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Mental Health and Anxiety In Sport

Mental Health in Sport

So I just watched the YouTube video from Nile Wilson on his struggles with anxiety and depression and it really resonated with me as it was just the other day I was listening to a podcast with another athlete talking about how they had experienced similar issues. Now Nile Wilson is a far more well known and pressured athlete than the other, but it just shows that struggles in sport can affect everyone no matter what level they are competing at because, I suppose it is relative to their life and those around them, and within the circle they compete in.

I am writing this because it has given me the thought that maybe I should share how I have been feeling the last few years with regards to my training, my journey and where I am now. Yes I have never competed at the Olympics like Nile, or performed at a level quite that high in my respective sport the CrossFit Games, but I can assure you the pressure to try and qualify for that or even to qualify for the CrossFit Regionals when they were about was insane and intense. Yes maybe this was a pressure I was externally putting on myself but once you have qualified once at Regionals you do get people saying “you can do this every year now”, “your amazing”, “your so inspirational”.

I guess what people do not realise or take into consideration is the hours of training, the attention to detail with a diet, the relentless want and will to succeed to not let people down and mostly not wanting to let yourself down and prove to yourself you can do it. I guess every successful athlete  especially those at the top of their game are addicted to what they do, most athletes have a very addictive personality which is why they do so well and as some say their drive for perfection is a  relentless pursuit to achieve. I must also add this is not always the way with all athletes as some manage to follow their journey with feeling no pressure, mental strain or even anxiety but for many it will happen and they will nine times out of ten not acknowledge it or even talk about it.

Whilst I have not suffered to the same degree or severity as others I can 100% say the pressure I put on myself to achieve and prove myself over the last 7 years in CrossFit has not always had a positive affect on my mental state and health. I am someone that is 100% in on something or 100% out that is just how my personality works and I do not like to give up on anything until I’m proved otherwise. I now realise looking back and reflecting that the feelings of going through the motions and just going and training when I did not want to and pushing for one more Regionals and then another not only led to me getting injured and tearing my shoulder but also a mini breakdown during the 2018 qualifiers for Regionals which ended up being my last Regionals, but also the last time I felt like I wanted to compete. In fact I went and stood on that stage not even wanting to be there when I should have felt over the moon to qualify. I even had friends telling me Lucy you did not look like you were enjoying yourself. You should have spoken to us and we could have helped you so you could have gone out and enjoyed it. I guess my mental toughness is greater than my ability to talk and let know people what is going on inside my head.

Why was I feeling like this? I guess because I felt the immense pressure to keep pushing and achieving but also because I did not want to let anyone down most of all myself. The internal pressure I have on myself when I want something is crazy. I also had people supporting me and pushing me that I ignored how I really felt. Which now I can see was a massive mistake. When I was injured I should have taken time out to recover mentally and physically where as I thought diving deeper into training would make it all ok. Sadly not in fact I think it made it worse and led me to the place where I am today.

I have decided to take a break from ‘competing’ I mean I will still go to comps and have fun but I will not actively be training for a comp. I would love to go throw down at a Sanctionals with a team and I will obtain my level of fitness and strength the best I can but it will not be my driving force for training. I want to have fun.

Since deciding this my training has improved and when I train I enjoy it so much more than I did but I have learnt I need to listen to my body and my head. Whilst I feel better my head is also still fried and finds it hard to not fall into the habits of continuing to train how it used to. Multiple sessions a day going through the motions because I thought I had to or it was all I knew because competing and striving to be the best athlete I could be had become part of who I was and actions and habits repeated becomes part of our identity. And then letting go of part of your identity is like loosing a leg or arm if mentally you have that much pressure on yourself to achieve. I truly believe the pressure I felt was from within but I clearly felt I had something to prove and the want to not let people down.

So what now? Well… I have cut back from training to try and help fix the way my brain thinks about training and work on the connection I have with it and emotions. I want to get the fun back not just the habit. What I mean by this is I would always train to make any feeling feel better I would train if I was sad, upset and even just because I felt it was habitual and part of what I needed to do. I guess there was also a tie to well if I don’t train I will not get better I will loose strength, get fat etc I wish I had learnt back then less is more and I probably would have been even better. I guess I was my own worst enemy and probably hindered my performance by being so irrational in my thoughts sometimes.

