From Coach to Competitor

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I always considered myself an athlete while growing up. I played AA hockey, basketball, racquet sports, and would play any other sport if asked. After high school, I stopped competing and spent a few years coaching hockey while I went to university. As I began a career in emergency services I got away from competing and coaching. It wasn’t until I went back to school for Excercise Science that I got back into coaching and it is an absolute passion of mine.

The best of both worlds, firefighting and athletics, had an opportunity to collide this August at the World Police Fire Games, in Los Angeles. The World Police Fire Games are the second largest international sporting event in the world, behind the Olympics. Over 8000 athletes from 65+ countries competed in 40+ sports. When registration opened and the sports were announced, I knew I wanted to attend and compete in CrossFit. I have been CrossFitting on and off for 3 years, primarily as a means to stay in shape and be strong for my job as a firefighter. I decided to get serious in January to train for the games and began following online programming and worked with fantastic training partners.

As the Games got closer I realized that I haven’t competed in anything for a really long time. In my 3 years of CrossFit, I have only attended 1 competition and that was with a partner. I have never excelled in individual sports because I struggle with mental preparation skills and allow myself to feel the pressures of competition. When I realized that I was starting to worry about the event, I had to take a moment and check myself. I asked myself what kind of coach would I be if I couldn’t take the advice I give my athletes on a regular basis?

With 2 months until the Games I decided to take better control of my training and coach myself how I would any athlete. First thing I did was dial in my nutrition and made sure I was fuelling myself appropriately for my training. By no means did I diet, but I got rid of things that made me feel sick and began listening to my body better. This listening to my body flowed over to training days as well. I had been dealing with some health issues and I realized the best thing I could do was train to how I felt each day instead of pushing myself on days I knew I couldn’t handle it. These things lead to me feeling significantly better with about a month to go until the competition. I then began training to peak for the Games. I looked at my volume, intensity, the types of modalities I was training and shifted my focus to specific pre-competition variables. The last 10 days before I left for the Games I cut my volume and began my “peak”.

I went into the Games feeling fresh and ready. My mental game was a bit of a wreck as I was extremely nervous, but as I have coached several athletes to do so, I downloaded some Head Space and mental prep audio files. I got to the games and was amazed with the set up and the venue. I was excited and nervous but knew I was ready. I made game plans for each workout; I had practiced them all so I knew how I wanted to attack each one. At the end of the day, I beat all my practice times and even managed to PR my Jerk. I had a blast.

It was quite the experience for me to shift to competitor mode. But I listened to my own advice and it worked. I walked away from this experience with a greater understanding of what my athletes go through, and I think this will make me a better coach.

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