Getting ready for the season from Nicola Simpson
The hard work started in January ahead of the London Throwdown, which, for me, is the most important individual competition outside of the regionals. All the UK’s top athletes, as well as some of Europe’s best, always compete at London. Besides Sam Briggs, who is in a league of her own in the UK, there are a group of athletes, including myself, who are at a similar level with different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on what type of WOD’s come up, it really can be anyone’s day. My aim was clear -to hold my own against the European athletes and finish second UK competitor. I trained hard for the competition, held on January 26-27, working on my strength and at the skills which I’m weaker at. I’m lucky to have some great training buddies at CrossFit Leeds, where athletes push and motivate one-other constantly. I also met with Sam whenever possible. She pushes me, and I always leave feeling exhausted but stronger for it. The WOD’s for the throwdown were announced a few days before the competition. Personally I’d prefer for the WOD’s to be revealed on the day as knowing them in advance just gives you time to over-think things. I was fairly happy with the workouts that were announced – all except a 1,000m row! Rowing is a weakness of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a rowing WOD, but this one is set to be 1,000m all out! My only other weakness amongst the listed WOD’s was the free-standing handstand, so I practiced this in the days leading up to the event. Day one of the throwdown started with the row. I was pleased it was first up so I could get it done and out of the way. I ended up rowing a six-second PB (personal best) and coming out in 45th position. I had told myself before the row that I would finish it in the middle of the pack, but I still felt nervous about my position. WOD 2 included pull-ups and the free-standing handstand, and again I recorded a PB, this time by 15 seconds, which I was more than happy with. Further WOD’s of a more CrossFit style helped me move up the standings by the end of day one. Day two is one of cuts, with the number of athletes still in the competition slashed down after each WOD. I made it through each stage and was in fourth position when the final cut of 12 was made. What followed was three WOD’s, with athletes cut after each one. I performed strongly in the deficit handstand push-ups – something I’ve worked hard on recently – and the dead lift. The final saw six athletes doing chest-to-bar pull-ups, thrusters and a sled drag. Sam again took the victory, retaining her title. I finished in sixth place. I would have liked to have finished higher but was pleased with sixth and, as had been my aim, second UK athlete. While competing in London I wore the women’s inov-8 f-lite 219s, which are new for spring/summer 2013. The natural-fit shoes have a zero drop and were ultra responsive throughout. The wide forefoot meant I could splay my toes during WOD’s. I then went on holiday… well when I say I went on holiday I mean Muay Thai training in Thailand. Prior to CrossFit my sport was Thai boxing, which I competed in until 2009. Since being introduced to CrossFit, I’ve rarely done any Thai training, only the occasional session with my brother. The next three weeks that followed, therefore, proved to be a good test. I trained for a short time in Bangkok before moving onto a gym I used to visit regularly in Phuket. The training regime is very different to that of CrossFit and I didn’t touch a weight for three weeks. I did, however, still have the fitness and stamina to train at a high level.
My biggest difficulty was firstly getting used to the heat and secondly my timing and movement, which were out by a lot! By the end of the second week I was feeling strong on the pads and coping well with the heat. At the end of the three weeks I did not want to leave. Another week of training out there and I would have been in reasonable fight condition. I feel I have some unfinished business and another visit, for longer, may be on the cards, along with a fight or two. For now though, having beaten jet-leg and a cold, I’m focusing on the up and coming CrossFit Games Open. I should be in good order by the time the first WOD is announced.