Have I suffered with anxiety and emotional fixtures and ties towards my sport and training? I guess you could say yes, but that only came from a good place of wanting to succeed. Did it make me a grumpy person who would choose training over her family, partners and doing things with friends and eating out because I wanted an early night and thought it would affect my training and body? Yes, and looking back I can see where I should have relaxed and enjoyed my life more but also I would say I would not change what I have achieved for the World as so many would like to have done what I have done. So with the bad comes good and there comes many lessons which I can learn from and try to use to help others and let them understand that it is ok to feel it is just how we deal with it and talk about it with others.

Life isn’t always how we would want it to be but we can make it how we want by using our experiences and lessons to help us and others grow. My mental strength and determination was at times my downfall as I could never walk away or step away to get perspective and it now still even plays havoc with my head around how much training I should be doing, feeling guilty sometimes if I don’t and should I be eating all the food I do if I am not doing as much as I was. But I am working on these things and making massive progress. I have not done this on my own I have had a true friend by my side to be my sounding board and complete support. I have not sought coaching help but I have taken courses to help learn myself how I can help myself and how I can use this knowledge to help others in the same position as me and this has been a great tool. I am a stubborn person and whilst having someone professional to talk to may have helped I knew it was something I needed to work through on my own in my time when I was ready else it would not have gone the way I wanted.

You may read this and think my word she is being so over dramatic she never had that much pressure on her to do well as it wasn’t the Games she wasn’t going to come top 5 at Regionals and all of those things but it is all relative and like I said the internal pressure I felt and that from those around me was something I found hard. You can take or leave what I have said and you can take your own thoughts away from it but my reasoning for writing this is to say that we can all suffer from inner pressures on ourselves in our lives be it sport, work, family etc and I just wanted to make people aware that it is ok to feel them and that it is ok to talk. Be kind to yourself as you are amazing and whatever you are going through is going to be ok.

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Finite vs Infinite – Who We Really Are vs Who Our Identity Tells Us We Are

“I have won at life!” said no one ever! But some will give it a very good try. These people are classed under the finite game. Those who hate uncertainty, do not like surprises, are driven to win and love to have control. This is a great mindset to have in the world of sport and those who wish to achieve but in the ‘normal’ world, let’s call it ’life’, these individuals do not always do so well. This I must add is through no fault of their own but it is said to be down to their brain not being able to switch off from the finite game and to switch on to the infinite game. The idea of the finite and infinite mindset were developed by Simon Sinek.

The Infinite game refers to those people who have a purpose to continue to work or play in a team game for fun or go to the Olympics with no set place in mind to finish, but just enjoy being there. These people often thrive in life as they can see the opportunity in everything and they are able to make small changes to build to the next and improve. They are open to change and like the element of surprise and taking risks.

In the finite game you tend to be playing alone and for one goal only whereas the infinite game you play as part of a team, can work with others and thrive to help others. Life doesn’t revolve around you and only you so being able to adapt and go between the two is key to make sure you can excel in both areas of your game.

So which are you?

Are you someone who has a special diet and regime?

You don’t like change and try to keep up a routine for as long as you can?

You hate not being in control and you do not like uncertainty or surprise?

Or are you?

Free willed?

Love to learn and start new things?

Open to change and chase uncertainty?

I can easily say which I am!

Now we cannot say either approach to life is bad, it all depends on you as a person, your upbringing and social surroundings, but what we can say is that if you follow the infinite game then maybe there are ways in which you should look to improve how you view life and what helps you to define who you are as a person. This will help you to bring that balance between your infinite game and your finite game and then perhaps you can thrive more in life.

Now I have explained the infinite game and finite game I will get onto what I really wanted to write this blog about.

How can you go from being in the finite game and switching that off to then enjoy your life and be you and enjoy the infinite game. I will admit this is something that I have struggled with a lot throughout my whole life especially since I have been a competitive athlete. It’s hard to stop your competitive mind and turn from ‘competition training’ to ‘enjoying training’ but this is something I have been working on a lot recently, hence the topic for this blog.

I have been known in the past to say things like

“No I am not going to play because I know I won’t win”

“What is the point in going to that competition if I am not going to win”

“I am not playing anymore, I’m bored” – when actually I was starting to lose so I quit just so I did not lose.

