“My goal wasn't a number, but rather a feeling. My intention was to do my personal best, to be able to look back without regrets and to walk away feeling proud of my form and technique, and my overall performance.”
Last year, Valerie Voboril made a wicked return to the CrossFit competition scene, taking third at the 2012 Southern California Regional, and fifth at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Few saw her coming, and most let her quietly slip back into training for 2013.
Although the unassuming redhead from DogTown CrossFit doesn’t have Annie Thorisdottir’s washboard abs, or the warrior-like appearance of Elisabeth Akinwale, she’s a competitor to watch.
She has proven she’s one of the fittest women on Earth not once, but twice, when you add her third-place finish at the 2010 CrossFit Games. And she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Last Wednesday, Dave Castro announced a workout that didn’t play to her strengths. Open Workout 13.1 was a fusion of last year’s seven minutes of burpees and the 10-minute snatch ladder.
Last year, she turned in her worst performance on the snatch ladder. She finished 85 snatches in the allotted time — 25 snatches at 100 lb. — and dropped to 51st in Southern California.
This year, she wasn’t concerned. During the offseason, she worked on her skill on the Olympic lifts, and she was optimistic about what she could do on 13.1.
“I thought that 13.1 was a fun combo and a good test of stamina and form,” she says.
Immediately after the release, she started to think through how the workout would affect her body, and planned her approach to the workout accordingly.
“If you go too fast on the burpees, you’ll be winded for the snatches. So my plan was to find a strong pace and stick with it,” she says. “I remember the snatches from last year as a real lower back killer, so I needed to find a rep scheme that I could stick to.”
She stuck to her plan, and it paid off.
Last year, she turned in 133 burpees on 12.1 and 85 reps on 12.2. This year, she made it through the 100 burpees and managed 95 snatches. She finished the 100-lb. snatches at 14:23, giving her just over two-and-a-half minutes to cruise through the 10 burpees and knock out five snatches at 120 lb.
Her score of 195 reps on 13.1 was good enough for seventh in Southern California, and 45th worldwide. It’s a big improvement, and she’s proud of her gains.
“I liked my pace and my game plan, and I have no regrets,” she says. “Last year's snatch workout was a mess for me with all sorts of failed reps and bad form. My technique has improved, so there was only one failed attempt (on 13.1).”
While she’s getting better, training hasn’t been easy or free of setbacks. During the offseason, she hit an unlucky streak and accumulated several injuries that limited her ability to train certain movements. Neck and shoulder injuries prevented Voboril from doing any handstand push-ups or overhead movement,s while a strained bicep tendon prevented her from doing any pulling or eccentric motion.
Despite the fact that she hasn’t been able to do any Olympic lifting for several months, Voboril has maintained a great attitude going into the Open.
Following programming from CJ Martin, as well as Liz Burns and Mike Lee at DogTown CrossFit, Voboril has been training five days a week, with more emphasis on her warm-ups and strength work, including Olympic lifting.
“I've added weight to my front squat and back squat, as well as my clean and snatch,” she says. “Last year, I only had single muscle-ups, and now I can do sets of five.”
“(This was) a success for me in my book,” she says reflecting on her 13.1 performance. “My goal wasn't a number, but rather a feeling. My intention was to do my personal best, to be able to look back without regrets and to walk away feeling proud of my form and technique, and my overall performance.”