5 Things I Learned From The Crossfit Open 17.1

Sidenote: For those who don’t know, the Open is a 5-week, worldwide competition. Workouts are released Thursday night, and athletes have a few days to do the judged workout and report their score online.

A few weeks ago, I didn’t know what the Crossfit Open was. I just knew it sounded scary and like something I probably shouldn’t take part in after only three months of Crossfit. I had no intentions of signing up or even watching the other athletes compete in it.

I have to admit I was curious about it, though. I knew if I was bothered about it enough, I would participate. I casually said that to one of the women I work out with, and next thing I knew I was bombarded with messages from a few different people telling me to sign up. So I did. But I still didn’t really know what I was in for.

Last night was the first workout. At the box I go to, everyone gets together on Friday nights and we compete in heats. I was already pretty nervous since seeing the workout Thursday night. I knew it included some of my weaknesses/least favorite movements: burpees and snatches. Upon getting to the box last night and seeing that I was in the very last heat, I got even more nervous. And I had to sit with those nerves for over an hour while I watched the other three heats. I peed about 15 times, warmed up, and then it was my turn.

17.1 was 16 minutes of pure hell, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat because the reward was worth the misery. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Community matters. I hate when words fail me, but they kind of do when it comes to describing the Crossfit Repo community. I have never, ever been part of something where I felt so accepted and wanted so quickly. The people there are supportive and kind and welcoming. They love you and care about you, inside and outside of the box. I knew that before the Open, but last night just made me realize it even more. When I was in the middle of 17.1 and wanting to give up, they carried me through. Their faces and voices made me keep moving.
  1. It gets emotional. I’d been told this, but I didn’t really expect to be the one bursting out in tears. But in the aftermath of actually finishing the workout and surprising myself with my time, I was overwhelmed. Then my coach came over, knelt down, and started talking about the first day I came in versus now. He told me how proud he was, and I lost it. I was proud of myself, too. I was happy and shocked and exhausted, and it just all hit me at once in that moment.
  1. Nutrition is important. I’ve always been terrible at eating when I’m nervous. I knew I needed to have something in my stomach yesterday, so I forced myself to eat. But I didn’t eat nearly enough, and that became clear pretty soon into the workout. I was dizzy and nauseous five minutes in, which made the remaining 11 minutes not enjoyable. It got worse after I’d finished and tried to stand up. I’ve never felt so close to passing out without actually passing out. Luckily it all subsided about 25 minutes after I’d finished, but I’m not making the same mistake next week. Next week I will be eating more and planning better.
  1. I can do hard things. This is what I kept repeating to myself for 16 minutes. I can do hard things, I can do hard things, I can do hard things. I can. I know that. I’ve done lots of them in my life. But when your body is being pushed literally to its limit, feeling like it’s going to crumple under you, it’s easy to want to give in, to give up. That giving up happens when your mind is agreeing with your body, so I made sure mine wasn’t. On my own, giving up would have been an option. But last night it wasn’t. Finishing was the only option.
  1. I’m addicted to Crossfit. I really am. I have an addictive personality, I know that. I just didn’t necessarily expect that I’d every be addicted to physical exhaustion. But as soon as I leave every day, I’m looking forward to the next. Finishing a workout I didn’t think I could do literally gives me a high, and last night was the highest I’ve ever felt due to the entire atmosphere of the Open. As soon as I walked out the door, I was ready to do it again next Friday night. When I first signed up, I thought I would maybe dread Friday nights for 5 weeks because they would be difficult. But the exact opposite of that is true. I’m looking forward to them so much because they are difficult.

I can’t wait to see what the next four Fridays bring, and I’m excited to crush it.

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