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Sometimes the Best Plan Is Not Having One: MF Tackles CrossFit Open WOD 13.4

Whatever the size of your ego, some workouts are just scary. And overthinking your strategy just inflates that fear. Knowing this, I went after Open WOD 13.4 with the simplest plan of attack I could come up with: ditching a plan of attack altogether.

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MF’s social media manager Christopher Hunt will be tackling a new CrossFit Open workout each week in hopes of making the cut and gaining coveted entry into the Games. Stay tuned for videos and blog posts chronicling his experiences with the torturous WODs and find out if he has what it takes to go all the way.

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When I looked at CrossFit Open Workout 13.4—a 7-minute AMRAP that included an ascending ladder of clean and jerks and toes-to-bar—I decided that I wouldn’t spend time quivering in fear. I simply felt inclined to resign myself to the fact that this would not be my day.

Still, I sized up the workload like I was prepping for a fight. The ladder went 3 clean and jerks, 3 toes-to-bar; 6 clean and jerks, 6 toes-to-bar; then 9 of each, then 12, and so on.  I started to build a plan. Figuring out how to attack this thing would be important. But I promptly realized that I needed the simplest plan I could imagine.

I decided not to think about it at all.

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At first, that turned out to be a challenge on its own. My first step toward a mentally relaxed workout: not having to rush to the box. I was on track with this one until I walked into the subway station and after waiting for about 35 minutes, heard an announcement that my train was delayed.

I had planned my workout for 6:30 p.m. and now that I had to take a different route to the gym, I settled on the 7:30 p.m. WOD. The CrossFitters in the 6:30 group were loading their barbells when I walked in. I watched, stretched, and tried to avoid the feeling that death would immediately follow my workout.

Getting charged up before a tough effort never worked for me. Now that I was 45 minutes early for my session, I tried extra hard to relax and keep my head clear. I reminded myself that CrossFit is supposed to be fun—painful, exhausting fun.

When it was my turn, I loaded my barbell to the required weight of 135 pounds and did a couple test runs to get a feel of the weight. I felt like I was awkwardly lifting a house.

Luckily, toes-to-bar never concerned me—the move’s right in my wheelhouse.

I never did get comfortable with the weight for the clean and jerks, but the 3-2-1 countdown had begun. My clean and jerk was much closer to clean and push press, which made the movement more taxing for my shoulders. I dropped the bar after almost every rep and went unbroken on toes-to-bar until the set of 12, which I broke up into 9 and 3.

My plan of having no plan worked almost perfectly. I shut my brain off. I went to work and listened to the only advice I could remember. After beating Graham Holmberg in a head-to-head 13.4, CrossFit legend Chris Spealler said, “Once the bar stops bouncing, pick it up. No excuses.”

Pick up the bar. I guess that was my real plan. I finished with 71 reps. I had hoped to reach 60, so I beat myself. And that was the only person I was worried about.

In case you missed it, check out:

Rock, Paper, Scissors: MF Tackles CrossFit Open WOD 13.1

The Truth Hurts: MF Tackles CrossFit Open WOD 13.2

A Badly-Timed Birthday Present: MF Tackles CrossFit Open WOD 13.3

Are you competing for the Games too? How’d your Open workout go this week? Tell us on Facebook. Then stay up to the minute on the latest training advice by signing up for a monthly MF newsletter.

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