big ‘ol target in the middle of your back, as well as one right smack on the front door of CrossFit HQ.

Should you care? Not surprisingly the answer is “yes and no”. There’s no question you should care enough to sign up and then care about your own CrossFit Open. The cyber-gym opens up to the world and for 5 weeks includes everyone who belongs to an Affiliate gym, too. We’re all together as one. Yes, you care about that. You are part of a community now, and this is our annual family reunion, so to speak.

Your own Open is all about caring. You need to care enough to look objectively at your level of fitness, your collection of strengths and weaknesses, and plan on how you will address the tasks we are given. Will you taper into 14.1-5 or will you do them as simply the next WOD to come out of the Hopper? How about test driving the WODs, doing them to “get a feel” rather than just going for it? What if you don’t do as well as you expected? What kind of schedule will you create if you plan on doing each one more than once? Yes, indeed, you should care about your own CrossFit Open.

Everyone else is in the Open, too! All over the world we’ll be doing the same thing at the same time. Every Thursday for 5 weeks it’s all you’ll be thinking about. That, and where are you going to be at 5:00 PDT and how will you see the announcement of 14-point-whatever that week. Oh yeah, you care about everyone’s Open because you are just as much a part of the Open as everyone else. Yup, just like Rich and Sam, Jason and Annie. Heck, you might luck out and get to watch the announcement of the Open WOD with one of the Games athletes. It may surprise you to learn, but they react to each announcement just like you do! Yes, you should care about everyone else’s Open because their Open is your Open.

Now, about that target on your back. Once we go “live” on February 27th there will be all sorts of folks out there aiming at you, at us, at CrossFit. In a world filled with regular people who day in and day out push themselves in the gym harder than all but the tiniest percentage of competitive athletes, for 5 weeks we will likely push just a little bit harder, and there will be just a few more of us who end up “off the rails” as it were. There will be a barrage, a deluge of all manner of invective spewed at our world. “CrossFit is dangerous.” “High rep [you-name-it] should not be done.” “CrossFit programming is this-or-that,” where both this and that are bad.

Should you care?

For the most part I’m going with “no”. If your Mom is concerned, or perhaps your POOSSLQ, then maybe you need to pay a little attention to the haters, the attention grabbers, and the sensationalists so that you can reassure your loved ones that you are OK. Otherwise I’m going with “no”, there’s no reason you should care about the various and sundry sticks and stones being hurled at you and CrossFit. Seriously, why bother? Why help someone make a non-story (there are injuries in competitions) into a big story? Why worry that something you KNOW to be false (eg. “CrossFit is dangerous”) might be true just because it’s posted on the internet by someone who has no idea what CrossFit is, let alone the Open? Why provide credibility by caring to commentators who have none to start with?

What matters is this: it’s Open Season here IN the CrossFit world. What we have is measurable, observable, and repeatable, and we’re going to do just that over 5 weeks. You and I will push just a little harder, even if you, like me, have exactly zero chance of moving on to Regionals. There will be more precision, more perspicacity, more virtuosity. We will be drawn even closer to one another, with or without any targeting from those outside our community. For 5 weeks we will demonstrate that what we do and what we have is both very real and very good.

Yes, you care about that.


When CrossFitters Compete

Registration for the CrossFit Open, the largest simultaneous participatory athletic event in the world, begins January 15th. Are you in? Of course you are! It only costs a few bucks (sorry Dave Castro, I haven’t actually been to the Games site yet so I don’t know the actual entry fee!), and you get to take part right alongside everyone. Even Rich, Annie, Julie, Sam, Jason, and, you know, EVERYONE.

Competing in CrossFit, CrossFit as a sport, is not really my thing. I have too many old injuries that take all of the fun out of “unknown and unknowable” as a game, but I totally get the whole “it’s fun to compete at my thing” aspect of CrossFitters competing . The Open is one cool way to compete, and for me it’s the only one that is enough fun for me to throw my hat into the ring, too. Even at that I will approach each event with safety as my priority. I want to be a part of the whole Open experience, but at the same time I don’t want to get injured and miss any training time in the gym because, let’s face it, I really like begin in the Box.

