Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On this episode, I speak with six-time CrossFit Games competitor and owner of the most famous beard in the sport, Lucas Parker. The Two-Brain Radio archives are full of great shows that you might’ve missed. We have amazing stories from the community sales and marketing tips and the best of the business world all delivered in three shows every week. So to stay in the loop, subscribe to Two-Brain Radio wherever you get your podcasts. Lucas Parker made his debut at the CrossFit Games in 2011 and he quickly became a fan favorite. He made it back to the Games five straight years after that with his best career finished coming in 2015, when he took 14th, and to call him eccentric would be an understatement. We talk about the influence his parents had on his love for movement of all kinds, why he chose to grow his signature beard and a memorable moment in 2012 when he gave his fellow competitors quite a surprise during the event Camp Pendleton. Thanks for listening everyone. Lucas, thank you so much for doing this today. How you doing?
I’m fine. Thank you for asking Sean. It’s lovely to see your face again. I’m trying to think back to when the last time that we saw each other was.
I think we talked in the Marriott in Carson before the Games possibly in 2015 or sometime in there. Yeah, it has been a while, but yeah, it’s good to see you.
It has been a while.
I know. So how have you been dealing with this sort of new normal that we’re all going through with this coronavirus thing?
I’m just trying to sort of hold steady and just be thankful that I’m happy and healthy and living in a country that’s handling things well and is not getting too totalitarian just yet.
Yeah, that’s definitely a positive. You wrote that or you’ve said that your parents exposed you to as many stimuli as possible when you were growing up. So what kind of physical things did you do as a youngster?
Right. Just the good stuff. All good stimuli. I was lucky enough to grow up on Vancouver Island, which is on the West coast of Canada. And it’s just a perfect place to grow up if you’re someone who’s into outdoors and physical activity and just sort of using your body in nature as it was intended. So was a kid was playing sports in the yard was climbing around on the rocks on the shore, was mountain biking in the forest was climbing jungle gyms, playing sports with my friends. So that was, I guess, kind of my start in sport. And my dad actually, coached if you can call it that, our grade school long jump and like track team. So I got a bit of instruction on to sprint and jump and do push-ups and things like that.
And on top of that, I also tried a few musical instruments, and you know, other things. So I think my parents were pretty awesome about not pushing me to be an athlete or pushing me to be a doctor or a musician or whatever. It’s kind of like, Hey, just try everything, see what sticks.
What kind of impact did you think that that had on you?
I mean, it’s kind of, I’d say that like CrossFit is like a microcosm of that in terms of like being like a well rounded athlete in CrossFit while I guess I had a good start as a well rounded kid in life. So I appreciate the idea of being a Jack of all trades, being able to do a little bit of something of everything, and being open to trying new challenges. I think that’s a huge part of life in general.
So as you get older, what are the sports that then started to appeal to you the most?
My main sport I would say was rugby. I did a little bit of martial arts. I really enjoyed that. Everyone thinks they could have been a contender, right. But I think I maybe had a bit of potential there, but my mom, especially like, didn’t want me to get any head injuries. So kind of I didn’t go down that path. Played a bit of soccer. I was usually on defense. I was off and on the bench half the time. So my main thing was we won provincials on the soccer team. So we were a good soccer team. Provincials is like the state championship for high school in the U.S. And, but rugby was kinda my main thing. And are you familiar with rugby at all?
Yes I am. Was it league or union?
Oh, geez. You are familiar. It was union, right? That’s the normal 15 a side, like, yes.
Lineouts and scrums.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And it was 15 a side, not seven. So for those listeners or viewers who aren’t familiar with rugby, it’s kinda like football, except you don’t wear pads. You always do lateral passes. And most positions require more skills. So you don’t really just have a lineman or you don’t really just have a quarterback. There are positions in rugby, but my position was a flanker. So in the scrum, the scrum is the thing where all the guys knit their necks and shoulders together and hope they don’t get spinal injuries. I was a flanker, so I was stapled onto the side of that.
