As a CrossFit Coach and semi-competitive (Non-regional level) athlete I feel like it is expected that I live, train, and breathe for the opens; in reality I am pretty sure I have claimed that I hate the opens far more often than professing any kind of love for them.
The data-geek in me loves it – so many workouts, so much to analyze. It has caused me to think about the analysis I could do: how many more muscle ups does a regionals or games level athlete need to do now compared to 5 years ago? How many more burpees are necessary with each subsequent opens season? What percentage of athletes see improvement in repeat workouts or even in their overall place year on year?
Yet I have seen the leaderboard and competition bring out the worst in so many people – people who become so competitive they are no longer able to congratulate their teammates, honest people shorting reps so they can come out on top of their rival, and those who become hyper-focused on beating that random stranger who they may never personally know but always see near their own name when scrolling through the results.
Prior to having a mild or major breakdown during the opens take a few minutes to step back and think about exactly what that little number next to your name means. Maybe that number means you worked really hard and finally mastered those skills you struggled with in previous years, maybe it means you got your first muscle up, or you PR’d your clean. Alternately, maybe that number means you went home after work to help your kids with their homework, maybe you or a family member were sick, or maybe you found a passion, a new hobby, the love of your life. Now think about that person who was always two places ahead of you last year – maybe you beat them this year but before you celebrate your victory take a few minutes to think about what their number also may mean.
For those who qualify for regionals that number next to your name is an achievement that gives you an opportunity for what I can only imagine is an incredible experience. It does not tell anyone your athletic background, it does not earn you a living in Crossfit; it says you were better than more than 99% of other CrossFit athletes in your region in 5 workouts – 5 workouts out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of workouts you did all year. That number may be an opportunity but it certainly does not define you.
For 47 weeks a year we Crossfit for the sake of fitness– we all have our own reasons; and hopefully there is something we actually enjoy (maybe even love?) about it. When you first learned to enjoy it you probably didn’t even know what the Opens were. Why does 5 weeks now have such a huge impact on our self-worth as a CrossFitter?
Let’s not forget the life we live when we aren’t following a leaderboard – the life with family, friends, adventures, and of course workouts. Data can tell us so much, but with no context a number is just a number – next to a name that stands for so much more.