While these can be seen as really arrogant and grumpy comments they are not meant to be at all. The fact is that I am just not a great loser! In fact I’m a really bad loser so I would rather take myself out of that situation, when really I should be working on it and learning that it is ok to have fun and not win.

This is what leads me to how our identity shapes us and can actually hold us back in some ways. Our identity emerges out of our habits – what we repeatedly do and what we perceive ourselves to be. This does not take into account how others perceive us or how we believe they do. If I’m honest, this idea of how others perceive me or believe I should be a certain way, is something I have struggled to let go of and think to myself, well yes, I can be that person, but that does not need to be me all of the time.

The more we reinforce our identity through our perceived expectations or beliefs the more we ‘act’, ‘believe’ and ‘feel’ this way. While this can be great when you step on a competition floor, in real life this does not help because, as we mentioned before, you cannot win life.

Summed up “Your identity is literally your ‘repeated beingness’” – Atomic Habits – James Clear

So how do we get out of this back and forth thinking or even not being able to change your mindset from being that competitive person or living up to the thoughts and ways you think people think you should.

Firstly, you must look deep inside and find who you really are! Sounds deep I know but by this I mean, I am Lucy and I love to keep fit and stay healthy and I always want to do this but I can enjoy it as well as being competitive when I want to be and for fun.

Secondly, I must ask myself who I want to be and why do I do this? Do I want to be that competitive person in every aspect of my life? If I answered ‘yes’ and continued to be the infinite game individual then that would be fine if I was happy to have a very restricted life with great control over every small detail of it. But if I answered ‘no’ then I would need to find ways to take myself away from the areas of control and training when I was not in that situation. Learn to be me and relax outside of the gym. Learn to love the process and enjoy training. Yes, you can still compete when you want to but perhaps with the different idea of going to have fun and take part rather than saying you are not going to go unless you win.

Thirdly, you can still have pride in what you do and what you achieve and who you are but you realise that it does no longer consume you and that you can also have pride in yourself as an individual who is not an athlete.

I have spoken to many friends in the same industry as me and the idea of being able to switch yourself from ‘one person to another’ can be difficult. Switching the brain from your finite game to your infinite game can be even more challenging.

I have always feared what people thought of me once I was not competing as much anymore (I have never been an Olympic athlete and I am not trying to say I have but I have achieved some great things) I have always been told “Lucy you are superwoman and we all look up to you and love watching you compete you cannot ,stop” this is amazing and I love to hear that I can inspire others to be fit, healthy and strong, especially women, but what I have come to realise is that I can still do this whilst being a little more relaxed and learning to enjoy my life as well. In fact I may even find I excel.

These changes have not been easy and I can say the biggest and hardest change has been in my mind and I still battle with it some days but it is a work in progress.

My challenge now is to learn even more so that I do not need to ‘win at life’ but I need to ‘enjoy it more’

Let’s see how this goes.

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Ka tu te ihiihi – Stand Fearless

This can be a very hard thought to get your head around and I am not sure if any individual really ever will. There are times I know I have definitely thought ok I am there and I stand fearless in my life and what it can bring to me but as soon as I get to this place something comes along and pulls me back a step or two. Whilst this can be frustrating I don’t believe that it is a bad thing. It helps me to stay grounded and it helps me to appreciate my life and the World around me. I have learnt that I must embrace the challenges, work on them and build the courage to keep pushing through and use these hurdles as building blocks to a better me and life. But how have I got to this point of being able to use these occasional negatives as positives?

Well, if we are to break this concept/idea down we can discuss a few different points that I think are most important in helping us become fearless and learn how to attack the World in a way we can learn from hurdles, build our mental strength and move forward.

Learning from hurdles is probably one of the hardest things I have had to learn to do. I would say I’m a mentally strong person but we can all have our times of weakness and they tend to come on much stronger when you are having a moment of weakness. So what have I learnt to do?

The biggest thing I was ever told was to only try and control the things I can control as the rest is out of my hands. This I found wayyyyy to difficult. I am not a controlling person but I do like to be in control – if that can make any sense at all. I find it very difficult not to chase something or try and mend things, so learning to sit back and let things roll that I could not control, that may take place or may not take place was almost torture at times.

