June 21, 2012
Stacie Tovar: Training for the Unknown
By John Koenig
"I go right to the bar, I don't like to think, I want to just pick it up and move on." In 2011, Stacie Tovar won the North Central...
"I go right to the bar, I don't like to think, I want to just pick it up and move on." In 2011, Stacie Tovar won the North Central...

"I go right to the bar, I don't like to think, I want to just pick it up and move on."


In 2011, Stacie Tovar won the North Central Regional. When she got to the Games, however, she stumbled dramatically on the rope climb and didn’t make it past the first cut.

Since she got home from California, Tovar has been working on what she considers her weaknesses.

“I know rope climbs are going to be there. Look what happened last year. I’ve been working on those bad boys all year,” she says.

Recently, at the North Central Regional, a strong second place finish finds Tovar headed back to her home base, CrossFit Omaha, to prepare for the Games. She says she knows she has much to do, and is fully aware there’s no way to predict what will happen.

Prepping for Regionals

Tovar followed the 5/3/1 program at the suggestion of Joe Westerlin, co-owner of CrossFit Omaha. In her couple of years as a Games athlete, Tovar hadn’t ever diverged from traditional CrossFit training. Adding some weight strengthened her shoulders, assisting her deadlift and press.

She says she made some good gains and packed on some weight to help her strength numbers. 

Her new programming had her performing 100 strict, slow pistols every other day, for example. Metabolically, her new routine wasn’t as good, but it also wasn’t the focus.

“Eating as cleanly as I do, I can get back into shape, metabolically, in a couple of weeks,” she says.


Tovar feels strongly that an optimal nutrition program is essential for competitive CrossFit athletes. Last year, she ate a strict paleo diet, consuming no rice, grain, bread or dairy.

“At the Games, I felt strong going in,” she says. “[I] was lean, but became weak.”

In an effort to make certain that doesn’t happen again, Tovar has tinkered with her meal plan this year. Performing multiple workouts each day, she needs to continually replenish her glycogen supplies. She’s added grains back into her diet and eats brown rice, sweet potatoes and even a little whole wheat bread.

“I’m now Zone-paleo, and I’ll stick with this a long time. As an athlete, I have more energy,” Tovar explains. “Elite athletes have to do what’s best for them. If that’s eating ice cream, eat ice cream. I have a cheat day, I’ll drink some red wine.”

Taking advantage of her experience, and that of the CrossFit Omaha teammates she often travels with, the group makes an effort to find hotels with kitchenettes when they travel.

When they hit town they all head to Whole Foods and buy food for the entire stay. As a group, they cook and prepare everything – mash avocados, cut vegetables and put all of this into single-serving containers. Tovar never eats out until the competition is over.

2012 North Central Regional

Consistency through the first two days of the Regional found Tovar in the top group. Heading into the Snatch Ladder Sunday morning, second place was there for the taking. She’d be well on her way to a return trip to the Games in Carson, Calif.

“I had the mindset going into the Snatch Ladder, ‘I want to get 155.’ I got 150 last week at the gym and it was easy,” she says. “Backstage, Elisabeth Akinwale was warming up with 155. She can have this one, no problem. I had to beat the two others.”

Katie Boyer and Deborah Cordner Carson were on her mind. Tovar wondered whether she should save energy for the last workout, knowing Akinwale had this one in the bag.

“I began toying around in my mind, thinking about who can do muscle-ups. I almost missed 140, didn’t catch it right, didn’t squat. I can see on my legs where I was catching the bar in the wrong area,” she says. “I go right to the bar, I don’t like to think, I want to just pick it up and move on.”

Tovar ended in second place on Day 3. Her double-unders pulled her ahead of Cordner Carson by a small margin. Many in the crowd wondered if she’d be able to catch Akinwale for first in the final event.

Event 6 of the long weekend was a grueling combination of brute strength and endurance, combining deadlifts, muscle-ups, toes-to-bars, farmer carries, burpee-box jumps and more muscle-ups. Only a disaster preventing Tovar from completing the minimum amount of work would keep her from a third trip to the Games.

Akinwale paced herself through the deadlifts, falling slightly behind Tovar as they performed muscle-ups, catching up a bit with each set of toes-to-bars. Cordner Carson took an early lead giving each of the other two athletes someone to chase. At the end, Akinwale and Cordner Carson tied each other, two reps short of completing the workout. Tovar was third, only four reps short.

Everyone was exhausted, but it was clear Tovar had performed well enough to return to the Games for 2012.

Headed For the Games

“I’m competitive. If Diane wasn’t the first workout in Regionals this might be a different story,” she says. “Akinwale surprised the hell outta me doing Diane in 3 minutes. But you can’t win ‘em all and this motivates me.”