Register Today! Battle Royale, Saturday, Sept. 26.

2015BattleRoyaleJoin us Saturday, Sept. 26 at 9 a.m. as we host our friends from EPIC Power & Conditioning | CrossFit EPC (owned by former EAD | CFAH athletes Heather R & Josh R) for a fun, all-levels cross-town competition & potluck cookout. REGISTER NOW.

The competition is FREE, and will feature three workouts. The workouts will be released the week of September 7. Can’t make the competition? Join us for the potluck cookout. Questions? See Coach Karen.

John O’ Says It’s Time to Give Yourself a Break.

Thanks to EAD | CFAH athlete John O’ for taking time to once share his thoughts with his fellow athletes; this is John’s third blog post. An EAD | CFAH athlete since November 2011, you can usually find John O’ training with the early morning crew weekdays and on Saturday mornings. Have a thought or two you’d like to share with your fellow athletes? Let us know … we’d love to hear from you!

CrossFit by its nature is competitive. It’s easy to get caught up in the WOD and look at your results and sometimes feel defeated. I think it’s time you gave yourself a break.


John O’ encourages us to redefine what it means to win.

When you start CrossFit, I wish the coaches would give each athlete a yardstick with that athlete’s name on it, because the true nature of CrossFit is to get a little bit better each and every day. The only person you have to measure up against is yourself. Give yourself a break.

I recently came back from a month off due to injury, and the first workout I showed up for was Partner Murph. While I felt sorry for my partner Laurie R, and was sucking wind by the sixth round, I did not hyperventilate and nearly pass out on the second run like I did last time. For me, that was an improvement. While I was not as strong as Laurie in the WOD, I gave myself a break and felt good about finishing better than I had before.

Set your goals, ask your coaches how to go about achieving them, and get to work. That’s all you need to worry about. Over my three and a half years coming to EAD | CFAH I have said, or heard, things like this after bumping fists with fellow athletes after a workout or PR attempt:
“Yeah, but I scaled it.”
“I couldn’t do the pull-ups (fill in double-unders, toes to bar, etc. here).”
“I only increased my PR by 3%.”

Give yourself a break.

Commit to your goals.

Commit to your goals.

The only measure anyone cares about at EAD | CFAH is whether you are committed to getting better. Did you finish? Great. Try to finish faster next time. You did one round of the WOD Rx? Awesome. Do one more next time. You did three Pull Ups without a band? Work on getting four next time. It’s all about the measure of yourself and your effort. If you are willing to give it all, and put yourself out there, I promise that the coaches and your fellow athletes will rise up to support you and celebrate with you at every accomplishment.

If you ask any coach or athlete at EAD | CFAH, I would bet that the greatest joy that each gets out of coming to CrossFit and being part of this community, is seeing people do things that they didn’t think they could do. When you see the look of pure elation on the athlete who just did their first Double Under, first Pull Up, first Muscle-Up or first Rope Climb, it is an awesome thing. Give yourself a break when it comes to comparing yourself against others. Set your goals, go about the work of achieving them, and we will all celebrate you.

2015 Tandem Throwdown Crowns Champs.

Tandem Throwdown organizers had no idea when they named the final workout of the 2015 event “Better Together” that the moniker would set the stage for the thisclose scoring between the top duos throughout the day, including the need to invoke two separate tiebreakers.

The 2015 Tandem Throwdown Open Division title was up for grabs as 2013 champs Vanessa Stack, CrossFit Muse & Michael Bodi, CrossFit Phoenix, held just a single point lead after three workouts over Ashley Carlson, CrossFit 155 & Ryan Poole, CrossFit Kilter. Poole & Carlson bested Stack & Bodi on the final workout, a grueling 10-minute pyramid featuring Handstand Push Ups, Bar Muscle Ups and two sets of Squat Snatch (85# / 115#). With the leaderboard deadlocked at six, the final workout victory clinched the 2015 title for Poole & Carlson. The Tandem Throwdown victory was the second title earned by Carlson at Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights this year; she was crowned Athena Classic champ April 18.

