This is a great question, and one that we get asked many times in the gym in the build up to The Open every year.
Recently I was listening to a podcast that discussed the three types of fear that might hold you back from competing in The Open.
1 - The fear of embarrassment
The fear of finishing last. The fear of everyone seeing exactly what you can and cannot do. The fear of what people think of you for not being able to do something.
This is normal and everyone doing something for the first time will feel this. It's natural, it's human and everyone has been there at some point in their life.
Without getting past this fear, there can be no growth. If you are not in a position where you have never been before then how can you move forwards with anything in your life?
CrossFit introduced a scaled division to allow people a smoother entry into The Open by lowering loads or levels of technicality. At SCCF we run the IM Open where participation is rewarded more than achievement.
2 - The fear of how it will feel
The fear of how much it will hurt to try as hard as you can. The fear of physical discomfort. The fear of what you might actually be capable of.
If you have been preparing for any length of time then you should have a reasonable idea of how fit you are. Contrary to the idea of people rising to the challenge, when the pressure (probably psychological) comes on, people will default to the level of their preparation. The Friday Night Lights atmosphere might help you squeeze a few more reps out or shave a few seconds off, but that could just be your body fearing embarrassment more.
The number of PBs that we see during Friday Night Lights events during The Open is amazing every year. So maybe reframe the fear of physical discomfort into an opportunity to demonstrate to your peers how hard you've been working over the past months. The workouts that Dave Castro presents us with every year are designed to find the fittest men and women on the planet - they are designed to be difficult, they are designed to beat people - so use these coming weeks as chances to find your weaknesses so that over the next year you can start to turn them into strengths.
3 - The fear of failing to meet expectations
The fear of not being as fit as you were. The fear of not finishing first when everyone expected it. The fear of being able to do something without pressure, but going to pieces when the music is up, your heart rate is high and there's a bit of a crowd.
The Open is a snapshot. It is not the measure of who you are or what you are worth. The Open is there to find out who should progress to Regionals, but also for gym communities to rally round each other and have some fun. Unless you have performance expectations of people on your shoulders, then the only person you can disappoint is yourself. The only thing that you can control is the effort that you put in, and if your effort is truly your best then you've won.
Your placing on the scoreboard will be affected by how many people enter. You can be satisfied by knowing that you did all you could.
On that note, make sure that you're signed up to one of the IM Open teams within SCCF. Head over to games.crossfit.com to register so that you can submit your scores online. Come and chat to one of the coaches in the gym if you have any questions.