Injuries in competitions pitting CrossFitters against one another have been on my mind lately. Not crazy, freak injuries that are just bad luck, but injuries that appear to be predictable, at least to me. I’ve been a spectator at almost every CrossFit Games, multiple Regionals and Sectionals (when we had them), and many local competitions set up just for the fun of the competition and the gathering. I’ve been to a number of one’s locally very recently. There’s a trend in these non-HQ sanctioned events that I’ve noticed, and I think we need to talk about it. Now, with the Open almost upon us, is a really good time to do that.

The Open as you know, or are about to know, is one WOD per week posted each week for 5 consecutive weeks. That’s it. One WOD. Not 3 WODs with an hour between each, or a weekend’s worth of work that includes epics like “Elizabeth” followed by “Grace” followed by “Fran”, or a Sprint Tri followed by the BUDs obstacle course. One WOD per week. On top of that you will discover that the WODs chosen will allow for the maximum amount of participation; almost no one will be excluded by a movement or a load that is beyond them because of the structure of the WODs to come. This has been the signature of the Open and there is no reason to expect that the wide-open funnel at the entrance to the Games will be any narrower in 2014.

Yet, when I visit a Box or attend an event as a spectator, or even just look at the WODs posted for a competition, I invariably cringe at what I see. There might be enough volume to make even the hale and heartiest from the NC Lab blanch. The loads on familiar movements are so extreme that they are almost self-parody. To top it off there appears to be an “arms race” between competitions to see who can program the most obscure movements in our entire CrossFit quiver, stuff we do on only the rarest of occasions, and even then only for the unique training effects to be garnered more through mastering the movement than maximizing work with the exercise. Think heavy Turkish Get-Ups or ambushes with axel C&J. These competitions are supposed to be fun for Heaven’s sake!

The “Gamesification” of local competitions is a tragedy in the making. Looking at the events in some of them makes me think of some of the WODs I see posted in various places, long chippers with ever more clever names, each meant to out-do the last. These WODs as an Odyssey have been aptly called “Any Asshole” WODs, as in “any asshole” can put together a bunch of exercises and thrash a group of CrossFitters with them. Even worse is programming for regular CrossFitters that simply pounds away, day after day, with this kind of stuff, or pounds away at them in a local competition. People are getting hurt, missing work, missing time in the gym. It’s not OK.

I am confident that this year’s CrossFit Open will be like the last. It will include standard issue exercises and loads we can handle. Coach Glassman will see to that. For the rest of you who are holding “friendly” competitions around the world I am throwing down the gauntlet: stop hurting my people! Think CrossFit Open more than CrossFit Games when you program for your event. Be inclusive with movements and loads–you can very adequately test your competitors fitness with exercises and weights we use all the time. Save those weird and wacky events (100M backward sprints! One-arm barbell Cleans!) for the controlled setting of a training session under the direction of a trainer concentrating on technique.

It’s supposed to be fun, but as we say in my day job: it’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out.


The CrossFit Games: Defining Moments

“Defining moment”: a point at which the the essential nature or character of a person, or a group, etc. is revealed or identified.

Buzzfeed reported that Rich Froning signed an endorsement contract with Oakley, calling it a “the defining moment in CrossFit’s history.” Think about that for a moment. The signing of a single endorsement contract by Rich is being called THE defining moment in CrossFit’s, not the CrossFit Games’ mind you but CROSSFIT’s entire history.

I prefer to think of Rich’s Oakley signing as just one more milepost along the maturational highway of the CrossFit Games, CrossFit as sport. When we eventually have a Nike sponsored athlete or a Gatorade commercial (hmmm…who do you want to see with the fluorescent perspiration cascading down the body after a clip of butterfly PU?) then we will know that CrossFit the sport has broken through to the masses, not unlike that snowboard kid–what’s his name, the Floating Eggplant or something like that–getting an Amex commercial in the Olympics OFF season.