2015 Tandem Throwdown Podium Finishers: Michael Bodi, CrossFit Phoenix & Vanessa Stack, CrossFit Muse (2nd); Ashley Carlson, CrossFit 155 & Ryan Poole, CrossFit Kilter (Open Division Champs); Thadine Zajac & Jason Rice, CrossFit Roselle (Masters Division Champs); Reid Specht & Maggie Kerrigan, CrossFit Dinami.

2015 Tandem Throwdown Podium Finishers: Michael Bodi, CrossFit Phoenix & Vanessa Stack, CrossFit Muse (2nd); Ryan Poole, CrossFit Kilter & Ashley Carlson, CrossFit 155 (Open Division Champs); Thadine Zajac & Jason Rice, CrossFit Roselle (Masters Division Champs); Reid Specht & Maggie Kerrigan, CrossFit Dinami. Check out the event photo album on the EAD | CFAH Facebook Page.

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Competitors gave it their all during a day filled with challenge, camaraderie and fun.

Joining Stack & Bodi and Carlson & Poole in the finals were six duos who consistently placed in the top 10 on the leaderboard throughout the day: Maggie Kerrigan & Reid Specht (3rd), CrossFit Dinami; Kalah Blue & Brian Kent (4th), CrossFit Wauconda; Kinsy Rosati & Clark Dendinger (5th), CrossFit Fire; Kate Konkel & Pat Scanlan (6th), Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights; 2014 Tandem Throwdown champs Christina Meeks & Trent Meeks (7th), Unaffiliated. The early departure by the one of duos tied for 6th place after three workouts, Skyler Bahrke & Jesse Bahrke, CrossFit Wauconda, (family function), invoked a tiebreaker ruling between 2014 Masters Division champ Thadine Zajac and her new partner, Jason Rice, CrossFit Roselle, and Jacqie Seyller & Andy Rodriguez, CrossFit Mettle and Honor & CrossFit Oswego. Zajac & Rice went on to top the Masters Division. Rounding out the Masters Division were Jody Corbit & Justin Corbit, CrossFit Sanctify; Courtney Fedacsek & Glenn Backus, CrossFit Autonomy; Nicole Herchenbach & John Allen, CrossFit Fire; Bill Miller & Amber Rich, Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights; Laura Martin & Scott Beutler, CrossFit SAA; Dara Madrid & Marco Fernandez, CrossFit SAA; Ann Marie Nordby & Todd Nordby, Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights; Lisa Lowenthal & Terry Barlin, CrossFit Autonomy; . Full leaderboard results are posted at WODLeader.

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Workout #1 | Back in Shackles put communication, coordination and grit to the test..

“Back in Shackles,” a workout inspired by the first workout of the 2013 Tandem Throwdown, was met with enthusiasm – and a bit of bemusement – by competitors. Tandems had to complete he 10-minute AMRAP bound at the wrist. The workout featured 30 Overhead Plate Lunges, 30 Unanchored Sit Ups and 30 Single Unders, kicked off by a 250m Plate Run (45# / 25#) buy-in. The workout launched what would become a fairly consistent leaderboard for the day; eight of the top 10 finishers in Workout #1 would go on to the finals.

Perhaps the loudest cheers of the day rumbled through the gym during Workout #2 | Kong. Tandems had a single barbell and 45 seconds for the female to complete a Deadlift and the male a Clean (any style). Ana Grimh & Tyler Grimh, CrossFit Sanctify, were the first to complete the 10-station ladder (135# – 305#). They were soon followed by Blue & Kent, Meeks & Meeks, Rosati & Dendinger, Stack & Bodi, Carlson & Poole, and Kerrigan & Specht.

Workout #3 | Hold On – 100 Shoulder-to-Overhead (95# / 65#), 90 Bar Hop Burpees, 80 Front Squats, and a 70 kcal Row paired either a Front Rack or Extended Arm Hang static barbell holds – showcased the athleticism of Bodi & Stack who logged an blistering finish time of 11:35.

The Tandem Throwdown returns to Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016.

Thanks to the competitors, spectators and volunteers who contributed the 2015 Tandem Throwdown.

