"I was just interested in qualifying. First or 17th doesn't matter at this stage."
Ken Cutrer, Masters athlete and prominent Fort Worth, Texas attorney, is a legend in South Central.
Cutrer, who is also known as “The Godfather,” to those who know him, started CrossFit with his law partner and MMA fighter Andy Platt. The two began working off the main site about eight years ago at a time when there were no affiliates in or near Fort Worth, and the CrossFit Community was an online entity.
When Cutrer first started CrossFit, he would pick and choose workouts or just skip what he didn’t like. In 2007, he decided to begin following main site workouts more strictly, and stuck with them, regardless of how demanding and grueling they were. “That’s when I started to see big improvements,” he says.
It wasn’t long before his times became competitive with times other CrossFitters were posting online. “We didn’t know how old people were back then,” he recalls. “I would wait for Chris Spealler to post, and then see if I could beat him.”
Cutrer went on to compete in the CrossFit Games for the first time in 2008.
Since then, he has continued to follow main site workouts, but also spends a lot of time honing skills, attending clinics and workshops, getting stronger and experimenting with different approaches to programming. “In 2008, I focused on Olympic lifting following Greg Everett, and have done CrossFit Football since 2009,” he says. “I learned a lot from that.”
Cutrer follows a paleo-type diet he describes as heavy on olive oil and rum. While this may sound unorthodox, his performance gains have been notable. He made it to the South Central Regional in 2009 and 2010, and placed eighth in the Masters Division in 2011.
In addition to practicing law, Cutrer now runs his own box, CrossFit EST, with his partner Chris Lofland. Cutrer recommends young athletes follow Rudy Neilson’s programming at Outlaw CrossFit, and do two workouts a day leading up to the Games. Cutrer also recommends a lot of volume while keeping a close eye on rests and athlete fatigue. “I think CrossFitters are hard charging, type A competitors. There’s a difference between ‘can I’ or ‘should I’? What are you going to get out of it? Come back another day.”
As a Master, Cutrer acknowledges when he needs to back off a little. “It takes a little longer to recover [now that he’s 47],” says Cutrer. “If you’re injured or hurting, work on something else. Rests are important. It can be hard to get the message across. A lot of endurance athletes have this problem. They come in with the attitude that more is best and they need to change that. There is a better way to train. I’ve watched people who were marathoners dial back mileage, and still go out and get a PR with nowhere near the wear and tear they would have had before.”
Cutrer advises Masters athletes, and in fact anyone headed to the Games, to remember how complex it is to organize and pull off an event like this, especially with the sport evolving and growing so rapidly. “I heard some people were unhappy with having Masters out in a parking lot last year, but I wasn’t. We [Masters] need to be our own separate thing.”
Cutrer has been preparing for the Games by following a three on, one off, two on, one off alternating workout schedule. Since both strength and speed are important in competition, he is devoting time to each. He says he did not stress too much about his performance in the Open. His only goal was to make the top 20 to qualify for the Games. “I was just interested in qualifying,” Cutrer says. “First or 17th doesn’t matter at this stage.”
Cutrer is, in many ways, the ideal CrossFit Masters athlete - fast and strong with loads of experience, and a defense attorney’s sense of strategy. As many CrossFit athletes are finding, when it comes to performing on the big stage of the CrossFit Games, experience wins the day. Cutrer is showing up with a lion’s share.