“We all get uncomfortable regularly, that’s the nature of CrossFit. If you’re not out of your comfort zone with two to three minutes to go in your workout, then there’s something wrong.”
A hungry group of CrossFitters are priming themselves for the start of the Open in Canberra, Australia.
At the front of the pack is Michael Roach, a Regional competitor and trainer at CrossFit 2600 in Canberra’s inner south.
After spending eight years with the Australian Army, Roach has few chinks in his armour. He has a long list of skills and achievements and has been a consistent performer in Australia over the past few years.
After finishing 38th at the 2012 Australia Regional, and 34th in 2011, Roach’s goal this year is to finish in the top 12. But first, he has to tackle the Open.
With a number of good performances in recent local competitions around Australia, including a third-place finish at the State of Origin Classic, Roach is going into this year’s Open less stressed.
“I’m more relaxed this year than in previous years,” he says. “I’ve done the work and focused on improving my weaknesses, so I should do well in the Open.”
As a lighter athlete, the past year has been all about building strength and perfecting Olympic lifting. Lifting is incorporated into each of his training days, particularly the snatch and clean and jerk from various start positions: squat, power, blocks and hang.
“I typically train five days a week, incorporating eight to nine sessions,” Roach says.
“Most days, I’ll do both strength and a met-con of some sort. I know that my strength and lifting has been a slight weakness in the past, so they’re very much the focus,” he adds.
Roach has always had a love for physical fitness, both in the Army and also as a personal trainer, but he didn’t find CrossFit until 2010, when he watched a workmate compete at the 2010 Australia Regional in Randwick, Sydney.
“I thought, ‘That’s it, that’s what I was meant to do,’” he says. “I just wanted to be out there.”
Asked if he has had to step out of his comfort zone in the past year, Roach says if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not doing CrossFit right.
“Lifting for me has been a focus this year, not because I’m uncomfortable lifting, but because when the WODs are heavy, that’s where I may falter compared to the other heavier competitors,” he says.
“We all get uncomfortable regularly, that’s the nature of CrossFit,” he adds. “If you’re not out of your comfort zone with two to three minutes to go in your workout, then there’s something wrong.”
Diet-wise, Roach sticks to paleo during the week with cheats on the weekend. This year, he’s incorporated magnesium and fish oil supplements, along with more dairy, which have helped with his recovery, he says.
Roach has a single-minded focus, saying nothing comes before his training.
“It’s my sole priority. I’m not happy when I don’t train enough, and I’m lucky enough to be able to fit my work in around my training, not the other way around,” he says.
Roach has high hopes of making it to Regionals.
“Once the Open is done, then I can look forward to Regionals,” he says.
“It’s the one time my peers and I can all get together throughout the year. We get to step outside of our own boxes, which can sometimes be isolating, and cheer each other on. It’s a great show of the community that’s behind CrossFit.”