Coach Becky & Coach Kate Offer The Inspiration Many of You Knee’d.

This is another in a series of personal reflections contributed by Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. We turn the blog over to Coach Kate, who reflects on the one-year anniversary of Coach Becky’s devastating knee injury, her gutsy return to competition, and how her journey can serve as a lesson to us all. Thanks to Coach Kate and Coach Becky for sharing this story. 

Why do you come to Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights? To improve or maintain your health and fitness? To change body composition? To socialize and enjoy the community? For therapy? To get away? To blow off steam? To challenge yourself? For the competition? To be a part of something pretty awesome? All of the above … and more?

I come to EAD | CFAH because I like to feel empowered. “If I can squat 300 pounds, then what obstacle is ever going to stand in my way?” Not a single one. The grit and guts you need to face a workout should leave you feeling strong and capable. But lately, that’s not what I’ve overhead, and I’m getting frustrated.

BeckyDropQuote“I’m just not built to be strong (or fast).”
“I don’t really bend that way.”
“I don’t have the time.”
“I’m too old.”
“I’m not good with a barbell.
“I’m too big (or too small).”
“I don’t want (insert body part) to get too big (or too small).”
“I’ve just never been good at (insert just about anything.).”

Blah, blah, blah. It’s time to tell your little, self-deprecating conscience to shut the F*** up.

BubblesDon’t get me wrong; I get it. I’ve been there, and sometimes need to push through negative emotions. The fear of failure or the anxiety over trying something new can be paralyzing. But the best thing you can do for yourself is to bust out of your comfort zone. Breaking even one small element of your routine can create major change because it forces you to think about how and why you do what you do, rather than going through life like some mindless robot. I hate to break it to you, but life sucks sometimes. Forrest Gump was right: SHIT HAPPENS. Life can get really hard and uncomfortable, and when it does, what will the negative little bubbles that you allow to float around your head do for you?

To fear change equals an inability to grow. And don’t tell me you don’t need to adapt and grow; I don’t buy it. The time is now. No more excuses. No more negative attitudes. No more “I can’t.” You are fully capable of changing how you think, and how your body moves. I guarantee that if you really challenge yourself with a positive attitude, and commit and dedicate to improving yourself, you will find success far past a MetCon or the Barbell. How do I know that works? Coach Becky.


Coach Becky is always up for a challenge, including posing for one of Coach Jim’s recent photo shoots.

One year ago, Becky — going full-force and fearless, as usual — jumped an 8-foot wall, only to land awkwardly and tear her ACL (Editor’s Note: The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four main knee joint ligaments that connect the shinbone thighbone). Most would succumb to their perceived reality that there would be no future fun and exciting adventures, or athletic endeavors. But not Becky. After two days of denial and facing the reality of her MRI, Becky got angry and decided to change her focus. She was determined not to let this injury get the best of her.

The radiologist who read the MRI said surgery was the best option. Several people assured Becky that surgery was the sensible decision. But Becky knew better, and instead listened to her gut. Becky believed that her athletic ability and experience creating effective rehab plans would help her get the results she wanted. Her after assessing her fitness level and leg strength, the doctor agreed; there would be no surgery for Becky.

Becky built an action plans. She wrote weekly and monthly goals pertaining to Activities of Daily Living, range of motion, and strength. She had to change her approach in the gym as well, initially focusing on upper body strength like Pull Ups and Dips. With only small episodes of frustration (obstacle, obstacle, obstacle), she stayed motivated because she decided that success was her only option. There was no giving up. There were no excuses. She gained momentum and support as she tracked her progress  via Instagram. With every milestone – bending her knee, running, box jumps, pistols, Oly lifting – she received encouragement from members of the EAD | CFAH community. Seriously, she crushed every single barrier in her way.

And, where is she now? Brand-spanking-100-percent-pain-free-good-as-new. That’s right, there isn’t a movement inside or outside the gym she hesitates to do. No fear. She knew what she needed to do to make this happen: goals, a plan, committing to it, doing to work, and being at EAD | CFAH, where the Community had her back.

