"Luckily enough, I was able to hit a PR in Diane at Regionals, which put me in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the weekend."
Athletes travel from all over the globe to compete at the CrossFit Games. Leaving their home turf means they must compete with jet lag, unfamiliar food and strange beds, at a time when they need to be at the top of their game both physically and mentally.
Chad Mackay will be traveling halfway across the world, from Australia, to compete this year. He will be changing seasons in his travels, as it is winter in Australia. As a Games veteran, Mackay isn’t worried about the unfamiliarity that goes along with travel. “I have made the trip to Los Angeles the past two years as both an athlete and coach, and can’t wait to be in warm summer weather,” Mackay says.
Mackay placed 12th at the 2010 CrossFit Games. He was on pace to compete again in 2011 when he was sidelined by a groin injury. After surgery in November, Mackay rested for six weeks and then used hip and glute stability movements to strengthen his right leg.
He was 100 percent recovered by the Open, and placed fifth in his region, earning a spot at the Australia Regional.
A Slow Start
Regionals didn’t start out well for Mackay. The first event, Diane, is notoriously difficult for larger athletes. “I knew that Event 1 would be a challenge. So much of my training and practice was focused on getting used to kipping aggressively rather than trying to go strict with a narrow hand position,” Mackay says.
Mackay finished Event 1 in four minutes, which put him in 17th place. An inexperienced athlete may have been discouraged by the placement, but Mackay took the long view. “I had prepared mentally to be sitting halfway back in the field after Event 1 after seeing some of the other big times around the world. Luckily enough, I was able to hit a PR in Diane at Regionals, which put me in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the weekend,” Mackay says.
With Diane out of the way, Mackay looked ahead to workouts that played more to his strengths. He did most of the Regional Events beforehand, and was most worried about Event 4 – a brutal combination of pull-ups, back squats, shoulder-to-overhead, front squats and overhead squats.
“Event 4 was of most concern for me leading up to competition,” Mackay says. “I chose to break up the pull-ups into four sets of 10 reps each round, which helped me to stay fresh returning to the barbell.”
The plan worked, and Mackay won the event. A 265-pound snatch on Event 5 gave him another first place finish. In fact, after Event 1, the lowest Mackay placed all weekend was third. He placed first overall at the Regional and secured his ticket to the Games.
Since Regionals, Mackay has focused on the unexpected elements of the Games. He is training with atlas stones and monkey bars. He is also swimming and working on his gymnastics. Long distance running has always been a weakness for Mackay, so in typical counterintuitive CrossFit fashion he has worked to improve his long-distance running by sprinting short and hard.
Rather than following a specific diet plan, Mackay eats, “Clean food and plenty of it,” he says. “My fridge is full of eggs, meat, salad, veggies, fruit, nuts and beautiful olive oil.”
Mackay makes time for surfing and practices yoga when he’s not running his affiliate, CrossFit Active, or training for the Games. Like many Games veterans, Mackay knows anything can happen, so he’s leaving the game plan open. Instead of focusing on a certain number, Mackay just wants to do his best. His strategy can be broken down into seven simple words: “Give it absolutely everything I have got.”