After stepping off the podium at the South Central Regional, Jason Hoggan was a tired, but happy CrossFitter. He’d just won Event 6 in convincing fashion, and in the process secured a 2nd-place finish in the competition, earning him a coveted spot at the 2012 CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif.
“Dream come true,” he says. “It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of volume and smart programming. I’m just happy it all paid off.”
It wasn’t an easy road getting there. Hoggan started CrossFit in 2008 while a law school student and also an active duty member of the Air Force. Recently, he became a father. To put it mildly, his schedule was already full.
“I realized I couldn’t afford the two or more hours I used to spend daily at the gym, so I started looking for alternatives,” he says. “Realizing CrossFit was all about shorter duration workouts, I walked into Outlaw CrossFit [CrossFit Alexandria at the time], which had just moved to a new location down the street. I was skeptical, but was almost immediately hooked.”
It just so happened the workout that first day was Fran. He did so well he caught the eye of Rudy Nielsen, head coach at Outlaw CrossFit, who casually informed Hoggan that he would be competing at the 2009 Sectionals a few months later.
“His mentality is to compete as much as possible, which is great for me, as I found out quickly that I had a tendency to choke under pressure,” Hoggan says. “I don’t do that anymore.”
Hoggan flourished under Nielsen’s tutelage, but it wasn’t until 2012 that his circumstances gelled enough to make a run at the Games. In previous years, he juggled fatherhood, law school and employment as an Air Force special agent, and got about four hours of sleep a night. Suffice it to say, CrossFit was not at the top of his priority list, and in 2010 he finished 13th at the Central East Regional. A year later, he finished 12th at the Mid Atlantic Regional.
In 2011, Hoggan swapped Washington D.C. for Dallas, Texas. He transferred to a new law school and ended up closer to his family. No longer working full time for the military, he was able to focus on school, training and his daughter Camryn.
“It’s actually been easier this year,” he says. “I’ve been very efficient with time in the past. I was able to ease up a little bit and give myself more time to relax with my daughter, and enjoy the little things while resting, training hard and eating well. It’s been crazy, but I’m kind of used to it. I can’t sleep more than six hours a night now.”
In the near future, Hoggan will be invoking those time-management skills again. He graduates from law school in mid May. Then he’ll be prepping for a couple of tests that both take place in the summer – the Texas bar exam and the CrossFit Games. After those two challenges are met, Hoggan will start a new job at a Dallas law firm.
It’s a good thing Hoggan considers CrossFit his “fun” time. In terms of preparing for the Games, he expects the volume of workouts to stay the same, if not increase. He also expects to be a part of the Outlaw training camps Nielsen will host for his Games athletes. After two weeks of Regional competition, five Outlaw athletes already qualified as individuals for the Games.
Hoggan says it’s likely he’ll be following specific programming, designed by Nielsen that addresses his weaknesses that emerged at Regionals.
In the past, athletes making their Games debut have admitted being dazzled by the lights of the Home Depot Center. To avoid getting too caught up in the moment, Hoggan plans on using visualization techniques. He will also rely on his substantial competition experience.
“A lot of it has to do with visualization and just making sure when it’s time to walk out that you focus on yourself,” he says. “A lot of times, with something like the snatch ladder, it’s a terrifying event because one mistake—I missed 195—that kind of mistake can end it. There’s a lot of focus. It’s a mix of having the adrenaline from the crowd and from the experience and from the spectacle while still being able to focus. We can’t really imitate it, necessarily. This [Regional] was a close proximity. That’s why Rudy always tries to get us into competitions. That way when we get on the competition floor, it’s nothing new, nothing scary.”
Given his work ethic and intelligent approach, expect Hoggan to get through the gauntlet of the Games with aplomb. Then he’ll be off to his mild-mannered life as a rookie lawyer and doting dad … until the next competition season begins.