The Intramural Open – Focus on YOU
by Erik Castiglione
It’s almost here! The Open is less than 1 week away! And, once again, Viking Athletics, home of CrossFit Relentless, is hosting the Relentless Intramural Open. We’re divided into 4 teams, and many points are up for grabs. While this is a team competition, the most important thing you can do is focus on YOUR performance. Yes, we can cheer on our teammates to give them an extra push, and we encourage you to do so for everyone, but at the end of the day, the only performance you can control is your own.
So, how can you maximize your own performance? By ignoring the pros. While it’s fun and entertaining to watch the Open announcements, and there are numerous blogs/sites dedicated to dissecting each athlete’s strategy, this will not help us. It doesn’t matter that Patrick Vellner managed to keep 3 seconds per burpee and 2 seconds per box jump for the entire 20-minute workout, as we’re not Patrick Vellner.
Instead, we can come up with individual plans that play to OUR strengths. We just tackled Karen this week, and many of you had planned sets of reps that you managed to (mostly) follow. Your scores reflected this, and I was pleasantly surprised with the number of PR’s we saw. (This isn’t a knock against anyone, we’ve just been beating you up a lot for the past few weeks and I was expecting members to grind through it and not necessarily PR). Most of us tend to formulate plans for each benchmark we perform, and we should do this for each Open WOD as well.
For example, in my own training, I heavily prioritize strength work at the expense of my motor. I can pace pretty well all day long, but when I push, I burn out in workouts lasting longer than 5-7 minutes. My skill work is still pretty solid for gymnastics movements, but to avoid burn-out, I need to break things into smaller sets. Otherwise, I spike my heartrate too easily. For example, Open WOD 18.1 was a 20-minute AMRAP of 8 toes to bar, 10 DB Hang Clean and Jerks with 50 lbs (5 per arm), and 14 calories on the rower. I can do 8 toes to bar no problem, but I would alternate rounds of 4-4 and 8 unbroken to save my grip and lower my heartrate. 50 lbs is light for me, so the hang clean and jerk was basically a power curl and strict press. While this is more taxing on the muscles, it saves on wind and heart rate. And on the rower, I just kept a sustainable pace. I wasn’t going to win the WOD by any means, but my strategy allowed me to put up a pretty decent score in the gym.
Other people have their own strengths – maybe you’re a bodyweight ninja. Maybe your motor is crazy good. Maybe you can handstand walk for days. Whatever the case, we can come up with a strategy that plays to your strengths, while still challenging you.
I was recently asked if it’s better to scale or go Rx’d in an Open WOD where the athlete can perform 2 out of 3 movements. This will depend on the workout – the format, and what the out-of-reach movements are. In previous years, some workouts were considered “separators.” For example, Open WOD 12.4/13.3 was “Karen,” followed by 90 double unders and 30 muscle-ups, done as a 12-minute AMRAP. Athletes were assessed a “tiebreak time” at the end of each movement. So, if you weren’t great with double unders, your goal was to get through the wallballs as quickly as possible, and then do your best with them. If you struggled with muscle-ups, your goal was to get through the wallballs and double unders as quickly as you could, and then spend the remainder of your time trying to get your first one. In the Open WOD 20.5, athletes had muscle-ups, rowing, and wallballs, and could partition the reps and do them in any order they desired. In these formats, athletes could still put up competitive scores without doing all the movements, so it’s not necessary to scale.
In other weightlifting centric workouts, the weights increase as you progress. We’ve watched countless members perform these types of WODs and lift more weight, more times than they ever thought they could. Unless a workout expects you to cycle 90% of your 1 rep max for a butt load of reps, or grossly exceeds your max, I’m generally in favor of going for it. Worst case, if it gets to be too much and you’re not doing well, you can always stop the WOD, and start up again in a different division.
As a follow up to this, we have it in our Intramural rules that athletes will be penalized for sandbagging workouts. If you’re truly nervous about going Rx’d and opt to scale, and your score is excellent in the scaled division, that is not sandbagging. However, if you could and should go Rx’d, but you opt to scale because you KNOW you’ll win that division for the gym, THAT is sandbagging, and you’ll be docked points. We want people to push themselves and achieve what they didn’t know was possible, and so we reward that with points. But, points are not the goal here. Bottom line – if you feel like you shouldn’t be scaling, you’re probably sandbagging it. The same thing is true for judgement of your reps – if you feel like you’re trying to get away with something, you’re probably going to get no repped. At the end of the day, this is all for fun. So, do your best, push hard, cheer on your team, and most important, HAVE FUN! That’s what it’s all about.