After the season she had last year, people would have understood if Brooke Wells had made a change. After a rocky start during “Strict Nate,” she finished 4th in the Central Regional. After winning it the year before, it was an ominous way to begin the 2017 season. Indeed, three months later, she had the worst CrossFit Games showing of her career, finishing in a mediocre 14th place. After finishing 6th the previous year, it represented a big step backwards.
If you consider how she started the 2017 Games, 14th actually seems miraculous. After taking 16th in Run Swim Run, her next three events were a disaster — 35th in Cyclocross, 33rd in Amanda .45, and 37th in the Sprint O-Course.
The facts were indisputable: Brooke was bad at endurance, bad at high-skill gymnastics, and bad at athletic, non gym-based events. A year of working on those things under Ben Bergeron had not seemed to make her better at them, and the increased focus on her weaknesses had eroded her strength — something she had always been able to rely on — in the process.
Under similar circumstances, a lot of older, more mature, and more experienced athletes would have thrown their hands up and decided their programming and coaching were not working. After all, Brooke had always been a phenomenal athlete. Just one year before, she had been the second fittest American woman. Many athletes in a similar position would have said “F this,” and gone back to doing what they had done before.
Brooke did the opposite — she leaned into Ben even more.
Her performance at Regionals this weekend is the ultimate validation of The Process.
From the first day, it was obvious that a very different Brooke Wells had shown up in Nashville. She took 2nd in Triple 3, only :40 behind Kristi Eramo, a former nationally competitive endurance athlete. She followed that up on Day 2 with a top 10 finish in Event 3, one of the most technically demanding gymnastics tests at a Regional to date.
After winning “Linda” on Day 1, Brooke was interviewed on the floor. CrossFit Games reporter Mike Arsenault asked her how she had managed to to improve on her weaknesses so much. Brooke’s answer illustrates how deeply committed she is to the process:
“To be honest, you’re going to have to ask Ben Bergeron. He tells me what I need to do and I just do it everyday. I work really hard. But I leave all of that side to him because he really knows what he’s doing there. So I just put in my hardest work and it works well.”
Very few athletes would have done what Brooke did after the 2017 CrossFit Games — change nothing.
The Process is about the long game. Don’t think about winning Regionals. Don’t think about winning the CrossFit Games. Think about what you need to do in this workout, on this rep, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.
The process is simple, but it is not easy. Most people don’t have the character traits necessary to fully commit to it. To be able to activate the process and live it, we have to have the right character traits. That’s why CompTrain focuses so heavily on developing the human being first — only people with high levels of resiliency, patience, dedication, humility, and hunger can truly follow the process. When character and process are both in place, the results take care of themselves.
Brooke’s performance at the Central Regional is proof that better people make better athletes.
After a disappointing 2017 season, Brooke had the patience to understand that she was in the middle of a process. She had the hunger to want to evolve past simply remaining a power athlete, despite the near-term success it promised. And she had the humility to commit to a process and trust that if she gave it everything she had, the results would eventually come.
In a new video released shortly before the Central Regional began, Ben talks about Brooke’s athletic development. “This year, I believe she is poised for something great,” he says. “She is a contender. She is going to surprise a lot of people. She is a complete athlete now.”
Brooke Wells will see you in Madison.