No, I think there actually have been a couple of defining moments this past year or so, one that is CrossFit in general and bridges the CrossFit/Non-CrossFit divide, and one which is specific to CrossFit, the sport and is confined for the moment within the CrossFit community. I don’t think either one of them is a promotional deal.

The first one is easy: CrossFit, Inc produces and sells the CrossFit Games to ESPN. Now THAT, boys and girls, is a defining moment. There is no Oakley contract for Rich, heck there’s probably no Reebok without the gut check Greg Glassman (universally know in the CrossFit world as simply “Coach”) and the CrossFit HQ staff made when they went it alone at the Home Depot Center for the 4rd rendition of the CrossFit Games. I’d had some conversations with Coach that winter as he worked through the various options available to CrossFit as media companies started to circle the new phenomenon that was CrossFit (my role and impact were trivial; I was simply a sounding board as Coach thought out loud).  Year 1 at the HDC was live-streamed to CrossFit Nation for free, and done so at a substantial financial loss.

Signing that ESPN deal is the very essence of a defining moment: CrossFit and Greg Glassman would control all things CrossFit, including how its signature event would be produced, and they were willing to not only walk away from silly money to do so, they were willing to LOSE money.

Think Adidas is happy about that? The Reebok/CrossFit Games and the Reebok/CrossFit deal are also a defining moment for the second largest athletic company on the planet, let alone just CrossFit. The international awareness of Reebok and its growing association with the pursuit of fitness may actually save the original Adidas deal to purchase Reebok, thus far a money loser. Reebok benefits from the buzz generated by CrossFitters talking about CrossFit, something we are known to do on occasion! Reebok has been re-defined in part as a fitness company. Now that the CrossFit Games are on “The Deuce” almost all of my conversations about CrossFit occur without the need for an introductory explanation, a true paradigm shift for CrossFit. I’ll bet that’s changed for most other CrossFitters, too.

The other defining moment is an internal one and involves CrossFit the sport, the CrossFit Games, for both participants and CrossFitting spectators. It speaks to the growth and continued maturation of both the sport and CrossFit. Each year the Games season has had an “issue” that in retrospect has made perfect sense as it related to the particular stage of development of both CrossFit and the Games. We had entries cut off at a particular number without a qualifier, and CrossFit Inc. was excoriated by the excluded. We had locally-run Regionals which generated controversy about WOD choices, and CrossFit HQ was accused of favoring certain Affiliates and athletes. We had the first Open and the surprising number of participants straining the resources of the Games staff, which was taken to task as unprepared (in truth, the volume and growth was impossible to forecast). We had Regional venue variability and therefore presumed issues of fairness. All of these were acknowledged by HQ, and ALL of them were resolved in each subsequent year. None of these, however, constituted “defining moments”, so provincial was each one.

Now we have folks at home making rules calls. Evaluating judges’ calls no differently than we see people talking about balls and strikes, one foot inbounds or two, charging or a block. This feels an awful lot like the “Big Time”. The event and the audience have now grown so big, and both have become so sophisticated, that this year people are talking, arguing,  about pretty darned subtle judging issues. The Games have grown and CrossFit has separated along the lines of those who compete in the Major Leagues and those who compete for fun (if at all). Not unlike golf or tennis or any manner of endurance sport, the divide between the 0.1% and the rest of us now exists in CrossFit, too. As far as The Sport of Fitness (R) goes, we are now all witnesses.

The gulf between Games Athlete and CrossFitter is no less wide than that which exists in any professional sport you can name, and its existence or significance does not rest on an endorsement contract. The power of this defining moment in my opinion (no endorsement, here or ever, from HQ) is that we have reached a point where we all understand the nuance of CrossFit to the degree that we are knowledgeable enough to comment on judging. We watch the events and we care enough to argue calls. At the Games, at the Regionals, and at the Open. The fact that some of us choose to do so may or may not be a good thing, but the depth of knowledge that is now present across the spectrum of people doing CrossFit, manifested by our collective awareness of the act of judging, is a significant defining moment for CrossFit, the sport.

