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If you are reading this article, I’ll bet dollars to donuts you know that Rich Froning won the 2014 CrossFit Games this past weekend. You probably also know that this was Froning’s fourth consecutive win at the Games. But did you know that he couldn’t have done it without his buddy, Jason Khalipa?
No, they don’t train together (they don’t even live in the same time zone) and it doesn’t have anything to do with the rumor that Froning has “What is Khalipa doing today?” on a sign in his training garage.
Froning uses Khalipa as his pace-partner during any events where the two of them compete against each other.
In an interview for CrossFit’s “Behind the Games: 2013”, Froning talked about facing off with Khalipa in the Sprint Chipper (21 medball GHD sit-ups, 15 snatches 165/100, 9 wall burpees for time). Froning walked you through his mindset for this event. He talked about how he knew Khalipa would be his lead competition and how Forning had a strategy to use this to his advantage. Froning said that he busted through the GHDs as quickly as possible and then met Khalipa at the snatch. With his eye on Khalipa, Froning kept pace with him snatch for snatch and, when Khalipa put the bar down, Froning did one more rep before resting his own bar in the grass. When Khalipa picked his bar up, Froning picked his up, knowing he was already a rep ahead of his closest competition and continued this strategy. Every time Khalipa put his bar down, Froning gained one more rep before putting his down as well. After that, Froning knew he just couldn’t let Khalipa pass him on the wall and the event was his.
This year, as in previous years, Froning has had to come from behind to get his win. This means, that when stacked in the heat-shuffle, Froning was not in the top heat of men until Sunday, the last day of competition. This was a clear disadvantage to him in the Clean Speed Ladder. Froning was not in the top heat for this event, and so he had no one to push himself against. He was noticeably dogging his finish and took his time stepping up to the finishing podium. This lack of competition in his heat, cost him the chance to advance to the final portion of this event – the top eight finishers went on to complete an additional clean ladder and Froning, in ninth place by mere seconds, missed out.
But this is why I was able to proclaim, loudly and proudly, that there was NO WAY Froning was going to come in anything but first on the final event of Double Grace. Not only was he going head to head with his buddy Khalipa, he was going to be able to go rep for rep with him. In the last twenty reps of Double Grace, you can actually see Froning look over at Khalipa time and time again, watching and pacing, keeping himself no more than one rep in front of Khalipa. Doing this allowed Froning to move as quickly as he needed to in order to maintain his lead, but not so fast that he would burn out early and allow himself to be overtaken.
Froning isn’t just the Fittest Man on Earth, he is an incredible athletic strategist. Try his theory out the next time you are in the Box. We all have those athletes that we know are our friendly competitors. When you are in a WOD with them, use them as your pace-partner and see if you can Froning your way to a faster WOD time or a few extra reps in the AMRAP. If we can’t lift like Froning, maybe we can at least strategize like the Fittest Man on Earth.
In football it’s the scream-filled, helmet-slap-laden sack dance on a second down play when the team trails by four touchdowns.
In baseball it’s the bat-flipping, chest-beating homerun celebration the lands in seats already emptied by a lopsided score
In basketball it’s the Jordan-esque jump and fist pump after a last second shot that ends the first quarter drawing your team within 8.
Sports are emotional and with that emotion there comes a time and a place for the sack dance, homerun salute, and buzzer-beating celebration. But too often in mainstream sports the celebration trumps the play, the act usurps the game, the individual overshadows the team. Unfortunately our Sports Center attention span reinforces athletes’ shameless acts of self-promotion at the expense of what makes sports great: the games.
But fortunately for us, fans of the Crossfit Games, our athletes are not ruled by egocentrism. Instead they are driven by one of the foundational values of Crossfit: community.
The second event of the 2014 Crossfit Games, the men’s 1 rep max overhead squat, illustrated all that is right with Crossfit. Little known Emmanuel Maldonado earned some of the biggest cheers of the night. The reason? After failing on his first two attempts, Maldonado was able to grit out his final lift of 295… good for 39th place. They weren’t cheering for his weight; they were cheering for his perseverance.
