Since the Open ended, I – along with the many others across the world who qualified to move on – have been in full blown Regional prep mode. This year, Regional prep is 100% different than the one I went through last year. For starters, I am healthier. Last year I had my appendix removed during the last week of the Open which caused my Regional prep to be a constant struggle of trying to recover from the surgery while trying to maintain my physical abilities. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend this. I ended up destroying my immune system with the lack of recovery time I allowed myself and actually came down with shingles the day before I left for regionals. Competing hard for three days with shingles is not very fun.) This year is also different because I know I will not have teammates out on the floor with me through the workouts. In comparison to the workload you have to do as a member of a team at Regionals, going to compete as an individual is significantly more demanding on the body. This is something I have embraced as my “progress” in the sport over the past year. I know for a fact that last year there was no way I would have been able to handle the amount of volume required to compete as an individual. The last difference and probably the biggest one is my shift in attitude as I work toward Regionals. Last year I had the attitude of just being along for the ride and having a fun weekend with my team. This year I want to do some damage, stomp on some people’s heads, and make some noise. Being able to look back and compare last year’s non-nonchalant and almost unappreciative Regional prep period to the grind I am in now has been one of the coolest parts of my training the past few weeks. The daily practice grind is grueling. The volume is high, the weights are heavy, the workouts are hard. I feel like I get my butt handed to me everyday, yet somehow survive. I know however, that is the mark of a great program and a great coach, and one that has success on gameday. If you don’t believe me just read the god-amongst-men (Coach K) say it himself. Some days I walk into the gym feeling like a million bucks, and some days I walk in and want to just curl up in a ball and lay there. I can feel every muscle in my body daily and no amount of stretching is ever enough. I am hungry about 80% of my waking hours, no matter how much food I try and eat. Sleep is beyond sacred. These past few weeks I have been constantly reminded what “mid-season” feels like.
I know it’s a common theme in my posts to make constant references to my basketball days or the general flow of a basketball season. However, that is really where any and all of my experience lies in the sports world. It was my life for 15 of the 23 years I have lived through – it is unavoidable. While Regional prepping, I have picked up on some glaring similarities between myself as a basketball player and myself as a competitive exerciser. Some of these have scared me and some have made me happy – either way they are undeniably there.
Inconsistency comes with immaturity.
In high school, and also in college, I was fortunate to be “thrown into the fire” from the moment I stepped onto campus. In both cases I was physically strong enough, skilled, and athletic enough to hang with the girls three and four years more experienced than me. However, I learned quickly that what I was missing was the maturity and the consistency in the sport that they carried. They had more poise and confidence in their play, they understood the ins and outs of the game, the long demanding season, and the ups and downs that come with it much better than I did. I simply was not there yet – as much as I thought I was. That lack of experience always results in inconsistency. There are just as many bad days as there are good days. But, it actually goes further than “good” and “bad” days. There are days of god-awful, waste of time performances mixed in with mind-blowing, out-of-nowhere great performances. If you ask any great coach, in almost any sport, they will tell you that inconsistency is the mark of immaturity. I’ve felt this the past few weeks. Luckily, unlike my high school and even college days, I am aware of it and I am doing my best to stay leveled and focused on being as consistent as I possibly can be. My college coach use to tell me that good and bad days were acceptable and almost inevitable – but they could not be drastic, they could not be detrimental, and they could never be good or bad mental days. Your mind must stay in it, engaged, confident, and focused on the bigger picture and the goal lying ahead. The next four weeks that is one of my top priorities – limit the bad training days, and stay as consistent as possible day in and day out.
“Lights Are On” syndrome.
This is one that I thought was non existent in my exercise days but I have noticed it resurface in these intense weeks of training. It is not something I am 100% proud of, but it is most definitely there and needs to be addressed. Flat out – I don’t love practice. I would much rather be in front of a crowd, lights and sounds blaring, pressure on, in an all eyes on me type situation. Unfortunately, without hard, rigorous practice, you don’t ever have the privilege of competing in that situation. This was nearly my downfall during the Open because of the nonchalant attitude I approach too many training days with. I became so accustomed to this that is was hard to snap out of it for 4 of the 5 Open workouts I did in my own gym as if it was any other training day. I know from my own coaching experiences, this is one of the most frustrating things to deal with in an athlete. In fact, it was brought to my attention by my current coach about two weeks ago. We had never spoke about any of this. I had just finished a weekend competing on a team at a local competition. He told me that he was reminded how good I was and could be after watching me all weekend. He explained that watching me “practice” everyday had put doubts and questions in his mind that left when he watched me on game day. Maybe some athletes would like to hear that? But I knew that wasn’t a good thing. I’ve had enough experience in competitive sports to know that you can’t just show up on game day – it doesn’t work that way. That conversation with him woke me up. I have to make a conscious effort to mentally prep myself before entering the gym and remind myself that every day for the next four weeks needs to be gameday. This is imperative so that when gameday actually comes, I will be confident I prepared myself as best I could.