So best of luck to Rich and all of the athletes going through the Regionals right now. Congrats to Rich on signing a landmark endorsement deal, whether or not it is a “defining moment” for CrossFit (I loved his Oakley toss to the crowd at 13.5 in Santa Cruz, by the way!). Good luck to anyone who wants to buy a pair of Rich Froening Oakleys though–in my day job we sell the brand, and let’s just say that they haven’t figured out the inventory/customer service thing.

But mostly, best of luck to all of the judges at all of the Games events. Let’s remember that every year HQ has evaluated the Games experience and come back better the next, solving each year’s issue as the Games grow into next year’s. This year will be no different. Each one of those judges is you, and they will be back with you in the Box next week in the never-ending struggle of you vs. you.

Each of you looking for your own, personal, CrossFit “defining moment” each time you walk through the door.



Choosing a CrossFit Gym: An Affiliate’s Role

Back in the day, before the astronomic growth of the CrossFit Affiliate program and before there were jokes about the number of CrossFit gyms vs. Starbucks, a CrossFit program was really a much more personal endeavor. Unless you were one of those very fortunate souls to belong to the first 100 or 200 gyms you did CrossFit alone, or in a very tiny group. Everything about CF was really “you vs. you” because the three people in your gym were “me, myself, and I”. We could truly say that the omnibus CrossFit really was for everyone, at least everyone who was willing to learn enough to adapt and scale the WOD. Only those given to self-loathing had any problems with the community aspect of their gyms.

Now? People new to CrossFit are often unaware that an online version even exists; they are clueless when you ask them about anything that might be on CrossFit.com. Some large percentage of people only know the CrossFit Affiliate model and are introduced to CrossFit by someone who knows someone at some CrossFit Somewhere. Their first exposure to CrossFit and the CrossFit community occurs when they walk through the front door of the Affiliate. This changes the conversation. With a very few, really unique exceptions CrossFit is STILL for everyone. However, every CrossFit Affiliate may not be for everyone.

In my son Lil’bingo’s Affiliate on Saturday I listened to one of the members who quite sadly related the tale of a good friend who was turned off by the vibe at the Affiliate he visited. He felt right away that he didn’t fit. Didn’t feel welcomed. Why he felt this way is probably not all that important because someone else surely walked in the next day and felt right at home. It is a bummer, though, because he has extrapolated his initial experience in this particular Box to ALL Boxes and to CrossFit itself. That’s really a shame because from all accounts he’s a guy who would not only benefit from CrossFit, he’s a guy who would really enjoy a CrossFit community.

What went wrong? No idea. Could have been any number of things, really. Maybe no one greeted him, or said hi. Maybe he’s a little far from his prior athletic peak and he was intimidated by an advanced class, or worse made to feel that he didn’t measure up. Might have been something as easy to understand as he showed up on a day when the Open was being judged and all of the trainers and member-ambassadors were just tightly focused on 13.5. Older than the group, younger than the group. Whatever.

I certainly don’t mean this to be a critique of this particular Affiliate, or even the vibe given off there. The beauty of the explosive growth to the CrossFit Affiliate model is precisely that you can find a Box that fits both your fitness goals and your “community comfort zone.” Each one of us should go out of our way to counsel newcomers to explore the various Affiliates in a community, go out of our way to tell them that how a place feels can be different for different people, and that they shouldn’t walk away from CrossFit if the first Box doesn’t feel right. Trust me, it’s a blast when a friend hits up the Affiliate you suggest and falls instantly in love with everything, so much so that they get a bit angry when you remind them to check out other Boxes! Your gym becomes your “third space” and we should all remember to include comfort in the community when we are making  CrossFit suggestions to our friends.