So I had to push hard in the scrum sort of a maximum strength thing. I had to break off quickly and go make a tackle. And then I had to get up and run across the field and do that all over again. So that’s really like the most CrossFit thing you can think of, right. This good combination of strength and speed and power. And then all the brain skills, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy, flexibility. So I think that prepared me pretty well for CrossFit.
You said that you met a handful of amazing teachers, coaches, and mentors that pushed me to pursue excellence in every avenue of life. So what are the lessons that you learned from those people that you remember the most clearly?
Oh, man. Where do I begin? I’ve actually been thinking about this lately. Funnily enough, thinking I should make like a blog post or a YouTube or something, going over like summarizing all my coaches basically.
So why don’t we start there? So my first coach was basically my dad. He taught me how to, you know, when you’re sprinting, you shouldn’t clench your fists. You shouldn’t swing your arms across your body. When you’re doing the long jump, you should, you know, count your steps back and like put a little chalk mark and things like that. And that was like, I was whatever, 10, 12 years old. My next real coach that I would say in terms of like the training disciplines that we’re in here, would be a guy named Dave Smitt, who was our high school strength and conditioning coach. So this is when I was playing rugby. This is when we won provincials. We were a AA school playing in a AAA league, which means we had smaller numbers to pull from. And we were also smaller in stature, but we won because in my opinion, we were the best athletes out there.
We were one of the only schools that was, you know, there was a tight group of us that would show up, you know, 7:00 AM before school and we would lift, and then we would do intervals and conditioning after practice. And like, we were training like two a days as high schoolers and doing good S&C stuff. So that was amazing. So Dave Smitt really, I credit him for my, he sort of lit the fire under my butt in terms of getting excited about training and getting fired up about like seeing progress in lifts and skills and seeing your quote unquote, your hard work pay off in those avenues. And then from there, as I transitioned into CrossFit, I had another coach and mentor and who’s still one of my best buds, Cam Birtwell, who’s the owner of CrossFit Big City.
Not only is he a CrossFit owner and coach, but he works with the Canadian Sports Center. So coaching, you know, Olympic athletes and teams. So another sort of very, plan minded, progression, periodization minded sort of individual. So I learned a lot about that from him. And he coached me to my best performance at the Games, which I think was in the 2015 season. And then most recently my coach, Max El-Hag from Training Think Tank in Atlanta. He’s been really just super helpful in terms of getting me back sort of on my feet, both physically and mentally, in terms of feeling like a more capable, resilient athlete in the sport and handling the requirements of the season now, which are being more competition ready more of the time.
So what did fitness look like to you before you found your way into the CrossFit world?
Pretty similar, to be honest. So I never had that big, like life-changing aha moment of like finding fitness, you know, I never had to lose a hundred pounds or feel intimidated about stepping into the gym or anything like that. So for me, as a coach, I would say that’s my one weakness as a coach is that I’ve never sort of had to make that huge one 80 life changing sort of pivot. For me, it was a sort of natural transition. Like I have very clear memories of being in grade school, on the playground and practicing handstand walking and just like running on my feet and then trying to kick on my hands and run on my hands just cause it seemed like a cool thing to do. I have very clear memories of hanging underneath the A-frame of a swing set and like climbing up like, you know, rope climb, chin up style up.
So I always just liked working out and just doing cool shit and try to find something in life that I could do that as a grown-up. So I had to stay away from the playground an in a CrossFit gym.
So how did you find CrossFit?
So he’s yeah, he’s not a CrossFitter but he’s always been one of my favorite like action stars. Right. I don’t know if you saw the movie, The Transporter back in the day, but that was like, Oh, that was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Just a fit guy with a shaved head kicking ass. So that resonated with me. So I remember in the Men’s Health magazine, Jason Statham workout edition, there was just a list of his workout and there were a few movements in there and one of them was power clean.
So I was like, ah, you haven’t done these for a while. Like, I definitely like learned how to do them in high school, but it’s been a while. So let me just see if I can find some video demos. And that brought me to the crossfit.com video library. And from there I started doing small, some of my own workouts. I sort of followed the.com WOD for a little bit in my university gym, which was this nice giant rectangle, like, you know, college gym with just like platforms and machines and everything. So I kind of had everything I needed except like rings for muscle-ups. And then it was like, yeah, I like this. I want to get into this. I found a CrossFit gym. They were, I guess, not hiring, but they were doing an internship program. So I became an intern coach and then I started coaching classes and then I went to the Canada Regional, and then I went to the Games.
