Before qualifying for their first CrossFit Games, neither Rich Froning nor Annie Thorisdottir had done much CrossFit.
When Thorisdottir showed up in 2009 in Aromas, Calif., she’d only been CrossFitting for about a month. During the competition she did a GHD sit-up and a muscle-up for the first time. She finished 11th overall with a DNF on the final workout.
Froning started CrossFitting shortly before qualifying for the 2010 Games. He was a force from the start.
That same year, both Froning and Thorisdottir placed second at the Games, which were held for the first time at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The following year, both athletes won. This year, they became the first repeat champions in the men’s and women’s individual competitions.
“It was the most amazing feeling ever,” Thorisdottir says of winning again. “It was seriously cool.”
Froning had more trouble articulating the sensation.
“I don’t know if words can really describe it. It’s just a great feeling when you work that hard for that long,” he explains. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Both athletes finished the competition with comfortable leads. Froning ended 114 points ahead of Matt Chan, while Thorisdottir was 85 points ahead of Julie Foucher.
Despite their strong showings, both athletes say their wins weren’t a sure thing.
“I felt like I could do it, but then again you never want to expect that of yourself,” Thorisdottir explains. “The competition’s going to be hard.”
It’s difficult to feel confident when it comes to CrossFit, says Froning, who often comes across as a self-assured athlete.
“You want to win again but I don’t think you can really go into any CrossFit event thinking you’re gonna win,” he says. “There’s too many external factors you can’t control.”
The four-day event didn’t exactly begin as Thorisdottir would have liked.
She placed 16th in the first part of the triathlon and 14th in the second.
“I would never choose a triathlon for myself,” Thorisdottir says with her quintessential laugh.
Froning, meanwhile, placed 18th in Pendleton 1 and 12th in Pendleton 2.
This year’s Games were tougher than expected, he says.
“Running is not a strength of mine,” Froning adds.
Next Stop: 2013
Next week, Thorisdottir will begin a strength phase that includes powerlifting and Olympic lifting. She’ll also focus on gymnastics technique.
“I look over all the events this year and I see what my biggest weaknesses are and those are the things I want to work more on,” Thorisdottir says.
Aside from the Pendleton events, her lowest finishes were 33rd in the Broad Jump, 12th in the Track Triplet and 15th in the Sprint.
“Since the Games, I’ve been pretty much just making sure I’m enjoying going to the gym,” she says.
Her training days have included partner workouts, as well as “doing stuff that I love playing around with” like power cleans and snatches.
Since the Games ended July 15, Froning hasn’t taken much rest.
“There’s been one or two days in there that I haven’t worked out,” he says.
But while Thorisdottir follows a planned cycle, Froning will do whatever he feels like doing, as usual.
He has no coach and no set programming. And that’s how he’s keeping it, he says.
“Last year was attack the longer-duration stuff. There’s still some room for improvement there,” Froning says. “Just try to maintain strength, be well-rounded and don’t be terrible at anything.”
Much of the 25-year-old’s attention also will be on reopening his affiliate, CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville, Tenn. He has left his job as assistant strength coach at Tennessee Tech University to focus full-time on his box.
With the workouts becoming increasingly challenging each year and fellow competitors returning as better versions of themselves, winning a third time will prove ever more difficult, the two say.
“As far as the events getting harder, we started on Wednesday this year, if that tells you anything,” Froning says. “The quality of (the) athletes gets better and better each year.”
Meanwhile, Thorisdottir says she feels the Games have “been the same,” but the competitors have become stronger and faster.
“What made it different this year is that I felt the other athletes more,” she explains. “That’s a good thing because it makes you want to push even harder. I didn’t want to fail at any workout there, which is how it’s supposed to be.”
Thorisdottir adds: “If I want to win again next year, I’m going to have to step up my game even more.”
Still, another podium spot would be OK, she says.
“I would never be disappointed getting second place as long as I (knew) that I didn’t mess anything up and pushed as hard as I could,” she says.
“The Games is more just enjoying all the hard work that you’ve put into it. So it’s more about seeing what you can do with (your training) because there’s nothing else you can do at that point.”