2018 CrossFit Open – After Action Review (AAR)

2018 CrossFit Open – After Action Review (AAR)

Along with my love of CrossFit, I also participate in GORUCK events. After each event, I do an After Action Report (AAR). This gives me the ability to think through my event, assess my performance, and notate areas where I performed well and areas where I can improve. You can read some of my GORUCK AARs if you’re into that sort of thing.

As the 2018 CrossFit Open comes to a close, I decided to write up an AAR for my Open performance and share it with all of you.


In some ways, this should have been a “wheelhouse” workout for me. A long and grindy workout with movements that should have been manageable.

Going in, I knew the toes-to-bar would be a weaker part of the workout for me. At 8 reps, I knew that I’d be good for a couple rounds but eventually they’d fall apart and sets of 2-3 would probably occur.

The dumbbell was heavy, but not so heavy that it should be an issue. And, the rowing should be where I could make up a little time and maybe even recover a little.

Sadly, things didn’t go great. As anticipated, the toes-to-bar went ok for a couple rounds and then fell apart. Fatigue got the best of me as the time went on and my palm ripped about 15+/- minutes in.

The biggest failure in this workout was in my transitions. I simply allowed myself to linger way too much between movements. I felt sorry for myself and justified the extra rest.

Overall, it was not a great performance.

Sustain: Not much. I wish I could have redone this workout, but a hole in the hand prevented it.
Improve: On longer workouts that have toes-to-bar I need to be able to manage (at least) sets of 4 with little rest (drop, turn, back up). Also, have a better strategy. I went in with no plan and that didn’t work out well. Finally, smaller/quicker breaks.

18.2 and 18.2a

The first time through, I felt pretty good with this workout. I was particularly happy with 18.2a, where I hit 187#. I was super pumped.

However, I knew I phoned it in on the burpee/squats. Much like 18.1, I felt sorry for myself and gave myself lots of extra rest between movements. I knew I could do better. So, I retested it.

The first take gave me a lot to think about. First, I knew I the squats were completely doable. There was no reason to hesitate picking up the weight. Once it was up, it was just a matter of moving.

Similarly, with the burpees, I knew that I could go faster. I could easily keep the pedal down through the round of 6, let off to about 75% for 7-9, and then unload the tank on round 10. I did everything as planned and it worked perfectly, earning me #2 in the gym and a huge mental boost.

For the clean, I had learned from the first time that I didn’t need to hit 135# to open. It was a waste of energy. Knowing how the 187# felt (good) I decided that if I could shave enough time off the first part (plus skipping the 135# open), then I could have an extra rest time. I planned to open at 187# and then try 207#. It was a risk, but I felt good about it.

Almost to my surprise, I hit the 207# and it was great.

This redo was probably the highlight of my Open.

That said, the global leaderboard reminded me that, even for a 40-year-old, 207# is not a very big lift.

Sustain: Learn from your mistakes and push yourself to do better.
Improve: Get stronger. Seriously, the clean needs to be a lot higher.


There is a big difference between “I can do ____” and “I have ____.”

In my case, I can do muscle-ups. I certainly don’t have muscle-ups.

This was a fun and frustrating workout for me. Last year in the Open I had just learned to do double-unders (after 3 years of CrossFit). I could do them, but I didn’t have them.

This year, I had them. So, it was exciting to see 100 double-unders and think, “Sweet, I got that.” However, I knew that the muscle-ups would slow me down a lot. I hoped that I could get through the rings and maybe squeek out some on the bar. It didn’t happen like that.

On my first attempt at this WOD, the overhead squat caught me by surprise. I thought that was going to be in the bag, but it was not. I fumbled around, dropped the bar, and basically fell apart.

With the remaining time, I managed a few muscle-ups. It was disappointing.

Again, I knew I could do better (if anything, I could clean up the squats and give myself more time for the muscle-ups). So, I redid the WOD.

The second time through I adjusted my squats. I cleaned it and moved it behind the neck before switching to snatch grip. This made a big difference in initial stability (vs just snatching it). And I was able to crank out 2 (slow) sets of 10.

With a little extra time for the muscle-ups, all I wanted was to get back to the jump rope. But, alas, it was not to be. No reps and slow recovery held me back and I frustratingly watched the clock tick by, ultimately only adding 2 reps to my previous score.

Sustain: Learn from your mistakes and push yourself to do better.
Improve: Muscle-ups. By the next Open I have to be able to string together sets of 3-5 at the least.


What are the odds?!?!