What is it specifically about it that you think hooked you?
Honestly that at the time it was the closest thing I could think of to being like doing Navy SEAL training. As a kid, that was two my career choices. I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. I want to be a race car driver. I want to be a movie stunt man or I want to be a jewel thief. Those were all the things I wanted to be like as a kid. So I would read, every, you know, autobiography biography or like fact-based fiction book I could find, you know, ex military people, SAS, Navy SEAL, whatever. I was really into that. In one of my computer tech courses in high school. We had to like build a website and I ended up like showing mine with pictures of like assault rifles and things like that. I think that sort of like put me on some sort of red flag list. So I was super into that, but ended up not joining the military for a number of reasons. But CrossFit seemed like a cool thing of like, Oh, see if you can do all this stuff and then do it again and then do it four days in a row and climb a rope and lift the weights and yeah, just cool challenges.
What was it about military life that just didn’t appeal to you?
I think more like the, the violence side of things. Yeah, I just don’t know if that’s a road that I want to go down.
So when did you figure out that you were actually really good at CrossFit?
I think the first competition I did was the BC Sectional. So this is really dating me. This is the 2010 season. There were sectionals, which are individually programmed. Then there was the Regional, which at the time was all of Canada was one region. So it was kind of cool because it was like a national championships. I went to nationals for CrossFit. I went to the Canada Regional and I placed 10th, pretty cool place top 10, but they only took six to the Games that year, but it was pretty clear to me like, Oh, this is my first year. Like I probably can go from 10 to six. So here’s what I need to work on. So let’s work on that. And then the next year, of course, the structure of the season changes changed, but I was lucky to have, you know, done enough work to fulfill the improvement requirements, to improve faster than the rest of the field.
And I ended up, I think coming first place in the 2011 Canada West region. And so yeah, after 2010 I knew like, OK, yeah, this is, it’s a sport of working out. I’m pretty good at working out. I could probably win one of these things.
You go to the Games in 2011. What were your expectations when you showed up in Carson for the first time? \.
I tried to not—I really had no idea of what would happen in the Games. So I tried to not have any too specific expectations. I figured like I would ideally it’d be nice to be in the top half of the field. The top half is better than bottom half, but that was kind of about it. And I kind of had an idea of like, OK, this will be my first year, I’ll gain experience.
I’ll figure out some things I need to work on. And I’ll just continue building momentum year to year. And that’s a great plan obviously, but the best laid plans of mice and men go off to rye. I think it’s a line. Right.
I’ll take your word for it. I’m not that—
Its’ a Robbie Burns poem.
I’ve heard it. I just I don’t know. I’m not as cultured as you apparently, but I have heard that line. So what did you learn from that experience?
From that first year at the Games? Oh, geez. That’s so long ago. Well, there was an interesting example, like, or a specific example that hopefully sort of summarizes it is there was this one event, which was, they had these skill challenges back then. So it was like a three skill or a three event, a three event workout, I guess.
And they’re each worth 50 points or something like that, we haven’t done that for a while, but one of them was a max snatch and a couple of other skills. But basically what happened was I think the wrong weights were taken out for the men and the women. So the men were in the warm-up area. We did our whole warm-up. I worked up to heavy snatch. I was ready to go. I was mentally keyed in, and everything was great. Coach Burgener was watching our warm-up and he just looked at me and like squinted and nodded and I was like, Oh man, I got the coach B approval.
That’s a hell of a compliment from him.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then, oh, sorry women are going. So the women had to rush and warm up and get out there. The man were, I essentially, we just had to sit there and wait.