Hurdles created a place of great unknown, and for me they really pushed my mind to try and tackle its inner thoughts in ways I had not had to before. I would say it was not necessarily the hurdle I found hard it was battling with my inner thoughts on how I wanted to situation to turn out that was more the issue sometimes. But what I have learnt through all of this is that a hurdle is a place to learn, take in your thoughts, shuffle through them and not to make any rash decisions. Hurdles are a place of learning and a place of growing yourself, your mind and body. When you can learn to come out of the other side then the growth you have been through is one that can not be replicated in any other way.

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Mental strength is always a tough area to discuss because people still find it a taboo subject. Whilst it can be a topic people do not like to talk about I think it is so important to address how we are feeling and what is going on in our minds. For many years of my life I shut my mind off and only kept my feelings inside. This I now know was not the best thing to do.

Our minds are very clever things and they are so complex. We can be told one thing one moment and another the next. This creates a whirl wind of emotions and feelings within ourselves. If these feelings are not discussed or let out then they can become even more encompassing, confusing and detrimental to our mind and health. When we are trying to decipher how we are feeling I think it’s important to look at three things; reality, pressure and feelings.

Reality looks at how we are feeling and how it fits into our everyday life. If there is something external that is making us think the way we are. Have we seen or heard something else that has made us think that the way our life is doesn’t fit up to how it should be. Is it the sunshine and rainbows we see on the TV or the ‘perfect’ life our friends say they have. I’m sorry but this for sure is not going to be the full story.

Pressure, are there external pressures being put onto us to do a certain thing, live a certain way or abide by rules because that’s just how it is and right now we don’t have any other choice?

Feelings, this is by far the most complex and probably one thing I will never and I don’t think anyone will ever be able to fully understand. Like I said before our minds are very complex things and we can look inside our head as much as we like to try and figure out how we are feeling but the thoughts we are feeling are almost impossible to sift through and figure out if we are not talking. The process of talking or even writing things down allows our brain to discuss through and file away parts of our thoughts. It’s almost a way of rationalising things to ourselves.

Of all of the three above I do not believe there is any one that is more important than the other. In order to be able to move forward and look at being able to attack our lives and overcome hurdles and stand fearless I think we have to address all areas and work with an open mind.

Life is one very confusing ride and one we all have to take ‘alone’ whilst being with family, partners and friends. By ‘alone’ I mean we all have our own heads, minds and bodies and ultimately that is where we live. We have people beside us but we truly live for ourselves.

My biggest lesson and I guess what I have been trying to say through my ramble is that to be able to stand fearless we have to work on ourselves, our minds and how we are able to process and look deep within.

Standing fearless is ultimately the place of growth and building.

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Act of God!

What would you say if I suggested that this Coronavirus pandemic was an act of GOD? Yes, I can imagine you are going to say I am crazy as he is supposed to love us and protect us from the unimaginable but what if, let’s just say, what if he was actually trying to protect his own home, the World, the only place he has to live and the only place he has to put us and protect us in – which we have slowly be destroying over the past few hundred years. Let’s just think about it in that way.

Maybe he is indeed looking out for us like he always has but we have not been listening, so he finally had to make an impact and a judgement call to make us all stop and listen, and put us at a standstill to wake up and realise.

We can look at it from another angle; how would you like it if someone was to come along and disrespected your home, would you like that? I’m guessing not, so then it could be argued why should he look out for us.

  • We have been ruining the planet through pollution for hundreds of years
  • We terrorise each other and cannot seem to find a neutral ground or peace to live in
  • We do not care for each other, people have become far too materialist and selfish
  • People do not respect their elders
  • Many of us live a carefree life not thinking about how our behavior can affect others and the place we live.
world

Photo by Saketh Garuda on Unsplash

So let’s take a step back and think perhaps we are being taught a lesson. A lesson in love and how to care not only for one another but also for our planet and ourselves. How to become less selfish and materialist. How to reduce our pollution and take care of the only place we have to live and have love for each other and find peace in the World we live in.

