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!
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.
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.
Many young people now believe that to be successful and popular we must look a certain way, for example, have long blonde hair, a 20” waist and have strapping long legs, or be tall, dark and handsome. But is this really the case or has the media and the world around us messed with our heads and how we think?
With this in mind it is no wonder why some people, girls especially, begin to feel inadequate and have little body self-acceptance. This is why it has now been suggested that to be able to totally embrace our bodies we must look far deeper than just being able to accept just how we look.
When speaking to clients, friends and family, and exploring why people want to change how they look, the most frequent responses are “so I can feel more confident”, “so I will look good naked and in clothes and in my bikini on holiday” and most alarmingly “because I want to look like…”
First and foremost, what many do not realise is that they will probably never look like whoever they are trying to look like… and why is this? Because their genetics are not exactly the same as that person’s. Therefore, having this idea is completely unreasonable and unattainable.
So what does this mean? Basically, what I am trying to say is that you should feel confident in the skin you have and never compare yourself to others. Yes, I realise this is easier said than done but until you are able to accept yourself for who you are and love your body for what it is then you are stuck in the mud.
How can you love your body if that is your limiting factor?
This is where we start to delve deeper into the underlying reasons for such body dysmorphia. Has our body-esteem been muddled up and mixed up with our self-esteem? Has the way we feel about ourselves, life and situations been muddled with how we feel about our body and how we perceive ourselves?
When we experience feelings of stress, anger and fear are these feelings being transferred into the way we feel about our body, even though they have to do with how we look?
This can happen because our self-esteem has been knocked and therefore this transfers onto our body-esteem.
It is easy to place blame onto something else rather than try to address the real reasons for the lack in self-esteem as issues such as depression and stress are not always easy to cope with. However, there will become a point when these deep underlying issues will need to be combated or else you will run the risk of never being able to love who you really are and how you look.
It wasn’t until I delved deeper into my own head and feelings that I managed to discover the underlying reasons why I always struggled with how I looked and my weight. Changing my train of thought has not been easy but realising and looking past what I thought I should look like and what others might think of me has helped me to truly embrace how I looked and use it to my advantage in becoming a top CrossFit athlete. It was at this point that I felt I was able finally to let go of all of my negative thoughts and push forward.
What really helped me to come to this realisation was setting myself a goal, something small like being able to get one pull-up or being able to complete one length of a 60 metre pool front crawl. Not only did this really help to distract me from always analysing how I looked but it also helped me to realise that it didn’t matter how I looked if I was able to achieve what I set out to achieve.
One of the biggest things I have realised, in CrossFit especially, is that no one girl looks the same and that no matter how you look all the girls are amazing at what they do. Some have ripping abs and others are curvier but not one girl looks ugly or can’t compete.
So the point I’m trying to make is that no matter how you look you should embrace it because you are beautiful no matter what, and next time you are having negative thoughts about how you look have a little think about is it really to do with how I look or have I got my self-esteem jumbled with my body-esteem? Don’t let your fear of being judged keep you from being happy.
Successful people get asked all the time who is their biggest influence or who do they admire/aspire to be like and why? A few will answer with another well know athlete but I can almost guarantee every single one of them will also have someone closer to home that influenced their life way more than any successful athlete they could look up to ever could.
The definition of inspirational is said to be something or someone who is uplifting and motivates people to bring out the best in themselves. And inspirational is for one to lead as an example to encourage others to follow.
The question I am asking is… does the person you admire need to be a top athlete or can they be someone who has stumbled and fallen many times yet always manages to pick themselves up and carry on using their fall to help them grow. The person who inspires you may never be the top of their game or be “famous” in their chosen field but does that really matter?
In my eyes…. NO! a person who inspires me is someone who always works hard, be it in sport of just in life. They can fall a million times and have suffered through life but as long as they are doing the best they can and they achieve their goal be it a small competition or reaching top of the podium they have inspired me to want to be as dedicated and as disciplined as them.
I defiantly have a few very good friends that inspire me daily through their sheer hard work, determination and will to drive forward and never give up – although they may not know it. I really have to thank them as they keep me grounded everyday supporting me and helping me to remember I can achieve my dreams.
Alongside those who are around me every day I have to say the biggest influence in my life had to be my Grampy. I’m sorry to disappoint and not mention some famous CrossFitter but that’s just how it is.
