I have competed in every CrossFit Games Open. I placed 99th and 75th worldwide in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and was fortunate enough to make it the CrossFit Games both years. Last year, 2013, I finished 216th world wide and didn’t make it to the Games. After regionals, unlike the previous years, I felt burned out, and decided to re-evaluate my training methods. This year I placed 40th worldwide and, more importantly, realized a lot along the way.
Getting Less With More
What was wrong with me? I trained as much as I could. Heck, I trained more than I ever thought possible. I went 2 weeks or more without resting. I hit multiple workouts daily, plus strength portions, endurance efforts, and skill work. All I did was workout. I went to get ART work done once a week for the entire year. I mobilized constantly. I ate perfectly and upped my intake to give my body more fuel. I did everything my coach said to do. I followed the plan. It left me wondering how I could possibly fail. It felt like more than just falling short of my goals. It felt like I failed to perform at my full capabilities. All the work I put it didn’t amount to much. I wasn’t better than I was the year before. If anything, I was worse. It left me wondering if I truly wanted to continue competing at the top levels in CrossFit. I was doubting all the sacrifices I was putting in. I was giving up precious time with my wife, my boys, and sacrificing everything else in my life to be the best. I understand sometimes you have to do things like this when pursuing great things. But the strain it was having on every aspect of my life was not something I was willing to continue with.
Back To Basics
Flash forward one year. I had my best CrossFit Games Open ever in 2014, placing 40th worldwide. I finished 10th in the world on 14.3. I have never felt better in my life. What changed?! How did I get here after such a disappointing year?
“Stick to the basics and when you feel you’ve mastered them it’s time to start all over again, begin anew – again with the basics – this time paying closer attention.” -Greg Glassman
From early 2012 all the way to late 2013, my brother and I took a break from handling my programming because we were busy with so many other things. Looking back now we realize we made a big mistake. We took the easy route and it showed when I did not make the progress I needed to and fell short of my goals. When we realized that I had stalled out we took my programming and training back into our own hands. We went back to the basics. Using Beyond The Whiteboard, we identified what my biggest weaknesses were and made a plan to attack them. What was even more frustrating is that the weaknesses we identified were the same ones I have struggled with since starting CrossFit. It’s funny how easy it is to go so long ignoring the hardest things to improve on. The specific weakness training was something I did separately from my workouts and I took an extremely focused approach that attacked them from all different directions. I basically committed time 3-5 days a week working on those weaknesses. Toes to bar, pulling strength, pushing strength, etc.
From late July until mid January, I really focused on getting stronger through powerlifting. I would powerlift 3 times a week, hit workouts only 3 times a week, Olympic lift twice a week, and work on gymnastic movements twice a week. From January until now I have upped my workouts to 4 times a week, switched my lifting focus to 3 days of Olympic lifting specific strength and skill work, and I also added endurance work with running and rowing repeats 4 times a week. We focused on the quality of the work I was getting in, where as the previous year I feel like I was grinding away at a higher volume with much less purpose. Another big realization I made is that I have performed at my absolute best at a much lower bodyweight than what I was competing at. I have dropped down from 217# in October to a much lighter 189#.
All of these changes to my training regimen were a big part of my turnaround. It was more focused on what I personally needed to do and it was much less volume. It changed everything as far as the time and energy I now have to put into the things that matter most to me. I get more time with my wife and boys. She gets to train more and improve as an athlete. I can give more attention to my gym and do what I love, changing more lives through proper nutrition and CrossFit. Most importantly it has allowed me to enjoy life and focus less on me and more on others. I can credit a lot of my success to these changes that allowed me to get back to having fun this year.
At CrossFit Kinnick I do all the programming for the competitors and the group classes. For the first time in around 2 years I started working out in group classes. I would program the gym workout and then make a competitor version that would usually include more advanced versions of movements and mix in heavier weights. And my athletes were beating me on workouts. My wife, Giermaine Kinnick, would beat me some days. Nick Robles, Daniel O’Brien, Chris Nicholson, Elyse Persico, Melody Sanchez, Christine Navarro, Sariah Veirs, or Andrew Perry might best me on others. It was awesome because it pushed me. Some days I would program workouts that I knew were strengths for other athletes and use that as an opportunity to try to beat them at something in their wheelhouse. Other days I would program to my strengths and try to lap them. The competitive drive was there but we were all having a blast working out together and pushing each others limits.
I came to realize that in strictly following outside programming and pouring everything into my own training I had lost sight of what makes CrossFit so fantastic…the community. Hitting workouts alone or separate from my athletes was a grind. I needed a change but I couldn’t see it. Even though I overhauled my training program and changed my focus, I truly think the biggest change this year is that the fun is back.