February 7, 2014
It's All Relative
By Siobhán O’Farrell

My score of three clean and jerks made me as happy as I imagine Rich Froning is when he wins the Games.


Despite being absolutely petrified, I registered for the 2013 Open around this time last year. Since I had trained at CrossFit Ireland for only about a year at the time, there were still many things I could not do, but I was encouraged to sign up anyway.

I’ll be honest—I’ve never been so nervous in my life! The Open workouts freaked me out, and it’s not even that I’m a particularly competitive person. I knew there wasn’t any chance that I would qualify for the Europe Regional, and I knew that the chances were slim that I would even be able to post a score for all five Open workouts. I was fine with that. I got so nervous because I wanted to do my best.

Soon, I realized I wasn’t alone. Yes, the Open is the first stage of the CrossFit Games season, and people like Sam Briggs and Rich Froning Jr. are competing to top the Leaderboard, win money, and advance to regionals and the Games. But the rest of us—the vast majority of us—are only competing with ourselves.

I think this is the coolest part of the Open. For most of us, it’s about getting better. You vs. yourself (yesterday or last year).

Last March, the Open started with 17 minutes of burpees and snatches. The snatch weight started at 45 lb.—a weight I could snatch—for the first set of 30, and went up to 75 lb. for the next set—a weight I had never snatched before. Luckily, it started with 40 burpees and anyone can do burpees. I knew I would have at least a 40-rep score to log on the Games site.

When it came time to do 13.1, I made it far past 40 reps. I got through the first round of burpees and snatches (70 reps), and the next set of 30 burpees, logging 100 reps.

I ran into other movements I couldn’t do in later workouts. But the workouts were set up in such a way that I either didn’t get to those movements in the time cap—I stayed on the 150 wall-ball shots for all 12 minutes of 13.3, and never had to deal with the 90 double-unders and 30 muscle-ups that came next for the people fit enough to reach them—or I started with a movement where I could do at least one rep. In 13.5, I got through the 15 thrusters at 65 lb.—for a score of 15—before I faced the chest-to-bar pull-ups.

When 95-lb. clean and jerks and toes-to-bars came up on the fourth week of the Open, I thought I had finally met my match. That clean and jerk was 6 lb. more than my PR, and I had never managed a toes-to-bars in my life. Yet, in the seven minutes I managed to clean and jerk that weight three times. I didn’t manage a single toes-to-bars, but I didn’t care. My score of three clean and jerks made me as happy as I imagine Rich Froning is when he wins the Games. The point is, it’s all relative.

The Open workouts are all AMRAPs, which means they’re about doing as many reps as possible for you. There’s no “finishing” the workouts, and the only “prescribed” rep that you have to worry about is the first one. As long as you can do one rep of each workout, you’re in.

You don’t have to qualify for Regionals for your Open to have been a success. Despite not being able to do all of the movements or lift all of the weights in the 2013 Open, I was still able to compete. And I’m so glad I did.