Have you ever had that one person in your life that literally meant the world to you and you admired so much for everything they did. Their strength, their courage and their determination. Well yes my Grampy he was them all. I had a special bond with him and I can’t explain how but he was always there on the end of his phone checking on my training wanting to watch videos of what I was up to and so very proud of me when I won a competition.
I remember when I showed him my powerlifting trophies I won when I took the BPO 60kg World Records, he just burst into tears. My deepest regret was that he was never well enough to come in person and watch me compete, but it was ok we took my competing to him, all be it by phone or computer.
Grampy never had the chances like I have had to train and compete but I can guarantee if he had he would have been very successful and I always wished I could have taken him for one workout in CrossFit because I know in his brighter days he would of absolutely loved it.
My point being your biggest influence doesn’t need to be someone who has been incredibly successful but someone who you believe has affected your life in a way not many others can. They could be a family member, friend or even someone you know from the gym but they have supported you and encouraged you to work harder and believe in yourself. It is always good to have ‘famous’ athletes to look up to but I also believe having someone closer to home is also very important.
Whilst thinking who is your biggest influence have you ever considered that you may be an influence to someone else or even multiple people. Now there is a thought.
I will leave you with one last thought.
My Grampy was one of the strongest and most determined people I have ever met and through him I believe I had gained my strength, determination and drive to never give up because I have seen how you can use obstacles to make you stronger. My Grampy never feared a hard day’s work and was never one to complain even on his last few days whilst suffering never once did I hear him complain. A true hero in my eyes.
Latin phrase ‘sacrifice’ meant the ‘act of giving up one thing for another’. The word sacrifice can be used within many contexts but the context in which I’ll be discussing it is what sacrifices are you willing to make to be the best and achieve the dreams you want to achieve.
I often get asked about the sacrifices I make each day in order to achieve and live my life the way I do; but what prompted me to write this blog was a conversation I had with my mum. It went a little like this…..
Mum….. I’ll see you when I get back from my late shift, Lucy
Me…. No you probably won’t mum I’ll be in bed
Mum….. at 8.30 pm Lucy
Me….. Yes mum I’ll be winding down I am training in the morning
Mum….. Lucy, are all these sacrifices you make really worth it? I’m sure you go to bed earlier than anyone else we know
When I was talking to my mum there was no hesitation in my answer of whether my sacrifices were worth the outcome that they may have. My answer to anyone would always be the same 100% yes.
‘Are your sacrifices really worth it’
‘You may never achieve your dreams’
‘You might regret it one day’
For me going to bed an hour early, not going on a night out or even skipping a dirty takeaway are not sacrifices they are just part of life. For me every ‘sacrifice’ as some people may see it is no sacrifice to me rather a decision I make because I want to achieve and my will to achieve far outweighs one night on the piss or an extra hour up watching crap TV.
For some this may make me seem boring and not like everyone else but personally I would not change what I do and how I live my life for anything.
I make sacrifices everyday but they are because I WANT to make them this is why I achieve. Never will I regret any sacrifice I have made and I sure will achieve because I will make sure of it!
The only regret I would ever have is not making the sacrifices and taking the chances I am given. Who knows when the day will come and I can’t for some reason do what I love doing! So for the time I can I sure as hell will do all I can.
Many people get too caught up in what others think of them and how they live their life but I always remember that most of those people are usually just jealous because you may have a life they wish they could lead.
The moral of the blog is to understand that each day many of us make decisions and sacrifices to help us try to achieve our goals and dreams but always just remember they have to be because you want to make them! Don’t ever worry about what everyone else is saying or doing.
Remember never let the opinions of others stop you!
And always remember
What are you willing to sacrifice to get to where you want to be?
Every athlete who works and trains hard will have bad days where we stumble and we have to find a way to pick ourselves up and move forward! But how you do this is very individual to each person!
Some can stand up, use what happened as a learning experience and carry on but for some it is not this easy and excuses start to appear for reassurance and emotional reasons!
Stumbling, falling, bad training days, and even failing, is not a bad thing and it happens to all of us a lot more than we would like! But how we deal with it is key!
For me, I find it hard when I fall/fail at something or have a bad day training but the biggest thing I have learnt is to think about it at the time, find out what went wrong and then learn from it and leave it behind at the gym!
Days when I would take my training dramas home with me just led to me being in a massive sulk for the rest of the day which is not pleasant for anyone – trust me!
Leaving it all at the gym is not my way of ignoring what has happened but me realising that it does no good to dwell on something or to make excuses for it! Yes, I may have trained a lot before it, I wasn’t feeling strong, I had had a busy day working but who knows what you will have done before hand in a competition and it is likely that there are many people out there who exactly the same as you.
