Emily Abbott's Insights Into Training with Lucas Parker, Katrin Davidsdottir, Carleen Matthews, Spencer Hendel and Michele Letendre for the 2016 CrossFit Games

By: Emily Abbott

Emily Abbott Training for the CrossFit Games via the Blonyx Blog

Ahhh CrossFit Games training….

I am sore. My hands hurt. I am exhausted and have multiple whip marks up and down my body from furiously trying to acquire the skill of triple-unders.

Games training is intense and relentless (Good thing I am taking extra Blonyx HMB to help recover). And also, REALLY FUN.

It’s the time of year, where all the monotonous base training is complete and now it's time to peak for the big show. It means getting outside of the gym, working on uncommon skills or situations and, arguably the best part, training with other Games athletes.

Generally, training at the elite level of CrossFit is a solitary endeavour (I am not forgetting the amazing support group I have. By group, I mean village). But the day-to-day training is mostly just me in the back corner of my box trying not to disturb classes. I am sure many other athletes can relate.

Although I do believe it’s crucial to learn how to train alone, it's also important to get outside of your comfort zone—just like the CrossFit creed states—and throw down with other competitors. Even if you get your ass kicked, consistently!

For the last three years leading up to the Games, I have traveled down to Boston—to Reebok Headquarters and Reebok CrossFit One, the CrossFit box of all boxes. It has all the equipment imaginable, excellent coaches and sponsored products (food, drinks, apparel, recovery items). Many qualified Games athletes travel there for a few days, or a few weeks, to do all things fitness.

Together, we throw potential scenarios that could come up at the Games on the whiteboard, and after much joking around, we get to work.

We do classic CrossFit workouts, we swim, we run up hills, we ride bikes… It’s a veritable adult fitness camp. A very intense one.

I really value this trip because I get to hang out with like-minded athletes, who are just as driven and passionate about the sport of fitness as I am. Every athlete I meet teaches me something new about their approach to fitness.

Here are a few things I learned from training with a few athletes at the Reebok training grounds:

Training with the Bearded Wonder Lucas Parker

Lucas Parker CrossFit Games Athlete from Victoria BC via the Bloynx Blog

Lucas Parker—quite possibly the closest embodiment of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (an observation made by Conor Murphy).

You can literally see every rippling muscle on his gingered body.

Why is he like that?

Well, genetics, yes, but I believe that his purposeful warm-ups are the key (and something to marvel at).

While the rest of us will have already completed two or three workouts, Lucas will still be “belly breathing,” or posed on his hands and knees activating whatever muscle group needs activating for his training session (at one point, he looked like an all-knowing Mr. Miyagi with a PVC pipe in one hand posing like he was about to attack).

Lucas might not fit in seven workouts a day, but what he does accomplish is always done to near perfection.

Training with the reigning Fittest Woman on Earth Katrin Davidsdottir

Katrin Davidsdottir img credit: Reebok

Katrin Davidsdottir: I haven’t trained with her much, but the few sessions I did get in with her were pretty insightful.

Much like Parker, she has an intent behind every workout. She doesn’t just hit random workouts. And from watching her, and workout out with her, I noticed that 100% effort is given—every time.

This may not seem all that profound on paper; however, to give EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVERY WOD is outstanding. I know that I sure as hell sandbag on the assault bike, or dialogue my way out of holding onto the barbell, during a painful workout. Katrin does not. At all. Let that ruminate a bit.

 

Training with West regional buddy Carleen Matthews

Carleen Matthews took 1st place at the West Regionals in 2016. Via the Blonyx Blog

Blonyx athlete Carleen Mathews- this gal hustles. She is all about pulling’ up the booty shorts and leaning in.

Carleen strives to get better, and to do everything she can to get there. She is very aware of her weaknesses and is constantly seeking improvement in those areas.

She pushes me to do things I really don’t want to do (like a D-ball and burpee chest-to-bar WOD…ugghh). And she inspires me to demand a little bit more from my body. I have also never met anybody who loves her dog so much—Mr.Squirt.

Training with Veteran Spencer Hendel

Spencer Hendel, CrossFit Games Athlete img sourced via CrossFit Games

Spencer Hendel- the last “random” CrossFitter.

I don’t know much about the guy, but when he walks into the gym a palpable serenity descends upon the group (of high energy, frantic Games athletes).

He saunters in, talking to new and old friends along the way, and casually pauses in front of the whiteboard, where he concocts some suffer-fest WOD—and then proceeds to annihilate it like a Greek mythological creature—smiles, wipes his brow, gives out a couple high fives and stroll outs.

I was totally in awe of his calm attitude, like, “It’s just fitness man.” I love that approach.

Training with fellow Canadian Rockstar Michele Letendre

Michele Letendre, Becca Voigt and Emily Abbott training together. Via the Blonyx Blog

Michele Letendre—besides the fact that I would go into the proverbial trenches with this French-Canadian fireball—Michele is incredibly wise.

She has been in this CrossFit business a long time. She knows herself and knows her sport. And she respects her body.

If something does’t feel right in a movement, like her hip, foot or shoulder, she will back off. I would say, as a competitive CrossFit athlete, this is one of THE HARDEST things to do: Negotiate between pushing through little pains, or backing off completely.

Michele will simply alter the workout to keep her intensity up, so she can live to train another day. That is mentally tough!

How many times do you see your buddies doing a WOD that you know will destroy you (not in a good way), and say “F*$% It, let’s do this.”

Are you able to tame your pride? Michelle can.

Abbott’s Words of Advice

Those were just a few notable athletes I got to train with. There were many others who came and went, and as you can imagine, anyone who devotes themselves to CrossFit tends to be pretty damn inspiring.

Personally, it's so rewarding to immerse myself with other athletes, and to be able observe their different approaches to training. I always learn something new or take away a different perspective, and this does not apply only to the competitive athletes.

If you shed your ego, you can become educated in all kinds of ways. Everybody has a valuable nugget of knowledge for you to acquire, if you are willing to pay attention.

So next time you have a chance to train with different people, or in a different gym, you take it!

See you at the Games,

-Emily Abbott.

 




Emily Abbott
Emily Abbott

Author

Emily is an elite level CrossFit Games athlete having come 8th in the world in 2015. Hailing from Calgary, Canada Emily trains out of CrossFit Sunalta when she's not travelling the globe to compete or promote the power of fitness to the masses.



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