And that Affiliate? In my opinion an Affiliate does have a responsibility to be an ambassador for CrossFit “the fitness program” and the CrossFit community at large. Welcoming the newcomer to your gym might be welcoming them to CrossFit itself. Very little is actually asked of Affiliates in the way of CrossFit as a whole. No purchasing agreements or requirements, no mandatory programming or equipment. An annual check to mail in and an informal understanding not to disparage Crossfit. That’s pretty much it. My call is that there should be just a little more, a tiny bit of ambassadorship for the program and the community, and all that both can do for all of our friends and family, each time someone new graces your doorway. Greet them with a smile and answer a couple of questions. If you’re really busy ask them to come back when you both have a little time. Tell them about your particular version of CrossFit and your very particular CrossFit community.

Each Affiliate may not be for everyone, and that’s really OK. But CrossFit itself, with few exceptions, is STILL for everyone.


Sunday musings 3/7/13: Final Open Thoughts

1) Mongo. A person who salvages treasures from trash. Funny, I always think of Alex Karras when I see “Mongo”, don’t you?

2) Impression. “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Twain, I think.

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou (who recently had a birthday).

I always thought Angelou was a little soft. A bit too touch-feely for my tastes. Uh uh, not that quote. That’s some fine advice. People change and they grow and all, but who and what they are at any given point in time is quite likely to be who and what they will be for some time to come. Best to believe them.

Think of this quote as inter-personal situational awareness and act accordingly.

3) Spirit. Lil’bingo and I were guests at the 13.5 “coming out party” in Santa Cruz. Man, I could spend several Sundays just musing about walking around downtown Santa Cruz (thanks for the tour, Gabby!), but that would be too easy. Nope, howsabout I point out some of the tiny details about our CrossFit world as expressed by a couple or our most famous athletes.

Did you know, for example, that Rich Froning was the houseguest of the Jason Khalipa family this week? The boys did all kinds of off-the-charts workouts and training, then broke bread with Clan Khalipa. How about the shirts Rich and Jason were sporting for their 13.5 duel? Rich had on the latest t-shirt statement from the fashionistas at NorCal CrossFit (owned by Jason), while Jason was repping CrossFit Mayhem with his shirt (owned by Rich). Hardcore, cutthroats these two, eh?

CrossFit the competitive sport is one of the 3 pillars of CrossFit as we know it (more in a bit), and the friendly, supportive ethic so well demonstrated by Froning and Khalipa has long been a part of our competitive DNA. I remember standing about 5 feet from the rowers at The Ranch and marveling as an earlier finisher slumped off his C2 and literally crawled over to urge on his neighbor, his competitor. How about all of the teams that finished the final event 2 years ago rallying around the team that pushed on through the time cap, unwilling to surrender? This competitive spirit, the realization that we are really competing against ourselves and need not wish anything but the best effort from our foes on the pitch is so ingrained in us that the failure to do this stands out like a zebra in a kennel. CrossFitters simply compete differently.

There’s a boatload of money in the game now. Prize money. Endorsement money. Money for on-air “talent”. Despite that, we have managed to retain this very special part of who we are as CrossFitters. The biggest cheers still come for the person who is DFL.

It’s up to all of us to preserve this.

4) Soul. Open 2013 is completed. 13.1 through 13.5 is in the books. We’ve survived our Wednesday night OCD and we are about to finish our 2013 version of Scoreboard obsession. The biggest deal in the calendar of the regular CrossFitter is over for 2013 and now we all step back and watch. Right?

Of course not. The spirit of CrossFit lives on through the competition you may or may not have engaged in during the Open, but the SOUL of CrossFit lives wherever people are actually doing CrossFit in the never-ending quest for a better version of themselves. It’s a personal quest, a kind of walkabout of the mind and body, whether it takes place in a lonely corner of a commercial gym or garage, or along with a couple dozen like-minded folks in the 5:00 class at CrossFit Somewhere. The soul of CrossFit is the Newbie in front of a mirror working with an old, frazzled broom to parse the secrets of the push-jerk. It’s Rich Froning, hours after that outlandish training session, being “caught” by Jason Khalipa in the garage doing front squats.