During the second heat, Tommy Hackenbruck and Matt Fraser were going back and forth, each pushing the other to higher weights overhead. After Hackenbruck set the bar with a successful 376-pound overhead, Matt Fraser successfully lifted 377 pounds to win the event. Hackenbruck’s response? An authentic smile and some applause for his opponent.
But maybe the highlight of the event was seeing what happens when an athletes comes face-to-face with failure. After winning the first event, Jordan Troyan failed on all three of his overhead squat attempts. As a result he was the only athlete not to post a score in the event. Once the heat was complete his fellow competitors came over to console him. Why? Because they’ve all been there before…
The cynics will say Crossfit is too new, too young, that it’s still in its infancy. Its athletes haven’t had time to be tainted by greed and shameless self-promotion.
Others will claim that Crossfit’s media machine dupes us; it shields us from what athletes really think and how they really feel.
Still others will say that we’ve drunk the Kool-Aid; we’re blinded from the truth by our cult-like addiction to functional fitness.
To all the naysayers I respond the same way: You must not Crossfit.
Our first interview and it’s a great one. Greg Martino of CrossFit Virtuosity, heading to the 2014 CrossFit Games in a few short weeks. In Part 1 of 2, Greg discusses how he first found CrossFit, his work with Virtuosity founder Keith Wittenstein, and being a part of the CrossFit Level One Seminar Staff.
When I ask you to picture the top 10 male athletes at ACF–I doubt the latest Member of the Month comes to mind. But go ahead, check Wodify and you’ll consistently find Anthony Carroll amongst the top finishers on a daily basis.
He has an unassuming style and humility that’s not typical from a badass fire breather. There’s a popular t-shirt around ACF that states Actions are Greater than Words and that’s exactly what Anthony personfies.
As CrossFitters we strive to eliminate the holes in our game that exist across the 10 modalities of fitness and when it comes to being well rounded Anthony Carroll is one of the best there is at ACF.
Congratulations to Anthony on being the Albany CrossFit Member of the Month.
Why did you start CrossFit?
Don’t jump to a conclusion without careful thought. Sure, the majority of answers are going to be “because I needed to get into better shape”. That’s great, truly it is. But why?
Was a health concern the main reason? Did you have a life changing experience that made you strive for a change? Was it time to set an example for your children? Your niece or nephew? Maybe a parent? Were you looking for a competitive outlet and thought because you saw some shredded dudes and chicks on ESPN doing pull-ups and weird looking front squats with a press that you could do it…?
Whatever it is, it was motivating enough to do maybe the most difficult part, walk in the doors to the unknown. You’re here. You’ve done more than most. You got started.
If you’ve started recently in your CrossFit journey there is a good chance you are still in the honeymoon phase. You’re seeing gains (#gainZ) consistently. You’re setting PR’s almost weekly. A new gymnastics move may be closer and closer to being a staple in your tool kit. You’re excited about coming to the gym to see what you can improve on daily. That’s great. This blog isn’t for you- yet but continue reading.
This blog is more about reminding those who have been transitioning out of the honeymoon into reality. Some frustrations may have started to mount. You’re not setting weekly or maybe even monthly PR’s. Maybe some of our test/retest benchmark WOD’s haven’t seen the improvement we would have liked- maybe the numbers have gotten a little worse even… yikes.
I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. It doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s completely normal. What you need to do is think back to why you originally walked in the doors. Put yourself in the mindset you were when you first started. Something motivated you to do one of the hardest things we can encounter as human beings, start something new.
Maybe you’ve already accomplished the goals you’ve originally set out to conquer. That’s cool, but that’s not what I mean when I say don’t forget why you started. Your task is a bit more challenging. Your task is to find more motivation and you can’t Google search answers like this. You have to sit down, clear yourself of distractions and dig deep into what matter to you. Put a goal in your mind and re-motivate yourself to accomplish it. Whatever it is, I promise you’ll find yourself in a similar mindset from when you started.
So what’s the moral of the story? When people say, “never forget why you started” you may have to dig a little deeper than the original reason. Never forgetting why you started means finding that mindset you were in before walking through the doors at ACF. The goals will change, but the mindset is always the same.