April 9, 2013
Going to the Games: Colleen Fahey
By Lauryn Lax

"Rugby instilled in me the ability to push past my comfort zone in training and reach for a goal."

Photo by: Lauren Perlman

 

Photo by: Lauren Perlman

 

Photo by: Geri Bucheit

 

Photo by: Lauren Perlman

Life after 50 is known as the “golden years,” and Colleen Fahey, 50, is experiencing just that after finding success in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open.

Finishing fifth place worldwide in the Masters Women 50-54 Division and earning a trip straight to the Games in July, Fahey is no stranger to winning.

A former “hardcore rugby player” at Florida State University, Fahey went on to play for the U.S. National team, competing in the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991, which the U.S. won.

Competing in all three Open events, Fahey says she thinks her rugby background has helped her as a competitive CrossFitter.

“Rugby instilled in me the ability to push past my comfort zone in training and reach for a goal,” she says. “For years, I was used to following a plan to get results and reacting to weaknesses that came up.”

In fact, rugby is what led Fahey to CrossFit at age 48.

“Some rugby friends and my local boot camp fitness place told me about it, so I looked up CrossFit Black Box and walked in the door one Saturday after a few emails,” she says. “One look at the owners and trainers, and I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be.”

While she was initially intimidated and shy, she says her coaches put her right to work, and within 20 minutes she was doing Fight Gone Bad.

“After the WOD, I was destroyed and hooked at the same time,” she recalls. “It really opened my eyes to the possibilities for higher levels of fitness.”

In 2011, Fahey placed 34th in the Open, and last year, she finished 53rd. Now in fifth, Fahey credits her commitment to always improving her game.

“This year, I really made a commitment to put in the training needed to improve myself,” she says. “Also, I focused more on technique than trying to achieve PRs every (workout). Muscle-ups and handstand push-ups require constant work.”

Serious about seeing results, Fahey also started programming with Katie Chasey. Chasey sends Fahey several weeks of programming at a time to follow while Fahey sends her video and feedback on the workouts almost daily to adjust the program if needed.

A typical day includes two workouts, one strength-based with extra time devoted to skills and/or gymnastics in the morning. After an eight-hour workday as a graphic designer and manager for Florida State University’s Conference Center, Fahey returns to the gym in the evening for a met-con and to help coach a class. Some days, she may also include extra skill work for trouble spots or hit the track.

Her shift in focus set her up to achieve her No. 1 goal this year.

“It is definitely surreal to think of myself as one of the ‘fittest women’ in my age division,” Fahey says. “I set a goal for myself to make the Games this year. Its very fulfilling to see all the hard work taking shape and humbling to see how many other excellent athletes are out there pouring their hearts into these workouts.”