Photo: Squats and Pixels
I hate flying. I really do. So as I sit in my seat destined for Harry Potter World in a plane that, in my mind, will surely crash, I figured what better time than now to write down a few thoughts about the open.
Let’s start big picture. This was far and away the best I’ve ever felt heading into the Open. Two years ago I was a bit banged up physically. Last year, after dedicating the majority of the year to getting stronger and eating till the point of vomiting, I felt I wasn’t conditioned enough. This year was the healthiest, strongest, most conditioned, and most hydrated (thanks to my New Years resolution) I’ve ever been going into the Open.
Peaking was always an issue for me too. Normally, after training for so long and for so hard the months leading up to the Open. By time the actual competition rolled around, I felt burnt out. This happened year after year.
This year I made the conscious effort to listen to my body a bit more. Back off the intensity when necessary and finally be able to carry that momentum into the Open. In fact I was rewarded with hitting a lifetime milestone of a 300lb clean and jerk a week prior to the Open.
Thennnnnnn I got sick. The week of the open – why not? Couldn’t breathe. Coughing uncontrollably. All good things for athletic performance. Whatever. No time to sulk. Time to go.
17.1 and our first taste of dumbbells in the Open. I really only had one goal in mind – do the snatches unbroken. If all else fails, don’t let go of the dumbell. That was the only thing I was concerned with. It’s only 50lbs right. It’s the same way I feel about kbs – more than likely you can always do one more rep, no matter how bad it hurts you can probably do one more rep, so why stop swinging. Good news is I did exactly that. Did all the reps unbroken, albeit not the fastest pace. But unbroken. The burpees were terrible. I usually have another gear – some reserves – I can manage to tap into at the end of a workout. At the end of this one, I tried to punch it only to punch my feet into the side of the box and eat it. (Might’ve been the highlight of the weekend for some people watching). Regardless, when I finished the workout I was happy. My score wasn’t great comparatively, but it was great for me. Great because I did exactly what I wanted to. Executed to the best of my abilities. It’s workouts like that that leave me feeling fulfilled with no regrets or what ifs.
…then Tim redid the workout. Believe me, I had zero intention of doing this over again. I walked in Tuesday and Tim told me I had to redo it. Why – because we fucked up. Never had we fucked up a game plan as bad as this – and we’ve been doing CF a long time – probably why it was so shocking. Apparently, doing touch and go reps with the snatches was a game changer. From a fatigue and time standpoint. We, as a coaching staff, didn’t think that was a smart game plan. And for your everyday member, it probably wasn’t. But if you were capable of moving the weight with ease, it was a no brainer as evident by my nearly 2 min improvement over my old score. My bad.
Side note: I was also SIGNIFICANTLY less sore the second time doing touch and go. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t pulling from a dead stop this time or maybe my sickness had something to do with it. But the day after my first attempt was the sorest I’ve ever been in my life. And I’m not being hyperbolic. I couldnt bend over. In fact, my sickness took a lot of different forms. It felt like it kept evolving. Sunday night mid peak soreness I developed a fever. And hand to god, I thought I had rhabdo. I was like welp this is it. Kidneys are gonna shut down. Maes gonna wake up next to me and I’ll probably be in a coma. Perhaps slightly over dramatic.
Moving on 17.2 looked like another fun one. I way way prefer bar muscle ups or the rings any day of the week. So A workout with 16 reps at a time got me all types of jazzed. I knew it would be a separator and I welcomed it.
I went into the workout thinking it would be a skill test. How good are you at ttb and bmu. What I wasn’t expecting was the cardiovascular component. I came out too hot. Did the ttb unbroken. And spent the remaining 8 minutes gasping for air. Stupid. All the praise I gave to the first workout about executing a game plan and feeling fulfilled yada yada, I felt the complete opposite after this one. I laid on the floor for a good ten minutes after the workout considering what the fuck just happened and how could I be so stupid. There was no hesitation or coyness about it, I was gonna redo it.
I did. This time with a better mindset, a better understanding of how the workout would feel and what to expect. And I improved my score by more than 20 reps. At that point of the workout every rep became so valuable. Needless to say, I was quite pleased and got that fulfilled feeling back.
If my two favorite things in CF had a love child and then Castro adopted that love child and raised it to maturity, that love child would be 17.3. I said it before, but this was the first and only Open workout I’d ever looked forward to. It’s not a surprise to anyone how much I love snatches and pull ups – the rep scheme, the weight, everything was perfect.