The soul of CrossFit lives in each person who takes CrossFit–the fitness program–and uses it to explore the ultimate competition, to best the only foe that really matters: yesterday’s version of you.

I’ll see you next week…


Open Drama

Wow. Just…wow. Quite a bit of strum un drang around the 2013 CrossFit Open, eh? Says here it’s really nothing new, the drama and the controversies. Re-runs of stuff from Games of yesteryears, just playing on more screens and viewed by more people who have more time on their hands than sense in their heads.

Yah…I just went there.

What’s got so many panties in a bunch? Let’s see. Everyone who has a great score must be a cheater. Of if they didn’t cheat they surely must be using PED’s of some sort. This canard took flight in Games 3 when a qualifier was first put into play. Funny, though, that you never hear this coming from any of the athletes who are likely to rock the Regionals (check out Freddy Comacho on FB, for example. No whining from that 3 times Games competitor). Seems there are a whole lotta folks shooting off their fingertips before they shoot off any neurons; if the mere possibility has somehow crept into THEIR head, well then, it must be a dead-on FACT. Because they just know, ya know?. Never mind that year after year it all just seems to work out even though year after year the Games grow bigger, change, and improve. Anybody think someone who should have been in the top 15 in any Regional got bumped out by a cheater last year? Really?

What else? Oh yeah, fairness. It’s not fair. Somehow, somewhere, someone at HQ is just out there doing stuff that’s…that’s…unfair. There’s a conspiracy here. Really. Gotta be. Just because someone has a limited frame of reference regarding what it takes to pull off something as audacious as an Open competition with >150,000 entrants, surely they know all the better than the rest of us. And the newer they are to CrossFit the better they know. Naturally. To be fair there are some folks who sincerely try to follow all the rules, do their very best in that effort, and for whatever reason they mess up. That’s truly a bummer. I really mean that. But how do you do anything other than invoke a strict enforcement of the rules for everyone, regardless of sincerity in the mess-up? How do you measure fairness if you allow even a bit of color into a black and white process? Fair tends to be hard.

Which brings me to the most important part of this whole harangue: there are real, live people involved here. Just like you. Just like him. And her. People who are trying their best on all sides of every issue. Doing the workout. Judging the workout. Administering the Open. Watching literally thousands of videos. And not for nuthin’, reading all of the vitriol being vomited through cyberspace and befouling our little corner of the planet. Listen, I’m no pollyanna. I know there really are a tiny few people who are trying to get over. They really deserve all the  venom you can dispense. But it’s rare. There really aren’t that many of them, and they always seem to do something to draw attention to themselves. Have at ’em. My pleasure.

For everyone else, though, let’s have a little perspective. Expand your frame of reference to include the notion that it really IS fair. That almost no one is trying to cheat. That even the very best athletes are approaching this in almost the same way as you and I, as a challenge to be met. An opportunity to participate in the collective, the community of our CrossFit. That every PERSON is doing his or her best to put forth something that they can be proud of. Something that will put a smile on the face of a Brother or Sister CrossFitter. Every athlete. Every judge. Every HQ staff member. YOU.

Stop. Think. There’s a CrossFitter on the other end of your post.


The Three “R’s” of Commitment

“No reserve. No retreat. No regret.” Three separate entries into the bible of a young missionary when he, in order, committed to his mission, arrived in a foreign land, and heard his own fatal diagnosis at age 25.

That’s commitment.

Think about how this might work in your life. You’ve got something before you, some task, a challenge, maybe just CrossFit Open 13.3. You’ve got it, whatever ‘it’ is, and it’s within you to triumph. All it takes is a full commitment to the task.