Maybe we are being shown to appreciate the things we take for granted every day such as gyms, shops, salons, pubs, bars, coffee shops. Being able to go outside and live our lives freely. Maybe we are being taught that we need to come away from our fast-paced lives where we just work and go about our day caring only for ourselves. Maybe we need to rebuild those relationships with our family, our gfs/bfs, wives/husbands, kids and maybe we need to switch off our virtual World and come back to reality.

Life has changed so much over the last few years and maybe it is feared we are becoming very complacent and uncaring for the real World around us. Maybe we need to wake up, look in the mirror or even the sky outside and think ‘what a day it is to be alive’ don’t take any breath for granted and re-build those relationship we are slowly losing. Maybe it’s time we take some time to think, act and move forward holding each other’s hands and reaching for those from above.

Guys it’s time to make a change because if we do not respect this World and what it is trying to tell us then we really are in more of a predicament than we think.

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Then and Now!

It wasn’t too long ago that I was sat in the same shoes as many of you; I was very skinny and admired the figures of the skinny girls I saw in magazines wondering what it was I could do to look like them. In my quest to have the ‘perfect’ body I also became very unhappy and realised that being the tiny girl I admired to be like wasn’t actually as fun as I had thought it would be.

I was always feeling weak and lethargic and my body wasn’t functioning efficiently. My hormones were imbalanced leading to added stresses being placed upon my body. It was when I had my body fat percentage taken and it came out at about 10% that I realised I needed to make changes as I was far from within the healthy body fat range for a women (25-30%) – even a fit athlete (14-20%).

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Everything I was always told would work wasn’t so I was stumped and struggling to find answers. It was at this point I realised I needed to make changes in my life. I decided to start fresh and follow my dreams I quit my job and enrolled on a personal training course and I discovered CrossFit – this was the best life decision I have ever made. It took guts and I was not sure if it was the right decision but I knew if I set my mind to it I could achieve anything.

Many people think that CrossFit is not able to help people put on weight and gain muscle mass – due to the ‘high’ amount of cardio involved, but I can assure you they are completely wrong. In the 2 and a bit years I have been training CrossFit I have gained muscle mass and have become a very successful athlete.

My journey with CrossFit started two and a bit years ago when I discovered a box just down the road from me. I remember walking in really nervous not knowing what to expect. I quickly jumped in on a workout and fell in love… granted I couldn’t lift a 7 kg barbell above my head but I could smash the running and any bodyweight movements. I remember meeting the coaches and thinking to myself how on earth will I ever be as good as them or look as muscly as them… Little did I know that soon I would be.

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There are so many memories that stick in my head from when I first walked into my first CrosssFit Box – the smell was different to any other gym it was more rustic- it wasn’t sparkling clean and there were no machines. CrossFit is also know for the shear community spirit about each box. How every member cheered on each other to progress and complete each workout – this was an atmosphere I had never experienced before and one I knew I wanted to be apart of.

Becoming the person I am today was not an easy journey and I have had many battles along the way. But I can honestly say the last two years have been the best years of my life with so many highs and lows

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How powerful is your mind?

Over the past year I have come to realise there is a lot more to being a successful athlete and competing at a high level than I first thought! You have to have dedication, be willing to make a ton of sacrifices but most importantly have belief in yourself and a very strong mind as at the top there is no room for questioning yourself.

Before you can work on your mind you must know what your goals, dreams and ambitions are? Are they aligned in your head and do you know how important they really are to you and how much you want to achieve them? To perform at the top you have to have the mind-set of a winner, a champion. You must work hard, repeat things and just have the will to never give up.

I have always been a pretty independent person so I do not require someone to babysit me all the time and tell me I am doing well in my training. I am also fortunate in being so strong willed that I do not need someone to hold my hand and push me to train, I train because I enjoy it and I want to do it. What is the point otherwise? I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I do if I didn’t enjoy it.

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Don’t get me wrong I do love training and competing with people and most days I do I was merely saying you can’t always rely on others to pull you along, there has to be a part of you that really wants it and will drive forward to reach it.

When training every day I am not worried about what my competition may be doing or not doing. I trust in the programme I am given by Steve Fawcett (JST Compete) and know he will prepare me in the best possible way.

