"I think at this point, what sets me apart is my experience."
After qualifying for both Regionals and the 2011 and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Jaime Gold, 26, of CrossFit Conquest has added a third trip to Regionals to her resume.
Having only been doing CrossFit for just more than two years, 5-foot-2, 130-pound Gold ended the 2013 Open with a fourth-place finish overall in the South East.
After two previous second-place finishes at Regionals — one in Central East and one in South East — Gold hopes to make the podium yet again and return to the Games. She attributes her recent success to her experience with competition.
“I think at this point what sets me apart is my experience,” she says. “I have been to Regionals twice and to the Games twice, and I understand the demands of competition.”
“I am a lot smarter now than I was in the sense that I know that you don’t have to win every workout to qualify to the Games,” she adds. “You just need to be consistent and not tank on anything. Having a good mental game is almost more important than the physical once you get to that level.”
As a full-time doctoral student in the physical therapy program at Nova Southeastern University, Gold’s free time is very limited.
“When I am crazy stressed out at school, and I am supposed to do a grueling met-con, (I know) that it might be a better idea to take the night off and hit it hard the next day,” she says. “I try really hard not to be burning at both ends, and ultimately school is my No. 1 priority, so there are plenty of days that my workouts get cut short.”
Gold has changed her training strategy significantly since the 2012 season. Her new strategy includes a coach, a few training partners and a plan.
“Last year, my training was all over the place and really inconsistent, which didn’t give me much confidence. I needed some structure and consistency, which has been the biggest difference in my training,” she says. “I have also had the opportunity to have some training partners, which really makes working out so much more fun. There is nothing like going through a spicy met-con with a few other people.”
Her new training strategy has Gold feeling more prepared than ever.
“I feel the most prepared this year mainly because of my training program by Jami Tikkanen. He has done a really good job at covering every aspect of CrossFit,” she says. “On my recovery days, there is always an endurance component, which keeps me constantly working in this area.”
Tackling Open Workout 13.5 was Gold’s final obstacle to qualifying for Regionals. With a 160-lb. thruster and a 235-lb. front squat, the workout did not slow Gold down one bit. She completed the workout once logging 152 reps, which was a third-place finish in the South East.
“This workout gave me a feeling that I had honestly never felt before. It wasn’t pain or muscle failure. It was this overall shutdown of all systems that literally took everything out of you,” Gold says. “I liked it.”
Gold attempted to stick to a strategy, but as muscle fatigue set in, it was her mental toughness that pushed her through.
“(My goal was to) get through the first 90 in 3:30 to 3:45 and try to maintain a pace. I broke up the pull-ups from the beginning into 8/7, but that changed to 5/5/5 on the third round, then that rep scheme went out the window,” Gold says. “I knew it was the last workout, and it was only eight to 12 minutes. I put big words on the board reminding me to relax, breathe and push myself.”
Gold attributes her mental toughness to her athletic background as a Division 1 collegiate gymnast.
“I was a Division 1 collegiate gymnast — nuff said!” she says. “I have good body awareness, and I am able to make corrections pretty fast. Some things, like my endurance, haven’t been helped by my background, but overall it has made a big difference.”
“Gymnastics is an individual sport and most people get intimidated being out there alone on the competition floor, where to us, it is almost second nature. There is a huge mental toughness component to gymnastics. It is actually more mental once you get to the higher levels. You know how to do the routines, but do you have the mental capacity to put it together when it counts?”
Gold also recalls a moment during the Camp Pendleton Event at last year’s Games, which helped strengthen her mental toughness. Gold struggled with that event, finishing it in 41st place.
“During the Pendleton triathlon, I was hiking up the mountain really struggling to find a rhythm, and all of a sudden, Deborah Cordner Carson came trucking behind me and instead of just passing me, she gave me some advice,” Gold says. “At that moment, I said to myself that if she can get over her fears, so can I.”
“Never give up on yourself,” Gold says. “Last year, Camp Pendleton was a huge mental battle for me, and although it wasn’t my best finish, I didn’t give up. Stay humble because nothing is guaranteed. You have to constantly work hard to keep up with the progress of the sport.”