Come out to the gym TONIGHT at 8pm to celebrate the end of the Open and gear up for Regionals with a screening of The Redeemed and the Dominant: Fittest on Earth, a documentary look at the 2017 CrossFit Games. Bring your own drinks and snacks to share!
Open Diary 18.5
By Brett Ferguson
I felt much more at ease going into the last week of the Open than I had for the previous four workouts. Mentally, I was in my best head space yet. No excited anxiety. No regret from the previous week. Physically, I was tired. Doing each of the first 4 workouts twice had taken its toll. As a result, I did have thoughts that wavered between, “Let’s just get this over with,” and, “This is it! Let’s crush this one!” I knew the combo of Thrusters and Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups was going to hurt. And not just a little.
I loved running Friday Night Lights this year. The energy was awesome! Tons of people came to the gym to hit the workout and probably even more came out each weekend just to watch and cheer people on! What an awesome, supportive community we have! As much as I loved it, I realize now that coaching group classes from 8am-1pm, setting up the gym from 1:30-5:00pm, and then starting the first heats of Friday Night Lights at 5:30pm didn’t leave me much for mental relaxation or physical preparation. The stress (not bad stressed-out stress, just stress) of all of this along with redoing every workout, losing sleep because of anxiety, and not recovering as fast as I used to, and I wasn’t always set up well for my best performance on the work outs. Learning.
By the time I hit the workout on Friday at 7:30pm, I was pretty fried. I took way too much time transitioning from the barbell to the rig and back again (About :08-12, but who’s counting. I certainly didn’t go to the office on Saturday, put on the NestCam video, and obsessively write down all of my transition and rest times. Who would do that?). Besides that, I kept to the strategy I had planned on. Thrusters unbroken until I had to break them up based on feel. I finally broke them up in the round of 15. A positive result of the longer rests in my transitions was that I was able to keep these unbroken deeper into the workout. This was also the point that I started getting tunnel vision. I heard someone behind me say, “Why is everyone facing the other way? We can’t see any of their faces.” Between the tunnel vision and allowing myself to be easily distracted by someone talking, I had a feeling the wheels might start coming off. I know that my gymnastics endurance on the Pull-Up bar disappears quickly, so I broke them up early. Not early enough, though. In the round of 15, I started with a set of 4. I got back on the bar and after 2 more my lats just said, “No.” That was it. I did everything I could to keep hitting sets of 2 until I couldn’t do that anymore and ended with 3 quick singles on a lower bar. Pierre was yelling at me to get back to the Thrusters, but I just wasn’t in the right head space. Most of the time, I can tell myself, “You can do one rep. Just get started and do one” and get the work going.
This was not one of those days. The 18 Thrusters that were ahead of me might as well have been 100. A voice in my head said, “Even if you get through the Thrusters, your Chest-to-Bars are already failing so you won’t do well there.” Helpful. Thanks, brain. I grabbed the bar and battled through the Thrusters. One minute left to do as many Pull-Ups as possible. A set of 3, then 2, then singles. As the clock hit the 7 minute mark I had gotten through 15. I shook my head as I kneeled down. My goal had been to get to the 21 Thrusters. My frustration quickly became secondary as all the work that I had just done caught up with me and I rolled on the ground, unable to get comfortable no matter how I laid on the floor.
“Well, that strategy didn’t go very well. Let’s try something else,” I wrote my coach on Saturday. 12 hours later, I felt a little detached about my score. I had done the best I could given the circumstances, and the strategy that I had used. However, I knew my score wasn’t going to help my standings in the Region, so I felt some self-induced pressure to do better on Monday. Not because I necessarily had the confidence that I was able to do better, but I just had to do better. Logic there? None.
I decided to break up the Pull-Ups int0 even smaller sets than before in hopes of saving some energy there. I also changed my set up to minimize transition times so that hopefully I would buy myself some time for more Chest-to-Bars. I mentally prepped the shit out of this attempt. I was 100% ready to get to the next movement as quickly as possible. So, instead of :10 of transition, it was more like :03. Awesome! Right? No. Too Fast.
You know how in group class I always say, “Don’t come out too hot”? Well, I came out too hot. Without the extra transition time to recover, things fell apart even faster than on Friday: the Thrusters in the set of 12 this time. Even though the sets were smaller, I rabidly got back on the bar and kept moving. Getting to the barbell for the round of 18 Thrusters, I was :30 ahead of my time from Friday. Then, total body shut down. I put out too much energy too quickly. and it caught up to me. In my head I said, “Hold onto the bar and finish,” but my body just wouldn’t comply. I haven’t felt my body actually stop functioning in a long time (Well, not since 18.2, but before that, a long time, I promise). I let out exertion yells for the last three reps, just like I had done with a 315lb dead lift a week earlier. Singles right away on the Pull-Ups. My arms wouldn’t leave my sides. Dead weight. I felt like I was flopping limp limbs around in the air. On Friday I had done 15 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups in 1:00. On Monday, I had 1:27 for the CTB. I got 14. One rep less.
This week wasn’t as mentally challenging for me as it was physical challenging. I knew that going in. I showed up and battled, but it just wasn’t there. Good to know for next year. I need to try to treat each Open workout like just another workout. It’s hard with all of the hype around the announcements, the excitement at the gym, Friday Night Lights, the leaderboard, and so forth. But I allowed myself to get too amped up about it in the first several weeks, and it caught up with me. That much energy and output wasn’t sustainable. There is a scientifically controversial thing called Adrenal Fatigue that is believed to happen to people after long period of stress, or, more related, after rigorous competition. Dr. James Wilson, who coined the term, believes that during these periods of stress, the body’s adrenal gland is overworked, continuously producing more and more cortisol to try to keep up with the demands of the body/mind. When the system can no longer keep up with the demand, there is a crash. I don’t know if this is a real thing. But it sure as hell felt real on Tuesday. Completely exhausted. I felt hollow. Not empty. I wasn’t depressed. It was more that I had been in such an adrenaline, anxiety-driven state for so long that as soon as it was over, I completely shut down. I think I’ll take a few rest days.
How did I do this year? Goals: I was hoping to be in the top 250 in the North East Region. I’m currently sitting in 291st place. Last year I finished in 379th place. I can let myself be disappointed for not reaching my goal, or I can reframe that bullshit and see how much I improved. Physically: I worked my ass off this year, and I can see that it is paying off. Not because of the results on the leaderboard but because of the improvements of both weaknesses and skills, and knowing my body better than I did before. There will always be more to work on, skills to improve, PRs to try to break, but I’m happy with my growth this year. Mentally: This was more of a challenge than I expected. As you read in my first three Open Diary entries, I have some deeply engrained habits of being hard on myself. Writing these entries each week really helped me to see this pattern. I’m going to continue more of this honest evaluation each week to see how I’m doing with it. Only 47 more weeks until you get to read about it again. You: Take a second and honestly assess how you did this year. Put your mental bullshit aside and really be honest. I’ll bet you are doing better than you give yourself credit for.
New and Notes
- This is the final entry in Coach Brett’s “Open Diary” series. Be sure to check out the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th entries if you haven’t read them yet!
- Farewell party/drinks for Coach Melo, Alex, and Lily will be this Saturday at 4pm at Pig Beach on Union St. All are welcomed!
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