No reserve. No doubts or reservations at the outset. You’re in. In for the whole thing, right from the get-go. No retreat. You’re gonna go forward and fulfill your obligation, complete the task, reach the goal. And finally, regardless of the outcome, no regrets. You put yourself on the line. Accepted a challenge. Made the effort and accepted all that came with it, win, lose, or draw.

The “3 R’s” of commitment. No reserve. No retreat. No regrets.


Less Said, Sooner Mended

A week ago I ended my weekly “musings” with a thought about CrossFit and character. “CrossFit doesn’t so much create character as expose it.” I think the implication of this during a WOD (workout of the day) is quite obvious; we see glimpses of an individual’s true character during and after a WOD. Did they will themselves to that dark place where we find the magic of the program? Were they honest, counting every rep and striving for the virtuosity inherent in a perfect movement? Was their post-WOD analysis of the performance free of excuses and directed toward yet more improvement?

CrossFit tends to identify those character traits that lead to more of better, but to seek more of better requires that at least some of that character be in there to start. Hence my contention that CrossFit is more of an identifier, and perhaps magnifier, of character that is already on board.

I’ve found time and again that CrossFit and CrossFitters tend to benefit from something called “transference”, the extension of a training benefit in one domain into another wholly different, unrelated domain. For example, I handle the stress inherent in my day job a full order of magnitude better now, despite the fact that my advancing age should produce just the opposite. I believe that this is because I have trained my ENTIRE stress response in the WOD, not just my physical. By purposefully placing myself under the very significant stress of high intensity exercise I have trained my neuro-endocrine system to respond in a less dramatic fashion to ever greater levels of stress.

As an extension of this the CrossFit community has almost always been a “live and let live” place, something that stems from a broad-based sharing of this particular kind of physical experience. There’s an assumption of goodwill among and between CrossFitters, those who’ve met and those yet to meet. As we’ve grown as a community so, too, has grown the extent to which we encompass the vastness of the differences that can exist between human beings. When CF was young you would find more of these vast differences co-existing under one roof; there were simply fewer roofs back then, eh? CrossFitting in common was enough to overcome almost all differences. We were all a little different, only together. If you wanted to CrossFit or be part of the CrossFit community there just wasn’t much of a choice.

Now? The neighborhood has grown. You likely have many options. Multiple Affiliates in most cities to choose from. You can do CrossFit among folks who share much more in common than just the WOD, a little island of CrossFitting homogeneity. Is this such a bad thing? Of course not, at least not on the surface. People like to hang out with kindred spirits. Where this becomes not such a good thing is when the OTHER, non-CrossFit similarities in one group become the focus, when it is NOT the CrossFit that defines what is or isn’t held in common. This saddens me.

Think about this, won’t you? As CrossFit grows there is simply no reason why this wonderful part of the whole experience, ignoring or forgiving our differences while focusing on the wonderful thing we share, must be lost to the growth. At least for all of us out here in the great “outdoors”. So excited about something great about your CrossFit? Awesome! Sing it loud, but there’s no reason to do so while knocking someone or something else. Someone else doing something really great? Cool! Tell everyone you know, don’t try to bury it.

There will be times when something very real happens. Sad, but true. In these instances CrossFit, too, can reveal character. When that happens, whether you might have tossed the first grenade or simply returned fire, DO be the one to stop. “Less said, sooner mended” as my lovely Beth likes to say. It’s way harder and really uncomfortable to do that, be one who says ‘enough’, but you can do it. You do really hard stuff that makes you uncomfortable all the time, on purpose. So do the other folks.

You do CrossFit.


Bingo Does the Open II

How am I going to approach the 2012 CrossFit Open? I’m a realist. I will not qualify for the CrossFit Games. I’m in the Masters age 50-54 division and even here I am simply too small and weak as a kitten (at least in comparison with my competitors). We will be required to use the same loads and do the same exact WOD’s as the 20-something firebreathers. Last year the weights were simply too much form me; I don’t see ’em getting any lighter this year.

So what will I do? Well, I’m certainly going to make the effort to get a legit score on each workout. Like the 2011 Open it’s exciting to be a part of the conversation. I have every expectation that the loads will be on the very edge of my abilities, but so what? It’ll be a worthy test.