So I had to, you know, I was right at that perfect level. I had to kinda cool down, warm up again. I was thrown off pissed off and so that type of thing, it’s like, well, that’s whether you like it or not, that’s CrossFit, that’s the CrossFit Games. So being able to, yeah, that was a good year to be like, Oh, I need to be able to just kind of roll with the punches. I can be frustrated, whatever, but like, it is what it is and kind of, yeah, just that kernel of, I guess mental toughness and adaptability was planted then. And I don’t think you ever fully capitalize on that a hundred percent. It’s more like you need to be reminded of it year after year. So luckily I was able to go to the Games year after year and keep getting those reminders.
What was the motivation for you to grow the signature beard?
I think if anyone’s familiar with like ice hockey, sorta like the playoff beard thing where you start growing it until your season is over until you lose or whatever. So that was kind of the initial thing of like, OK, well I think it was one year maybe before the open, I was like, OK, this is the last time I’m going to shave this season. I’m gonna go through the open, see if that goes well. And then whatever, you know, momentum that I have captured sort of in my cellular output will be maintained, get through Regionals. OK, can’t shave, keep it going, go through the Games. And then usually shave it off after the Games, which in August is a good time to do that.
2012 you go back to the Games and it was pretty apparent that you were one of the crowd favorites. Why do you think that was the case?
Well obviously I’d like to say it’s because I’m, you know, an amazing example of a brilliant human being and a kind heart.
That’s exactly right.
People just like the way I look, which is fine, you know, I’m just a strange looking guy out there. I think the typical CrossFit Games athlete physique is more the tanned and waxed, like GI Joe looking guy.
And so it’s nice to have a bit of variety. But yeah, I mean, if anyone is inspired by my, you know, approach or intensity or whatever, then that’s icing on the cake for me.
There’s one moment I have to ask you about during that competition, it was in Pendleton where you get out of the water and you go the full Lucas in front of everybody. So what was going through your mind when you were doing that?
What was going through my mind was I knew we had a long run ahead of us. It was a three part event, right. We had a swim and then a bike and then a run, which was essentially a death March through the mountains at that point. And so I just, I didn’t want to have sand in my junk for two hours in the hot sun. I don’t know how much time I lost during that transition versus time and comfort that I gained during the workout. But I think what we’ve seen a number of years at the Games is a trend of there’s some workout that leaves some gnarly scars and rashes, whether that’s a backpack on your lower back or a kettlebell on your shoulder or whatever. So I was happy to escape unscathed without any raspberries on my inner thighs.
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It was what’s the word, it was fertile ground for stories. It was just a really cool storytelling canvas. Right? You heard stuff about people hallucinating, Azadeh Boroumand seeing a butterfly that represented her mother. You heard on the flip side, very terrible things. I think that might’ve been the year, Chris Spealler lost his ring in the surf, like his wedding ring. So there’s just all these crazy stories that arise out of unique, challenging, stressful situations. And that was kinda—one of the hardest things for the level of athlete, like at the Games, if this makes sense, so per preparedness, if that makes sense, that was one of the most challenging years of the Games. Of course, since then there have been crazier days on paper, but maybe athletes are more prepared for that. So I think that kind of stood out as like, Oh shit, like, yeah, this is a real test.
From a media standpoint, we had a gator catch on fire.
I didn’t hear about that.
There were all kinds of disasters going on behind the scenes on that one. So you go from 26th in 2011 all the way up to 15th in 2012. So at that point, what did you think about your chances to not only crack the top 10, but maybe put yourself in position to get on the podium?
It definitely boosted bolstered my confidence. That was kind of an expectation issue that I had was like, OK, let’s go from middle of the pack to, you know, top quarter or top whatever group. So hat was in line with my expectations that year, for sure. And so then the thought is kind of, Oh, OK, well, let’s continue this momentum. Of course linear progress is great. So I’ll be first place in the next couple of years.
There was a perception, especially among the media members who were covering the sport, that you were a very calculating and precise athlete and still are. Is that accurate? And second, why or why not?
