Training hard can make you stronger and faster, but it takes a certain character to win. Katie Schmitz has spent a year fighting through tough workouts without recognition or attention, driven by the blind faith that it would be enough to take on the Fittest on Earth. Schmitz, who now claims to "eat barbells for breakfast," is a completely different athlete she was last year.
Schmitz started training in early 2011 at Fit2Fight CrossFit in Omaha, Neb. The 2011 Open was her first competitive experience with CrossFit. The competitive fire was lit, but it quickly became apparent that simply wanting to win wasn't going to be enough. "I had so many holes in my game, and no time to prepare,” she says.
Schmitz competed with her affiliate team at Regionals where dissatisfaction with her personal performance was life changing. "After the thruster ladder I walked for what felt like a mile to get away from everyone, and I told myself that next year I would come back and prove that I deserved to be there."
For the past year, Schmitz has been attacking her weaknesses. Alongside traditional CrossFit programming, she did the conjugate method out of Westside Barbell. "I did a lot of training that other people in the gym weren't doing, like strongman training with atlas stones in the middle of the summer. I remember thinking, how is picking up rocks and pulling sleds going to make me an elite athlete?"
Progress was slow, but now Schmitz credits her dedication to her training and faith in her coach's methods to her success. Hitting big milestones, such as a 300-pound deadlift in September made her confident that she was strong and fit enough to return to competition this year.
Her strategy for the Open centers around self-awareness, "I stay actively aware of what my body is telling me,” she says. “I know when I need to rest and when I need to go."
She says she has learned a lot from the Open competition so far. "It sounds cliché, but expect the unexpected. That's what this is all about though, right?"
After two workouts, Schmitz has established a lead in the North Central Region with scores of 125 and 95 in 12.1 and 12.2, respectively. Going into week three, she ranks 8th in the world, and doesn't plan on slowing down. "I am willing to go to a place of pain that very few people will go,” she says. “The other person is going to have to be on the floor bleeding for me to lose."
Despite her competitive drive, Schmitz stays focused on what she needs to do. "Why would I try to emulate what other people are doing when what I am doing is working just fine?”