CF-L3 Coach Ian Day Celebrates Ten Years of Sobriety

November 14, 2023 by
Image Credit: Hannah Karuna Kathrein
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On November 3, 2013, Ian Day woke up at home, hungover and confused with no memory of how he got back safely after a night out. 

It was a wake-up call after years of heavy drinking that at various points had left him in jail, in a car crash, and without any self-confidence or way forward in the world. He had been sober before but had always come back because of the party environment of his cheer team at Northern Iowa University and his social life. November 3, though, was it. 

Exactly ten years later, this holds true. Day is celebrating ten years of sobriety with the new community and social group he’s built for himself at CrossFit Fringe in Columbia, MO. Though Day and his wife, Semifinals athlete Ali Thomason, moved to Missouri only a year ago, he has close to a dozen people gathered at 7:30 AM to do a grueling workout he created to memorialize his journey over the past ten years. 

For time:

3,650m row (the amount of days in 10 years)

*Every 4:00 including 0:00:

11 burpees to a target (9/8ft) (symbolizing falling down and getting back up again)

3 cleans 

  • “You can go to any CrossFit gym and people know two things about you: you’re supportive and you’re ready to work hard, and it’s just one of the most fantastic things in the world,” Day said about finding a new community in Fringe.

Day started CrossFit in college as a way to get his mind off of alcohol. After classes each day, he hitched a ride from a friend to the gym to study, do the 4:30 class WOD, and study again until the end-of-day coach took him home. During the weekends, he would “purposefully annihilate” himself with metcons and strength pieces so he simply didn’t have the energy to go out that night. While he admits this wasn’t the most mentally healthy time in his life, he says it’s what initiated his love for CrossFit.

  • “I used that time to prove (to myself) that your body is pretty awesome and you can do some amazing things when you put your mind into it,” Day said. “This hour, which is the best hour of your day, can lead into the rest of it. It’s like, hey, I got through this workout, I can make it the next hour in the weekend without going out.”

Over time, CrossFit became something that wasn’t only healing as part of his sobriety journey but also helped him discover the biggest passion in his life: lifting others up. With a semester left in college, Day decided to uproot his life and move to Colorado, where he got his CF-L1 and began coaching full-time. He says that it’s become one of the best parts of his life, something that frequently “fills his cup.”

  • “One of the big reasons I coach is to help people see that they can do things they didn’t think they could do beforehand,” Day said. As a college cheerleader in his past life, he knows that sometimes that little extra push can be the game changer for an athlete. “They just need that push, like, ‘hey, this person has faith in you, so you might as well give it your go.’” 

While people might think of coaching as a one-way street where coaches give their athletes support because it’s their job and receive a paycheck at the end of the day, Day says this couldn’t be farther from the truth. He benefits from it just as much as his athletes. 

  • “It’s not a give and take, it’s a very give and give, and I don’t think people realize as much. When I’m able to help you, you’re then helping me. You’re giving me the self-confidence to continue becoming the best coach I can be.”

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