I was devastated when I heard CrossFit was getting rid of Regionals. I love Regionals—it’s my favorite and also most hated competition on the planet.
I hated it because everything rode on those three days. It was the most stressful time ever. But the feeling of being at Regionals is unlike any other. I don’t even think the Games can compare to it. The Games are just such a big show, and I never get to see my family, I never get to see my friends.
Ever since they put the teams in the morning at Regionals, the individuals only had to be there for three to four hours each day. I got to eat dinner with my friends, have breakfast with my coaches, and see people at the arena. You get to be a part of the community and still compete, and at the Games you are in a briefing, you have the workout, you have to do interviews. The big show is great, but you don’t get the same feeling you get at Regionals, so when they announced there were no more Regionals I was really sad.
However, you just have to roll with the punches. I’ve dealt with changes before. First the Regionals changed from NorCal and SoCal into California, and we went from six spots to five spots—at the time I was terrified of that. Then we went from the California Regional to the West Regional, and we went from 10 spots down to five spots.
I’ve dealt with changes before. In the end, though, how you feel doesn’t really matter. If I’m angry, that doesn’t give me more opportunities.
In the end, though, how you feel doesn’t really matter. If I’m angry, that doesn’t give me more opportunities, if I’m sad about it, it doesn’t make me any more fit or any better. You just have to be like, “Well, I hope my fitness is good enough.” And keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t think anything changes just because there are fewer spots.
Some days I’m like, “I’m totally fine. This will be great.”
The next day I’m like, “Oh shoot, I’m never going to make it back to the Games ever in my whole life,” and then the next day I’m like, “No I’m wonderful, this is not a big deal.”
It’s always a rollercoaster. It comes and goes. I cry once a week. It’s no big deal.
The years I didn’t qualify taught me something important: how to lose.
Before 2014 I was mostly training on my own. Then preparing for the 2014 Regionals I started training with (six-time individual Games competitor) Neal Maddox. He crushed me in everything. I realized I took a lot more breaks than I really needed to and was not as good as I thought. I lost to him all the time. After training with him through the Open and leading up to Regionals I was just a completely different person when I went to Regionals that year.
I had a fire and I knew how to lose.
It didn’t freak me out when I went to Regionals and was in fourth place. You can come back. I had a different mindset when I got into a hole. Before I had nothing to fall back on, I had no experiences with competing outside of Regionals.
I’ve learned that one workout doesn’t define you, you still have a chance even if you’re in tenth or eleventh place on day one. I’ve dug myself out of holes plenty of times. Just trust in yourself and trust in your training and rely on your experiences.
There’s so much pressure now with the new Games format. You go to any of these competitions and you have to be number one. If you’re not number one the whole weekend was a wash. Sure you could win some money, but you don’t get the coveted Games spot. But I’ve learned that one workout doesn’t define you, you still have a chance even if you’re in tenth or eleventh place on day one. I’ve dug myself out of holes plenty of times. Just trust in yourself and trust in your training and rely on your experiences.
The Plan for 2019
Right now my plan is to go to Wodapalooza on a team. The rules now say you can qualify for the Games on a team and still qualify individually. I think it’s a good option just in case, so that’s my plan for Wodapalooza.
Then I will try to qualify as an individual in the Open. This year the top 20 in the world qualify for the Games, and I’ve been in the top 30 worldwide the last three years (Cho placed 28th in 2018, 23rd in 2017, and 35th in 2016), so it’s not a super long shot. I would love to do that because then I wouldn’t have to travel. That gets expensive. If that doesn’t work out, then I will definitely try to go to a qualifier and try to peak for that.
If I’m going to bust my ass in the gym day in and day out, why not continue to try? It’s good to be uncomfortable. That’s why we do this. Whether it’s to make it to the Games or not, being uncomfortable is hard and that’s why not a lot of people can be good.
My training didn’t change a lot after the announcement about the Games. There’s more focus on the Open now, and the Open is traditionally classic CrossFit. You have to have a really good engine and you have to be good at all the basic movements like thrusters, pull-ups, wall balls, and double-unders. In the Open they are not going to film someone running 10 miles. You have to be good at Fran, you have to be good at all the basics. I’ve done a little less swimming and running and odd object things since I heard those changes, but intensity wise, timing wise, mentally, it’s all the same.
The bottom line is, I really like working hard and I enjoy the process. If I’m going to bust my ass in the gym day in and day out, why not continue to try? It’s good to be uncomfortable. That’s why we do this. Whether it’s to make it to the Games or not, being uncomfortable is hard and that’s why not a lot of people can be good.
I feel like I am always going to compete, so why not go for it? Hopefully I’ll qualify for the Games, and if I don’t, maybe that will light a fire under my ass for the next year. Being a Games athlete doesn’t define me, but I really like competing. I have always enjoyed myself when I feel like I need to, knowing I can’t worry about the things I can’t control.