Yeah, it’s definitely accurate. I probably overthink things most of the time. Sometimes it serves me well, sometimes it doesn’t. But yeah, in those handful of years, as I started the Games, I was writing my own program. I was planning out years of training blocks and progressions and things like that. And typically would utilize workout strategy and pacing. I was never one of those people that would just like, you know, go ham, so to speak. I would be pretty in tune with my strengths and weaknesses and know when to push and sprint and stuff. So yeah, I’d say I was definitely a calculated, type of athlete. You might come up with a nickname like, the professor, unfortunately that’s already taken. So I’ll have to settle for something else. I think Teen Wolf was what I ended up with.
That’s not a bad one. That’s pretty good.
Not a bad one.
So after going to the Games in 2011 and 2012, you improve both of those years, but then you drop to 19th in 2013 and then you have a career worst 34th in 2015. So what did those results do to your confidence?
Yeah, obviously, you know, decreased results seem to indicate decreased performance and decreased confidence. But then I think the way that I try and find perspective there is just that you look at other athletes having possibly like similar trends or similar performances, or you look at like, the Games is an amazing test, of course, but it’s also only a four day or a three day or a five day or whatever it is snapshot of the entire year. And if you, if everything goes right, then you get to present your best work on those days. But if things don’t go the way that they needed to either on those days or the days leading up or the rest of the year or whatever, then—I think my headphones just turned off. Can you still hear me?
I can still hear you.
All right. I think, yeah, taking into account, you know, prior performances. So looking back on, say Regional performances workouts, I did well on at the Games. Those kind of give you the confidence to say, well, I have these capabilities. I just either need to execute better or clean up some training approaches or just resolve whether it’s a health or an injury issue. Because that’s obviously over the course of four or five, six years at the Games you can’t dodge bullets a hundred percent of the time
I misspoke. It was actually 34th in 2014, because then you go to the Games again in 2015. So how are you feeling going into the competition that year?
I don’t remember to be honest. I think there was probably a little bit of a decrease in pressure because I’ll probably will do better than 34th or whatever it was. So maybe having that, you know, having that linear progression of placement sort of taken off the table and be like, well, new year, new me, let’s sort of see what happens in terms of holding myself to a particular commitment of ranking. Obviously you always want to rank as high as possible. And the events that come out any given year will often have an influence on that. So I think there were some good events for me that year. And I think, I maybe just was there to act freely and as forcefully as possible.
Leading into that what had you changed, if anything, about your training and the way you were preparing?
I started working with a coach.
Why did that make a difference for you?
I think—and this was when I started, you know, getting coached by Cam Birtwell, who I mentioned previously, but he had always been a mentor and an overseer and a consultant. So I’d always run my program by him and say, Hey, what do you think, and he’d suggest modifications. And I would probably be too stubborn to listen or whatever. But so then finally in 2015 I was like, Hey, just, can you just do this? Like, can you just tell me what to do? And I just don’t want to think about it anymore. So I think having those mental resources taken off my hands, having some more accountability to hold up to whatever the sessions or the volume that’s prescribed, I think there’s a lot of value in working with a coach and that’s my preferred approach in general now.
You wind up a career best 14th that year. So what went right for you at that competition?
Just like execution in general. So at that point, sort of really not knowing what was going to happen at the Games, but having a number of years under my belt of like, well, this is how the Games feel. Don’t be surprised when you feel like you want to die on the first day. You know, hold out hope and effort and commitment through the final day through the final workout that you’re in. Because that’s when there’s still a lot of points on the table and changes can happen. And yeah, just having, I think, that year I had a lot of great support. I had, you know, I had my family there. I had, my coach Cam and the friends from the gym there. I had my friend and chiropractor treatment specialist there helping me out. So I mean, part of that is the team you have around you so that when the workout’s done, there’s people helping you to get ready for the next one.
You’re not the first athlete I’ve spoken to who has said I had lower expectations or less pressure. And all of a sudden I did better. Why do you think there seems to be a correlation between those two things?
I would maybe attribute that to the idea of the universe. So if you’re familiar with the sports psych concept of, well, there’s a range of what’s on the X axis, performance and the Y axis is arousal. So as you go up, you know, in arousal, your performance increases, but as you know, pardon me, the X axis is arousal and stress and excitement. So as that increases, your performance increases a bit, but as it keeps increasing your performance drops, and at the Games, the arousal, the stress, the input to the system is maxed out on that end. So finding ways to—anything that decreases your stress, calms you down a little bit, I think improves your performance at that level. Typically at the Games for me anyways, you don’t really need to get amped up. The whole weekend is fully amped.