I only attempted this one once. Paced it well from the start and gave it everything I had. My back was crushed by the end – probably due to not being as engaged as I should’ve been from the start, but nothing serious. Regardless, I felt like I couldn’t have done anything differently. I was happy. Now let’s all collectively pray this is the repeat workout next year.
17.4 the repeat everyone saw coming. I nothing this workout. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. I nothing it. It all comes down to the hspu. It you got em you’re golden. If you struggle with them, or struggle to meet the standard (aka this guy). Then you’re in trouble.
This is my big problem with this workout. I HATE the hspu standard. And it’s not because I have trouble meeting it. I don’t have the best shoulders around. And no, I don’t myself any favors by practicing the standard during the year. I’m content with going for speed, putting up a good score, and maybe not doing the most virtuous movement standards. But that’s not my problem with the hspu standard.
My issue is this. It’s the only movement in the open where You’re testing a standard plus the fidelity of that movement rather than your work capacity in that movement. Of course every movement has a standard, but you’re not tested on how well you meet it. The only way your heels are getting over that line is if your shoulders are fully open, your rib cage is down and core is engaged. Don’t forget heels up. You don’t judge an overhead squat by the ability of the athlete to keep their armpits forward or not over arching. It’s squat and stand. The hspu should be the same – not judged on meeting an ideal position.
Rant over. Now back to the workout. It proceeded exactly how i remembered. Suffer through the first 3 movements and then get ready for the skill test. If I’m being honest, I think my line was too high. Maybe I was a bit over enthusiastic about reaching up with my arms during measuring but I had to REACH to get my heels up there. Look, I may not have the best overhead mobility, but I can get there if I need to. And the fact I was getting there, to my absolute limit, and I was just a fingernail over the line, something wasn’t right. What sucks most of all, was how good my hspu get that day. Some days are better than others, that day was a good day, and it was wasted over that unnecessary standard. It was very disheartening to say the least.
I had to redo it. Make sure the standard was set. Make sure my shoulders were a little bit more stacked and do what I do. I tried to transition faster. Thinking less time on the first three, more time on the hspu. I did that, if only by like 20 sec. It didn’t really make a difference tho. Today was not a good hspu day. I had no pop in my arms. Probably still fatigued from my first attempt. I was happy to beat my score by a couple reps (even tho Tim no repped me at the buzzer on the rep that would’ve beaten him – seems questionable) but I was left with a serious what if feeling. What if my shoulders felt the way they did on my second attempt the way they did on my first. It felt like a wasted opportunity. I had hopes of getting back to the deadlift, but instead settled for a score worse than my score the year before. Sucks.
Last but not least, 17.5. This workout murdered me. Put me through the ringer and I’m not entirely sure why. By far my worst finish in this years Open.
I remember we did a workout in early January. A ten minute amrap of hang power snatches and doubles unders with the same result. People that normally never beat me crushed me – that’s not an ego thing, it’s just facts. I couldn’t breathe then and I couldn’t breathe now. And from an embarrassingly early stage of the workout. The thrusters felt easy enough, doubles were unbroken yet for whatever reason I had Bigfoot sitting on my chest.
I chose not to redo it. Not because I didn’t think I couldn’t improve my score, but because at what cost would I improve it. Could I have slept better, hydrated more and eaten better leading up to the wod? Probably. But more importantly I knew I wasn’t magically going to grow another set of lungs in two days. It’s something I need to work on and something I will work on. I’ve already devised a plan of attack – stay tuned.
Now that that’s over. It’s big picture time again.
This was far and away my favorite Open. Without a doubt, no question. Castro and co. seem to have finally struck a balance between skill, strength, and death. In the good ol days it use to just be straight death for 5 weeks. It was a beautiful mix this time around.
I’ll be honest. I never checked my ranking. Not during the Open and not now. There’s definitely some ego driven undertones that make up that decision, but it’s easier to say I don’t check my ranking because I don’t feel my effort is defined by said rankings. I know that statement comes off as equal parts pretentious and ridiculous, but that is truly how I feel. My year of training isn’t defined by five workouts. It’s defined by the work I put in day in and day out. It always has been defined by that and it always will. That’s how I think every CFer wants to be remembered. Take pride in the work you do everyday and the results will take care of themselves.