Too many times I see athletes posting on social media, here is my last set of muscle ups excuse, the bad technique I had done this this and this before. Today’s training was bad because I didn’t hit my max lift today; where has my strength gone?
Writing excuses and negative comments on social media leaves a lasting negative thought in your head around your day’s training and makes you believe it was OK to do badly. Yes it is OK not to max lift everyday or have a bad gymnastics session but you should not need to make excuses for it! If you did your best that is all you could do that day!
Every training session for me gets my full effort, even if it is just for that day! No one is going to feel 100% everyday, so as long as you give all you can each session then you are improving and doing your best!
Never beat yourself up for having a bad day! Embrace what you have managed to do and realise how lucky you are to be able to do it!
Negative thoughts leaving the gym leave lasting negative thoughts around an exercise or lift so never leave feeling that you didn’t do your best.
There are many arguments around the topic of over training and not improving in CrossFit! Will too much training hinder your growth and strength and does quality of training outweigh quantity or is it purely a case of under recovery?
Firstly, let’s look at the argument of will too much training hinder growth and strength gains. Yes, this can appear to be true as muscles, tendons and ligaments do not have enough time to recover and grow if they are trained too intensely too often with little recovery time in between. Muscle growth is stunted as muscle fibers that you may have gained during your strength cycle/session cannot be used fully anymore as they have become prematurely fatigued while other assisting muscles are pulled in to help!
This can lead to other detrimental effects such as elevated heart action, heavier breathing and, very noticeably, higher levels of lactic acid build-up. All these additional effects are extremely detrimental to growth and strength training leading to catabolic effects on your muscles.
If you should decide to train through the signs of over training then you will eventually spiral into a downhill roll which may lead to injury and extreme fatigue.
Secondly, we will look at quality of training over quantity! Is less more when it comes to strength? The answer from most appears to be yes! Really focusing on how your muscles are moving and if they are being recruited correctly far outweighs using them and engaging them as quickly as possible and as sloppily as possible. Less reps at a moderate weight with good technique is far more advantageous in helping you correct form and technique than low reps with heavy weight with poor technique. Although there is a place for low reps with heavy weight, but good technique! This comes in time. You need to earn this right.
Lower weight also helps in the long run as risk of injury is also lowered.
If you feel during your strength cycle that there is not enough volume, which I must add should never be the case if you are on a good training programme, then adding in some mobility or corrective exercise work is always a good idea. Mobility and corrective exercises are a must for injury prevention and improving movement patterns which directly link to any movements you do in CrossFit, such as overhead mobility, hip movement during lifts and making sure that your wrists move properly when upside down or in the catch of a clean or snatch.
Lastly, some would argue that if the correct recovery techniques are used between sessions, such as massages, using compex machines, Epsom salt baths, floatation tanks etc alongside nailing your nutrition and supplementation, then no amount of training is too much! This argument again has points for and against but I will leave you to ponder over this! But remember no human being, no matter how good they are, is not indestructible! And maybe have a think about the longevity of your career! Do you want to be a one hit wonder?
Looking at all the arguments above it is clear that there are points for and against and, like most things, everyone is an individual and each person’s exercise tolerance and recovery is going to be different.
If you take anything away from this then I would suggest that, if you take your training seriously, then invest some time and money into a good training and nutrition plan to make sure that you don’t over train or put yourself in a detrimental training position. I’ve been there and trust me it wasn’t nice and I successfully made zero gains! Well that was a wasted strength cycle!!! Don’t let it be you!
One of my favourite books is Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive by Jim Afremow PHD. From this book, I have put together what I believe makes a champion’s mind.
There is no gene that makes someone a champion however someone’s innate traits can lead them to being more successful than someone else. The question many ask is can a champion be made and shaped or are they born a champion, they just need to discover what will make them a champion.
A champion in my eyes is the one who is in the gym when no one else wants to be, outside running in the rain, snow, dark or sweating in an empty gym when no one is watching. They often train on their own because they don’t need someone pushing them to work to their full potential.
You could say that their want to succeed is so bad they have that innate ability to push themselves to breaking point without needing to be told.
So, what makes someone be like the above?
A champion needs great confidence, composure, the ability to concentrate and be coachable – the 4 C’s. I would also say that the athlete needs to want to excel and have the desire to be the best they can be in their chosen sporting field. Their will to succeed needs to overshadow everything else and this tends to come only with a very disciplined individual.
