Raising the Bar: The CrossFit Open

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Warning, I’m about to get a little romancey…

‘Tis the season of the CrossFit Open – and for those who are competing, you know it’s more than just a worldwide competition for athletes everywhere…

It’s an opportunity for average people to prove to themselves that…well, they aren’t so average after all.

Every one of us sets perceived limits on our abilities – whether it’s our belief we can run a mile without stopping or a full marathon.

We ALL have expectations for ourselves – a bar we set at a predetermined height.

This height usually has no merit…it’s simply set based on past failures, perceived self-worth, and self-confidence (or lack thereof)…

Often times the bar we set for ourselves is just within reach – “Can you do 5 pull-ups?” I ask. And you reply with, “oh God no, but I can do 3!”

Well, I’d argue if you moved your bar from 3 pullups to 5, you’d get them.

It’s all in your head…

This is the beauty of CrossFit- every day is an opportunity for a win and every day that bar can be raised higher.

But will you take yourself up on the opportunity?

If you do – it’s a gift that keeps on giving – a month goes by and you’re repping out 10 pull-ups. All because you’ve set the bar higher in your head.

What does the Open have to do with it?

In the spirit of competition and community, the Open challenges you to set that bar above your limits – to the point you think it’s impossible to reach.

No matter if you’re scaled or Rx…your challenges may be different – but you WILL be challenged.

What I’ve experienced over these last 2 weeks is that there are 2 paths traveled when you’re faced with the CrossFit Open. Both equally as valuable to learn and grow from. But have completely different destinations:

Path 1: choose the way out – give up before trying – make excuses – blame others – look for validation – stay the same.

Path 2: Saddle up – mentally prepare – go all in – engage your killer instinct – and know that no matter what happens – succeed or fail – you gave it your all – 100% – you accept the challenge to surpass the bar – you grow and evolve.

As most of you know, this last Open workout had bar muscle ups – not my strong suit – and by that, I mean that I’ve done 2 in my life preceding this workout – and guess what – there were 32+ in this workout.

My initial thought was, “well there goes that – I can’t do muscle ups so I guess I’m done here.”

It was such an easy thought – a relief, really. It was my way out of the pressure to succeed and perform. After all it’s pretty hard to fail in front of everyone when you don’t even attempt it.

Joke’s on me because that thought sat there and rotted in my brain all night – making me sick – to the point of tears. I needed to get it out and fast.

I’m not the only one that noticed. My coach stepped in and gave me a needed 30 min monologue about my abilities, focus, and perseverance.

Here’s your damn wake up call Stesha!

I realized, finally, that it wasn’t about getting to the workout and not being able to do a MU.  It was about going into the workout knowing that the bar had been set, and you bet your ass I was going to scratch and claw my way up over it.

Not just for completion’s sake, but more importantly so that I could know for myself that I left everything on the table. I let my killer instinct take over while I left my thoughts out of it.

I like to think that I’m not a very emotional person. But let’s be honest, this shit breaks me. When I sell myself short, compare myself to others, or opt-out because fear of failure… It paralyzes me.

You’ve probably experienced this yourself…who hasn’t!?

And this is exactly what happened before Friday night’s Open workout last week.

What I’ve learned – through my friends, fiancé, and coach is that:

Who cares what YOU think?
– Fuck Failure –
– Fuck your limits –

They are completely made up and are simply there to poke and prod until you perform at your absolute best ability…

If you’ll let them…

Awareness is everything. I’m so grateful for these thoughts, for my fears, for my doubts, because they are an ever-reminder that I’m on the right path. That I’m growing like a weed. And accelerating the process of becoming a better athlete.

Like many others, it’s a high that I love to chase.

But sometimes when that bar is just a little too high for my comfort I catch myself pulling away – holding back.

My lesson in all of this – and what I hope you, too, can take away – is that to feel most alive and fulfilled, you find your greatest fear, stare it in the face, and karate kick it right in the nuts.

Simple, right?!

You’ve got this. Whether you’re competing in the Open or simply cheering on the sideline. Recognize all the people overcoming their demons. Overcoming their own challenges.

– it’s magical –
– it’s inspiring –
– it’s CrossFit –

Good luck to everyone doing the Open and facing their demons.