You were going for your seventh career appearance at the Games in 2017, and then you ended up having to withdraw for Regionals that year. So what happened?
That was just, ah, man, it was it’s hard to say what happened. I had, basically some sort of like, just basically like collapsed. Couldn’t control my breathing. Couldn’t get my heart rate down. Couldn’t get cooled down. So there was definitely some sort of, you know, I didn’t get it, like we didn’t get a diagnosis of rhabdo or anything like that. I don’t really think I had rhabdo, but there was some sort of like, you know, like heat stress related event or whatever. And that was on the first event of the weekend. So there’s the possibility that it was a, you know, a psychosomatic like mental, like choking episode, essentially. It’s hard to diagnose in hindsight exactly what happened. I went out for the second workout and yeah, as I was doing dumbbell snatches in the warm-up area was getting dizzy and kind of blacking out a little bit.
And so after that, I got through that workout, completed the workout. But after that, I was like, well, I’ve had two bomb workouts, basically. I feel like shit. Should probably get checked out. So I just withdrew from the competition. I think that was, yeah, that was definitely, a defeat for me, which was pretty upsetting big blow to the ego. But I think like in terms of saving the ego, like if I had pushed through the rest of the weekend, I could have come fifth or fourth on every workout and I wouldn’t have qualified. So based on how the first two went, it seemed better to sort of cut my losses and get checked out and get back to the drawing board.
What did you think about your competitive future immediately after that?
Yeah, I mean, there was a long time where I thought, Oh, geez, what’s going on here? Am I done? Am I a liability to myself? If I push myself to a certain level again, are the wheels going to fall off and, you know, end up in the hospital or whatever. So spent, I think the rest of that year doing, yeah, just like a little bit like kinda doing some investigation testing stuff, and some kind of lighter, easier rehab style training. I think I went to Wodapalooza the following January. I could be wrong about that. Or maybe I was going to sign up for it, but, that was right about when I started working with Max from Training Think Tank. And so I was kind of in the, I was just on a one track mind of like, well, shit.
Like, I don’t really feel a hundred percent confident, but I guess I’m just going to train and compete again another year and see what happens. And so he sort of suggested that we kind of just break that paradigm and say, well, why don’t we actually take a year off? Cause I hadn’t really had a year off competition for, you know, six, seven years. So yeah, decided not to do the competitive season the following year and just focus on yeah, rebuilding some fundamentals in terms of movement patterns and conditioning and sort of just durability and resilience type of stuff. And then try and get back to it the next year.
So you take the year off and then you come back and everything has now changed as far as the structure of the competitive season. So what were you thinking at that point about what you needed to do to not only get through it, but also make it to the Games?
Yeah. In hindsight, I kind of felt like, you know, Paul Rudd as Ant Man when he comes back after a five-year absence after the snap, that’s kinda like what, you know, what is this, what’s going on new world situation? So I tried to sort of see, well, if, if I’m going to participate in this new structure of CrossFit, like what am I going to get out of it? So I’m someone that does a lot of travel for coaching. I coach my own workshops and seminars and things like that. And that was always in the back of my mind. I was always like, Oh, am I screwing myself over as an athlete by spending this time and energy traveling, when I should be at home doing ice baths and you know, all that sort of stuff.
But now the nature of the sport is that you essentially have to travel if you want to compete at Sanctionals. So that kind of more aligned my career options, like, well, I gotta travel anyways now to compete. So that’s, you know, that makes me feel OK about continuing to coach workshops. So that was nice. And historically I’ve never been someone that really crushes the Open historically. I would win more likely at like a Regional level type of thing. So an in person competition where there’s of more days of events, where the judging standard is higher, because I move very well, I rarely get no-repped, and where the movements are generally higher difficulty, higher skill, higher weights, I tend to do better. So instead of having one Regional to go to, I now have a dozen, so that seemed to bode well for me. So I had good hopes for the new style of CrossFit.
