The OPEN as a mental practice….seriously
I have a confession to make: the OPEN turns me into a whiny, bitchy little baby.
I’m the least competitive person I know….I’m so uncompetitive that I could easily be confused for a slacker. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a big family as a middle child who was constantly having to compete for attention or the last of the Oreos, but as an adult, I find that I just don’t “do” competition. It stresses me out.
But I’ll be damned if every year, the OPEN comes around and makes me feel as if I HAVE to be competitive; as if I HAVE to work harder in my workouts, as if I HAVE to turn my workouts into something more than what I take them for: exercise for the purpose of maximizing the Vs…vitality and vanity.
This year was no different.
I walked into the gym to do my OPEN wod with an annoyance chip on my shoulder. I had ZERO desire to use my workout time to do wall balls and rowing for calories….I mean seriously, could there be a worse workout for someone with 18 inch legs?!
I kept my kvetching to a dull hum, complaining loudly but silently to myself, and gave Nick a few eyeballs of exasperation as I submitted to my fate and the 15 minute clock began.
After years of training my body in Crossfit and training my mind to hang out in the “pain cave”, I’m able to quickly go into “auto mode” and just move. My brain goes quiet and all I can hear is my breath.
And yes, my friends, that’s where you can find the peace in the pain.
In the midst of that stupidly awful workout, focusing on my breath made the whiny bitchy baby go silent and the whole thing sucked a little less.
Moreover, I was able to release that feeling of forced competitive-ness and just be exploratory: the question was “what COULD I accomplish in 15 minutes doing the best I can in this moment” versus “I HAVE to accomplish x, y & z in 15 minutes or it’ll MEAN something about my abilities”
By letting my breath be my focus, I was able to not let my head games about needing to perform as a competitor get in the way of that performance, the experience was less stressful, and I ended up doing the best job I could do, leaving nothing on the table. I competed with my whiny bitchy little baby and I won.
For some of us, every WOD feels like an OPEN wod; the anxiety and pressure can feel overwhelming, and we can have all sorts of expectations for ourselves and on our efforts. While dealing with those habits takes consistent focus, your workouts offer a phenomenal opportunity to practice releasing mental chatter through focused attention on your breath, building a more powerful brain while enhancing your performance.
For an awesome article on the power of focused breathing and sports performance, check this out.
But in the meantime, keep having FUN in your workouts and if you hear that whiny bitchy baby start to complain, just take a BIG breath and focus on one rep at a time.
XOXO Coach Steph