“Success is a peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are cable of becoming” (pg 283 The Champions Mind – Jim Afremow)

champions mind

This is one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books, as it sums up my training each and every day. If I can become one little bit better each time I train then I am becoming the best of what I can be and I am improving. And if I am improving I am able to enjoy my training more I am able to relax more and sleep better. Perfect all round.

I believe there are three main features to remaining strong mentally; the way you view your training, the way you view and talk to yourself and how you view what you want to happen in the future.

You should never put yourself down when you have a bad days training use what has happened as a lesson to help build you up and help you not to make the same mistakes again. Never worry about what will happen tomorrow or next week. Did you achieve today what you set out to achieve, yes? Well amazing if not then ask yourself, why did it not happen? And how can I improve next time?

But most importantly never speak to yourself with negative language “I can’t”, “That will never happen” etc. Words are very powerful and they will stick with you throughout the day and days to come. Always be positive and say “I will”, “I will try”. Always do you best and speak highly of yourself whilst remaining humble and you cannot go wrong.

Failing is not a bad thing use the frustration you feel from the session to help build you up as a stronger athlete. Learn from it, these are the valuable life lessons you need to hold onto.

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The biggest thing I believe is learning to be able to detach yourself from what is out of your control. A successful athlete must be able to deal and know how to cope with adversity. Things will not always go your way but you must be able to carry on without letting it ruin your mind set. This is not always easy but a very good skill to learn.

I will leave you with a final thought. Something I always think back to when I am struggling (because we all do we are all human).

“My mind is renewed by the word of God, therefore I forbid thoughts of defeat or failure to inhabit my mind. Fear is false evidence appearing real and is the opposite of faith. Not faith in yourself but faith in God that he has your back” Romans 12:2

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The power of a COACH!

I never realised how beneficial it was to have a coach for training and my nutrition until I started working alongside some of the best within CrossFit. Up until the last 6 months I was a self – taught CrossFitter with a little input here and there from my friends and training buddies.

Being a coach is not always easy and being taught by a coach is also not easy. Firstly, you need to find someone you have a connection with and someone who can understand the way your mind works and how you train and refuel.

Having a connection between coach and athlete is far more important than the coach just being able to look at the athlete’s lifts and help them with their Fran time. Ideally your coach should understand how to push you, motivate you and know how you are feeling without having to ask you.

This works the same for a nutritionist, they should be able to adapt your diet to fit around yourtraining  times and nutritional needs.

The best coaches can see if you are struggling in a workout, training or even mentally. They will know when to ease up on your training and know when to push you harder without breaking you.

As a coach the biggest thing you must be able to do is workout when your athlete is working hard enough and adjust accordingly, and even make it harder if they are not.

As an athlete you should always do as you are told and trust your coach – they always know best!

You need to know that they will push you at the right times, help you peak just before a competition and know when you need down time. You also need to know that their programming, be it training or food, is going to help you improve and recover to be the best you can be.

As an athlete I need to know that my coach has my back and I would never work with anyone who doesn’t because I can’t take that risk. Having trust in a person is not always easy but when you find someone you can trust in then you know you are on to a winner. You can then trust into your coach to help nurture you into the athlete you have always wanted to be.

Coach 1

Secondly, a coach must be able to realise that every athlete is different; one athlete may not respond to the same queues as another or may not respond to the same amount of volume of training. Similarly one athlete may not reapond to the same diet plan as another!

Being able to adapt accordingly is key as every athlete’s brain and body ticks in a different way.

I have come to realise that the best coaches are not always those who go shouting and screaming about it, they are the ones that are always researching finding new ways to do things and working out how they can make this work better for their athlete.

The best coaches listen. This is most important and how you gain your athlete’s trust. They listen to what you fear and what you are finding hard and they find a way around it.

The best coaches are also very careful about the way they say things as what you say as a coach will resonate in an athlete’s mind all day every day.

If a coach says “That snatch was amazing” the athlete will be buzzing for days.

If the coach says “That snatch was rubbish” the athlete will go away feeling disheartened.

Always pick your words carefully.

Finally, coaching isn’t always about all the hours in the gym, all the lifts you have completed and the met cons you have done. Coaching continues outside the gym and after training sessions have finished.

The best coaches will check in with you on how you are feeling, how your mood is, if you are hungry or what you are thinking. Even talking over each training session, what you both thought went well or didn’t go well.

