And so the 2014 CrossFit Open has come to a close. Training has switched gears from the moving light weights in lower complex movements really fast over and over in to a weightlifting cycle that you are experiencing full force right now. With the close of the 2014 Open comes many reflections which I am going to bore you with in this blog post. And then at the end I am going to brag on people a bit. And then finally I will segue that bragging in to a couple of thoughts on the longterm athletic development we have been pushing at CrossFit Ktown for several years now and have seen play out nicely in this most recent Open.
2014 Open by the numbers:
- There were just over 5,000 individual males, a tad more than 3,300 individual females, and exactly 262 teams registered in the Central East.
- CrossFit Ktown had a total of 59 athletes signed up spread over two teams.
- Jackeroni and Cheese had 51 athletes and finished in 45th place.
- Jacked and Tan had 8 athletes and finished in 18th place.
Every single person that completed the 2014 Open deserves a huge congratulations. The Open, no matter how much you try to trivialize it, is an extremely stressful time. People do not sleep well when workouts are released, people do not eat well the day they are supposed to do the workout, and many of you have experienced the nervous poops just before it is time to begin your heat of the workout. It is a rough five weeks, but we made it!
I loved the small group competitions that sprang up organically this year after your coaches tried to get something similar going last year. You all took initiative and had a lot of fun wagering wine, whiskey, and other alcoholic beverages. There may have been things other than booze on the line in a group, but I did not hear about it – for good or ill, no judgement.
The beauty of these small group competitions during the Open is that they serve to keep the the five weeks relevant to every single person. It is not just about the Alex Andersons and Crissy Cannons of the world. Scores matter on a fun, local level. And that is awesome. I hope that many, many more of you sign up for the Open next year and participate in one of these great small group Open competitions that will inevitably spring up again.
On the other side of the coin we have the Alex Andersons and Crissy Cannons of the world, and we are lucky enough to have them right here in the hallowed halls of CrossFit Ktown. We were lucky enough to have some individuals and a team qualify to progress on as most all of you know and have celebrated by now. We also had several athletes that put in 6+ months of dedicated work to improve their Open placing from last year. I want to highlight these people and the work they have done.
- Alex Anderson tied for 3rd (with previous CrossFit Games champion, Graham Holmberg) in the Central East and took 25th IN THE WORLD! This qualifies him to move on to the Central East Regionals in Cincinnati, OH. This was an improvement from 22nd in 2013.
- Steve Newberry took 269th in the Men’s Central East Region and 102nd IN THE WORLD in the Master Mens 40-44 age group and qualifies for the Worldwide Master’s Regionals beginning this Friday. This was an improvement from 492nd in 2013.
- Caleb Gregory took 53rd, a likely individual qualifying position.
- Crissy Cannon took 36th, qualifying her individually.
- Jacked and Tan took 18th place in the region qualifying them for their 5th straight Regionals appearance.
- Jackeroni and Cheese had a lot of athletes put in a lot of extra work outside of the class programming, and it really showed in their 45th place ranking this year. That is a huge improvement from 91st in 2013. (They also were in a qualifying position of 28th for a hot minute before Alex Anderson made the decision to go individual and subsequently pulled his scores out of the calculation.)
- Joey Shumake placed 160th, an improvement from 286th in the South East last year.
- Todd Dunnavant took 304th, an improvement from 653rd in 2013.
I highlight all of these people and teams because they all deserve to be congratulated. The amount of work required to progress in this sport is hard to comprehend, and it is only getting harder. Every year more and more people begin treating CrossFit as a sport. And every year more and more people make the move to have their programming and training guided by a qualified coach. It is making tangible improvement, usually measured in Open/Regional/Game performances, more difficult as the sport grows and evolves.
The improvements so many of you at the gym made are in large part thanks to CBo’s great programming leading up to the Open and the smart and balanced work during those five weeks. Next time you see him in the gym trying to squat his legs to a bigger circumference, thank him for his tireless work churning out meaningful programming.
And the improvements the team and individuals made from last year to this year should not be taken lightly. Todd Dunnavant and Steve Newberry are testaments to the hard work it takes to show marked improvement. Both of these athletes came on board with me programming for them back in August of 2013. That is seven months leading up to the Open and another month of smart work during it. That very often meant two to three AM sessions each week waking up early to row 30-60 min before work in addition to being at Ktown for their five PM sessions per week.
The same can be said for Joey Shumake and Alex Anderson. I was fortunate enough to write individual programming for Joey for several months before having him switch to the Jacked and Tan team programming in December. And then there is Alex who I have been lucky enough to program, oftentimes with his informed help, since summer of 2013. I only wish I could have kept Joey on his own individualized programming – more of that to follow.
