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By L.M. Huby

Coming into this year’s OPEN, I’ll admit I was stressed. And nervous. After all, I was pushing myself in hopes of landing in the top 200 of my Masters age division for my second OPEN. After week 4? Well, let’s just say there’s always next year.

I’ve now completed almost 2 OPENs since I first fell for CrossFit in May 2012 (I have no idea what took me so long to try it). Last year, with less than a year under my belt, I was happy to simply get a taste of competition and see where I landed amongst fellow CrossFitters.

This year’s been more about education. With one week left, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the course of training for and participating in the Open.

There’s always going to be someone better 

Whether it’s at your gym or somewhere on the other side of the world, someone’s going to be better than you. No one is good at everything – not even Rich Froning or Sam Briggs. The OPEN gives us a reality check and highlights our weaknesses (like it or not) so you know where to focus and come back to kick ass next year.

Tune out the clutter

Over the years, I like to think I’ve developed a pretty thick skin, and try not to take stuff too seriously or personally. That said, I know how easy ‘stuff’ creeps in – comments about someone’s leaderboard standing or how well they’re doing at the gym, who’s top 20 in the world, and so on – and chinks start to appear, eating away at your confidence and motivation. Don’t let it get in your head. Compete for yourself and for no other reason. If you happen to prove something to someone else along the way, it’s a bonus.

Mastering CrossFit is worse than growing out a pixie cut

If you’ve never had to grow out a pixie cut (sorry guys), you have no idea of the patience involved. Akin to figuring out how to freaking kip pull-ups, string toes-to-bar together or get double-unders, it seems to take for-EV-er, until *wham!* suddenly it’s long enough to tuck behind your ears or – squee! – pull back into a ponytail. Mastering the basic CrossFit movements is every bit as frustrating as those really bad in-between hair days. And sometimes, getting the movements down takes longer than getting to a ponytail. But trust me: it’ll happen, and you’ll wonder a) why you were so upset about it in the first place, and b) how on earth it took you so damn long to figure it out.

The Dave Castro knows his stuff

Love him or loathe him, Dave Castro knows how to push us – and the OPEN – to test our mettle and up the game. And hey, the tagline isn’t “Forging mediocre fitness”. While I’m not an OPEN veteran yet, I can definitively state that this year’s WODs are tougher than last year’s, and earlier on. That’s a good thing. We should only see the cream of the crop at qualifying events, not weekend warriors. You’re either there, or you aren’t.

There’s no dabbling in CrossFit

Crying, sweat and the occasional blood, yes. But dabble? Fuggedaboutit. After focusing largely on marathon training last year (an event for which I got sick 2 days beforehand, thankyouverymuch) and CrossFitting 3-4 days a week, I’ve had the revelation that ain’t no way am I or anyone else getting to a qualifying event without focus and specialization. You want to get better at CrossFit? Then CrossFit. Period.

Haters will be haters

You probably won’t find a more polarizing sport than CrossFit. People either REALLY love it or they REALLY hate it. Nothing in between. Haters talk about the dogma around CrossFit and “drinking the Kool-Aid”, whatev. Yes, we CrossFitters get a bit obsessed with our sport and improving ourselves, and we work damn hard to do it. And okay, maybe we talk about it a titch too much at times. Other than these minor irritations, what is it about CrossFit that irks these individuals so much – is it our healthy diet? Our commitment to fitness? Our gym friends? Maybe it’s our awesome abs.

It’s hard to fathom that there are people around who believe that living a healthy lifestyle, with a spotlight on nutritious foods and exercise while having a great time encouraging friends, is a bad thing.

CrossFit is the LARGEST fitness community on earth

Really. And over half of this year’s OPEN is made up of first-timers. That’s incredible and awesome. Know what else is? The fact that people I don’t even know come out and cheer me on, hugging and fist-bumping and high fiving at the end of these sessions. And I do the same for others. After my 14.4, I ended up with a big, sweaty hug from a woman who I’ve just gotten to know quite recently, then cheered her through 3 torturous toes-to-bar – a huge accomplishment for someone that did her very first one the day before (way to go!).

In the past weeks, I’ve gotten to really know some of the other members of our little box community, and it’s amazing.

So what’s next?

Your guess is as good as mine. For 14.4 Dave Castro piqued our interest with a clever teaser. One thing’s for sure, 14.5 will be a butt-muncher of a workout. But I’ll be there to support and cheer on my fellow gym-mates, and you can be damned sure I’m going to leave it all on the floor.

Profile photo1L.M. Huby is passionate about writing, eating for top performance, and being fit. When not commuting, she’s usually found hanging around her local box on a mission to improve her snatch and FRAN time. Read more about her journey at northof49.ca.

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