You mentioned your seminars when you’re on the road, what is the main message that you try to give people when you hold those functions?
So they’re very modular in nature. So I’ll do an Olympic lifting seminar or a virtuosity seminar, which is about like the common movements of CrossFit and how to do them well and do them better. So I mean, the messaging in some ways is specific to the movements at hand. However, the idea I try and get across is, Hey, like the principles we’re applying here, the way that we’re analyzing and breaking down the movements, it’s not just for the snatch. It’s not just for the wall ball. Like we can take these approaches for all the movements we do doing CrossFit. So like big picture wise, there’s a couple, I guess, thoughts or concepts that I try to get across. One of them is that there’s there’s no amount of volume or intensity that you can get in one workout or in one training day or in one week that will exceed the benefit that you can get from weeks upon weeks of consistent input and training.
So I think that helps people sort of take the pressure off of like, Oh, I need to, you know, max out my batteries and squeeze all the juice out of myself every single day, cause that’s typically not sustainable for most people. And I think a sustainable approach yields better results for most people over the long term. Another message I try and get across is the idea of doing everything necessary, not everything that’s possible. So I want to do everything that’s necessary for my success, not everything that’s possible for my success. So it’s sure it’s possible for me to run, you know, a half marathon every single day. That’s possible. That would be a great, you know, claim to fame, but is that what’s necessary? Probably not. Let’s find out what’s necessary. Let’s do that. In addition to then zooming in, so that’s the big picture, zooming in small picture, I’m a big proponent of like, I guess, regressions and progressions and movements. So sure you want to get better at the snatch, maybe you snatch every day, but maybe you break it down further and maybe you do like a certain portion of the movement or pausing in a certain position to correct your alignment or something like that. I think that’s better than just adding reps and adding reps and adding reps on paper that aren’t what you need to be doing like in practice.
You mentioned all the coaches that you had growing up and the impact they had on you, how much of an influence did they have now on your own coaching style?
I think they’ve had an influence in the way that I try to be, what’s the word? Less of like a mansplainer basically. So, I very clearly remember when I was starting out in my university gym, I would approach people and correct them unsolicited on their lifts. I would reprimand the facility staff on how they cleaned the barbells because the barbells were stored vertically and they would spray them first with a spray bottle and then the water would run down and get into the collar and it wouldn’t spin as good when I was doing my Olympic lifts. So I mean, I’m sure those things were all objectively good things to say, but I learned to sort of sit back and listen more and wait for the participant or the athlete or the client, or whoever, wait for them to sort of ask for certain things. And sort of for me try to be more of a sponge and less of a hammer
In a day and age now where all these athletes are always getting together and talking about throwing down and everything, you were always someone who has more or less trained by himself. So why do you not mind kind of toiling and solitude?
I think I’m kind of a slowpoke. So I like to take my own time to kind of you know, warm up at my own pace and kind of think about the workout I’m about to do and that sort of stuff. Additionally sort of growing up and starting out on Vancouver Island, there’s not a ton of like elite Games-minded athletes around that. That has incidentally, that has changed over the years. There’s a Team Tyrannis, which is from there, and it has a bunch of athletes. There’s Christina Seally, who’s a female athlete I actually went to grade school with, ended up going to the Games. And there’s now Adam Davidson, who’s qualified for this year’s Games out of which sanction was that, Brazil. I think he was in Brazil this year. So, in this small town on Vancouver Island, there’s half a dozen Games athletes easily, which is pretty cool.
But back in the day there maybe wasn’t as much. So I’m aware that like, well, I should kinda just focus on my own training personally, I think I get more out of that than like jumping in a class with the gym members, which of course is fun. I appreciate the community side of things. But my goal was to be a CrossFit Games athlete. My goal was not to just enjoy an hour at the box sort of thing. So I’m kind of fine with behaving in that way. And it works until it doesn’t. So, one of the most humbling but beneficial things about being at Training Think Tank in Atlanta is when I started up there in 2019 when Noah was living in Atlanta, Noah Ohlsen, and Travis Mayer who has his gym CrossFit Passion there, I would be training with Travis and Noah when I went down there.
