If you’re thinking about switching diets, or trying a new supplement, or going in a new direction with training, don’t do it now. The Open is here, and either you’re fit, or you’re not fit. Switching to a Keto diet or trying a new pre-workout is not going to do much to change that. Just how well you do is much more going to depend on a smart strategy, and how you approach each separate workout, each week. Should you still be lifting heavy and working on conditioning? Heck yeah, but stick with your general plan. When the specific Open workout arises, you can always tweak your plan to better fit your overall strategy. But stray too far from your plan and you risk too dramatic a change in performance; or even worse, injury.
2. EMBRACE THE PAIN
If you aren’t already addicted to the “pain,” then you wouldn’t have come this far in CrossFit to be doing the Open. The Open workouts are notorious for being much more of a mental grind then a physical challenge. Since the Open is a competition for everyone, the weights are generally “light”, but the repetitions are high, and the movements that are strung together are combined in such a way as to create a serious lactic build-up that must be ignored in order to perform well. Add in the fact that you are competing against crossfitters from all over the world, not to mention the other coaches and athletes in your gym screaming at you to "keep moving" and “don’t give up” as you struggle for more reps, which only adds to the anxiety and pressure of it all. As such, it might behoove you to already have it engrained in your mind going in that, yes, this workout is going to suck; I’m going to be in pain, but I’m NOT going to die! Convince yourself ahead of time to silence the voice in your head that tells you to stop. And just keep going! Chances are, you're already familiar with all the movements and you're able to move all the weights. So your biggest obstacle is YOU!
3. GET MORE MOBILE
What can we say about mobility that isn’t already obvious. The more mobile you are, the better you will perform. Even better, the more mobile you are, the less painful the workout will be!…..and, the better you will perform! It’s that simple. This goes far beyond your usual 2 minutes of rolling out your quads before the WOD starts. You should be mobilizing every single day. In the morning before work; before, during and after your workouts throughout the week; before bed at night, etc. Proper mobilizing not only primes the body, but prevents injury.
4. REST AND RECOVERY
Rest and recovery are two very different things. Rest primarily has to do with how you sleep. Sleep is extremely important for every training program, and the Open is no different. Proper levels of sleep stimulate hormonal balance, joint strength, muscular recovery and overall mental health. Sleep, obviously, also reduces general fatigue, which will prevent you from tanking during workouts. Research anywhere on the internet and you’ll find that between seven to ten hours of sleep is adequate for most athletes. But as far as we are concerned, the more sleep the better. This means, do not stay up that extra hour to watch your favorite TV show. Get to bed! Recovery, on the other hand, refers to active methods taken to repair your overworked body. This could mean anything from regular massage, to icing muscles, hydration, stretching, and other such techniques. Many athletes believe in the new trend of active recovery, where athletes on their "off-days” participate in light exercising, such as swimming, jogging, rowing or even a short hike. The theory here is to just get the blood moving to bring more blood and oxygen to the muscles for quicker repair. Take to your coaches and read up online about the different ways you can actively recover after strenuous workouts. This category also includes the all-too-often mistake of overtraining. Now is not the time to be doing double sessions or beating yourself up for 3-4 hours every day in the gym. You will burn out! It’s OK to miss a workout every once in a while. Especially if you are fatigued or sore.
5. KNOW THE STANDARDS AND HAVE FUN
Don’t be that guy or gal who thinks they crushed the workout only to find out they didn’t adhere to the proper workout standards. When the WODs are announced, take the time to go over what’s expected of you and then go over it again with the person judging you. Make your videos clear and easy to watch if you’re competing on a higher level. And after you’ve got all the semantics down, go out there and have fun! You’re never going to reach full potential if you’re stressed about a workout, or don’t feel like doing it that day because your cat is sick or your girlfriend is mad at you. Attack the workouts when you’re feeling your best (if possible). Either way, learn to enjoy this awesome opportunity. What other sport allows you to compete worldwide alongside your peers, with the chance of becoming a fulltime professional athlete? More importantly, just remember that, for most of us, IT’S ONLY A WORKOUT!