Competition: When things go sideways…and they will

There are lots of upcoming competitions and the Fall Open is just around the corner. I wanted to take some time to talk about mindset with competition and preparing for when things don’t go your way. I thought a good illustration would be a competition I did in January 2018 with my friend, Ryley. Everything that could go wrong did. It’s funny now looking back…not so much back then.


Ryley asked me to be her partner for an intermediate pair gauntlet style competition. I said ok and we agreed that the point was to have fun! 

A few weeks before the comp, we heard about a team that 1) should probably not be considered intermediate 2) was WAY stronger than us. Crap. We lamented about how they were gonna whoop on us…and so on. Then we both texted each other that evening and decided there’s nothing we can do about it and we need to “get over it.”  That was that.

THEN the workouts got released. Doh. One event was a max 2 rep snatch. My WORST lift. Another workout was an assault bike workout which, with my God-given Smurf legs, would be fun. NOT! Sigh. We put our heads down and practiced all 4 workouts the best we could. We knew we could do well on the remaining 2 workouts. 


We felt prepared. Appropriately nervous, but optimistic about our plan. Then we found out that one of the workouts we practiced as a one time through type of workout was actually an AMRAP. Um what? We had not prepared for that. Josh said as he usually does “it’ll be fine.” We were pretty sure it wouldn’t be fine but whatever.

The time comes for our heat to start. Our judge seemed nice and was chatting with us. We looked around and saw the clock counting down. The judge said “oh that’s just for the wait time.” Nope. 3-2-1 go and everyone else around us started. Judge “oh sorry, you should go.” Um what??? So I jump on the assault bike delayed but we give it our best effort. 

2nd workout went just as planned. It was pull ups, toe to bar, double unders…all things we were good at. Yesssss. 

3rd workout comes. Hang squat cleans, push press and burpee over bar. We specifically ask our judge, “bar facing or lateral ok?” She said they must be bar facing. Ok, so we do it. Ryley’s first burpee seems off but she keeps going  but when we switch she runs over to Josh seemingly worried. We complete the workout and she runs over to me and says “Look!” pointing at her front tooth. It’s half-gone. She had chipped it on the bar on her first burpee. With my very best fake reassuring “oh it’s not that bad,” we moved on to the snatch. 

While we were waiting the 2 minutes for the snatch event to start, we look over to see our competition doing LATERAL burpees. Those are significantly faster than what we had done. We told our judge and she looked panicked. But beep…snatch started. We both gave our personal best efforts. 

Event 4 started strangely in that we noticed a foul smell starting to permeate our way. We kept looking at each other like “who farted?” And then we see the crowd pointing and, alas, a GIANT pile of dog crap was inches away from where we were supposed to do wall walks. Yep that’s right, giant steaming dookie 12 inches from our face doing max effort wall walks. Someone’s dog was “sick” and had crapped all over the comp floor. We tried to keep our cool while our CFD fam and spectators cheered us on through their shirts pulled up and over their noses. 

The buzzer ended our gauntlet and now we waited. We then started digesting everything that had gone wrong in the last 30 minutes. People were laughing, in disbelief, and some friends seemed honestly upset for us. We waited for the results and BAM….we took 2nd place.

I am so proud of this story, not for the podium finish, but for how we persevered. Ryley and I never panicked. Never gave up on ourselves or on each other and like we promised, we had fun. 

So what’s the take-away here? Why did I tell you this story? 

The moral of the story is that with competition and the Open, you have to expect things not to go your way:

  • Teams that don’t belong in your division will be there
  • Workouts will be programmed that aren’t in your wheelhouse
  • Your judge will mess up
  • You will get no-repped
  • You might fall, trip, or chip your tooth
  • Your game plan for the workout might go sideways
  • You can either REACT or RESPOND to your circumstances. How you CHOOSE to RESPOND makes all the difference in the world! 
  • Choose to vow to give it your personal best in every workout, even if it isn’t your strength 
  • Choose to shrug off the no-reps 
  • Choose to respond calmly when you feel a mistake has been made
  • Choose to support your teammates no matter what
  • Choose to have FUN! 

Above all else, take pride in the fact that you put yourself out there to compete. Enjoy the ride, because just like in our instance S%!t happens, but it doesn’t have to define your experience. 


Coach E

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Hi! I'm Erika

I am an experienced, educated social worker turned certified fitness and nutrition coach with a passion for helping the busy, sometimes overcommitted human being reach and maintain their nutrition goals.

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