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Training With Purpose: Anne Sargent

Published on Tue, 2013-01-01 06:00
By: 
Danielle M. Kuehnel

“The night that the whiteboard closed online was the first time I really allowed myself to believe I made it. There were no words to express how it was to know I had made it to that big dance.”

All photos by Nicole Alekson Photography

When Anne Sargent set her mind on competing in the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, she had two mantras: Dare to believe, and no regrets.

“I decided that when the (Open) came, I was going to focus on two things: I was going to dare to believe that I could do this and that (the Games) was something that I could do and should aspire to. And the other thing was that I wanted to go at it with no regrets,” the mother of two says.

“Whatever happened, I didn’t want to wish that I had done something differently, or feel like, ‘if only,’” she adds.

Reflecting on her experience, Sargent says she is proud to say she made good on her commitment to both.

A Realization

Three years ago, a friend introduced Sargent to CrossFit. After a brutal squat-filled workout at CrossFit Relentless in West Hartford, Conn., Sargent knew two things: She couldn’t walk for three days and CrossFit was for her.

As someone who has always been an athlete — rowing, cross-country, soccer, rugby, distance running — Sargent suddenly saw that her fitness level was not as optimal as she thought.

“I realized that what I had been told about elite fitness is more than simply the ability to specialize in one area,” the 47-year-old says. “And I really lacked that in other areas. All those different sporting scenarios — none of them really spoke to me about the way you could really improve your overall fitness.

“CrossFit showed it to me,” she explains.

Sargent gave up running during her first year of CrossFit to focus on becoming more proficient at the training methodology. It wasn’t until her second year, when she decided to go to a CrossFit Endurance Seminar, that she gave competitive running another chance. That year, Sargent ran a half marathon, training according to CrossFit Endurance standards, and improved by one minute and 26 seconds. Sargent hadn’t bested her times in endurance running in more than six years.

“I didn’t even have a PR in my mind,” she says. “I got to mile eight and was floored by how good I felt. I was really impressed by what the training had done and I hadn’t put in nearly as many miles as I would have doing a traditional method, and I didn’t feel beat up after. This was proof (to me) that CrossFit really can and does work.”

Training for a Purpose

With newfound confidence, Sargent started thinking about competing in CrossFit. And she wanted to push herself even further after watching Lisa Mikkelsen of CrossFit New England compete in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup competition, crushing the Isabel workout.

“When I realized that she was my age and we both had 13-year-old sons, I was just like, ‘Wow. That’s the level of fitness I want to achieve,’” she explains. “All of a sudden, I saw something that might be attainable. That was the moment I decided to train rather than work out. I now had a purpose.”

After that, Sargent’s focus was on getting to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. While constantly repeating her two mantras to herself, she trained several times per week with coaches Glenn Perra and Merle McKenzie, using Ben Bergeron’s competitor’s programming. She also cleaned up her diet, adopting what she calls a 95 percent paleo lifestyle. And she competed in three local competitions over the course of her eight-month training period leading up to the Games.

Knowing that only the top 20 Masters athletes would quality for the Games, Sargent put her best efforts into those workouts and obsessively kept tabs on scores.

“For the first workout, there was 2,200 people in the Masters division, and when you think that only 20 of us get to move on, by the fifth week you’re just holding your breath and hoping you don’t get injured,” Sargent says.

“The night that the whiteboard closed online was the first time I really allowed myself to believe I made it. There were no words to express how it was to know I had made it to that big dance.”

Sargent placed 14th in the Open Masters division.

“The world could have stopped just then and I would have thought that was really amazing.”

At the Games, Sargent placed 19th. She says she hasn’t let the number get her down and instead considers her presence there the real victory.

“(The) highlight of the Games was that it was just one big love fest,” she says. “It’s quintessential CrossFit, competing against someone but also cheering them on. It’s truly great.”

This year, Sargent is training several times per week with custom programming from Jason Leydon of CrossFit Milford to prepare for next year’s Open.

“I’m gonna give it everything I got, but the nice thing about CrossFit is that I’ve got to believe that every year there’ll be (the) Games,” Sargent says. “If (the Open goes) my way and I get back to the Games, that’s awesome. My intent is to be there with the other athletes, throwing it down and soaking in the great energy, but I want to get out there in July, regardless.”

Still, it’s not all about the competition, Sargent adds.

“If everything goes right,” she says, “I will be a better athlete than I was last year.”

 

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