These past five months have been a huge exercise blur for me. Starting with the CrossFit Open and going all the way through USAW Nationals has been a crazy ride. The amount of energy – both physically and mentally – and attention invested into preparing for these kind of events is almost impossible to comprehend if you have not experienced it yourself. The level of competition in the Open, at Regionals, and then at weightlifting Nationals is so incredibly high that it is imperative to specifically train for every event. I feel like I was completely prepared for each stage I competed on over these past five months and I walk around proud that I was able to qualify and compete at all of these events. The funny thing is, being an athlete and going through the day to day training, you almost don’t realize exactly what you are putting your body and mind through. It becomes so natural and routine for you that you don’t see that, maybe, just maybe, you need to chill for just a bit haha. Five weeks of the open, followed immediately by the intense training overload and seriousness for regional prep (the oh shit I need to get really gymnasty in 4 weeks), followed immediately by the training overload and weight cut for weightlifting Nationals (the oh shit I need to lose 10lbs, and catch up to all the weightlifters after not really weightlifting for a whole month) can take a toll on any athlete. The physical and mental pressure that comes along with all that is nothing to overlook (as I always seem to do). Of course, at all stages I felt like I could and should have performed better, but I think this was a huge period of education for myself as a new competitor in this game.
I forgot to mention that in the midst of all of that intensity I decided to try and pursue the budding Grid League. I attended a combine in Boston a few weeks before regionals, then attended the finalist combine after regionals, and then was fortunate enough to be drafted as a pro athlete where I raced in a preseason tournament the weekend before weightlifting Nationals. It wasn’t the easiest trying to split my attention in all of these directions, yet I was able to survive doing so. When Nationals was over and I was on my way home, I have to admit there was a sense of relief and the feeling that I could breathe again. I am excited to begin my journey with my teammates, coaches, and staff of the Miami Surge and put all my focus in that direction for the next few months. This week marked my first week training as a pro athlete. I didn’t think it would feel any different than usual. However, I think the team aspect has added something different into my workout attitude and how I approach each training day. I have two weeks before Surge training camp – about 12 training days. Although I will be training on my own until then, the obligation of working hard for the sake of my teammates has given my workouts a new meaning and purpose. I have people that are depending on me to help them out of the grid and I can’t let them down. I am excited, focused, and motivated by them and have had a ton of fun with the race focused workouts I have been doing this week. I haven’t programmed for myself since I’ve been in this sport, and with my everything-exercise coach Rudy Nielsen away working with athletes at the CrossFit Games, I decided this would be a cool time to put some of my own programming together. My Miami Surge coach, Steven Bowser had sent some race prep templates out with awesome ideas of how to specifically prep for our season’s matches. So I took inspiration from all of my coaches and created some daily work that has left me with a smile on my face everyday. People are constantly asking me how my training program will change as I prepare to play in the Grid League so I decided to include my daily workouts from the week so you could see for yourself:
BBG: 1RM 3-pos Snatch (hip, hang, floor) – hold onto bar
STRENGTH: EMOM for 5min: 4 Thrusters (from rack) at 145#
RACE WORK: 2x through of:
ME G2OH 105#
12 OHS 105#
15 Burpee Box Overs 24″
BBG: 1RM 3-pos Clean (hip, hang, floor) – hold onto bar
Every :15 for 5 mins, Cleans at:
RACE WORK: 3x through of:
4 Snatches 115#
4 BJ 24″
3 Snatches 135#
3 BJ 30″
1) 3 rep max Power Snatch
2) 2xMax UB snatches at 85% of#1
4 Jerks off the rack – 165#
Race work: 3 rounds of:
3 sprints (60′ down and back)
ME Bar Muscle Ups
It doesn’t look much different from what a “normal” daily program would look like for me. However, I have been trying to incorporate a lot of barbell cycling work with what I like to call “let me be an athlete” movements in as many combinations as I can think of. Working with these short explosive time domains have been a ton of fun for me. They remind me of my off-season workouts on the turf that we use to do for summer conditioning while I was in college. I may have been the only crazy one on my team that loved these workouts. They were fast, they were explosive, they took everything out of you, and they burned! The most important underlying factor though was that all of your teammates were around you pushing through for a common goal. I was never an individual athlete before I found competitive exercise, and that factor has been non-exsistant for the most part in my training. Until now. That factor of team purpose has reemerged and has been so motivating. This week has given me a new breath of fresh air as I begin to work toward something new with some awesome people!