Being disciplined is not always easy and it can mean giving up a lot of the fun things in life for the duration of your competing season, but for those who are truly dedicated and want to succeed, making sacrifices is never too hard a decision to make. I would say that being disciplined and having the will to succeed is one of the traits that is hard to teach or ingrain in an individual – I would suggest that they are born with it, they have an inner want to succeed, dream and desire.
I believe champions that can excel and can be shaped in the gym. A good coach is able to spot an athlete with great potential from a distance. Why is this? Because they themselves often know what it takes and have the innate traits of a champion in them so can easily spot them in another athlete. They can then use this to help shape and push an athlete beyond the potential they thought they had.
‘Winning the day’. A successful athlete must realise that there are going to be days when it is going to feel hard and they are not going to want to get up in the dark and train but that 5 a.m. alarm is what will make them better than anyone else. The days you don’t feel like training are sometimes the best training sessions they can have. Embrace what is hard and grow from it.
Logging your successes is imperative to becoming a champion – remembering the times you succeeded and learning from the times you didn’t. Never is there a failure, just a lesson. A champion must remain positive and proactive in their pursuit of excellence.
The most important point for me is that a champion never compares themselves to others, they merely focus on their own journey and where they are headed. This is imperative and even more so important when you are competing. Focusing on where everyone else is in relation to you is wasting time and energy. This can be crucial and sometimes even cost you the win.
And finally, know yourself, who you are and where you want to be. There is nothing more powerful than being comfortable in your own skin and knowing you are doing everything possible to get where you want to be. But always remember confidence above arrogance – don’t be that person.
A while ago I was shown a YouTube video by Jocko Willink called GOOD. I have sat and watched the video many times and thought about what Jocko says realising that each and everyone of us who is chasing a dream or a goal goes through similar challenges but it is how we deal with those challenges that determines if we prevail in reaching and achieving our goals or not.
I like to think of it as
Are you brave enough to look at a ‘challenge’ as a way to push you forward and attack against or are you willing to let it crumble you. Will that challenge help push you one day closer to your goal because you decided you would work harder and not give up. Are you, one-day tougher and stronger because you didn’t wallow in pity and can you enjoy the grit and the struggle enough to dig deeper chase harder and enjoy that struggle that little bit more to help you prove that ‘challenge’ was just a building block to where you can go.
Think about it!
Unexpected challenges come up in our lives from time to time and this is the same for everyone but not everyone will cope or react in the same way. Some will find the challenges too hard to deal with and they cannot seem to look past them so they don’t carry on and keep moving forward. This is where the champions or those that will achieve are set aside from those who will just never cut it.
Challenges to me should be seen to help you grow, attack harder, learn, build, get better, feel alive, fight harder, never coast and never become complacent.
None of the words or phrases above are new thoughts or feelings but they are thoughts and feelings that need to be used in the correct way to help build a person instead of pushing them down. It takes a certain individual to be able to do this, turning what can be seen as a negative word or phrase to a positive. An individual who is often good at doing this has a growth mind set and is able to see the positive in every situation and use it to help them grown. I guess you could say that the way an individual speaks plays a massive part on how successful they are. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone win who said
“I don’t think I can win this race” or
“I’m feeling really tired today and I can’t be bothered”
If we look back to the YouTube video Jocko says
“When something is going wrong or bad you say ‘good’ …. Some good will come from it”
“It’s more time to get better, to learn, to find a solution”
For me, this sums up everything I am trying to say no ‘challenge’ missed rep or competition is bad it’s ‘Good’ it gave you time to grown, build and learn. A chance to find what went wrong and not let it happen again. A way to learn to control your emotion and help it push you forward. Nothing you want bad enough is going come easy so use the journey to help you, build you and grow and always remember when something ‘bad’ happens say ‘GOOD’, I learned, now let’s show them what I can do.
The best time I like to think of the phase ‘Good’ is when people say
“I would never do that workout, I would give up” Good
“I don’t know how you train on your own, I couldn’t do that” Good
“I am not sure I could be as disciplined as you” Good
Because then I know I’m doing something that other people, or not many other people will do and that will help me towards success.
I have had times when I have achieved my goals but I have also had times when I have ‘met challenges’. The biggest being not getting to the CrossFit Regionals in 2017. Something I had worked hard all year for and given up so much to achieve.
After this I had two choices, either let it set me back and give up training all together. Or I could use it to build me up, get my sh*t together, work hard and fight for it even harder this year!