Competing in CrossFit: The Hard Reality Behind Your Goal

Having a dream is one thing, but are you ready to put in the work it takes to compete at an elite level in CrossFit?

Since the end of the CrossFit Games California Super Regional, I have had a lot of athletes contact me in regards to getting better. One of the first questions I have begun asking is, “What are your goals for 2016?”

I get the same response from everyone. They want to make Regionals next year as either an individual or on a team. The masters-aged athletes want to “make the Games” or “the online Regional Qualifiers.”

Being the optimist that I am, I can’t help but have faith in these athletes, believing in what could be for them, seeing their potential, and hoping that with a little magic they will accomplish their goals. But what lingers in the back of my mind is how much times have changed when it comes to the CrossFit Games. Not from when I started in 2009, but just from 2014. Let me explain.

Reaching an elite level in CrossFit is more competitive than ever. (Source: Bev Childress)

Who Makes It to The CrossFit Games?

In 2014, upon the conclusion of the Open, 48 men, 48 women, and thirty teams from around the world advanced to most of the seventeen designated regional competitions. Although, not every region took these exact numbers, using them as a general guideline gives us an idea of the overall athlete pool for last year.

But this year, in 2015, CrossFit condensed these seventeen regions down to only eight and cut the qualifying athlete field by more than 50%. Each region now accepts the top twenty men, twenty women, and fifteen teams from the Open.

Are you ready to take it to the next level? If you are, then do it with no regrets. Be all in and enjoy the journey. Be prepared for failure, and if you fail, then pick yourself up.

From the regional level, only the top five men, women, and teams qualify for the CrossFit Games. That means forty spots for each. Last year, there were roughly 48 available spots at the Games. So, we lost eight spots with the combining of the regions. This was done to make the regional level more competitive and ensure that only the fittest athletes really do make it to the world level.

On the masters’ side of things, the top 200 athletes in the world make it from the Open to the online qualifiers. From there, only the top twenty finishers go the Games in each age category. Last year, as a master’s athlete aged forty to 59, you had a 2-19% chance to make the online qualifiers. This year your chances were about 1-6%. And from there, your chances of making it to the Games are about 10%.

This all amounts to pretty treacherous waters, if you ask me. The level of competition is all that much higher, which is exactly what CrossFit wanted.

Be Realistic About Your Goals

The talent pool of people competing in CrossFit has grown immensely. The spots available for athletes has been cut in half, but more people than ever think they have a shot to make it.

I’m not here to dash your CrossFit dreams – I just want you to be realistic about your goals.

Who am I to tell them they can’t? I understand why people come to me to help them get to that level. They trust me to do everything on my end to help them. But before an athlete commits to this goal, I feel some steps need to be taken to ensure success.

When an athlete can accept, acknowledge, and put into practice all seven of the following steps, then he or she will be best set up for attainment of the CrossFit Games goal:

  1. Do you without any doubt believe you can accomplish your goals? Are you realistic with yourself? Take a good look at the athletes who have made it. What do they have that you don’t right now? What intangibles set them apart? Do you truly believe with all your heart that you are or can be as good as them?
  2. Will you be able to handle rejection, failure, and heartache? Your chances of failure are significant.
  3. Can you perform in the Open? Stop saying you would do better at Regionals if you got there because those WODs are more suited for you. The athletes who make it are able to do both. The Open is more important than Regionals. Unless you’re the top 1%, you better be spending the majority of your training prepping for the Open.
  4. Are you willing to make training a full-time job? To accomplish what you want, training needs to be a priority. You can’t dedicate half of your time. Whenever you’re not working or at school, you better be in the gym. This may mean a significant loss in your social life.
  5. Can you handle the volume of training required? To you, CrossFit is no longer for fitness. It is a sport. This means putting in the time.
  6. Do you have the proper support network? A coach and/or programmer who knows the game. A good massage therapist, physical therapist, and/or chiropractor to work on you a few days a week. A good nutritionist to keep you on track. Not someone to help you lose weight, but someone to help you fuel properly to help you handle the rigors of training and competing. Lastly, friends and family who believe in your goals and will support you.
  7. Are you placing at competitive local competitions? If you can’t podium at a local competition, then how do you ever expect to be in the top 1%? Think about that.

Do You Really Want to Compete?

It is time for those with big ambitions to understand what they are getting into. If you are all good with the questions above, then you’re ready to go.

If you are ready to put in the work, get out there and get after your athletic ambitions.

There will still be days where you will question your decision. Hard days, where you may want to quit. On those days, go back to this list and remember the commitment you made. You can’t accomplish anything without great commitment – and that is what I love about CrossFitters. You already are self-motivated, committed people or you would not have found the sport.

Are you ready to take it to the next level? If you are, then do it with no regrets. Be all in and enjoy the journey. Be prepared for failure, and if you fail, then pick yourself up. Look back at your improvement over the course of the year and be proud of your hard work. Never dwell on the negative.

After all, it is just a game. Win or lose, competing in CrossFit does not define you as person. Your effort does.

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