Being a rookie at the CrossFit Games is kind of like being a high-school freshman. The big kids seem to have all their shit together while you’re just hoping you can find your next class and someone to sit with at lunch.
Of the 79 individual athletes who took the floor this week, 26 are rookies. The night before their final day as CrossFit Games freshmen, a few shared some advice and hard-won lessons learned.
“Don’t be an idiot,” said Elliot Simmonds, a 24-year-old rookie from CrossFit Yas, after hearing that some first-timers hadn’t realized they would need to bring their own meals to the venue.
“If you've not packed food, you're stupid.”
“Do force it down—don’t do so too close to an event,” Stephanie Chung said. Pre-competition jitters interfere with digestion, noted the 26-year-old from CrossFit EHOH.
“And all of a sudden it’s up here,” she finished, thumping her chest.
“Rent a car,” advised 23-year-old Brandon Luckett of AllSport CrossFit. Luckett spent more than US$100 in Uber fares on the first day of Games week traveling between his hotel and the venue.
“The number of trips you take there and back—it adds up real quick,” he said.
Chung, who hauled an overstuffed rolling suitcase from event to event, said it’s best to have all gear and clothing on hand at all times.
“You don't want to be caught on surprise rope climbs without pants,” she said.
You can’t go too far at the CrossFit Games without stumbling across a set of bumpers and barbells. But if you want to practice a particular movement before taking the floor, don’t save it for the last minute, Camilla Salomonsson Hellman learned.
Before Fibonacci on Friday night, the 27-year-old from CrossFit Nordic did a general warm-up in the Exhibition Hall, saving specific movement preparation for the staging area behind the scenes in the Coliseum.
“And then there were no parallettes,” she said.
Lesson learned: “Just do that movement before you go.”
But don’t neglect general warm-up in favor of technical movements.
When Chung was preparing for Clean and Jerk Speed Ladder Friday afternoon, “I was so nervous that it felt like my heart rate was up, but I wasn’t actually warm,” she said.
So she practiced some cleans but neglected her engine. As a result, she was out of breath by the second barbell.
“Get your heart rate up before you go out—even though your nerves do that a little bit for you,” she said.
Rookies, be prepared to be humbled.
“Everyone is so good here—so fit,” Luckett said after taking 35th and 36th in Bicouplets 1 and 2.
“You might be good in your region, but you're probably not that great here.”
Salomonsson Hellman agreed.
“I feel like a real rookie, and I’m not used to that. I'm used to being quite good in my region and finishing in high placements, and here I'm not doing that, so it's a new experience,” she said after taking 19th and 28th in the same events.
Still, don’t sell yourself short, said Dean Linder-Leighton, a 27-year-old from North Wollongong CrossFit.
“The biggest reason why it’s taken me so long to get to the top heat is that I’ve had events where I (got) down on myself,” Linder-Leighton said on Saturday night.
He compared competing at the Games to his experience at the Pacific Regional, where he felt more confident in his abilities relative to the rest of the field.
“You doubt yourself a little bit rather than just attacking,” he said.
He recalled pacing the obstacle-course run during The Battleground on Friday, finishing with a bit left in the tank while others lay on the ground, spent.
“I haven’t gone hard enough,” he thought. “And then it’s too late."
“Believe in yourself whether it pays off or not,” he added. “Because if you hesitate, it's not gonna pay off anyway.”