CrossFit Open 2011 Workout 3

23:00 Sun 10 Apr 2011. Updated: 18:07 17 Apr 2011
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This workout (three of six) was quite different from 1 and 2. Another “as many rounds as possible” effort, but with significantly more limited movements and a considerably heavier weight: five minutes of squat clean and jerks at 165 pounds. That’s enough weight to eliminate quite a few people who were fine in the previous two.

My best clean and my best jerk are both 185 pounds, but that’s partly because I haven’t tested them recently. I suspect I could get a lot more on the clean and slightly more on the jerk. I wasn’t too worried about the fact that this was a squat clean, figuring that while it would take more energy, it would also help as an equalizer for me versus athletes who are stronger but have worse squat clean technique.

That being said, it’s still almost 90% of my known max, for time. When I first saw it, I thought a good target would be 10. Then I tried doing this for a minute, and got four, and figured that 20 would be a better target. Then I saw David do it and get 22.5 (if you manage just the clean, that’s half), and revised my target down again, finally settling on 17.

Unfortunately, I didn’t train too intelligently this week. I did that set of four on Wednesday, knowing I’d be trying the whole thing Saturday morning, and that was fine—but then I did some more at around the same weight on Thursday, and that was dumb. I underestimated my recovery time from lifting that heavy, and it ended up costing me. I would have been better off doing nothing at all on Thursday, or at least just staying at light weights.

This is the first CrossFit Open workout that none of us planned on doing twice, because it just seemed like there wouldn’t be enough recovery time in a week (something that should really have hinted to me not to try anything heavy on Thursday). Saturday morning was the slot for most of us, and when it rolled around, I still felt soreness and weakness in my arms. I had a strong sense that I wasn’t going to get close to my target, and that I’d be lucky to put in a respectable performance.

The very start of the workout was quite strange: I got a jolt of adrenaline when time was called, and when I did the first clean it came off the ground really easily, so easily that I nearly lost control of it and fell over backwards. I was genuinely worried that someone had changed the weights on the bar between heats and forgotten to change it back, and had to look at the weights to reassure myself that it wasn’t set at something like 115 pounds. I don’t recall any rush having made that much of a difference before—and in this case it actually didn’t help, because I had to fight to not lose my balance and to get the bar into the right spot.

Naturally, as soon as I was at the top of the clean and preparing for the push jerk, it no longer felt light.

Before the workout, I’d told myself that no matter what I should avoid any failed attempts; if I didn’t think I’d get the jerk I should wait, breathe, exaggerate the knee-bend, and make sure I got under the bar. I couldn’t heed my own advice, and I think I failed one as early as attempt number five. I failed another later on, I think in the last minute or so.

Both of those failures hurt. They cost a lot of time and energy, and if I’d simply rested at the top of the clean, even for quite some time, it would have been a lot better. Even though I knew that, it was hard in the moment to get an accurate sense of how much rest I needed, how my arms were really doing, and also to execute the push jerk with sufficient focus.

I ended up with 12.5; I’m most proud of the fact that at the end I did clean–jerk–clean in rapid succession, so that I went from 11 to 12.5 in the last 15–20 seconds, not at all an easy thing to do at that point. My final push jerk involved a press from at least halfway, something I wasn’t even sure I could do.

I fell far short of my target, but while my execution during the workout could have been better, the real lesson is that I should have been far more careful about overtraining in the run-up to it.

This was a watershed for a lot of people at CrossFit KMSF; some athletes couldn’t get that weight, and others (I think at least three) set new personal records during the workout, which is a significant achievement. It was certainly psychologically daunting in a way that the first two workouts were not, and I’m happy to have made it through without too awful a score.

This workout also seemed to widen the gap between competitors. In the first two, I was above 70% of my gym’s best score, and above 50% of the global best score; this time those numbers are far lower.

A comparison between my results and the best in my gym, region, and worldwide, with my score expressed as a percentage of each:

  • Me: Tadhg O’Higgins, 25, 100%.
  • Gym best: David Bui, 45, 56%.
  • Region best: Daniel Jahangard, 92, 27%.
  • Worldwide best: Rich Froning, 93, 27%.

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