I’m sitting in the airport on my way down to the sunshine state. It feels like the first time in a while where I’ve been able to just sit and reflect enough to actually put my words together in a post. I’m headed down there for the NPGL draft that will take place tomorrow morning in Miami. This is exciting for me. I have been in talks with some teams and it seems as if the chance for me to finally call myself a professional athlete may actually come to form. It’s significant to me because since I can remember that’s actually all I ever saw myself doing. Of course the picture in my head was me on a hardwood floor, baggy shorts, high tops, a tightly tied headband in my hair, shooting the lights out in front of a screaming crowd – not exactly participating in an exercise race. After college I was presented with the choice to go on to play ball as a professional overseas, or hang up my jersey and become a “normal person” for the first time in my life. I’m not totally sure if I was burnt out at that point from so many years of playing, if I was just tired of dealing with my always aching knee, or if I was just curious what “normalcy” actually was. Maybe I was just being immature and defiant and almost wanted to prove my point that I was going to do my own thing and take a different path than expected. Whatever the case was, I hung my kicks up and stopped playing. It took me a few years and a few unfortunate experiences to grow a bit and realize I was silly for passing up a chance like that. Being considered professional in an athletic setting is reserved for the few and far between and something that should be honored. I am and always will be an athlete. The way athletics has been presented to me since I was 8 years old was in a 100% professional manner, it was fun but it was serious work – that was just the expectation. I always loved every second of that. I feel like God or some higher power had my back on this one and somehow convinced me to honor my gifts enough to be noticed and considered for the NPGL draft – a chance to finally call myself a professional. By tomorrow at noon I will know for sure whether that is the case. If it does turn out that way I will likely be spending the month of August with my team at training camp before we jump right into the season. Right now, all I know is that I am beyond excited and very blessed that I was able to have a second chance at something I’ve worked over 15 years of my life toward.
Although this seems like a huge event that is about to take place, I would be lying if I said that it has been my main focus. I return back home from Florida on Saturday with just enough time to unpack, have a few days, and then repack (which I hate by the way) and head out west to Salt Lake City, Utah for USA Weightlifting Nationals. “Nats” is where almost all of my athletic focus has been for the past few weeks. Weightlifting is something I enjoy a ton as a supplement to exercising and moving fast. I’m not sure I would ever be able to be strictly a weightlifting athlete. I enjoy running around and doing all kinds of weird things for time. I love the feeling of being completely destroyed and floored by a workout that only took 10 minutes. I love the break that fast, grueling, exercising for time gives my brain. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable and I take pride in my ability to be able to endure it over and over. That stuff is just missing from strictly weightlifting. However, on the flip side – there is a part of weightlifting I love. I love the pressure that comes with it. The “hit or miss” nature of the sport provides an aspect similar to being a relied-upon 3-point shooter that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. I do like that it also seems to provide a bit of a break in random exercise-for-time training which allows my body to recover a bit and train with a single purpose in mind.
The main question I always get when talking about weightlifting meets is if I get nervous. I would be lying if I puffed my chest out and said I’m never nervous and being up on the platform doesn’t bother me at all. The truth is yes, of course I get some kind of nervous before. I think anyone who told you otherwise would be lying. But there is always a calm that comes over me right before I get out there coming from my confidence in how I have been training and the skills I’ve been able to refine. The calm almost allows my physical body to take over and do what it has done a million times, it seems to leave my mind behind – at least the part of my mind that would get in the way. I think that’s the beauty of weightlifting and sport in general. The outside world and everything else around you seems to be non-existent when the moment to perform comes. Nerves are part of any performance and that’s exactly what sport is. Growing up, one of my favorite phrases to exchange with my teammates before we got on the court was “Lights Are On, It’s Time To Perform”. That’s what I’m looking forward to most in Utah. My coaching staff has myself and the rest of my teammates (who are REALLY freaking good if you don’t already know) fully prepared for the heat and pressure we will face out there. All that’s left to do now is perform.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: