(Photo Credit Ed Tseng)
A Rebuttal By a Games Athlete
Apparently, during the extent of the 2015 CrossFit Games and up until now, there has been a lot of discussion about this year's programming being careless, too hard, and life-threatening to the athletes. As I assume Ben Smith, Katrins Davidsdottir, and Rich Froning were all doing, I was trying my best to be in the moment for every workout and recover afterwards for the next day, and so I was out of the loop conversationally about how close to death I must have been and how terrible I must have felt.
Following my last day of competition and up until yesterday, I’ve been out of commission--that is to say, I’ve been surfing and didn't feel like charging my phone. Again, I wasn’t able to keep up to speed on the injuries I would most likely be having to work through and the rhabdo I was having to recover from.
Thankfully, during my plane ride and throughout this morning, I was able to thumb through Instagram and scour a couple blog posts shared on Facebook.
Now that I’m aware of the opinions flying around social media, let's set a few things straight.
The CrossFit Games Is Not For You, It Is For The Fittest
To participate in the CrossFit Open, you must have a certain skill set and work capacity.
To qualify for Regionals, you must be in the topmost tier of your surrounding community.
To qualify for the Games, you must fight three days for one of 40 spots in the world.
Much like the way many on-ramp programs work for CrossFit beginners, these stages of competition act as benchmarks or barriers that athletes must pass before they can move on to the next “level” of fitness.
Blaming poor performances and injuries on the "brutality" of the CrossFit Games workouts is like blaming the weather for your favorite football team losing. The conditions are the same for everyone, and it is how you react to the adversity placed before you that determines your place amongst the rest of your competitors.
You may not be able to see yourself doing a workout like Murph for time and then competing for two more days.
You also probably can’t see yourself throwing the winning touchdown in the Superbowl.
Yet someone has to and does do these things each year. We call them champions.
The CrossFit Games Is Not A Fitness Regimen, It Is A Fitness Test
If you told a good coach who is dedicated to the growth and development of their athletes to only program “girl” or “hero” WODs for their clients, they would call you crazy. The people they train would become beaten down and their strength and skill gains would stagnate, if not deteriorate. Under a training regimen like that, it is impossible to accomplish goals.
Training for the Games personally, a lot of the work programmed for myself and my team was done in the style of EMOMs, couplets and triplets with work-to-rest ratios, and long, not for time pieces working on building skills and strength.
I would guess almost all athletes at the Games train a majority of their season in a similar manner and I know for a fact that programming for the general populace is strategized exactly the same way, albeit with scaled volume and movements.
In my opinion, training like that yields the best results and is the least injurious. It is not complete, however, and cannot be improved upon unless there are tested benchmarks throughout the program that allow a tracking of progress.
For some, that is “Grace” after a six-week conditioning cycle or, for others, 13 workouts spread over 5 days in the blistering heat of Carson, California. It is all very relative to the caliber of athlete and the training put in beforehand.
Yes, We Are Crazy To Do What We Do
I don’t think anyone, athlete or coach, will argue with you and say that competing in the CrossFit Games is easy.
It’s not. It’s also not supposed to be.
Just like climbing Mount Everest has its dangers, uncertainties, and percentage of failed ascents, competing to become the fittest, or really trying to be the best at anything, has its risks.
As athletes, it is the risk that enthralls us, obsesses us, and drives us charging ahead. We do not see limits, only opportunities to achieve greatness that we did not have before.
While in the Athlete Village over the weekend, I overheard a few individuals talking after they had finished Murph. They were not happy with where they had placed in the field but it was their lack of ability that they blamed for their poor rank, not the workout being too hard or the conditions being too harsh.
It is this type of athlete that thrives over the course of a year and during the most competitive weekend of their season. No excuses, no whining or complaining, just a clear understanding of where they excel and where they lack.
To win the CrossFit Games you must know you can do it in your mind and heart long before you take the floor in California.
If you are lucky enough to qualify to compete with the best in the world, and truly need to win, in every workout you must be present and ready to bleed.
This sport is not for everybody and it’s not supposed to be. It is for the fittest, and the fittest are okay with that.
By the way, I know Peter Keller, and he is an asshole.
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August 02, 2015
I met Peter Keller once. I was on vacation on Kawai. It was a cold night and I was camping on the trail. He walked walked in to my life and then was gone. Fucking asshole.