Less than a year after rupturing her Achilles tendon, 43-year-old Cheryl Brost has qualified for the fiercely competitive Northern California Regional with a 15th-place finish in the Open.
The three-time CrossFit Games competitor said she has not just recovered from the injury, but in fact, she’s better than ever.
"I'm still PRing workouts and lifts for someone on the downhill,” Brost said. "I had two prior knee surgeries and with that type of surgery there are often side effects, like the Achilles. I still have some aches and pains in my knee, but my tendon is strong.”
"To witness her recover from her Achilles rupture and bone spur removal was a sight to see and a huge gain for her this year," said training partner KC Stallsmith.
"I think it made her stronger than ever. Less than four months post-surgery she was hitting 90 percent of her one-rep-max snatch. Now, she sets PRs that exceed what she was doing before the surgery,” Stallsmith added.
Brost and her family moved to the Big Island of Hawaii last summer, which puts her in the NorCal Region. She’s happy to be back on the island where her mother and grandmother grew up.
"Training in Hawaii is great,” Brost said. “The weather is a lot warmer in Hawaii than Eugene, Oregon. I don't get to the beach much, but when I do, the ocean is much warmer and conducive to swimming.”
When she’s not working on her family business, taking care of her two kids, or dancing hula, Brost can be found training with 36-year-old CrossFit AllStar affiliate owner KC Stallsmith.
"It is nice to train beside KC and have her push me during WODs, plus I can align my training with her," she said.
It’s Stallsmith who said she feels the push from Brost.
“Training with Cheryl keeps me constantly challenged, yet inspired in ways like no one else,” Stallsmith said.
Even before the Achilles injury, Brost has taken a low-volume approach to training. As a busy working mother and a masters-aged competitor, Brost finds one workout per day fits her schedule and her body.
When she feels herself slowing down, she takes time off.
"I think it's important to take rest once a month. I once had a therapist encourage me to take one week a month off,” she said.
“You will notice a decline in your training or feel slower. That's when it's time to rest. It is nice to take a few days away from the gym, take a break, enjoy your family, try new things, but it can be scary to step away from training. But, when you return to the gym you start seeing results again."
Her kids and work also push her to cut time in the gym.
“I really have to look at my schedule and plan my week out. I make time for CrossFit, no excuses, do it. It really is a balancing act," she said.
Like their mom, her daughter and son compete in CrossFit and soccer. Her 11-year-old daughter also dances hula. Brost rattled off a list of their records, like her daughter’s recent 70-lb. clean, and her 16-year-old son’s 180-lb. snatch. Between their classes, practice, and games, Brost is kept busy like any other working mom.
“She's got all the same stresses that most of us do, yet she continues to rise into greatness and approach life as she does her workouts, one rep at a time, with graceful strength, and an ever-present positive attitude,” Stallsmith said of Brost.
Two things she does manage to shoehorn into her tight schedule are in-person coaching sessions with her remote coach CJ Martin of CrossFit Invictus in San Diego, California, and training sessions with other top CrossFit competitors.
Not long after the regional events were announced, she island-hopped to Honolulu to train with Elyse Umeda and the rest of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games-qualifying CrossFit 808 team.
While some call CrossFit a distinctly individual sport, Brost likes the extra push that she can get by training alongside others.
"I would like to go to CrossFit 808 one more time before regionals to train, but that will depend on my work and kids," Brost said.
With a seventh-place finish in the Masters Qualifier in the 40-44 Division, Brost already has a ticket to the Games. This weekend, we’ll get to see whether she’ll get a ticket to the individual competition, as well.
"One way or another I’ll be competing in Carson in July,” she said. “That knowledge takes some pressure off of regionals. I can have fun and enjoy regionals. I try and stay focused on the present.”