About 4+/- months ago Dianne showed up in Full Circle’s programming. Much like muscle-ups, I can do handstand push-ups but I do not have them. So, when it appeared as the daily WOD, I didn’t even make it out of the round of 21 before the time-cap hit. But, neither did Mike 🙂

Mike and I talked about it and both agreed that a sub-10 Dianne was a goal worthy of being on the Goal Board. So, we both wrote it down.

For my part, I began working on handstand holds and strick HSPUs as part of my pre/post workout routine. But, then scheduling got weird for me and this aspect of my training fell to the wayside. The sub-10 goal came and went, I began working on other things that were more important to me at the time (working towards 300×5 back-squat and 200+ C&J, not that I’ve hit those yet).

So, when Dianne was announced, I kicked myself for not working on this more.

When it came to doing the WOD, everything went about as well as could be expected. I didn’t magically have handstand push-ups (go figure). I flew through the 21 deadlifts and then hit the wall, literally. I didn’t make it out of the 21.

I rested over the weekend and decided to try the WOD again. This time I hit 5 HSPU in a row and was ecstatic. However, even with that miracle, I couldn’t make it out of the 21. I added like 2 reps to my score.

It was disappointing, frustrating, humbling, and motivating.

Sustain: Let your losses motivate you.
Improve: Get HSPU’s by next year’s Open. Sets of 5 should be sustainable over a long WOD. Basically, get a sub-10 Dianne.


Ugh, thrusters. I didn’t even vote on the WOD because I didn’t want to do any of it. Now, wallballs and chest-to-bar, I’d be all over that! But, it was thrusters.

For this, I knew my C2B would go eventually. Also, the thrusters would eat me alive after the set when I got to the 9’s. I decided that I would attack the workout at 85% and make everything a set of 3. Even when hurting, I can squeek out 3 C2B and 3 thrusters. The plan was super short transitions and do everything in sets of 3.

For this WOD I was going head-to-head with Kennon. We’re neck and neck on the gym leaderboard, so the results had consequences. I needed to beat him.

As we started, I stuck to my plan. It was really hard. Kennon got pretty far ahead of me. I wasn’t sure my plan was right. Was I being too reserved?

After about 5:30 I realized that I was gaining ground. At 6:00 I had passed him. At 6:30 I was getting nervous that he was going to get on the bar and catch me as I banged out 3’s with a drop and turn.

In the end, I held on to the lead.

Oh, and it hurt. It hurt bad.

Now, this hurts a little, but I decided not to redo this WOD. When I look at the performance, much like 18.2, I think I easily have 10-15 more reps I left in that workout. A little quicker to pick up the bar. Skipping the “I got to get some chalk” excuse for not pulling more quickly. If I tell my brain to shut up and work, I think I can get those extra reps. And, it would probably put me just above James on that workout. But, even if I move up 1 spot on this workout, it won’t give me the points I need to move up 1 space from 4th to 3rd in the gym’s overall men leaderboard. So, I decided not to redo it. (This is pretty hard to admit)

Sustain: Know your limits, create a plan, trust the plan to work.
Improve: Don’t cheat the plan. Keep moving. It is only 7 minutes. Getting the chalk is an excuse.


The CrossFit Open is a great event. It pushes people out of their normal training and routine and causes us to push ourselves, sometimes way out of our comfort zone. It also gives us a chance to see how we’ve grown over the last year of training and to see where we need to grow in the coming year.

For me, I have some very specific things to work on for the next year. I want to “get” muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, and lift heavier. But, a goal without a plan is just a dream. So, over the next few days and weeks, I plan to sit and think about how I’ll reach those goals. I’ll talk to my coaches. I’ll research online.  I’ll write down a plan.

Then… get to work.

Final confession

When I came into The Open this year, my official goal, written on my home whiteboard, was to finish 4th or higher on the men’s leaderboard at Full Circle. I met that goal and am pretty happy with it.

Well… actually, I’m not.

Truth be told, the goal I wanted to write down, but was too scared to, was to finish 3rd.

I’ll just let that be a fire that simmers until 2019. #SeeYouInTheOpen

By Ryan Burns: Ryan has been a member of CrossFit Full Circle since 2013. Along with writing about CrossFit, Ryan runs Ruck.Beer, a website devoted to the worst hobby ever.

Did the CrossFit Open show you some areas you need to improve? Scheduling a few Personal Training sessions is a great way to develop a plan, specifically for you, to strengthen your weak areas and provide one-on-one coaching that will give you the extra attention you need to ensure your success. Want to give it a try, just let us know!


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