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Above the Commotion: Preparing Mentally for the Open

Written by Invictus Athlete Josh Littauer

The beginning of the year is always an exciting and busy time in the fitness industry. Dozens of new athletes learning the ropes, getting excited about every new movement they learn, and being highly motivated to achieve their goals. This is certainly one of the most exciting times of the year for coaches, gym owners, and all members of the community. This excitement is certainly true in the CrossFit community, and to added icing to the cake the CrossFit Open is upon us.

2018 is the 8th year for the worldwide CrossFit Open which has seen hundreds of thousands of participants come through over the past few years. With increased growth and popularity expected, it is not surprising that everyone in the community is being inundated with hype and advertisement for the upcoming event. From banner ads, Facebook profile picture filters, Instagram ads and commercials, email newsletters and more; it is easy to get wrapped up in the hype.

I’d like to create a discussion towards a healthy approach for everyone participating in the Open and set some strategies for approach to help make it the most positive experience. With all the hype that surrounds the Open each year, it is easy to begin to put some kind of pressure on yourself to perform a certain way. Whether that be pressure you feel to break into a certain group, perhaps qualify for Regionals, or pressure to just be more fit than the year before.

Tips for Leaderboarding & Dealing with the Pressure
While this pressure for some can prove beneficial to bring out the most in people, it can also be a factor that cripples and causes some semblance of performance anxiety. Here is something that is helpful to remember: pressure is an internal perception of outside circumstance. In many cases that pressure is totally internally fabricated. Whether it comes from your own expectations, or from a perceived expectation from those around you, pressure is often not real, but a made up emotion. The workouts tend to be classic CrossFit, so none of them should be anything outside your everyday workout.

Because of this pressure, it is often easy to get wrapped up in how you stack up on the leaderboard. I can tell you from personal experience that constantly “leaderboarding” is a surefire way to have a negative experience through the Open. If you dwell on how you stack up next to someone else, it is sure to leave you feeling inadequate. From a strategic standpoint, if the numbers game is something you really enjoy (definitely me), then there can be some fun found in following athletes and predicting their success based on how many points they have. Quick tip for not going crazy with watching the leaderboard: it does not change from Tuesday morning after scores go in, until Saturday night when people begin putting in their next week’s score. So it’s really not worth checking between those days.

Success is Determined by Effort
Last big thing to remember throughout the Open: Full Effort is Full Victory. This may be the most important distinction and thing to remember. Your effort is the only truly controllable aspect of the Open and should be the only factor that determines your success. I have been told many times over the past few years “So long as you gave your very best effort, it doesn’t matter what your scores are.” This is a tough idea to get your head around, especially if you are competitive like myself. But in the end, that reigns true. If you put forth your best effort, despite all the uncontrollable external factors, you have already been successful.

Healthy Perspective: Keep it Simple
Let’s keep it simple this year. CrossFit is about community, being your best self, and being healthy. Keeping everything in the right perspective is important not only for being successful in the Open, but in life as well. Giving your best effort is all you can ask for and require of yourself. Walk tall, be proud of your effort, enjoy the community, and just have fun. That’s what it’s all about anyway.

As always: Stay Humble, Stay Hungry.

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