"I went from being a CrossFitter who loved met-cons to a CrossFitter who would rather do heavy squats and cleans."
Colleen Lehane competed in her first CrossFit competition at last year’s South East Regional never having cleaned more than 115 lb.
She admits she did not expect to actually make it to Regionals last year, and once there, she felt unprepared. Lehane will also tell you she’s never had anything light a fire under her like that experience.
This year, Lehane and her coach, Lance Scott, members of Crucible CrossFit in Jacksonville, Fla., have a very focused strategy. Scott changed her training program over the past year, spending a significant amount of time finding holes, focusing on weaknesses and increasing her overall strength.
“I realized CrossFit wasn't just about being good at met-cons. (I) stopped avoiding strength (workouts) and worked every day since then,” Lehane says. “We changed everything about my programming after last year’s Regional. I think it was the first time I realized that I could be a competitor, but I had a long road ahead of me. Lance stopped letting me cry my way out of heavy back squats. My met-cons got heavy … very heavy. My strength program got heavy, then it got heavier. And the focus on Olympic lifts got stronger. I went from being a CrossFitter who loved met-cons to a CrossFitter who would rather do heavy squats and cleans.”
Lehane’s training is paying off as she currently tied for 12th place overall in the South East after four weeks of Open competition. Most recently, she put up an impressive 105 reps on Open Workout 13.4.
Lehane, a former Division I swimmer at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., started swimming at age six.
“By the time I was 11, I was swimming year-round on a club team. I was primarily a 200-meter butterflyer, but also swam the 200-meter and 500-meter freestyles through high school and college,” she says. “I did fairly well, but was never the big fish. I walked on and swam because I loved it. By the time I was a senior, I hadn't gotten any faster, but my team was my family, and I loved being a part of it.”
Of the four years Lehane swam with FAU, the team won the Sunbelt Conference twice.
After college, Lehane moved back to Jacksonville and took a job as a personal trainer.
“Lance introduced me to CrossFit when we first met working together, and I loved it immediately. Working out so hard I wanted to lay out on the floor, it was right up my alley,” she says.
“He started as my workout partner doing CrossFit on our own out of a personal training studio. After a few years, it just didn't do it for me anymore, and I needed a change. We asked to coach a few classes at Crucible, and before we knew it, we were full-time coaches, I was a qualifying competitor and we couldn't imagine our life any other way. We have been at Crucible for a year-and-half, and it’s been the best ride of our life. I love competing, but I can't imagine life without our Crucible family. They love Lance and me, and we love them.”
Lehane describes CrossFit as “the ultimate strength and conditioning program I wish I had in college.” After being out of the water for three years, she says she swam faster at last year’s alumni meet thanks to CrossFit.
“Every competition we go to, we have felt I am on the right track but always make it a priority to fix what seemed to be lacking. A huge focus has been put on my strength,” she says.
“I do full strength WODs five times a week before the met-con of the day. And I do a met-con one other day in addition. We make sure I keep up with my gymnastics skills so they remain a strength. I usually take one rest day a week, but I listen to my body. I also put a huge emphasis on mobility. I have a scheduled hour a week where that’s all I do, but I roll and stretch with pretty much any free time I have. I keep a lacrosse ball with me at all times.”
Lehane also says she eats paleo 90 percent of the time.
“Mostly I eat when I'm hungry, and I eat a lot. Getting my diet right over the last year has been a challenge. I want to eat 100 percent paleo, but was losing weight dramatically with the training,” she says. “We have continued to increase my caloric intake and added in some starchier foods and a protein drink. Lance jokes that he hides calories when he cooks for me.”
“I also stopped drinking alcohol completely going into this season. I always limited myself to the occasional beer, but since the new year, I have stayed away and feel a huge difference,” Lehane says.
Scott, who is not only Lehane’s coach but also her boyfriend, is a “walking CrossFit textbook.”
“Ask anyone at our gym. The way his brain works is amazing,” she says. “I have a hat for being his girlfriend, a hat for being his co-coach and a hat for being an athlete. Being able to separate that has been huge for my success. He is also a huge support system. He keeps my head on straight when I get frustrated and can push me to do things I didn't think I could. Not to mention everything I do in my training is what he comes up with for me.”
Scott adds: "Colleen is a great athlete with even greater drive. She is never content with where she is, but is always looking to be better. We hope for top 20 in this year’s Open, and it is great to see all the hard work turning into tangible results."