Then there is the Jacked and Tan team as well as Jackeroni and Cheese’s extra work (a big part of which Miss J handled). It is incredibly hard to program for a team, especially one with as disparate athletes as Crissy and Joey. Their essences are essentially the exact opposite. Crissy is, obviously, a tremendous gymnast with a massive background in the gymnastic movements. Joey is a big meathead with a rich history strength training. Then there is CGreg who has years and years and years of phenomenal engine building work on top of great efficiency in the movements of the sport. The Boaz siblings have an immense background in the sport as well so their movement and structure is well adapted. Newer athletes I had not worked with before were Shane, Becky, and Michelle. Becky and Shane are extremely enduring while Michelle’s short burst power far exceeds anything the sport requires.
All of these people on one team makes programming a nightmare. All of their essences are so different. About half of them need to squat thrice a week, the other half could get by with squatting once or twice. Several need dedicated sport practice as it relates to movement efficiency, others would find that a waste of time. I am rambling at this point, but just wanted to highlight the difficulties of programming for a group (much like CBo has been doing for all of you).
Understand that all I did was write weekly programming down in a document and then ship it out to these athletes. The athletes trying to make this their sport, or at the least make a good showing in the sport this year, are the ones doing all the hard work. I type. They do things like 60 min row tests and 9-7-5 255lb front squats + deficit handstand push-ups. I gripe about my internet going out. They rarely make a peep about the 120 minutes a week of boring zone 1 work. Kudos to all of them.
And so a few paragraphs on longterm athletic development, what it means to me, and how it applies to all of you…and then I will wrap this thing up for both of our sake’s.
Even if you do not have your sights set on a place at the CrossFit Games in California, longterm athletic development applies to you. It is the basis of what we do at CrossFit Ktown. It is what makes the gym work, and it is the unifying principle behind our programming. Gaining the tools required to make the Games looks a heck of a lot like the tools required to gain fitness – and that is what is so damn neat about this sport/activity/hobby.
Longterm athletic development is the idea that you are on a journey. This journey has a beginning. It begins when you walk through the doors at Ktown. The journey also has a destination called your innate maximum athletic potential. Now, I am always going to argue that we are trying to simultaneously help you reach your innate maximum human potential as well, but that is for another just as long blog post.
How are we going to help you reach your innate maximum athletic potential? It begins with knowing where you are coming from. Are you an enduring athlete who has a long history in triathlons but has done very little in the way of strength training? Then we need to begin to move you away from that enduring work and instead focus on strength development and lactic training. Are you a Joey Shumake coming from a training background of lifting heavy stuff and doing short conditioning pieces because they feel better? Then we will have very little strength volume and instead increase your aerobic capacity and improve your CF sport movements.
And then training age comes in to play. Training age is a measure of how long you have been, wait for it, training. If you have a short training age, meaning you have not done much working out in your life, then your programming needs to look very different from someone with a longer training age. If you have been training for a long time, your programming will require you to accumulate more volume to reach the desired stimulus. An example would be Alex Anderson versus a person who has never done endurance or weight training before in his or her life. If we wanted to improve a sliver of fitness, like a 1RM snatch, Alex would need to be put on a 6-12 week cycle with weightlifting being the focus whereas the new person could probably go through a 4 week cycle and PR every week.
Longterm athletic development is about balance. It is about balancing your essences. It is about being able to perform the 5 minute mile and 500lb deadlift like Greg Glassman used to say all the time. It is also about balancing yourself structurally through targeted strength training or something less CrossFitty like yoga (GASP!). It is not about specializing in one specific arena of fitness. It is about utilizing well designed programming to elicit the right gains for the right person at the right time. Anything less would be a waste.
But here is what is cool about this idea of longterm athletic development…it is going to help you sustain closer to that innate max potential for a longer period of time. You can hack the sport of CF a little bit by programming and training specifically for the Open or Regionals, but at huge costs. An athlete doing something like that would suffer myriad problems like injuries, plateaus, and maybe even regression. On the flip side of that is an athlete and coach that understand how to develop an athletic journey correctly, regardless of the chosen sport. That athlete is lucky because they are going to be healthy and happy for a very, very long time – especially if they understand and embrace the journey early on.
And this is what we think we do a good job of at Ktown. And this is what we also hope all of you athletes continue to think about no matter where you are on your journey. Keep your feet pointed forward and head up.
It is not the inn, but the road.
Kaizen (改善): Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best”, refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, business management or any process.