What I learned from participating in and coaching others in the CrossFit Games Open


I started doing CrossFit around the fall of 2011. Really, I started in the spring, but then I broke my ankle, so I didn’t get really into CrossFit until the next fall. Last year I participated in the CrossFit Games Open for the first time. The Open is a series of workouts – 5 workouts in 5 weeks – that are scored for time or repetitions or what have you. The people that score incredibly well at this stuff are amazing. They are good at everything – olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, etc… I never expected to be good at any of it. But the idea of entering and not being scared to try and just seeing where I stand in relation to other women my age sounded intriguing at the least. Besides, it’s a good baseline – in a year I could compete again and see if I have improved.

Mark Westerman doing deadlifts

Mark Westerman doing deadlifts

As a coach I encouraged my athletes – regardless of physical ability – to enter for the same reasons. Even one rep is still a score. From this vantage I saw a lot of amazing things happen. Some of my athletes really only got 1 or 2 reps in some workouts. Either they couldn’t do the movement or the weight was just too heavy.

Marc Davis

Marc Davis

But each and every one of them struggled through and accomplished all they could. Several of them repeated the workouts to get a better score! This is what the CrossFit Games is all about.

You see, we spend a lot of our lives avoiding getting hurt. We tell our children don’t climb that tree, you might fall. We avoid getting into relationships for fear of having our heart broken. We avoid trying new things for fear of failing and looking like a loser. We look at amazing people doing amazing things and say I wish I could do that, but we never try because we are afraid. But what we are missing is the view from the top of the tree with the  smell of apple blossoms  filling your nose and the wind blowing in your hair. We are missing the thrill of a first kiss and the joy of making up. We are missing discovering that we are really good at something we never knew we could do. And we are missing the learning experience from hurt and failure.

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Tiffany Westerman doing thrusters in 14.5

In my attempt at the CrossFit Games this year, I learned a lot about myself. I learned I have come a long way since last year. I learned that I suck at deadlifts and I need to work on them for next year. I learned that I can push through a long, hard workout better than most. I learned that I am a strong woman – not just physically, but mentally – and I can deal with just about anything thrown at me.

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Jim Roney doing a muscle up in 14.4

In coaching others at CrossFit this year I learned that you can do anything you set your mind to. We are all being led and coached by one of the fittest men IN THE WORLD, so the intimidation level is a bit intense, but we all struggled through. I had one athlete that worked for 5 days straight to learn how to do Double Unders just to get a score in the first workout. That same athlete worked for days to be able to do an overhead squat. He only got a score of 2, but man that 2 was worked for! A lot of athletes would have given up – said “I can’t”, but he pushed and pushed until he got it. And he was proud of his score! As well he should be!  I had other athletes that struggled, too. You will read more about all of them in the months to come, but the point is – they weren’t afraid to try and they weren’t afraid to fail – and in doing so they were each and every one a HUGE success!

The Odyssey crew supporting John as he completed 14.5

The Odyssey crew supporting John as he completed 14.5

In the end I think it comes down to getting out and living life without fear. I may fall and scratch my knee, I may get hurt in love, I may suck at a few things and I may fail – a lot. But if I never try, I’ll never know the good stuff – least of all the feeling of success after you have tried and failed and tried again.

Here are the results of my 2 years in the CrossFit Games. I have a lot of work to do, but I also got a lot better! Next year… the Games!

Ellie’s CrossFit Games Scores 2013-2014


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