17.4: Small Progress is Still Progress

Historically in the CrossFit Open there is always a repeat workout from a previous year.  This year that repeat came during 17.4, which turned out to be a repeat of 16.4, last year’s chipper style AMRAP. A perk of blogging about the Open workouts is having my past recaps to reflect on and learn from, not just my score logged in an app somewhere. Here’s the workout: 

Initial Thoughts

My experience with 16.4 wasn’t terrible–I completed it scaled last year and definitely struggled with the hand-release pushups. There could have been so many worse WODs to repeat, so I wasn’t upset at this announcement. I also didn’t mind that it was a repeat, because it’s kind of fun to compare year to year.  So many people get caught up in the crazy competitive nature of the Open and forget that what we’re really striving for is progress in ourselves. As Nicole Carroll of CrossFit HQ put it:

“Repeat workouts give us the opportunity to shift away from focusing on ourselves relative to others and instead focus on where we are relative to our own performance, effort and progress.”


Amen, sister. For me, there has been a lot of progress in terms of my weightlifting this year. When it comes to 17.4/16.4, 155-lb deadlifts in the workout are much more reasonable for me now.  I’m also good with all of the movements except the handstand push-ups, but likely wouldn’t get to those within the 13 minutes anyway. That all said, I decided to go the scaled route again this go-round. My back has been acting up a little bit and high rep deadlifts just wouldn’t have been smart. Plus redoing this workout scaled is a more accurate measure of progress–comparing apples to apples.

The workout

The deadlifts at 95-lb were fairly light, but 55 reps are a lot…so I broke them into sets of 10, then 8 and 7.  I finished the deadlifts in just over 2 minutes and moved onto the wall balls. The 10-lb ball (vs. 14-lb in the Rx workout) was a blessing and even though I still had to break them up, I felt pretty good during wall balls.  My legs started feeling fatigued on the rower, but I settled in on a sustainable pace and held on.  At 9:33, I rolled myself off the rower and onto the floor to start hand-release pushups.  

Early into the pushups I was doing sets of 2 and 3, feeling completely shot. Without compromising form (aka worming), I was struggling. Somewhere in the 20s, I grunted at boyfriend that I needed to get at least 38 push-ups to tie my score from last year. It honestly wasn’t looking good. While I’m definitely a stronger athlete overall this year, pushups are not my strong suit and we don’t do them all that often. Boyfriend (and others in the gym) were encouraging me in the last minute and I managed to get to 42 of the 55 pushups in the time cap.

I took a little rest, grabbed a Guinness (it was St. Patrick’s Day, after all!) and judged Boyfriend in his heat. He also chose to go scaled as he eases back into CrossFit WODs and manages some shoulder pain. He’s a smart guy! 

Final Thoughts

To be honest, at first I was pretty bummed that I only improved by 4 reps from last year. As usual, boyfriend slapped some sense into me by reminding me that I haven’t spent any time on improving my pushups, so I shouldn’t expect to be all that much better at them. Again, I’ve got a smart guy who helps my negativity in check. Progress is progress…no matter how small. I still did 4 reps better than last year and I’m proud of that. I’ve improved in many other ways this year…especially weightlifting and double unders. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m actually hoping for dubs in the last workout! 

What do you think? Will we see double unders in 17.5?

CrossFit Open 17.3: The Magic and a Mess Up

CrossFit Open 17.3: The Magic and a Mess Up

Aaaand I’m back with a recap of my Open workout 17.3. If you missed the first two workouts, read all about 17.1 and 17.2 first and I’ll meet ya back here for even more fitness.This latest Open workout is a little confusing at first glance, but essentially is an ascending ladder of pull-ups and a descending ladder of squat snatches with time caps that if met, “unlock” another time cap to continue the workout.  Here’s the official workout, Rx and scaled:

initial thoughts

Woof. Thumbs up for no dumbbells, at least?! This girl is still working on regular pull-ups, so chest-to-bars were out for me. Also, the Rx snatches are heavy for me. Unfortunately, the scaled version of 17.3 offered my least favorite way to scale pull-ups: jumping pull-ups. Could I have tried for that Rx score and yanked myself up there for a chest-to-bar? A few even? Probably…but y’all know my thoughts on scaling. So jumping pull-ups it was, but man I hate those.  It always feel like more of a workout for my legs than it is for my lats/arms/shoulders. 

I definitely scoffed at the 35-lb starting weight for the snatches (which I later regretted), and with my current snatch PR of 95-lb, my goal was just to get to that round. What I didn’t put together before doing this WOD was the total number of reps that had to be completed before I even got to 95-lb. Fifty four to be exact.  

the workout

3, 2, 1…I got right to work on the stupid jumping pull-ups and 35-lb snatches. The barbell by itself felt light and awkward, but by the rounds of 55-lb snatches my legs started fatiguing. I had totally underestimated this workout. 

I finished the first 6 rounds well within the 8 minute time cap and as such, earned the additional 4 minutes for the next 3 rounds (65-lb). Between reps, I tried really hard not to walk away from the barbell and just take a few deep breaths. 

The snatches were taking a toll on my quads, but also on my back. I don’t share much about it here (mostly because it doesn’t usually bother me), but I have a partially herniated disc in my lower back. The high volume of snatches wasn’t irritating that specifically, but I was definitely fatigued and my back felt tight. When I got to the round of 95-lb snatches, I took some rest, given that 95-lb is my current 1 rep max. My first attempt was a failure, but I was pulling it high enough to get under. I caught the next lift, but too far forward and I couldn’t stand up.

Here’s where the magic of CrossFit (and the Open) comes into play. After those failures, I started getting more of an audience.The coaches and other members gathered around me and wouldn’t let me give up on that barbell. The coaches and people I workout with day after day know what I am capable of and gave me the confidence to keep trying. This is one of my favorite things about CrossFit as a culture…the encouragement from people who know you can do something even when you aren’t completely sure of that yourself. And so, after a few more fails, I got one 95-lb snatch and then another.  

The snatch is still uncomfortable for me and I’ve been playing around with my hook-grip and widening my arms, so it’s a work in progress for sure. I finished with an official scaled score of 159 reps and am super happy about getting those two snatches at my previous 1 rep-max weight. If it wasn’t for the support around me, I know I would’ve just given up.

final thoughts

As I was typing this recap, I realized I screwed up and shorted myself on time for this WOD.  I finished the rounds of 75-lb snatches well under the 16-minute mark, so I should have had up to 20:00 on the clock to get through the round of 95-lb. Instead, I ended my workout at 16:00 on the clock, with no one realizing I had banked that much time. This is such a bummer because I could have taken much more time to rest between my attempts at 95-lb. Don’t get me wrong–I’m still happy with my score, but I probably could have successfully hit a few more. Dang it! I also screwed up a workout last year during the Open and it was one with jumping pull-ups. Confirmation that jumping pull-ups are not my friend!

Despite my mess up, I really enjoyed 17.3 and liked this format where you have to hit certain targets or times in order to keep going. If my back wasn’t being cranky, I may have considered redoing it but overall I’m happy with my performance! More importantly, I’m so glad the “magic” of the Open not only allowed me to hit my PR twice, but brought the fun community vibes of CrossFit back for me this week. It was definitely a welcome reminder!

Stay tuned for the last two workouts. Here’s hoping for no more dumbbells and definitely no repeats of 15.5 or 16.5!