Forever Fran – CrossFit Games Open WOD 13.5

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Photographer: Sweat RX
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Forever Fran

4 minute AMRAP

(Unless you finish 90 reps, then your new time-cap is 8 min, unless you finish 180 reps, then your time-cap is 12 min……..etc.)

15 thrusters (100/65)

15 chest-to-bar pull-ups

First, an aside: this workout provides rather a large body of evidence (not that we needed it) with which we might counter the recent article in the New York Times, entitled “Why Women Can’t do Pull-ups” (disclaimer: google this only if you feel like become enraged). Obviously, women can. If you’re Brit Holmberg (pictured here), you do 13.5 for kicks in your firefighter suit and still get a better score than most of us mortals (somewhere in the vicinity of 80 reps…lots of pull-ups).

Now that we’ve corrected that silliness, let’s talk about Forever Fran (perhaps more aptly named Indefinite Fran). I certainly wasn’t at risk of completing my 90 reps, but those who did so with sufficient speed were rewarded with the opportunity to do it all over again. This week’s WOD may have been a new cover of an over-played song, but I would argue that it was a test of fitness the likes of which CrossFit has never seen. Given the option of completing Fran indefinitely I’d rather be tossed into the inferno with Dante.  But those who were able (and who elected) to do so were faced with a unique mental and physical challenge: what are you capable of giving when you’ve already given it all?

CrossFit may be constantly varied but it is, I think, easy to become complacent with the mental component of the game. We become sufficiently familiar with the movements and with our abilities to carry certain weights that we begin to strategize. We know roughly how long a squat will take, how we will feel when we do 30 of them, and we can manage our rest accordingly. With 13.5 there was not a lot of time for strategy in the first four minutes, and certainly none beyond that.  But this is real life; you can’t always strategize. What do you do when the universe throws the proverbial curve ball at you, and you finally outrun it just to turn the corner and find another waiting for you? You run again, that’s what.

The concept has me thinking about the whole format of the Open; with 4 days to complete the workout, do-overs have become a huge part of the game and I feel like we’re missing the point. Can you truly give your best effort when you know it’s not your only shot? If you redo it and happen to one-up your competitor, you have out-strategized them, but are you really any fitter for it? I obsessively watch the leaderboard as much as the next person, but I’ve often wondered if it wouldn’t be just as exciting, and perhaps more fair, if scores were kept secret (unknown and unknowable!) until Sunday night. Do the WOD once, do your best, and then wait to see how your best stacks up. No gaming the system, no one-uping, no do-overs, just you against yourself and the workout.

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