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Mental Toughness in the CrossFit Open

The CrossFit Open is in full swing, and we’ve already seen some real tests in the first two weeks. 17.1 really tested your aerobic capacity (aka work capacity) and then 17.2 was a test of grip and skill work. If you can’t do lots of muscle ups, that was a reminder to learn how. I don’t know how you felt, but if I compare how I felt post 17.1 to 17.2, it’s night and day. The muscle ups slowed the workout down and allowed time to recover. Because it wasn’t as punishing as some workouts, I’m already prepared for 17.3 to be extremely challenging physically.

The question is, is it really a purely physical test? I’d argue no. I’d argue that at least 50% of the battle is won in your head before the timer even starts. Another 40% is what that voice in your head is saying during the workout itself. That last 10% is your fitness level, and that’s been determined well before the CrossFit Open workout even begins. The ability to tell yourself you’re okay, to be mentally strong when all you want to do is quit, is the real difference between success and opportunity, both in CrossFit and in life in general.

To illustrate this point, I’m going to use 17.1. Every person I watched compete in 17.1 who shook their head when it got hard broke down mentally. Each of them hit the time cap. This happened more than a few times. It happened to me on my Redo. Coach Gabi did it her first time and capped without being close. Three days later she kept her head up, you could visibly see her having positive thoughts, and she finished well under the cap.

Sometimes it is all about just believing you can do it. Believe that the hard work you’ve put in throughout the year is going to pay off in that moment. Know that it is just a fitness test. It doesn’t define who you are or your value. Smile, give yourself a little positive self talk, and rip into whatever sadistic thing Dave Castro has in store for 17.3. You got this.

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