If you have multiple coaches for nutrition, training or gymnastics then they will also all communicate to make sure all of your plans fit with each other.

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The biggest thing for me as an athlete working with my coaches is the huge impact they have on my training and my life in general. I am not sure if they really understand how much, but I know I could talk to them at any time and they would be there for me. I think one thing maybe coaches don’t always realise is how much they impact an athlete’s life and how much an athlete trusts the words they say, be it an everyday athlete getting fit or a competitive athlete at the top of their game.

A coach is one of the most influential people in any athlete’s life

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Rookie at Regionals

It’s all starting to get a bit real now… I’ve checked in at the airport and I’m awaiting my flight! It’s hard to explain how it feels. I am not nervous just very excited but I’m sure if you ask me the same question on Friday morning as I’m about to lift my first barbell I may tell you something very different.

The key thing for me to remember this year going to Meridian Regionals as a rookie individual is to enjoy the experience and have fun! Obviously work as hard as I can but just learn from everything and use it to help me grow as an athlete ready to smash it up even more next year!

Having been to regionals last year as part of a team I feel I have a good understanding of what it is going to be like, how the competition runs and what to expect but I know this year as an individual it will be different but at least I’m not going in blind!

I am so excited to feel the pumping of my heart, the adrenalin rushing around my body and the sheer buzz you feel as the crowd shout and scream during the workouts! It’s a feeling no one can even begin to explain, it just has to be experienced!

I feel so honoured to be a part of this experience and to be able to workout amongst some of the best athletes in the world; I really could not be more thankful. Hard work and grit really does pay off!

The best and most amazing this is to know that every athlete throwing down alongside me on the competition floor has worked just as hard as me in training all year to earn their spot and when a WOD is in full swing it’s a very beautiful moment of very determined individuals putting themselves through something not many people can do to prove they are the fittest in the Meridian Region.

However much we all get on as friends away from the competition floor, as soon as “3, 2, 1, GO” is said, everyone’s inner competitive edge comes out and it becomes a competition of who can stay in the darkest place the longest or who can push through it the quickest!

The competition floor becomes a battle ground of individuals all breathing hard with racing hearts fighting for the same goal! The only question is who will come out on top!

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Rookie at Regionals -Part 2

Regionals – Day 1

I hadn’t been too nervous up to this point, I have competed in quite a few competitions now, so I was just trying to think of this as just another WOD. There was no need to get worked up about it, I had done my preparation and couldn’t do anymore until I got in the arena. I knew my strengths, my weaknesses and had an idea of what I needed to aim for in each heat.

After finding out I kept a few house members awake with my snoring, I figured I had managed to get a pretty good night’s sleep! I kept to my usual morning routine and made my favourite green Buffbox porridge. Following breakfast, I went for a 10 minute walk to help wake up and get my body moving. Jasmine joined me and, despite the steep hills surrounding the Buffbox house, we managed a quick catch up before heading back to get ready for the crazy day ahead.

We left the Buffbox house in good time to get to the arena for registration. We wanted to make sure we didn’t lose our way driving from the depths of the Spanish hills into Madrid! Coffee was first on the agenda when we arrived, before signing in and picking up my food for the day from Buffbox. Remembering to keep my diet consistent, with enough time before and in between workouts is very important, especially on days of competition when you need to make sure your energy levels stay high.

The first WOD of the day was the snatch ladder. Although I was trying to keep my calm to the people around me, inside I was nervous. Really nervous. Not for the WOD itself, but because I knew I had to hit the minimum requirement if I wanted to go further in the competition. I felt anxious not knowing if I would even clear the first hurdle.

I managed to get four reps in the warm up at the starting weight. I knew this was never going to be the WOD for me, but I had to just try my best and get that one rep.

In these situations it is all about setting yourself realistic targets. If you set the bar too high you will never achieve or reach your targets. I knew the first weight was near my max, so it was unrealistic to think I was going to get far down the ladder. One rep minimum was my aim. And I did it. It’s all about making it relevant to you and your abilities.

I was looking forward to the second WOD. It looked fun and I did ok when I tried it in training. The kettle bell snatch was easy, the handstand push ups were ok, but the strict muscle ups slowed me down. Judging was really strict making it easy to no rep.

