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Road to Rainhills Competition

Updated: May 27, 2022

A guest blog from Ally, one of my athletes that took part in the Summer 2018 Rainhill Competition in Manchester...


I entered the ballot for Rainhills thinking I wouldn’t get in, but I could say at least I entered. And I only went and got a spot. I had been working with Chris for a few weeks prior to this, and of course sent him a message as soon as I found out I had a place. Chris then got to work!

What followed was some of the hardest #training sessions I’ve done since London Triathlon. Workouts every night (on average 6 out of 7 nights I managed my homework), personal training once a week and more burpess than I care to count.

Chris was tasked with one mission: make me survive the four WODs in one day for the competition.

I’m a scaled athlete in the #CrossFit world (meaning I am limited to what I can achieve currently due to ability in particular movements… mainly gymnastics for me). So my key focus was the endurance/recovery between workouts and making sure I had the skills and confidence for every movement that would be thrown at me. Luckily, Chris has had a lot of experience of competitions, and knew the sort of mix of WODs and seeding workouts I’d have to do. Once of the reasons I worked with him as a personal trainer.

I remember one of our first workouts ended with the burpee thruster ladder we have to do for the seedings. You have to submit scores for a range of workouts and movements so you’ve placed in the correct of four categories on the day. This was our first attempt, and I had to stop 13 reps in. I’m heavy, no way about saying that than I’m heavy and up-down of burpees and then low squat thrusters was hard going. My body didn’t like it and I simply had to stop. This was a bit of a benchmark for us. Little did I know that meant pretty much every night for 5 months I’d be doing something involving a squat or a burpee.

Chris programs all my homework through GymJournal App. It was easy to log workouts, but also give feedback. I certainly had choice words for the 100 burpees, 100 thrusters and then two days later, 100 thrusters with 3 burpess on the minute, every minute, all in one week! Every time I had a question or issue I was able to text him or leave a message in the app. Never did I feel like I was bothering him.

Our PT sessions in the CrossFit Leyland (CFL) gym were always varied, and always started with a row. Rainhills in the past always had a rowing element so it was part of general conditioning, but also every week we worked on my technique. It helped massively, as I managed to hammer out the 10 calorie row in 20 seconds at the event, a PB and a half! Sometimes I could ask for a specific focus to the session, especially when I knew I was struggling with a movement like the front rack position. We went through endless wrist flexibility, strength and movements to get me more comfortable with the position. On the day I managed to do a 3 rep and 5 rep personal best of 40kg in the hang squat clean. I could hear Chris, and the rest of the CFL crew screaming at me on the last squat of the 5 reps – it helped, massively!

So the seedings list of workouts came out and the burpee, thruster ladder was there. Oh well. We went through how it would work, and this was a test of the confidence and a measure of how far the training sessions and homework had come along. This time I didn’t have to stop. I got X reps. 13 to X. And that’s when I knew I was perhaps going to survive the competition after all!

The week before the competition, my final session was with Chris. It was about strategy, planning and confidence of the workouts. We went over all the workouts that would be on the day, and how I should approach them for my weaknesses and strengths. He had the gym laid out like the competition weights floor with the bumpers, bar and timings ready. We worked through every aspect of the event, even down to speaking to the judge to establish form and rep counts. Every detailed mattered, and it meant I didn’t panic on the day.

On the day a lot of workouts fell into my wheelhouse, apart from WOD 1. Soft tissue damage to my right foot (still not show how I did it!) prevented me from doing anything half decent on the run or skipping, but a least I nailed the shoulder to overhead presses! When it came to the kettlebell swings (the Wood categories alternative scaled option to pull ups), the 16kg was no issue. Chris has conditioned me with 16kg to 24 kg kettlebells, so it didn’t phase me.

The worst workout at the competition was left for last – the thrusters; a combination of my worst grip on the bar and a squat. Even though it was a light weight for me, it just took all my energy to squat that low in quick repetitions, keep the bar in position and push up and out. My last thruster rep was probably the loudest I could hear the CFL squad! And I will always remember Chris shouting ‘you’ll never have to do a thruster again’ which even made the judge giggle! And that was it. All done. I even gave Chris a sweaty hug thank-you afterwards (I’m not one for hugging usually).

There isn’t a chance I could have worked out how to build up to the competition by myself. The advice, support and home-programming from Chris helped me at every stage, even when I had moments of I can’t do this.

I’m excited to work with Chris again in the coming months to work on cardio endurance and leg strength work as my next challenge is a 125km cycle sportive, in the hilly hills of Scotland next Autumn! I’ve got a feeling squats are back on the cards… and a burpee or two.

At Lowden Coaching we want to ensure we help you achieve your goals physically and mentally. I look forward to talking to you about them and how we can go about achieving them together. If you want to discuss this in more detail and feel my support will help you achieve your goals, whether that be in fitness, nutrition or mindset coaching then please get in contact with me at #TeamLowden.


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