Boy, am I glad to be updating from the other side of 13.1. I didn’t think anything could be crazier than last year’s first Open WOD of 7 minutes of straight burpees, but now I know, burpees AND snatches is much, much worse.
This is the first year that Neil and I have officially signed up to participate in the Open. We were still pretty new last year, and learning a lot of the key movements, so we just participated and scaled the workouts as we could. This year, since we’ve seen a lot of improvement, we decided to take the plunge, if for no other reason than to see how far we’ve come and have some fun with our fellow CrossFitters. It completely takes over the gym!
Let’s back up a little first. Many of you might not even know what I”m talking about. If you’ve never caught replays of the CrossFit Games on ESPN, they are by definition the search to find the fittest man and woman on Earth. Granted, all the participants are CrossFitters, but CrossFit prides itself preparing us for the unknown, and to be skilled in many areas of fitness. Nobody knows what the workouts for the Open, Regionals or the CrossFit Games will be. Athletes literally train year-round for a competition that is a complete mystery to them. Fun fact: During the first CrossFit Games, workouts were literally pulled from a peanut roaster/hopper.
In the past few years the CrossFit Games have grown from a small event on a ranch to a worldwide competition. Athletes are broken into groups by country and region, and during the Open we complete 5 weekly workouts that will determine who goes to Regionals, and then the Games.
The first Open workout was announced last Wednesday. I was literally eating birthday cake when my phone started buzzing. A 17-minute ladder of burpees and heavy snatches fore reps was announced. I won’t lie, our excitement immediately waned. The snatch is unfortunately a movement we probably haven’t worked with enough over the past year. They are a complex movement, and although our gym hasn’t shied away from them, they don’t land in programming often. I’ve only really started working on them this year in my secondary workouts and prep for my Level 1 Seminar. I have them down, but I still do them at a much lighter weight than my other lifts. In fact, up until Thursday, my 3-rep max was 75 lbs, the second snatch weight in the workout. Neil snatch max is also lower, around 125 for his 1-rep snatch, 10 lbs short of the second snatch weight in the workout. It’s definitely not a move you gain ground in easily.
With all this in mind we resolved to just go into it with an open mind but careful attention to form. Our burpees are excellent, so worst case scenario we thought, we’ll just plow through those to give us more time on snatches.
So how did we do?
Well, we fared okay. It’s hard to be disappointed when you know how much you’ve improved (I couldn’t snatch last year at all), however it’s hard not to be disappointed when your expectations exceeded your performance because you still thought you’d perform better.
Thanks to Erica for capturing my before and after…eesh!
For my part, I wasn’t comfortable enough at 75 lbs to simply tap the bar to the ground and snatch quickly. I completely reset my form with every single snatch, which took time, and capped the number of 75 lb snatches I did at 26 (126 reps total) before I hit 17:00. I had really hoped to make it through the 20 burpees for a total of 150 reps. I prioritized good, safe form, and it cost me reps, which I know in the long run is the best way plan to avoid injury and bad habits, but at the same time, still a bummer.
For Neil, a snatch at 135 lbs was still a little too heavy. He finished the first round of snatches and the 2 rounds of burpees and had a good 11 minutes to attempt the 135 lb. He got very close, but struggled to get under it. He performed really well though, and his form was excellent. He attempted 8 times, which is more than I could have with new weight. He is so much stronger than last year, and it definitely showed.
So we did well, but still left feeling like we could have done more. Neither of us went for a second go — mostly because we don’t really have the time in our schedules, nor the desire to recover from what amounts to 2 Hero WOD’s worth of exercise in the span of a few days, which at some point becomes counter-productive. This is where I somewhat take issue with the CrossFit Open. As I mentioned, the snatch is a more complex and difficult Olympic lift than others we do, and the risk of overuse injury from high-repetitions is real, which makes me not a huge fan of this workout — or any which makes use of such extreme repetition range in a competitive setting, where undoubtedly proper form will suffer.
In the end, my favorite part of the first Open WOD wasn’t actually competing in it, but judging it. Because I got my Level 1 in time, I get to help judge and coach others as they do the WODs, and I’m loving it. I love encouraging people, and coaching them to better, more efficient movements. So many people achieved things they didn’t think they were capable of, and it felt great to play an active role. I’ve coached a good number of people, and it’s exciting when they come back and tell me how much it helped them, or they come back asking for more advice because your previous advice worked or the way you explained things got through to them.
So that’s how the first Open WOD went. Sorry my pictures are a little all over the place. I had no idea what to expect. Hopefully 13.2 goes a little more smoothly. Rumor has it there may be heavy thrusters coming our way? Eek!
What’s the toughest workout you’ve ever done?
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