CrossFit Open – Lessons Learned


Almost 3 weeks after the Open, it is safe to say that the dust has settled. Our emotions, both high and low, have had time to clear and we can look back on our experience. After all, experience is what it’s all about. It defines us as human beings. In retrospect, the Open is like a final exam. It tests your ability to move efficiently and effectively through something that you otherwise may have thought to be impossible. If the Open was actually a written exam, these might be some of the questions on it:

1.) Should I participate? Why or why not?

2.) Should I go scaled or Rx?

3.) What is my goal for each workout?

4.) What is my pacing strategy?

5.) Did I breach my comfort zone?

6.) What did I learn about myself?

The answers will differ for everyone depending on mental and physical ability. Fortunately there are very few wrong answers on this exam unless they involve that four letter “C” word…can’t…

After the Open we asked all of you to email us something you learned about yourself in the five-week competition. After compiling the feedback, the results were pretty unanimous. Across the board, Aevitans feel much stronger than before the Open. That’s great! But, where did this strength come from? Can we (and should we) tap into this strength all year long, or does the Open tend to bring out something extra-special (and extra-strong) in all of us?

Did the CrossFit Open make us all stronger?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Strength and power adaptations take months to develop. Five extremely hard workouts over five weeks might be taxing, but it certainly isn’t what enabled our gains. It was the months of training leading up to the Open that enabled our success. You put in the work, and you reaped the rewards during the Open!

So, if the Open didn’t actually make me stronger, what’s so special about it?

It’s the external stimulus of competition that drives us to put up a good score that in reality is artificially more meaningful than any other WOD. The competition pushes us beyond our current comfort zone into uncharted territory. “But I’m not a competitive person!” We are all competitive with ourselves. We all want to be slightly better versions of our current self. In fact, self-competition is most likely the reason that you signed up for CrossFit in the first place – so embrace it!

If the Open helps us push the boundaries of our comfort zones, then why don’t we just train like that all year?

Well, it’s not sustainable to continually tax yourself week after week at or around 100%. In training we typically want to be between 85-90% to enable adaptation and strong technique while preventing overuse and avoiding burnout. That’s what we’re doing here…”training”…NOT exercising. Exercising is for infomercials. We’re training to get better at all things in life!

Whether or not you had a positive or negative experience during the Open, be sure to reflect back on it. If you had a positive experience, build on the it! If you had a negative experience, learn from it! And either way, let us know your thoughts and feedback so we can get better too!

Karen Southwick