As I reflect on Hyrox so many thoughts go through my head. I think about what went well, areas to improve on, and lessons learned. At a high level, I’m happy with my performance given it was my first time and it was completely out of wheelhouse from a competition standpoint. This is exactly what I was looking for out of the experience as I wanted to see how I do in something I’ve never done before. The reason why is because I want to learn how my “Hybrid Athlete” programming can not only be applied to different scenarios but how to improve the programming for the future. I also want to see how far I can take my body. I’ve seen how low I can go with alcohol/drugs and now is my time to see how far up I can take it with athletics. Right now, I feel like the sky is the limit. I’m 5’4 and 139 pounds competing with men who are 6’2 and 215 pounds.
When I think about what went well during the race I immediately think of my running. There wasn’t a moment where I walked and I have my endurance base to thank for that. I went into this race saying I was going to do 45 minutes of running and I finished at 45:32. The next event that comes to mind is the wall balls where I came into the event with a 5 minute limit to complete. I finished the event in 4:43 which landed me in 21st place for that event alone. This was the last event of the race and where most athletes where cashed I had my endurance base to keep me going.
I got completely killed in the places I thought I would and those were in the strength events. I’m a smaller guy competing in a big boy event so I knew I had a disadvantage going into the competition. The first two events that come to mind are the sled push (340 lbs) and sled pull (230 lbs). While I did train with heavier weight it simply wasn’t enough. What I learned yesterday was that the terrain is not smooth like turf so it was like swimming against the current. I walked into the sled push with a slight sweat and walked out 6 minutes later completely drenched. My 4 minute estimate was way off and this is where I started to get into my head. While I did recover during the 1,000 meter run in between events, I immediately went to a dark place in the sled pull. The same terrain made it feel like I was pulling a car uphill and all I could think is “this is taking way longer than it should.” The skierg and row machine took roughly a minute longer than it did during my training sessions. Regardless of my mind shifting to the dark side, I knew the pain was temporary and I needed to tap into my mental to refocus my energy on the positives. I completed the race in 1:27:09 (unofficial) but was given a 5 minute penalty for getting too close to a sensor that said I didn’t run a second lap at the beginning. While I did run the second lap I now know to keep my distance to prevent future penalties. My official time ended up being 1:32:09 and I landed in 8th place for my age group. Not bad for a first timer.
So what did I learned?
I learned I have a massive endurance tank. I didn’t cramp once and I felt like I was in complete control of my heart rate. My whoop showed I was at about 180 BPMs throughout the entire race which is right at the peak of my anaerobic threshold. I learned that I’m strong but can be way stronger than I am today. Today, I have 3 functional training sessions a week where I only focus only on lactate threshold and explosive power. These sessions are typically shorter around 45 minutes and coupled with my hard running days. On my easy days, I normally do rock climbing in the evening which I love but if I want to compete seriously my training needs to reflect that. Instead of 90 minute climbing sessions, I will start off a full body weight lifting session to ensure I’m not avoiding my traditional muscle building sessions. Whatever time is left out of the 90 minutes can be used for climbing. This still follows my protocol of keeping my easy days easy and my hard days hard.
If there’s one thing that really makes me happy it’s that I’m performing better the older I get. I remember in my 20’s people would say “Oh wait till your 30’s” and now that I’m in my 30’s I hear “Oh wait till you hit 40.” What I’ve learned is that the body will do what you train it to do. If you treat it like an athlete (with proper progression and programming) it will work like an athlete and vice versa. I decided I wanted to become an elite athlete at 32 years old and yes I’ve had many doubters (including myself) but it’s trending in the right direction. I’ll be honest, it’s hard, it’s fucking hard. No, I don’t always want to wake up at 4:00 to go run for 2 hours before work. I don’t always want to log 20 hour training weeks or eat 4,000 calories a day but that’s what it’s going to take. What keeps me moving is that I feel like this is my purpose. I was meant to hit a low in 2017 before I could experience this high in life. What excites me the most is that moment when I’m sitting with my future children telling them stories of what dad used to do (or may be still doing).
I made the decision that my focus is going to be Ultra OCR Marathons and Hyrox races. I love the idea of being able to run for hours while being strong like a bull. I have my first ultra of the year scheduled for March 12th in San Luis, California and I’ll be doing my next Hyrox on April 9th in Dallas, Texas. I feel extremely grateful to be in this position and my hope is that it pushes at least one reader to put a race or competition on the calendar this year. I am currently working on a personal training app where all of my programming will include exercise tutorials and guides to help you build your performance. For now, it’s time to get back to training.
Stay strong and focus on the controllables!