The CrossFit Open Games have started. To the CrossFit community that’s like the run up to Christmas. If you are lucky enough to know someone who does CrossFit (or unlucky, considering how we tend to not be able to shut up about our slightly strange obsession with painful workouts…) you might have heard of it already, in my opinion it’s one of the most exciting developments in modern sports along with Slopestyle and the Paralympics.
Every week for five weeks a new workout is released that everyone signed up for the Games try to complete in order to get a score. Scores are submitted to the central CrossFit website where a world wide ranking is presented. Last year almost 140,000 people competed in the Open.
That’s a very big number of people, participating in a truly inclusive global event.
When I started doing CrossFit in 2012 the Open had just come and gone. In 2013 I had just taken that fall and injured my left shoulder. And this year I am struggling with my right shoulder. So far, my involvement in the Open has been limited to enthusiastically cheering people on, and harshly no repping them when acting as a judge.
First workout for 2014, labelled 14.1, was announced on Friday two days ago. Like so many others I got up disgustingly early to fire up my web browser and check out the announcement show.
In my opinion CrossFit HQ came up with a really good first workout this year: AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) for 10 minutes of 30 double unders followed by 15 ground to overhead with 35kg on the barbell for the guys, 25kg for the women.
Now, that may not sound like a lot, but the 4th, 5th, 6th round it will be painful… It will look a little something like what is shown in the clip below.
The clip is from Friday evening, when a big group from CrossFit London met up in our gym to whip the hell out of our skipping ropes. Some amazing performances delivered, but also a lot of frustrated shouts from those who have not yet mastered the elusive double under.
In my case, even though I am not signed up for the Open, I decided I would give this one a go to gently test my improving shoulder. It just looked like too much fun as I was watching the others!
This morning I went to the box and did 14.1 together with those who weren’t happy with their first performance. I scaled the weights right down though, and only had 22.5kg on the bar to save my shoulders.
Having checked several strategy blog posts for 14.1 beforehand (yes, even though a CrossFit WOD may look just like an all out race to the death, there is a lot of strategising to make sure you perform at the peak of what you can deliver) I decided to aim for 4 completed rounds and just keep going slow and steady throughout.
Since I haven’t done a WOD since well before December last year I was a little bit worried about lasting the distance. 10 minutes sounds like a short time, but it’s certainly enough to floor you.
I knew my double unders would be solid. The benefit of not being allowed to do anything involving weights over head is that I have had to focus on other things. Let’s just say I have done a lot of double unders the past six months…
One thing I have realised about double unders is that the more I slow them down, the more consistent I get. And paradoxically, that ends up making the double unders part of a workout really quick as the cost of stumbling and starting over is so much higher. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Can’t remember who said that.
In the end I did 217 reps: 4 complete rounds, 30 double unders, and 7 G2OH. Really proud of my double unders, I only stumbled twice.
Power snatched all the G2OH, and focused on a slow and steady pace and maintaining really strict form. Easy, with that light weight, and I really felt consistent and in control.
That’s not the best part though. Despite having been conscious of my shoulder all week (is it the cold?) I felt great before, during and after. Picked up some great warm up advice from one of our coaches, doing dislocates and presses behind the neck with a rubber band. Something I’ll keep doing as it really seems to help my shoulders loosen up.
After the workout I was completely over the moon. Being in the thick of it with a group of people pushing for those extra reps, finding the limit of their ability, cheered on by their friends around them… It’s the greatest feeling.
Still great 12 hours later, cooled down and adrenaline flushed out. I guess the real test comes tomorrow when I try to get out of bed, but I actually feel so good that I just booked up every Sunday for the coming month to do the Open Games WOD (scaled down for safety).
Feels fantastic. Can’t wait for next week.