When you get into that dark place you have to stay calm. It is easy to get frustrated when there is one thing holding you back, but you have to stay focused and concentrate on getting that next rep. That aside, I still really enjoyed it.

I spent the evening chilling out back at the Buffbox house. Everyone got involved with sorting the athlete packs ready for the following day, nothing like a bit of team bonding over food prep!

Regionals – Day 2

The next morning I felt fresh. The WODs were a lot more suited to me so I was excited to get started. I knew it would be tough but the movements were good so I wasn’t too worried.

The first WOD was good fun, but it was hot and muggy out there. I had a good warm up with John from JST, making sure I hit max effort before heading out onto the floor. The WOD started well, but going from the wall balls to pistols was tough and I still felt tired from the first WOD. I was 5 or 6 reps off finishing, which I was really pleased with. I could be really critical and be annoyed that I was so close to finishing, but with this whole competition I am putting everything down to experience.

I was comfortable with the movements in the second WOD. I warmed up fine, but then when I got in there the deadlifts felt so heavy! Coming off the trueform and ghd drains your legs going into the deadlifts. I still did ok though. I completed 3 1/2 rounds which is what my plan was. Again, I have to make sure I stay focused on what my own targets are and not get caught up in what is unachievable this time around.

I was a bit gutted that I didn’t finish the last WOD, but being here is an experience in itself. I feel grateful to have even got to this point, I need to remember this and not lose sight of what I came here to achieve.

With the second day of competition done it was time to rest up, feed up and get ready to smash the last day. I had a 45minute massage to help with my recovery and prep for the final day. The WODs were intense, heavy and close together which left me feeling absolutely knackered by the end of the day!

I have really enjoyed being in the Buffbox house for the weekend. It makes a big difference when you are surrounded by positive, supportive people. Being based 25 miles out the city also had its benefits.

It was so peaceful and the perfect environment to switch off and unwind. It gave me time to reflect on the weekend so far. I have had the opportunity to share the floor with some of the best Crossfit athletes in the world, which is so humbling and almost difficult to believe. I stand in awe of the people that surround me in the warm up area, and it reminds me of the incredible journey Crossfit has given me.

One of the best things about the weekend has been receiving messages from my family at home, who have never really understood what I do or what Crossfit is about. They have all been following the videos and social media, and telling me I’m smashing it! Also, I have to mention my amazing support team in the crowd. Cheering me on through every workout! It is this amazing support from both at home and in Madrid that is driving me forwards. I don’t want to let anyone down.

Bring on the final day!

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Rookie at Regionals – Part 3

Regionals – Day 3

Today started with a 16 minute chipper workout! It had some really good movements for me but unfortunately, due to the tendinitis in my thumb and wrist, the OHS which usually wouldn’t be a problem for me caused enormous pain slowing me down considerably! This was very irritating! But hey, what can you do. I can almost guarantee every athlete on the competition floor was suffering from at least one niggle!

The second workout today, and final workout of the weekend, was a fast 21-15-9 thruster and 3-2-1 legless rope climbs combo. Blink and you missed it! I outdid my expectations in this workout which was amazing to finish on a bang. The ropes were shorter than I had practiced on. Bonus! And the weight felt easy on the thrusters.

A perfect way to end the weekend!

Walking onto the competition floor for the last time was very emotional. Although I was glad for it to all be over so I could relax, I miss the adrenalin rush and the sheer fun of being able to workout alongside a whole bunch of amazing athletes! This weekend has just reminded me why I love to compete and why I keep pushing myself to the next level.

What a journey I have had this weekend! It truly has been amazing and I really can’t explain in words how I feel to have completed my first ever Meridian CrossFit Regionals as an individual.

I finished 35th overall which I cannot be disappointed with! I would love to have come slightly higher, but I have to remember that I came with no expectations and I didn’t expect to be at regionals as an individual this year! That was my aim for next year so I’m currently a year ahead of schedule!

It hasn’t been an easy road, but I appreciated and soaked up every minute. I feel so honoured to have competed and performed in such a tough competition alongside such incredible athletes.

There were many ups and downs, but I have learnt a great deal about myself and what I need to work on for next year.

Now I’m off to enjoy my few days left in Madrid