In order to win, or even finish on the podium at the CrossFit Games, an athlete needs more than just pure athleticism. They need to have a strategy to go along with their proficiency in all aspects of fitness. They must avoid tunnel vision in their training regimen and instead must get outside of their comfort zone as much as possible as they prepare for this competition. After all, CrossFit espouses developing fitness that is broad, general, and inclusive, and they do mean inclusive, of everything imaginable. CrossFit argues that true fitness is accomplished only by those that do not specialize in one area such as weightlifting or cardio, but instead strive for improvement in all physiological adaptations.
Such a comprehensive fitness was on display at this year’s Finals. It would be easy to presume that the top three male and female athletes at the Games dominated the field of competition winning the majority of events, with the difference in placement on the podium being the result of who placed higher the majority of the time. Such a view would be misguided. The fittest male athlete Rich Froning only won 3 out of 14 workouts and placed within the top 3 in a total of 5 workouts. The fittest female athlete Annie Thoridottir only won 2 out of the 14 workouts and placed within the top 3 in a total of 5 workouts. The other podium finishers had similar results.
So what does it take to win the CrossFit Games? In a word, it is all about consistency. An athlete does not need to win any particular event or number of events so much as they need to avoid getting crushed by any particular deficiency. Take Bryan Diaz for example. He finished last in both scored components of the Camp Pendleton triathlon, effectively ending his games shortly after they started. A last place finish amongst such a talented crowd is an insurmountable deficit. By comparison, Froening finished 12th and Thorisdottir 14th in this event. Not a great showing by either, but good enough to survive and allow them to claw their way to the top across the remaining events.
As it turned out, Froening did not win an event until the chipper workout at the end of the third day. Yet as the last day of competition started it was apparent that he was going to win unless something drastic happened. After a lack luster start, Thorisdottir won her first event in the final workout of day two. From there she was able to methodically build a commanding lead until she too was assured of victory on the last day.
The key to success in the CrossFit Games comes from a fearless pursuit of one’s deficiencies. Every athlete has elements they are good at and those that they struggle with. A determined effort to address any weakness in training will translate into a competitive advantage at the Games. In the end, the podium is full of athletes that never quit.