So I would be winning zero workouts, which was always tough and humbling, but, you know, maybe I would beat Travis on one portion of this workout and maybe I would beat Noah on another portion of this workout. And so I could sort of see like, OK, like I’m close to these like literally top world, top athletes on some things. So it sucks to get beat, but that’s no reason to slow down. That’s a reason to speed up and do better. But I think that’s an intervention or a methodology that has to be used sparingly. I don’t think you can sort of compete every day as some T-shirts say, for me personally, I don’t think that’s a wise approach.
What lessons have you learned during your whole CrossFit journey here?
Well, I think I have learned, a little bit more about what’s important to me. I think, you know, something that’s important for athletes or for anyone on a career path is like, you know, finding out your why, and that that’s maybe not the same thing each year. That could change season to season year to year. It could change month to month as life circumstances change. So yeah, sort of being able to, I think the type of athlete that I am a very sort of like analytical process based, I’m always kind of down in the weeds, down in the details. I think being able to sort of zoom out and have some like eagle vision I think is something that I’ve learned that I really need to work on to make sure that I’m getting the most out of my life and enjoying things. And I think also learning to not get too attached to outcomes.
There’s a very good chance that you do everything properly. You’re putting your best effort. You hit the right timing and peaks and valleys, and you eat the right foods and you do everything right, and you still don’t get what you want. So you gotta be OK with that.
You strike me as someone who is never going to be done learning. So final question. What are the things that you are still hoping to learn here in your CrossFit journey?
Oh boy, what am I hoping to learn along my CrossFit journey as I go forward? I mean, just for me as an athlete, I’m hoping to learn like, I guess the minimum effective dose. So like I’d love to learn a way to do less, to still get what I need and get the necessities out of my training. I think as an aging athlete, I’m not that old, but I’ve been at this for 10 years now.
Doing more, is often not the answer for more veteran athletes. So finding, yeah, learning the key elements that I need to make progress. An example of that would be this Rogue Fitness deadlift challenge they had at the Arnold. So I did the online qualifier for that. The event that I was doing was a two minute AMRAP of deadlifts at 315 pounds. So I got a certain number of reps in the qualifier. And then I learned that the minimum effective dose for me to make progress was doing partial deadlift lockouts from roughly like the knee. So as I go forward in my deadlift training, I might never do a deadlift from the floor again, until I compete. I might just do pulls from the knee. Because I know that if, and when I slow down, it’s in that position, in that range and for certain reasons, so things like that on a small scale, like, Hey, what can I cut out and still make progress, I think is pretty valuable.
And then on a big scale, this quarantine COVID pandemic situation has been interesting. Cause you kind of think like you think about, OK, what am I losing and how do I feel about it? And for a lot of us as hopeful Games athletes, or as pre-qualified athletes or sanctional athletes, whoever, like we’re kind of losing essentially this year, most of us are losing our sport. And do we feel really bad about it? Yeah. Maybe do we feel frustrated and cheated and taken away from, yeah maybe, but like, man, like what if you had a family member in the hospital with COVID like, I think there’s a lot of other things that could be taken from our lives that are more important than a workout race. So yeah, just learning to sort of strike the appropriate value and still be still be committed to things, but not be too attached to things. Good way to learn.
I really like that. That’s a great answer to end on and I really appreciate your time, best of luck moving forward. And I hope that we get to see you and your fellow athletes back out on the competition floor very soon.
Thank you, Sean. I hope so as well. Thanks for having me on the podcast today. It was great to see you and talk to you. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to give you a real hug.
I will pencil you in for that and I’m gonna hold you to that next time I see you. I want to thank Lucas Parker once more for taking the time to talk with me today. If you want to follow him on Instagram and I suggest you do, you can find him @toqueluc. Do you want to take the guesswork out of entrepreneurship? We have a ton of free resources to help you do just that. For free access to guides on marketing, retention, buying, selling and more, visit TwoBrainbusiness.com/free-tools. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Sean Woodland, and we’ll see you next time.