Article

Threepeat My Ass: The Man Behind the Mullet

Published on Wed, 2013-06-05 10:15
By: 
Josh Bunch

"There's definitely more pressure and less margin for error. Every mistake will be magnified."


 

Over the last three weeks, CrossFitters have watched the Regional Events and dissected the stats. The Central East will be among the last to go. For some, the anticipation is excruciating.

“I do wish we were going this weekend,” Dan Bailey said one week ago. “The anticipation can become too much.”

As we all learned last night, Bailey is ready.

As a seasoned track athlete, three-time Central East Regional competitor, and two-time sixth-place finisher at the CrossFit Games, Bailey knows how to handle the pre-competition jitters.

For one thing, he disconnects.

“Don’t bombard yourself with all the media,” he says. “Just enjoy the life you're living.”

Life and training are one and the same for Bailey. He coaches at CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville, Tenn., lives and trains with Rich Froning Jr. and recently finished his degree in exercise science at Tennessee Tech University.

Little of the hype gets through to him, but he’s not immune to the pull of the Games site.

“If there’s a really fast time, I'll watch that,” he says. “Outside of that, I’ll just look at the scores.”

He watched 2009 champ, Mikko Salo make his return to competition after being sidelined by a busted ear drum at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, and a knee injury in 2012.

The Europe Regional didn’t end how many anticipated — Salo was dethroned by Hungarian athlete, Lacee Kovacs.

“It surprised me a little, but anybody is beatable,” he says. “As the sport grows, you never know who’s gonna come out of the woodwork.”

Bailey knows being on top isn’t a given. After winning the Open in 2011, he had considerable momentum entering the Games. Yet, for two years he has landed in sixth place.

While he’s unwilling to predict where he’ll finish in 2013, he is training so that this year is different.

But, he won’t say much about what his training looks like. To avoid prying eyes, he trains in Froning’s one-car garage.

“It’s a garage gym that would rival some start-up CrossFit (boxes),” Bailey says.

Each day, he works out in the morning on his own, and later trains with Froning.

Typically, his morning workout includes some kind of endurance effort like running — something the former Ohio University track athlete knows a thing or two about.

“The triathlon from last year took it out of my legs,” he says, referring to his 15th- and 24th-place finishes in Pendleton 1 and 2. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

As a former 400-meter sprinter, he was never in top shape for an 11K run over Microwave Mountain.

To prepare for 2013, he has gone “a little more back to my roots with running.”

Speed is easy for him — he tied for fifth in the shuttle sprint in 2012. It’s combining speed with endurance that requires training, he says.

He and Froning typically work on strength movements like presses, squats and pulls. While he remains tight-lipped, he says he and Froning don’t do the same things. Bailey may focus on a Wendler 5-3-1 variant, or something with a moderate to low rep count and high intensity.

Even though strength is the midday focus, it isn’t something he’s worried about.

“Strength isn’t something I’m trying to improve, more just maintain,” he says. “You can be the strongest person in the world, but can you be the strongest after a triathlon?”

With that in mind, he tends to follow the garage session with a late afternoon met-con. These burners vary in time and movement. Sometimes it’s two exercises performed in excess, while others it’s several movements within the same workout.

The whole time the crew is training heavy, the mood is light. Even with Regionals just days away, Bailey says they rarely talk about the competition. Their goal is to remain focused on the next set, the next rep.
 
“Some people will get overzealous,” he says. “I focus on what I’m doing and I don’t worry about what others are doing.” 
 
When he arrives for his fourth Regional, he’ll scope out a spot in the athlete village like he’s done in the past. Most likely, he’ll stay there and hang out with the crowd as the three-day competition unfolds. Unlike other competitors who can’t wait to get away from the CrossFit commotion, he feels right at home with the hype.
 
”I'm used to it coming from track,” he says.
 
However, when each day is done, he’ll find a spot to reflect, alone. Somewhere he can “take a look at the day and see how to get better.” It’s a habit he practices, competition or not.
 
“I have my quiet time in the morning and at night,” he says.
 
In a few short days, there won’t be much downtime for the Central East. After all, Marcus Hendren, Graham Holmberg, Froning, Scott Panchik and Bailey all qualified in 2012. And all were in the top 10 at the Games that year.
 
With so many top competitors in the region, Bailey knows it’s going to be a fierce fight for the qualifying spots.
 
“There’s definitely more pressure and less margin for error,” he says. “Every mistake will be magnified.”
 

 

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