Teen Spotlight: Living the Van Life, 16-Year-Old Landen Ryan Thrives on Challenges of Road Life

November 22, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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Most CrossFit Games athletes are notoriously routine-oriented, training at the same box, time and with the same crew day in and day out. In fact, most elite athletes don’t like to travel because it disrupts their training and nutrition. However, for 16-year-old Landen Ryan, consistency is the one thing he doesn’t enjoy, because for the past twelve months he’s been living the RV life with his parents and six other siblings. 

“It’s definitely been a journey,” Ryan admitted on a Zoom call with the Morning Chalk Up. Behind him, the webcam is catching a beach cabana from where he joined the call on a beach in Florida, the latest of his homes since starting life on the road, which has included everywhere from Los Angeles to Arkansas to Colorado. 

“Some people probably look at it like ‘oh, that kind of stinks, he doesn’t have a home gym,’ but if you change your mindset and, say, maybe there’s something at a competition you’re not used to, you’re already so good at adapting and that’s definitely something that has helped me.”

Ryan is quick to admit that during the 2021 Open, which he completed in the Florida Keys, and the AGOQ, from Arkansas, that traveling took a toll on his performance. He finished the AGOQ in 50th, missing the 20th place Games cut-off by a healthy margin.

Then, his family took a break from constant travel and Ryan spent two months training consistently in California. He showed up at the Pit Fitness Ranch Elite Teen Throwdown an entirely different athlete, finishing second to the current reigning 16-17 boys champ, Nate Ackermann, even beating him in two events. 

“Placing second will definitely boost your confidence,” Ryan admitted shyly. 

In a stacked field with 18 of the fittest 16-17 boys on Earth and three 2021 CrossFit Games athletes, Ryan racked up two first-place finishes with an additional two second-places, both of which were just behind Ackermann. 

“I definitely wanted to push (Ackermann) because he is the best, and just having him as the bar to hit it was pretty cool to chase after him or have him chase after you.”

It’s no secret, to both Ryan or spectators, that the Throwdown programming worked to his advantage. Ryan acknowledged that two events that heavily emphasized running, including a 500m obstacle sprint, by laughing and admitting, “I’m a runner!”

Ryan says he approached The Pit completely different than competitions he’s attended in the past, a needed perspective shift that he says not only led to success over competition weekend but also added immensely to the enjoyment. 

“You never know with this sport, you could be (competing) forever or this could be your last event,” Ryan said. “This wasn’t just about me (performing well), I wanted to enjoy the time I have, and I just tried to have fun.”

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