“I’m still not as strong as a lot of these guys are getting. But there’s a difference between having the strength versus being able to deal with moderate loads over a period of time. Some of my better workouts from Regionals happened to be heavy stuff …"
Billy Pappas was a competitive decathlete in college. He says this helped him place in the top 10 at the North West Regional for the past three years.
Pappas competed in the decathlon at the University of Oregon, where he accomplished All-American honors and won the PAC 10 Championship Title. He competed professionally for two more years. Pappas’ last competition was the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento.
Pappas found CrossFit while living in Portland, Ore., and working at the National Personal Training Institute. His first competition was the 2010 North West Regional, where he placed seventh.
“The first workout had overhead squats and double-unders. I didn’t have a clue how to jump rope,” he says. “If only I knew how to do that, I might have made it to the Games.”
In 2011, Pappas tied for third with Ben Stoneberg at the North West Regional, but missed making it to the CrossFit Games because Stoneberg placed better in one event.
At the 2012 Regional, the first workout included a tough move for Pappas: handstand push-ups.
“I trained really hard to be mediocre in that first workout,” he says.
Despite the first workout, Pappas excelled in rowing, hang power cleans and pistols in Event 2, and with the dumbbell snatches and sprints in Event 3. He came back to finish seventh overall in the North West.
Pappas says his decathlon background taught him how to compete and take care of his body during competitions.
“Decathlon was a two-day event,” he says. “Local CrossFit competitions are two days, Regionals are three days. I’ve seen certain athletes that might train well in a gym setting. For competition, I think nerves may get in the way, and I feel like having a good approach to the workout is important.”
It’s all about being smart about the workouts and understanding lactic threshold, pacing and time frames, Pappas says.
“That might be part of the reason I don’t do that well in the Open, but I do well in Regionals,” he says.
Pappas also excels in local competitions, most recently finishing in first place at the Oregon Winter Games, in Bend, Ore.
In March 2012, Billy and his brother opened Lane 5 CrossFit, in Eugene.
“If there’s a lot going on in the business, it’s harder to work out and find the motivation,” Pappas says.
The brothers play around with programming for each other.
“I go through phases with experimenting and trying to find the magic fit for an individual,” Pappas says. “I need to keep the component of making it fun and finding where I really find enjoyment with workouts … Between me and my brother, we’re collaborating with workouts for our training.”
Pappas is working on getting stronger.
“I’m still not as strong as a lot of these guys are getting,” he says. “But there’s a difference between having the strength versus being able to deal with moderate loads over a period of time. Some of my better workouts from Regionals happened to be heavy stuff … I need to try to find a way of having both, which is what I guess it’s all about: increase strength and increase capacity.”