I am grateful for the part of my personality that is fearless when it comes to competition. During my basketball days, I always wanted to “play up” or play with the boys who were usually faster and stronger. Since I can remember, if I see someone better than me, stronger than me, or more skilled than me my immediate thought is “let me take her”. I always thought I could score on whoever would try and guard me. In fact, the better the defender they were hyped to be, the more points I planned on giving them that night. I noticed I carry the same attitude over to exercise – maybe it is simply because the NYC basketball courts raised me, maybe it’s just a permanent chip on my shoulder, or maybe it’s the constant need to prove myself. It’s never a disrespect of any sort. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% know and respect my competitors and what they are capable of. I just always want to go up against them, preferably on the biggest stage possible. Credentials, stats, and hype just don’t have the ability to get in my brain and mess with me. Every time I stop and relax for a second and actually think about Regionals, this fearless hunger to compete with the best surfaces. There is no nervousness to be found but instead just an almost anxious need to get out there and have my performance stacked up among my competitors. I think this is what makes sports so fun and exciting for me and what drives we to keep working daily.
Before I compete at Regionals I will head up to Boston, MA on May 2nd to participate in the National Pro Fitness League combine. The NPFL is a brand new league where athletes will compete in exercise racing (don’t laugh, I’m being serious). I’m excited for this combine because you can pick the various lifts, gymnastics, and specific workouts that you want to showcase. Completely opposite of The CrossFit Games, this league rewards the specialist – which is pretty cool. I do not know what will come of this combine for me but I am excited to be attending with some great athletes and am looking forward to showing off some of my abilities. If I get chosen to move on to Sunday’s activities there, I will be put on a team and we will basically “run pickup games”. Yes – exercise racing pickup games. (How did this end up being my life?! I promise I use to play a real sport.) All jokes aside though, competing on a team in the sport of exercise is a ton of fun. I am really looking forward to next weekend. Three weeks after that I will have my individual regional debut (May 23-25) at the Patriot Center of George Mason University. My career record at the Patriot Center (GMU was in our conference) is 3-1 while shooting 45% from 3 point range (9-20), 35% from the floor (12-34) and 100% from the FT line (6-6). I always loved playing in that arena and I cannot wait to get back there. I will be throwing around barbells this time instead of my roundball. It should be an awesome time.
To help support my Regional weekend you can purchase my uniquely designed shirt from Move Fast Lift Heavy by clicking here. There are men’s tees and women’s tanks available on pre-sale. I hope you are able to make it out to watch that weekend and my hope is that I will see a sea of Capurso shirts somewhere in the stands 🙂 ! All of your support and efforts to help me achieve what I work so hard everyday for is greatly appreciated. Nothing goes unnoticed.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:
The past five weeks seem to have flew by. The kickoff of the annual CrossFit Games season, “The Open”, has officially come to a close. The hype has subsided (for the most part) and the day after the Open seems to be like the New Years Day of the crossfit world. Everyone is blowing up social media for resolutions about next year and what they will improve upon or change. For some however, the road is not over. I was one of those fortunate individuals who survived the past five weeks and qualified for Regionals in May, representing the Mid Atlantic region, pending a video approval by HQ. This was my first full year training as a competitor with my eyes set as competing as in individual in May. At times, I felt right in my element, and during others I definitely felt the heat of being an inexperienced rookie.
One of my favorite books is “When The Game Was Ours” by Larry Bird and Erving “Magic” Johnson. There is some great stories and lines by both athletes in this book, but the one that always stood out in my head was a story Magic tells. He explains that his whole life people would tell him things along the lines of “there’s always someone out there working just as hard as you”. He says that he never actually believed it. He knew he worked as hard as he could each and every day and there was no way someone was outdoing him. Then he met Bird, played against him, and understood. He said he then knew who everyone was talking about when they said statements like that. Every week as I was refreshing the leaderboard over and over, this story would cross my mind. The leaderboard is proof of the hundreds and thousands of people that are out there every day working just as hard, if not harder than you. The day you feel you can take your foot off the gas pedal, or dial down the relentlessness, is the day a girl somewhere else gets better than you… and eventually passes you on the leaderboard when you go head to head. Among many other things, the Open gave me new life and a new hunger. I am happy and proud of the progress I have made in the sport this year, but nowhere near satisfied. I’m growing and learning every day and that is encouraging to keep pushing on. I am beyond grateful for my loyal fans and supporters, my teammates all over the country talking me through each week, and my dedicated coach who believes in all of us. I’m looking forward to competing in the Patriot Center another time, and I will be there a better me than I am today.
