Why I got a 0 on CrossFit Open Workout 17.4

In case you missed it above, this is Tom. You may have seen me at the front desk on occasion. 

After a long night of deliberation, I came to the decision this morning to opt out of the 4th workout of the 2017 CrossFit Open. Not because I thought I’d get hurt, but rather I decided to stick to a promise I made to myself. I was going to be more responsible with my workouts after I figured out my personal “Why” for CrossFit…


I typically train 5 days a week, with one completely off day (Sunday, duh).

I get massages or acupuncture every 2-3 weeks.

I do at least an hour of mobility every day.

I lift heavy things 3 days a week and do conditioning/skill work 2-3 days a week.

I eat lots of plants, some animals…and occasionally an entire pint of ice cream.

I do all these things to keep my body healthy and strong for the rest of life. The rest of my life is a long time. So I had to start thinking of my training with respect to decades… not just a a single year like a competitor may be more likely to do. My training is a lifelong effort to continue to be the strongest, fastest, healthiest version of myself; it’s not just the thrill of chasing PRs and crushing my soul in life-altering workouts to a point of near religious experience (because that is wicked awesome!)

A little backstory

On Tuesday I was traveling and worked out at another gym and completed a WOD that totaled 45 deadlifts at 225# and 75 wall balls. A taxing day for sure but nothing I couldn’t handle. The deadlifts were heavy, but I can handle that weight when it’s broken up into 5 rounds separated with wall balls, lots of built-in rest and no additional pulling (the row in 17.4 is a similar pulling motion to the deadlift).

8 years of pain…

I haven’t taken more than 2 weeks off from CrossFit in nearly 5 years. Let’s just say I love this stuff! But I’ve had chronic pain for almost 4 of those years, now include the 4 years of pain before CrossFit, and my bad habits have caused me 8 years of pain and discomfort.

Over a year ago I made the decision to live a pain free life, and CrossFit, with the right team of people, is helping me achieve that. By listening to my body, scaling workouts, ranges of motion, and lifts down to laughable levels compared to my maxes for about 6 months, I’ve been 100% pain-free, injury-free in every aspect of not only CrossFit, but also life, since November!

Evaluating the workout and its purpose

Now when 55 deadlifts at 225# in a row came up this week, just days after I completed 45 of the same reps, I had to consider if this was the best decision for me and my simple goal of longevity. Short answer?

It wasn’t.

I’ve worked a long time to correct issues that were a result from a lifetime of sitting at desks, driving a car with one arm always lifted and my wallet in my back pocket, playing right-wing in soccer, and above all, not listening to the signals my body was telling me.

100 deadlifts at 75% of my current 1 rep max within a 7-day period… especially when 55 are performed IN A ROW… simply would not be responsible for me, Tom, (not Dwight for example because he has a 550# deadlift so this weight is a toy for him relative to our maxes) to perform based on my ultimate goals and intentions for CrossFit.

Final thoughts

Tough choice to not do it. It was shaping up to be my highest ranked performance in an Open to date by nearly 1000 places. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been… just need to make sure I keep it that way. Good luck in the final week of the Open, athletes! Let’s see how 17.5 treats me!

Challenge for you

Figure out your “Why” for CrossFit and train accordingly. Once I did, it allowed me to feel better and stronger than I ever have in my life. See what it can do for you!


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