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My love/hate relationship with the Open

Nicole Cowell training


Some people say they love the Open. Some people say they hate the Open. I agree with both of them. For me the Open is a constant tug of war between love and hate. Here's why...

Why I LOVE the Open

The Open is the only true competitive comparison

Yes we can see how we are going every day with people in our box but it is not the same. The Open is global. It is everyone from all walks of life and it is the biggest comparison group you are going to get. For any competitive athlete you want to know how you stand against all your peers.

You get to see how good you are really are and if you do it every year how much you have improved (or not) each year.

The atmosphere

Open time in any box is exciting. The nervousness, the extra energy put into trying your absolute best, the elation with people getting their first whatever. It really is fun and energizing to be a part of the event.

It tests you

The open is a mental and physical test. I enjoy pushing myself to see what I can do. I enjoy testing myself to see if can perform under pressure and if I can I do my 100% best effort every week.

It is what we train for

Some may train for exercise or community or health but competitive athletes train for the Open (then Regionals then the Games if you are that good). Without the Open as an annual goal I think training would lose some focus and intensity.


Why I HATE the Open

It invades every aspect of my life for 5 weeks

Despite a full life outside of the gym, I find the Open invades A LOT of my thoughts and life over the 5 week period. It starts a day or two before announcements, wondering what the WOD will be. Then you spend time thinking about the WOD and what strategy you will take. Then you get nervous before doing it. Then after it's done you keep thinking "I could've pushed hard or I could've done better". Then you check other people's scores and you either get elated or depressed. Then you debate about redoing it. Then you redo it and are either elated or depressed depending on how that goes. Then you debate about when to enter scores. Then scores close and you watch your name fall down the leaderboard. Then you are relieved that you have a day or two of peace before the next announcement. Then it all starts again!!!

Add to that people at the gym talking about it constantly and social media being abuzz with it for 5 weeks you simply cannot get away from the Open.

And don't even think about a vacation or family holiday during the Open. Not going to happen!

We might all tell ourselves to not worry so much about it - its just 5 workouts - but despite the best of intentions that is not how it plays out, for me anyway!

Sometimes you just don't perform

You need to be prepared to see that you may not be as good as you thought you were. Sometimes we get so insulated in our own little world in our own little box that we don't see the reality of how good others are.

Everyone will have a bad workout & it may not be the one you expect. You may crash and burn in a workout and be beaten by people you thought you were better than.

Everyone will have a humbling experience at some point in the Open and you just have to deal with it.

The Pressure of Expectation

The atmosphere at a gym during Friday Night Lights is fun and exciting but with it can come pressure. People literally watching your every move. Some people love being the center of attention but many do not. A little bit of pressure and focus can help you reach another level but too much and it can do the opposite. It can be a fine line.

You have to learn to manage your nerves, block out the distractions and stick to your own plan.

I am sorry for what I said during an Open WOD

I have sworn at friends, given many dirty looks and told people to leave me alone. All during Open WODs. This is not my normal personality but when you are in the pain cave and people are yelling at you sometimes "F*ck Off" just comes out of your mouth. Sorry!

The Open makes me sick

I have been sick at some point during the Open EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. This is not an exaggeration! I have come to the conclusion that it has to be the Open, the stress it brings on must reduce the immune system making me more susceptible to everything. My goal this year is to not get sick!


Love Wins in the End

Sometimes I feel stupid for caring so much about exercise, but I can't help it. Drive, determination and competition are just part of my personality and I always want to do my best. So despite my best intentions of trying to enjoy the experience and not worrying about 5 little workouts, when you are in the midst of that 5 weeks it just takes over.

It is love/hate at times but the love always wins out and I do the Open every year. And at the end of it I am so happy that I have done it and also so happy that it is 47 weeks before I need to think about it again.

Those 5 weeks is about to start and it will be over before we know it (thank goodness).

Good Luck everyone!




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