Re: What are you going to work on for 2016
Having watched the 5 Behind the Scenes episodes from 2015, which were awesome (big kudos to the producer for bringing us such great stuff), I tend to think some of you have some good ideas and have it right in terms of how to train--and based upon a particular interview with a coach of a very, very prominent athlete I think that coach may have it all wrong. That coaches' approach was to "bring it all the best" subject matter experts to prepare your athlete for everything. While at first that might seem obvious, upon closer analysis I think it is shortsighted and misses the point.
The whole idea of CrossFit is to prepare for the unknown and unknowable. It is impossible to train for everything because, by nature, some challenges are in fact unknown and unknowable. Basic CrossFit methodology tells us how best to do this--it does so in "World Class Fitness in 100 words," in training "constantly variable functional movements performed at high intensity," and in telling us we should "regularly learn and play new sports"--not every now and then, but regularly. The whole idea is to prepare for tasks as if you can't, in fact, figure them out. This vividly brings to mind a video of I saw of Froning--the true master--playing team roller blade hockey. What the hell is a guy trying to win his 3rd or 4th Games in a row at that point doing risking injury playing roller blade hockey with a bunch of people who might have derailed his training for weeks or months by unintentionally hurting him? He was training--learning and playing new sports. That Friday night game of roller blade hockey was every bit as important to his training as his cardio work, barbell work, or gymnastics work.
Surely every athlete must work their weaknesses, Glassman has emphasized that again and again as the biggest bang for out buck in training. It is a fundamental tenet of CrossFit. And bringing in subject matter experts--such as sprinting coaches if you didn't perform well at sprinting--makes perfect sense. But is that really the whole picture? I don't think so. To me, you are doing yourself or your athlete (if you are a coach) a disservice, if you are pretending to prepare for everything. What you should be doing is preparing yourself, or your athlete, to face the unknown and unknowable. Will you have the confidence and mindset and self-reliance to step up to the plate and perform when given something you never expected, haven't trained for, maybe have never done, and maybe have never even heard of before? The athletes who are prepared to step up and do well on the unknown and unknowable challenges are the ones best prepared to win the Games. If you are an athlete, get yourself ready. If you coach an athlete, get them ready. Because something off the wall is likely to be there.
My guess is Dave Castro and whoever he has help him plan and design workouts spends much of the year thinking and planning and scheming and figuring out what the hell they can dream up that the athletes can't anticipate at the Games. What are the wrinkles they are not likely to expect and anticipate? What is likely not in anyone's training arsenal? What will put as many athletes as possible in the uncomfortable position of saying "Oh **** I've never done this I don't know how to do this."
This past year, we saw them wipe dust off an old tool directly from the CrossFit warehouse which had been borrowed from old school high school gymnasiums--the pegboard. It had been a long time since there was any focus on it--so I'm betting Castro and those helping him made a strategic gamble--in throwing it in as one of the surprise elements at the end, they hoped--correctly--that not many athletes had prepared for it or even done it before. It appears they were for the most part right. Some had done it before, remote in time, but nobody had trained it or expected it. They hit the jackpot.
How would the athletes do at something that was likely new to them, unfamiliar, or at least not something they trained regularly? Well we learned--and the outcome in fact shook up the leaderboard and determined the winner on the women's side.
For a Games contender, I think the key is staying true to CrossFit methodology. Stick to the basic principles in your training, follow the pyramid--nutrition, then metabolic conditioning, then gymnastics, and so on, follow "World Class Fitness in 100 Words," and most importantly maybe for the true Games contenders is to hit the top of the pyramid and "Learn and play new sports." Why? Because when you do so you are always learning to adapt. To confront something new. To be forced to apply your fitness in a new way, a way in which you are unaccustomed. Forget performing Fran for the 300th time in your CrossFit career to see if you have shave one second off your already stellar PR. Instead, get out of the box and do something totally new. Prepare knowing that, in the end, the goal of the Games and Castro and those who assist him in preparing the workouts is to have the winner determined not by someone who crushes those things we all knew would be there in some form or fashion, but by the athletes who do well in those events and then also figure out a way to persevere and do well in those two or three events nobody anticipated or dreamed would be there. Someone who has learned to apply their fitness, on the spot, to challenges which were truly unknown.
Follow CrossFit methodology. Work your weaknesses, Prepare for the unknown and unknowable--both through playing new sports all the time and preparing yourself mentally for hearing a workout and being totally caught off guard but still being able to step up and get the job done.