February 25, 2013
Q&A with Azadeh Boroumand
By Thomas Moore

"I guess I consider myself a veteran now. But there's still so much I don't have figured out ... The programming I follow now is definitely more in my wheelhouse because I'm the type of athlete that needs adequate rest and recovery to perform at my best."

Three years ago, not many in the CrossFit world knew her name. Today, after only two years of individual CrossFit Games competition, people who follow the Games can’t forget the name, Azadeh Boroumand.

In 2011, Boroumand performed well in the Open, placing third in the South Central, and seventh at the Regional. But it was her 2012 performance that caught people's attention. In the Open, she had three first-place finishes and earned second place in South Central. At Regionals, she placed first in five of six workouts making her the leading South Central woman heading to the Games.

This year, Boroumand is competing in the South West and coaches at CrossFit Las Cruces in Los Cruces, N.M.

Boroumand recently took the time to talk about her programming, her approach to training and rest, her aggressiveness, how she deals with it, and if her conservative father ever discovered that she works out in her training bra.

Why the move to the South West? Was it for personal reasons or for training reasons?

I used to train out of Get Lifted in El Paso. But since the Games, I train and coach out of CrossFit Las Cruces, which is 40 minutes down the road. And it just happens to put me in a different Region. Pretty crazy.

Was it a strategy?

No strategy. Last year, I compared my scores in every Region and I would have made it to the Games in every Region based on my numbers. I'm a dork. I like competition. It makes things exciting for me.

Now that you’re in your third year of competition, what have you been working on?

(My) biggest thing this year is not being over-trained going into the Games.

How are you approaching that?

It is still three-a-days, but less actual days. Going into 2012 Games, I was exhausted and wanted the season to be over because I over-trained myself to where after the Regionals, I had nothing left — no energy, desire or passion. Now, I value rest and recovery far more.

I take one Sunday as a full rest day. And Wednesday, I swim and do yoga. I'm also swimming two to three times a week now because that was my biggest weakness last year.

Is it any specialized swim training or just getting in the water?

(I) always (do) at least 400 meters. I could barely swim 50 meters without having to stop last year. And now I can swim 150 meters without stopping, which is a big deal for me.

Is the yoga for mobility?

There are always two components to my workouts every day. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: two components — usually strength and a met-con. The yoga is for relaxation, emotional and mental recovery, and flexibility.

I follow Jami Tikkanen's programming online. And Chad Vaughn (two-time Olympic weightlifter who holds the American record for the clean and jerk) is my personal coach and mentor. I call him anytime I go crazy or have mental breakdowns.

How often does that happen?

Hmm … just had one the other day. Once every few weeks. Sometimes my body breaks down and my mental game falls apart. And (Vaughn) helps get me back on track.

What do you mean by ‘breaking down?’

(I mean) just being able to push myself to my physical limits every day. It takes a toll after a while. And I have a lot of new things in my life this year and sometimes I feel like I'm getting worse. Then I smashed a workout a few days later and talked to Chad. He got me back on track and I was back at it. I'm a woman. This kind of stuff happens to us.

Have you suffered any injuries?

Yes. I took my shoulder out for a little while. Had to stay off of it for a few weeks. But aside from the regular aches and pains, nothing too crazy. Knock on wood. 

How do you feel you are progressing as a CrossFit athlete?

I guess I consider myself a veteran now. But there's still so much I don't have figured out. There are days when I'm like, ‘Um, should I do more? Should I do less? Is this helping? Does this work, does that work?’

The programming I follow now is definitely more in my wheelhouse because I'm the type of athlete that needs adequate rest and recovery to perform at my best.

In general, do you feel you tend to overdo it?

That was me last year. And you could tell by my performance at the Games that I had nothing left. I went through some serious depression after the Games feeling so burned out that I didn't do a met-con for a few months. There was nothing in me that had any desire to do a workout I ‘had’ to do. I would just do stuff for fun, but if I felt like sitting on my butt, I didn't think twice about it.

I don't want the same thing to happen to me this year. I want to peak at the Games. And Jami’s programming is structured for exactly that.

Are you training with anyone?

I train with my boyfriend, Siddeeq, and one of our other coaches, Andres. They're my workout buddies. They keep me humble and focused. I love them.

I was surprised to hear you talk about your attitude. In every video, you are always smiling and laughing.

Yes … I do love laughing and being happy. But I definitely go through my fair share of frustrations, down days, etc.

I am the kind of person who values growth, peace, relaxation and being in an empowering place. And sometimes it's hard to go into the gym every day and do a workout that I know is going to test my mental and physical capacity. Sometimes I feel like it doesn't match up with my lifestyle.

Can you explain that?

I value kindness, acceptance and love. And then I go into the gym and start getting angry and cursing. It's like I have to turn off who I value being for the duration of the workout. And then it's almost like I get a testosterone high and get all aggressive. And that's something that I don't like having in my everyday life in how I communicate with people, treat people and teach people.

(I'm) not sure if that makes any sense, but I can say this: workouts feel more effortless now. I handle my anxiety in a more empowering, mature way. Before workouts, the nerves drive me, where I used to feel they would almost defeat me.

Do you listen to music when you train?

I actually have been training to classical music lately to tone down my ‘crazy.’ It's amazing. I suggest everyone try it.

Do you plan on keeping an eye any of your competitors?

No. The moment you keep on someone else, you lose sight of yourself. Everybody kept talking about the athletes I need to watch out for in my new Region. But I let it go in one ear and out the other.

Do you have any particular movement or workout you do not like doing?

No, not really. I know I'm slightly weaker at thrusters. They don't particularly favor me because of my length. Deadlifts, as well. I feel like a tree doing the movements. So when I see those I'm like, "Ahhhhh, I gotta move extra fast on this one."

So how long do you see yourself competing?

I haven't decided yet. I'm only taking this one year at a time. There's going to be a day where I'll have to stop so I can do the "womanly" things like have children and stuff. But for now I plan on continuing until I'm done for whatever reason.

Previously, you’ve said you can’t show your dad articles or videos you’re featured in due to your attire. Has he seen any of the media coverage? 

Yes! He actually did. My sister-in-law put the live feed from the Games on his computer, come to find out. He has a new computer and uses wireless Internet now. And I didn't think he would learn how to use the live feed properly, but he did.

And he called me and said, ‘I had no idea this is what you were doing! You're an athlete. I thought you were bodybuilding. There are cameras and you look beautiful.’

It's safe to say that my jaw just dropped. (I was) wondering if it was my father I was talking to. But he was always supportive of my sports and it shows how much he's grown. I'm noticing the older he gets, the more sensitive he gets.

So now he talks to me about my training and everything. I asked him how he felt about how I dressed and he said he didn't like it, but all the other girls are dressed like that, too, so it's just a part of the sport and he's OK with it.

You can follow Boroumand on Twitter at @AzzadehB