14.4 Recap (since I never gave one last week)
When this workout was announced I was actually pretty excited. I knew it was going to be a tough one (of course), however it involved almost every movement that I really like. Obviously, I knew the muscle ups would be the game changer in the workout and good scores would be totally dependent on the athletes ability to successfully complete their muscle ups under complete shoulder fatigue. This would mean that good form and poise on the rings would be needed. I completed the row, toes to bar, and wall balls with very little shoulder fatigue and almost no respiratory fatigue. During the cleans, I could feel my shoulders starting to fill up but I knew I had to keep moving through it to get on the rings. I went all singles on the rings and was able to complete 8 reps. This was about 4-5 reps below what my goal was on this workout. However, the reality was, that was really all I was able to score. My muscle ups, although much improved from where they started, still need a significant amount of work – which they will get in these next two months. I ended up placing 45th in the region on workout 14.4 with a score of 188 reps. That held me steady at 20th in the region going into week 5.
The following story is one that I am in no way proud of. I think it is dumb. I would never brag about this, or want anyone else to do this. However, it may have ended up saving my chances of going to regionals this season, and it is me in all my realness – which I never like to hide. When 14.5 was announced, of course I was not thrilled, however I didn’t think – not for one second – that it was going to be one of the most stressful and gut checking workouts that I am yet to face in my young little exercise career. It seemed hard, but they all do. I was actually excited for it because it was the end of the open, we were getting closer and closer to regionals and I had my eyes focused there. Saturday morning I didn’t feel 100% myself, I actually felt pretty sick. I was very close to telling my coach I actually didn’t want to do the workout that day but decided against that and figured I would gut it out. I’ve practiced and played numerous times, in some pretty big games, where I was sick or didn’t feel myself – sometimes you just have to go. Well… 14.5 kicked my butt. I finished just under 13 minutes – a time I knew would be detrimentally low in the region. The most upsetting part about all of this for me, was that I knew I was going to have to do that awful piece of hell again. Even worse was that usually when I finish a workout and think back, I can clearly analyze when and where I could make up time. After this, I honestly could not. I really just didn’t know. My idea was to move more steadily and continue moving through the whole piece. Monday morning came, I was pumped, ready to kill it. 3..2..1..Go. 13 minutes later – 2 burpees to go. Time was no better, coach had to leave to head out of town. I went home, sat with myself for about two hours calculating splits, figuring how many seconds I should be using per rep, deciding what time exactly I should start each round. I made myself an entire map. I headed back to the gym, loaded the bar, set a camera up, grabbed my training partner to judge and tackled it again. Yes, for the second time in about 3 hours. My pacing map worked, at least a bit, THANK GOD. I was able to take 30 seconds off my time. This still didn’t leave me with a great time – 12:26. This was 180th in the region. Going into week 5 I had 186 points TOTAL, in week 5 I accumulated as many points as I had in weeks 1-4 put together. This knocked me all the way down to 43rd in the region. It kept me safe for regionals, but the third time performing 14.5 may have saved my regional birth. At that point it was 100% necessary.
6 Things I’ve learned from the 2014 CrossFit Open:
1) Every workout sucks. Expect it, face it head on, tackle it with everything you can.
2) Never think “I’ll have another shot”. I made that mistake a few times this year and it, in my opinion, is the worst attitude to have. One and done needs to be the motto. Your first attempt at the workout is almost always your best punch. If circumstances happen to arise (like in week 5 for me) where it is completely necessary than so be it. But you CANNOT go in thinking you have another shot.
3) Every week, rep, and second counts. I realize that in all of it’s seriousness now. If I had not performed how I was able to perform for weeks 1-4, I wouldn’t be going to regionals. With all that hard work, I almost missed my opportunity because of ONE workout. This is a sport of inches and seconds. Each and every one matters incredibly.
4) Learn to turn the page. (Coach K loves me right now) We are all competitors and always believe we can do better. Most likely we can, however it is important to understand that we are working through the Open to survive and advance. After week 1 coach told me that if I was going to be obsessed with beating everyone on the leaderboard who I thought I could beat, it was going to be a long 5 weeks for me. This was something I had to constantly fight. Put up a decent score, move on, and get back to training.
5) Be proud. The score you post every week is you. You have been working hard to show it off, you planned for it, your body hurts because of it – honor it. No matter where it falls on the board IT IS YOU. If you aren’t happy with it, put the chip on your shoulder and get back in the gym to fix it. But always be proud of the effort you put forward.
6) IT IS JUST EXERCISE!!! Every week I would tell one of my good friends my score before everyone else. He would usually do the same with his. Depending on the week one of us was usually freaking out, or not so happy with how they did. Until we reminded each other that this is just exercise, it is something we started because it was fun and we like fitness. Just like with anything else in sport, or in life – the minute it isn’t fun anymore it is adding no positive value to your life. Keep the fun in the game. Let’s be honest, exercise racing is pretttttty silly.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: