The Mental Game and Open Workout 14.2

LyleandHforkidspage_Fotor2

By Dr. Allison Belger

For those of you tackling the CrossFit Open workout 14.2, here are some pointers on how to keep your mental focus throughout the fun (also published as part of the Tabata Times Coaching Roundtable) .  If you’re not a CrossFit athlete, you may still enjoy some of these tips for competition prep and your own mental game.

We say it all the time: “This one’s going to be a mental battle,” or “This one’s going to come down to who is more mentally tough.”  For some workouts, those statements are more true than for others.  This is one of them.

The thing about the time domain design of this workout is that, for strong competitors, there will be significant rest periods. Having rest periods can be nice, but it also means having plenty of time to be left alone in one’s head with one’s thoughts.  Typically, the pre-workout period marks the time for focused, deliberate mental concentration and internal chatter.  Once go-time happens, the mental chatter usually takes place in the background of the physical activity.  This time, during those rest periods, athletes should be ready to attack the mental game with a plan and with poise, because the mental game will now be in the
foreground.  Just as rep-scheme plans will be critical, mental strategy will likely play a significant role in the outcome of 14.2.

I often recommend that novice competitors create a warm-up for themselves to use on Game Day in typical competitions.  In the heat of the moment, athletes who are accustomed to having a coach guide their warm-up often become paralyzed, unsure of how to prepare their bodies for the workout.  There will surely be plenty of information swirling around the internet on this topic, with suggestions for mobility and pre-workout prep.  Less experienced athletes should be sure to put those into a clear guide or script.  It will be extremely reassuring to have a written plan of attack when your nerves creep in.

Experienced competitors will know how to warm up and also tend to have a transition routine that allows them to move from their warm-up mindset to their performance mindset.  This transition signal can be a simple ritualized routine (e.g., 5 arm swings, 5 foot stomps, 5 deep breaths and a quiet utterance of a cue phrase, such as “Go time” or “I’ve got this”).  For 14.2, it may be particularly useful to create an additional quick transition cue/routine for subsequent restarts–there are a whole lot of “3,2,1..GO’s” in this workout, and that can be a mind game if you’re not prepared.  Be ready with a go-to transition for the ten-second period before each three-minute set.  This might be one or two big, deep breaths, followed by a mental image of being done with the set successfully.

This is not a workout into which you want to go with the attitude of “If it doesn’t go well, I can always do it again.”  If there is even a glimmer of possibility of a repeat, it will likely be difficult to go to the very uncomfortable place you will need to visit if you are hoping to be a competitor.  Don’t give yourself an out; your hands may be too torn up or vulnerable after your first attempt, and you may struggle to harness the intensity you’ll need the second time around.  I say give yourself one shot on this one, and make it count.  Try to fight the urge to conjure when you might be able to fit in a second try.  Visualize yourself inputting the score you want.  Act like there’s no tomorrow, and give it everything you’ve got.  Thinking about going again can be a crutch and a flee from intensity.  Hang in there with the challenge, rise to the occasion, push through the fatigue, and don’t give yourself an out.

Another unique aspect of this workout is that the difference between finishing the given reps in a three-minute window and not finishing them can end up meaning huge differences on the leaderboard.  Even if you are behind someone by just one rep, if that person finishes a round and you don’t, you will end up many places behind him or her.  Those last few reps in what will be your last full round are gold; fight like crazy to get them, so you can buy yourself the opportunity to continue.  Center yourself as I discussed last week—use a cue word to remind yourself why the discomfort is worth it.  It could get ugly for some of you, and you’ll need a mantra to keep yourself focused!

Last week’s mental slip warning was a tangled rope. This week it might be getting no-reps on the overhead squats.  Force yourself to exaggerate your depth at the bottom and hip opening at the top.  If you do get a no-rep, register it as a signal to do better, and keep moving.  Getting caught up in the potential unfairness of it all is foolish.

One final note for this week is on checking in with yourself and monitoring your system throughout the workout.  Ripping your hands badly could mean as much as a week off from training hard with grip-demanding movements.  Unless you are in a position where you might be fighting for your athletic life to qualify for Regionals or for the next step as a Masters athlete, I’m not sure those setbacks are worthwhile.  Certainly if you’re taking on the Open with more of a “weekend warrior” mentality, do yourself a favor and make part of your goal coming out of the workout with your skin intact.  I know this can be a controversial topic, but I generally advise athletes to err on the side of not ripping their hands and protecting their bodies.  There is a time and place to put it ALL out there and literally leave skin in the game; be honest with yourself in assessing whether or not this workout qualifies as one of those times for YOU.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: