May 26, 2013
Canada East on Mental Toughness
By Lisa Zane

"In Rocky IV, would Rocky stop? No, Rocky wouldn't stop, so I'm not going to stop either."

Day 2 started off with a bang – the 25-minute 100s Event.

Mikko Salo called it the “Man test.” Camille Leblanc-Bazinet said the day was going to be based on who would survive. Exactly what does it take for athletes to get through a day like today, and the challenge of completing seven demanding events in a weekend at Regionals?

Canada East competitors say the answer is mental toughness.

Stephanie Roy is competing at Regionals for the first time. She is a police officer, and was shot in the leg two years ago, shattering her femur. Four surgeries later, she is here competing, and successfully completed 50 pistols on that same leg during Event 4 this morning.

“Nothing can hurt me more than the shot in my leg,” she says. “Everyday I go to the gym and compete, that’s in my mind- it’s like a card in my back pocket.”

Like Roy, Danielle Goldman is brand new to competing at Regionals. She continued through the 100s after ripping both hands while completing the chest-to-bar pull-ups. She defines mental toughness as doing more than you think you can do.

“I think it’s just, when you hear that voice that says, ‘You’re done,’ or ‘You can’t do this anymore,’ you have to just push through and do one or two more reps more than you think you can,” she says. “I think it’s also not letting other things get in the way – you stick to your plan and you try and do what you can do.”

Vincent Tremblay is a seasoned CrossFit athlete and is competing in his fourth Regional competition.

“I think experience comes into play a lot in these types of workouts,” he says. “You just have to keep the pace. Go hard, push through. I always think, ‘In Rocky IV, would Rocky stop? No. Rocky wouldn’t stop, so I’m not going to stop either.’”

Renée Martin is making her third appearance at Regionals, and agrees with Tremblay, saying experience means a lot at this level of competition.

“Now that I’ve been through Regionals twice, the butterflies are kind of out,” she says. “It’s really hard to give everything to an entire (event) when you sort of already know you’re not going to finish, just because its not quite in your wheelhouse. That’s very mentally challenging. But, over the whole weekend, you know there’s other (events) that you’re just going to hammer the crap out of. It’s a balance. Strengths versus weaknesses, mental versus when you can let the adrenaline take over.”

Three-time Games competitor Leblanc-Bazinet knows what it takes to be mentally tough. Last year at the Games, she fought her way back from 30th position to finish sixth overall.

“It’s just going where others aren’t going to go,” she says. “When things get hard you can do two things: stop, or keep going. Mental toughness is not just being able to push through, it’s also being able to take a step back to work on your technique. You need to be smart to do that.”

Matthieu Dubreucq is competing at Regionals for the fourth time, and says part of the game is convincing yourself that you’re less tired than the other competitors. To him, mental toughness is the ability to not give up.

“Anytime in my gym, in the Open, or at Regionals, anytime I want to give up, I just tell myself, ‘If I was at the Games, I would definitely not give up,” he says. “Mental toughness is doing what your heart wants and not what your body wants.”