Be Like Mike.
We’ve all heard that phrase haven’t we? I bet most of you heard the “Be Like Mike” song in your head when you read that. If we chose to model ourselves after an athlete, we usually choose the one at the pinnacle of his sport, don’t we? Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods. In CrossFit, the best of the best is Rich Froning. Period. I had the pleasure of watching Rich compete this past weekend. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Froning and getting a quick picture taken. I even had the pleasure of giving The Champ the web address for this blog.
So everyone, Rich or not, read more and let me tell you what I learned at the 2014 Mayhem for Mustard Seed Ranch.
Competitions Are Awesome
The Mayhem for MSR was my first attended CrossFit competition. I’ve watched the Games on TV and I’ve participated in the Open workouts, so I had an idea of what to expect. But wow, actually seeing a competition where hundreds of people are cheering together for the sport of fitness was just… awesome!
There were some very fit guys and girls competing, some CrossFit Games veterans, and some Average Joe’s who were just athletes from your box next door. I mean where else can regular sport enthusiasts go and compete against the very best? I’m pretty sure that can’t be done in any other sport. Also, being at the competition made me want to train harder and actually participate in a CrossFit competition sometime in the near future!
I met some cool people, including the ladies from @RipFix who were kind enough to let me sit some ifailedfran.com business cards on their table! (I got some product from them and given how my hands have been wearing down lately, I see myself writing about them soon!)
All Eyes On The King
Ok, confession time. I had planned on doing a post more along the lines of a photo timeline of the event. But, as I was reviewing my pics from the weekend… they were about 95% of Rich and his team of Ben Smith and Matt Hewitt. Oops. So much for a diverse mix of photos!
If you went to a Chicago Bulls game in the 90s, you were watching Michael Jordan. Maybe you’d take note of Dennis Rodman’s hair once or twice but your eyes were fixated on Number 23. That’s what happened with me. When you have the 2014 Open worldwide number 1 and number 3 on the same team… you watch them.
But if all eyes are on the best, where do the eyes of the best turn their gaze to?
Desire To Win
Who does The Champ watch? The Champ watches whoever the closest, most imminent threat is. Check out this picture.
I love this photo. This is Rich doing work (those are single arm 70 lb DB snatches btw…) and taking a peek at the guy closest to him to see how many reps he is through. Basically, this is Rich saying “Ok buddy, you go as fast as you want and then I’m going to go faster.”
That’s awesome. When I’m trying to get through a WOD, usually I’m counting reps in my head and figuring out how many more X I have until I get to collapse onto the floor. When a high-level competitor is WODing, he or she is thinking how to maximize performance while also conserving as much energy as possible for the next round. Speaking of, I have a theory on conserving and why Rich Froning is a three-time CrossFit Games champion…
Slow and steady wins the race you say? I think fast and steady wins more races. If I had to sum Mr. Froning’s CrossFit technique in a word, it would be steady. Sure, he may have picked up the pace a little bit with the photo above but for the most part, Rich has a plan for a WOD and just goes out and executes. He of course has the skill and endurance to do that where for me I just try and survive half the WODs I attempt! I think one key to Rich’s steadiness is the tiny pauses he takes. I noticed this on the live 14.5 WOD, that Rich paused for a micro second at the top of each thruster. I noticed these small pauses again in person when he repped out 30 unbroken bar muscle ups. I watched The Champ lower himself from his locked out position and let his chest catch on the bar for a brief instant on the way down each time. This pause probably let him take a deep breath and also put less strain and stress on his shoulders when he dropped down into his kip.
A lot of competitors went hard out of the gate and strung together 10 or so unbroken muscle ups before succumbing to fatigue and then struggle to get the remainder. I’d say this is natural when hyped up in a competition setting. But not for Rich. Rich had his plan and he was super steady and crazy impressive, doing all 30 without dropping from the bar.
I have no good photo of the MUs, but I do have this gem to share…
Similar enough to be brothers, right? Right??
All joking aside, you know what Rich Froning is more than consistent?
Yes, I met Rich Froning. I got to interact personally with him for about 20 seconds. It was a pretty fantastic 20 seconds!
I learned some things in those twenty seconds like:
- Rich is nice. He asked everyone that approached him their name and shook hands and then posed for a photo. He had a ton of stuff to do in addition to competing, like do logistical things since he was the host of the event after all, interviews, etc. He made time for the fans though, like me.
- Rich is gracious. It’s not an act. He sure seems genuine with how he presents himself. After my photo with him was snapped, I told Rich I had a favor to ask of him and then gave him my card with this ifailedfran address on it and asked him to read me whenever he got a chance. He didn’t just stick my card in his pocket or set it aside somewhere to leave, he reached down and unzipped a compartment in his bag and placed my card inside. It was a gesture that said hey maybe The Champ actually will read my blog, but more broadly it said that he cared about his fans and didn’t think himself too good for us “common folk”. Think of all those NFL and NBA players that wouldn’t give someone the time of day. That’s not Rich.
- Rich is solid. Like for real. He’s dense. Like I can understand why he doesn’t love swimming… he probably just straight sinks. I clapped him on the shoulder after he took my card and it was like a boulder.
- Rich is just like any other CrossFitter; he cheers for the last to finish. How awesome would it be for The Champ to be cheering you on through your last couple of reps?
I don’t think I’ll ever be the champ in anything. But if I am, I want to be like Rich Froning. I don’t want to be like Terrell Owens and have it be a huge spectacle for me to interact with the public. I don’t want to be like Prince or Madonna with some crazy diva backstage dressing room demands. I just want to be… normal. Rich seems pretty normal. Well, except for being the Fittest Man On Earth 3 times in a row and counting… And nice. Rich cheered on an Average Joe that he probably never met until he shook his hand the morning of the Mayhem for MSR in passing.
In summation, CrossFit competitions are fantastic! You need to go watch one and then you need to go compete in one! I know I will compete at the 2015 Mayhem for MSR. Make plans now to be in Cookeville, TN to watch me! And maybe watch Rich too. Rich Froning, the awesome, humble, gracious, solid champ.
Did I forget the sixth thing I learned from Rich? Nope. It’s the most important thing.
Look Good Naked
I mean that’s what we’re all really here for anyways right?