Older, Fitter: What Does The Open Mean For Me, Anyway?

📸: CrossFit Journal

If you’re new to CrossFit, you probably think the CrossFit Games Open is some serious stuff. Maybe you’ve seen some of The CrossFit Games on television or online and assume that you have to be super fit to play along. If you’ve been doing CrossFit for a while now and have logged a few years of Open Workouts, you might be thinking it’s time to retire your Nanos, sit back, and watch the new kids get after it. In both cases, as is the truth with many things, you’re probably a little bit right and a little bit wrong. Either way you should register for the Open, play along, and do your best.

You’ll Probably Do The Workouts Anyway

If it’s your first Open, then there is zero pressure to do anything other than complete the workouts. It was probably intimidating to walk in to a gym and be one of the only members with gray hairs, but here you are still… you already have tenacity. There’ll be stuff that comes up you can’t do yet and there will be some really hard workouts… simply give your best effort.

In the end it’s really just another workout. You don’t have to be married to choosing Rx or Scaled, so if one week the Rx is in your wheelhouse, then by all means, go for it! If the next week it begins with ring muscle ups (no shit!) and you’re nowhere near being able to do one, then Scaled it is. If you’re close to being able to do a movement, then you can choose to spend the workout time trying to get one or a few reps. I’ve watched more than a few people get their “firsts” during Open workouts and man is it energizing. Even if you don’t manage that first muscle-up/heavy snatch/double under/whatever, there’s a value in trying your hardest. Almost all of the Open workouts are time fixed AMRAPs, so eventually the clock will show you mercy.

The workouts are announced by The Dave on Thursday evenings, and after earnest gym owners and coaches unscramble his whiteboard musings and decipher what the heck the workout actually is, they brainstorm on how to best run the workout for classes. Most gyms designate a day over the weekend to do this so if you regularly come to CrossFit, especially on Saturday or Sunday. You’re likely going to do the workouts anyway… might as well have your numbers live on the internet for your future great-great-grandkids to read about.

You Want To Beat Mr. or Mrs. So And So’s Scores

As you’ve been getting fitter over the years, so has everyone else… especially Betty from 9am! It’s cool to have a little friendly competition in the gym and even cooler when the competition is world wide. You probably won’t end up getting on the podium in Madison, qualifying for the Online Qualifier, or even being top in your gym. That’s ok… know thyself and choose your frenemies wisely. I’ve been know to talk a bit of smack and I also eat my words from time to time. You have to be ok with both. Don’t go writing checks your butt will never be able to cash, but don’t play it too safe either.

Although last year was a little bit one sided, Ro and Boz are great examples of this. They keep it friendly, genuinely try their best, and are cool with the outcome. I pick 2 people I’ll aim to compete head to head with before the Open begins: One who I’m usually neck and neck with in workouts and one who I am usually chasing. Definitely let them know, in fact let anyone who’ll listen know. I like for one of them to be at least an age group down from me or even in the Open Individuals group. I’d never use the excuse that I lost because I’m old enough to be their whatever, but boy will I play up that angle if I get the best of ‘em.

One beauty of the Open is that you can compare your scores to everyone competing world wide. I try to stay above a certain percentage in my age group and I try to beat the guys I told you about before. However, that coworker who moved across country, the person your high school girlfriend left you for, the guy who told you CrossFit was dangerous 2 years ago but now won’t stop posting about it on Facebook? Stir the pot and start a little friendly rivalry! Form Squads (on CrossFit btwb) and talk trash between groups! Just be a good sport if you lose and an even better sport of you win.

Finally A Masters Athlete!

Maybe you’ve been doing CrossFit for a while and (unlike me) are really, really, really good. Maybe you have a shot at qualifying for the Online Qualifiers (that’s how hard it is, you have to qualify to qualify…) for Age Group Athletes. Just like how being at the top of a weight class in the body weight sports of Weightlifting and Powerlifting generally provide an advantage over other lighter athletes in the same class, so does being the youngest in your age group.

You can crunch some numbers (on CrossFit btwb), consider how high you’ve placed in past year’s Opens, how your Fitness Level has improved, how other athletes of the same sex and age group are doing, and give it a go. Odds are it won’t be any easier next year as you progress in age through your group. If you’re in this camp, be sure to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. Read and reread the workouts including movement standards and video submission standards, and have someone who cares about you do the same. You don’t want to have an amazing score on a workout and not have it count due to a technicality. I’m generally a fan of the one and done approach to the Open, but you might want to do a “trial run” of each workout on Friday, take some lessons from it, and form a plan of attack for Sunday or Monday where you leave it all on the floor.

You Are Only As Fit As You Eat, Rest, and Recover

If you’re just having fun with the Open and have been getting fitter, then keep doing you. If you’re really going for it this year, then every little thing counts. Consider the next 5 weeks to be all about these 5 workouts and plan your week accordingly.

  • Eat plenty of protein and calories to keep you fueled for the week and especially for the Open Workout. Have the same stuff you always do and don’t mess around with new foods or supplements during this time.
  • Drink plenty of water and/or herbal tea to stay hydrated. Aim for about half an ounce per pound of body weight, sipped throughout the day.
  • The day after you do the workout should be an Active Recovery day. Plan to move around a bit at low intensity to get your blood flowing and joints moving. Tend to any hand wounds you might have incurred.
  • The day before the workout should be another active recovery day. You can play with the barbell but keep it light enough that it won’t interfere with whatever comes up.
  • Keep your training volume and intensity relatively low throughout the 5 weeks. You might throw one heavy day in there but this isn’t the time to be setting PRs in any lifts… not unless they come up in the Open.
  • Get 7-8 restful hours of sleep, especially the night before the workout.
  • Plan to do the workout at your regular training time, if possible.
  • Have a plan and stick to it. Don’t come out of the gate too hot just because the 20 year old on the bar next to you did… run your own race.

Remember It’s Just A Game

In the end, we all started doing CrossFit to be better at life. Keep that in perspective and have some fun with it. It’s easy to judge your fitness harshly when you watch the latest CrossFit documentary and everyone around you is super fit and young. I’d be willing to bet the house though that you’re fitter than 90% of the people you went to high school with. Hopefully they’ll be seeing your posts about the Open and be inspired to get fitter as well… you role model, you.

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