However, I did learn a very important lesson last year. The Open totally messed up my training. Wrecked it in fact. Five weeks of inconsistency. I altered my WOD’s early in each week, and I rushed to CrossFit Cleveland every Thursday to get the Open WOD done at a registered Affiliate. Remember the mantra “form then consistency then intensity”? Consistency got the shaft.

This year my approach will be a bit different. My CrossFit program is designed to fit around my life, specifically my OR schedule. Some of those Open workouts were so beyond my reasonable ability that they were essentially worthless as training, and that made me lose one workout each week. One of four. My Open experience this year will fit my schedule and my training program. I train for tomorrow…for life. I’m pumped for the Open, excited to be part of the conversation, but my competition still needs to be “you vs. you.” After I give my all to the Open WOD as Rx’d my plan is to do a scaled version adjusted so that I get the same TRAINING  stimulus from the WOD as the better CrossFitters are getting.

Will it work? Heck, I dunno. Might be the best of both worlds, but then again I might crash and burn, too. I like the idea that I’ll be testing myself not only against the rest of the CrossFit community but also against myself. Last year I allowed the Games to occupy me.

This year I occupy the CrossFit Games!

Approaching The CrossFit Open

The first workout for the Open, the gateway to the CrossFit Games, will be announced Wednesday, February 22. You’re in, right? Registered and ready for the first WOD? Maybe you didn’t register but you’re gonna do the workouts anyway. Great! What are your goals? What’s your strategy? You thought about this, right? Re-visited your CrossFit goals, your life goals, and how the Open fits in? Right?

Like I told you last week, you are I aren’t going to the Games. Not gonna happen. Sorry to be the one to break it to you. Only ~1000 of us will go to Regionals as individuals, and maybe another ~2000 or so as team members. Probably not you and me, though. We’re doing the Open for all the reasons I mentioned last week. We’re part of a community and this is how we take part. We’re fortunate enough to be able to do pretty much exactly what the best CrossFitters will do, just like we’re playing Pebble Beach after Phil and Tiger. We’re gonna do this because we own it. We’re CrossFitters; registered or not we do the Open.

But how? Think about this a bit. This is important. No going on cruise control here. What are we going to do?

The Open WOD’s will arrive during our training. We can simply apply them as such, another training tool, and just do them in the course of the week as another WOD in our program whether we send in our score or not. If memory serves, the Open WOD shows up as one of the Main Page CrossFit.com WOD’s as part of the flagship’s programming. Perfectly legit way for us to be a part of this gig. We can also work them into our training as a test, use them as a little measuring stick of our own personal fitness. You know, my whole “you vs. you” thing. Another perfectly reasonable application.

Or we can ramp it up a bit and compete. After all, The Open is a part of the CrossFit Games season, and this is the Sport of Fitness. There will doubtless be scads of local competitions using these WOD’s, some within individual Affiliates, some just among friends. Any place there’s a clock or a scoreboard (or both) and more than one athlete you’ve got a contest. We don’t need $250,000 on the line. Bragging rights, a new tee-shirt, last one to buy a round at the next Affiliate gathering? The prize isn’t the prize. Why the heck not?

Maybe you’ve been aiming for this for months, ramping up your training, tightening your nutrition, clearing your schedule. For you this is serious. Each week is about planning your attempt, the timing, pre-WOD rest, maybe a dry run on Thursday and a redline effort on Saturday. Maybe you’ve got a real chance and maybe not. Who cares? The point is that YOU care! In your mind you are not like me and most of us, and you’ve been just itching for these five weeks since, well, LAST year’s Open.

The point is simple: this is your CrossFit Open. Think it out before you start the journey. Drive the Open, don’t let it drive you. Pop the clutch. Grab the wheel. Decide what it means to you,where and how you’re traveling. Three more days to set your course.

Occupy the CrossFit Games!