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CrossFit Open 2014 – Week 1

“3, 2, 1…GO!”

And so begins another year of the CrossFit Open.  175,000 people in 132 countries compete with each other to determine who is the fittest person on earth.  At the sound of that countdown, each of those 175,000 people launch into the same workout performed at their local box (a box is a gym…remember, a box is a gym) and their score is calculated by a certified CrossFit judge.

That’s just the beginning.  This is only week one.  After this, there’s four more weeks and four more workouts in the Open.  Pass that test and move on to a Regional competition featuring seven workouts squeezed into three days.  Climb the mountain again and move on to the CrossFit Games in sunny California with a week of challenges including:

  • 400 lb Deadlifts
  • A 20,000 meter Row
  • Walking 80 feet on your hands
  • Climbing a 25 ft rope using only your arms
  • A Triathlon

Only one man and one woman win the CrossFit Games and the title of “Fittest on Earth”.  Fitness is defined as the condition of being physically fit and healthy.  I’m focused on the healthy part more than physical fitness.  Although the health and fitness go hand-in-hand, the slight change in focus leads to different results.  Reaching your peak physical fitness now can lead to issues with your health in the long-term.  Carrying around extra pounds of muscle on your frame, stressing your joints with a regular pounding of very heavy weights, and forcing your body into a routine of nothing but eat, sleep, and train isn’t my ideal state of health.

For me participating in the CrossFit Games Open is the time to push myself a little harder for five short workouts over the next month.  It’s a chance to get in the zone, get focused, and not get punched in the head for an adrenaline-rush.  This competition is an opportunity to have fun with friends focused on improving themselves and pay back our collective caloric debt with beer, burgers, and banter at Alba’s in Malvern.

The workouts are a surprise and are announced weekly on Thursday night live on Internet TV. (Yes, I hooked up my Mac to a big-screen to watch the announcement and the ensuing demo of the workout from two top competitors.  Yes, watching two people workout on TV is a little strange.  Yes, it’s like football, but without as much excitement and drama.)  My main CrossFit coach, Darin who runs CrossFit Inspire in Malvern, did an excellent job foreshadowing this week’s Open workout by selecting the same workout for us to do last Monday.  That gave me an edge in that I knew what to expect, but also might have de-edged my fangs in that I knew what to expect…pain.

Here’s the workout for 14.1, week one of the 2014 CrossFit Games Open.

AMRAP in 10 Minutes of:

  • 30 Double Unders
  • 15 Power Snatches at 75 pounds

AMRAP means complete those two exercises as many times as possible in ten minutes to score the highest number of repetitions.  A Double-Under or “Dubs” is swinging a jump rope under your feet twice for every single jump you take.  Normal jumping rope would be the equivalent of a “Single-Under”.  A snatch is an Olympic lift where you lift a barbel with a wide grip from the floor until it lands overhead with your knees, hips, and arms extended and locked out.

This is the bottom of a traditional Snatch before you stand up and lock out your legs. You do not have to drop down into a full squat like this for a Power Snatch.

This workout is brutal on your lungs.  The Snatch weight is light enough that you have no excuse to take a long break, but the reps are structured so you will be sucking air quickly and want to take a long break.  My workout score on Monday was 5 Rounds and 40 Reps for a total of 265 Reps.  My back hurt.  My hamstrings hurt.  My achilles hurt.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  I never broke on the Snatches (“breaking” is when you drop the bar and stare at it…i.e. it broke you), but I was slow.  I tripped up many times on the Dubs.  In other words I had a lot of room for improvement.

This is my snatch on 14.1 with my judge, Tara, in the foreground.

I set a goal to crack 300 reps for Sunday’s Open competition.  I read some good tips on stretching my hips, forearms, hamstrings, and calves and leveraged the shoulder mobility stretches I learned from Sue McClain, Physical Therapist/“Gumby-Creator Extraordinaire”.  I also took the advice Dave Heston from CrossFit Inspire gave to use a narrow grip on the Snatch.  Finally, I went barefoot.  Almost everyone is afraid of doing Dubs barefoot, because when you make a mistake – it hurts!  I thought I could use the extra focus and precision and any pain would be easy to channel into the workout.

My dubs on 14.1.  Go barefoot!
My dubs on 14.1. Go barefoot!

Mission accomplished! I scored 313 reps – two short of 7 complete rounds.  I improved my Monday score by almost 50 reps.

  • Did I do my best?  On this day – Yes.
  • Was my performance flawless?  Almost – I missed my last Dub and took a couple extra breaths of air.
  • Can I do better?  Yes. And I will.  Next week.