So, there it is, the evidence you all seek. The recipe for success. Becky’s walking around, calling you out in the gym daily. She does it because she cares and she’s been there — through hard times and hard workouts. Just getting the chance to WOD next to her inspires me. This girl is strong and capable and it’s how she tackles LIFE. She doesn’t make excuses and she doesn’t surrender herself to that overwhelming negative chatter in her head.

So, look, maybe you are currently comfy and happy with your bubbles, and that’s fine. But you didn’t come to EAD | CFAH and you don’t stay here just to workout — you could have done that at any Globo Gym. You came to EAD | CFAH for more — just like I did, just like Becky did. So let us help you. Try something new, different, challenging. Commit. Work hard. Stay positive. Use your community. Get rid of your excuses and trust the process.

Chef-Crafted, Healthy & Tasty Meals Now Delivered Weekly to EAD | CFAH.

KitchFixFridgeEAD | CFAH is now a delivery “hub” for Kitchfix. Kitchfix will deliver to EAD | CFAH every Monday, starting June 29. The weekly order deadline is 5 p.m., Friday.

The Kitchfix menu changes weekly, but several items — like the amazing Kitchfix Granola — are always available. Place Your Order Now. Be sure to select EAD | CFAH as your delivery “hub.”

Personal Chef Josh Katz got his start in 2012 by preparing healthful meals for cancer patients. His unique take on using nutrient-dense foods quickly earned him a loyal following. His creations are nutritious, Paleo-friendly (or not), gluten-free (or not) and down-right tasty. He uses organic, locally-grown ingredients, pastured-raised poultry, eggs & pork; 100 percent grass-fed beef; and simmers rich bone broth.

Be one of the first 25 people to email for a FREE Kitchfix meal!


Registration Now Open! EAD Barbell Club In-House Competition.

Register today for the Winter 2015 In-House Olympic Weightlifting Competition.

Register today for the Winter 2015 In-House Olympic Weightlifting Competition.

Test your progress at the Elite Athletic Development Barbell Club Olympic Lifting Competition Sunday, Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m. The competition is open to current EAD | CFAH athletes, and no previous competitive experience is necessary.

Each registered athlete will have three attempts to max on the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. The combined total of the highest two successful lifts will determine the overall result within a body weight category. Weight categories will be determined after registration closes Wednesday, Feb. 18. Additional information will be provided to competitors the week of February 16. EAD | CFAH athlete spectators welcomed (no charge). Register today!

Questions? See an EAD | CFAH Performance Coach.

The Elite Athletic Development Barbell Club is a USA Weightlifting Club.

Eating By Macro. The Best of All Worlds.

Contributed by Coach Jason

This is the first in a series of posts in support of the Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights Performance Fueling PrescriptionRegister for the program today!

The athletes who train at Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights are committed to achieve their maximum potential. The adult and student athletes who train here are working hard to improve their “Fran” time; increase a 1RM Deadlift; cut time from a 5k, half-marathon, or marathon; change body composition; reduce or eliminate prescription drugs for blood pressure, cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes; or any number of other physical and performance goals. Regardless of the goal, one thing remains true: proper fueling is key to attaining success. But what is “proper” performance fueling?


There are no “bad” or “good” foods in the EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription … just the “right” foods for your nutritional needs.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. The Numbers.
The desire to achieve athletic success and the confusion behind the role nutrition plays leads many to eat only so-called clean, good foods and avoid bad foods at all costs. The premise seems simple enough … except there is no objective set of scientific criteria used to define clean foods. And there is zero data or evidence that a certain food or group of foods — clean or otherwise — will help you lose fat or perform better in the gym, or cause more fat gain or delay fat loss outside of the excess calories it has provided. Also problematic in the good foods / bad foods approach is that it leads many people to an unhealthy relationship with food and a lifelong battle to sustain athletic performance or body composition success. The most important factor in any nutrition plan is THE NUMBERS.

Eating By The Numbers.
The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription was created exclusively by certified nutrition educators for our athletes to help them build a fueling strategy unique to their body composition and training goals. The PFP is the antithesis of traditional New Year’s Resolution plans based on scarcity and deprivation, and “good” or “bad” foods. Instead, the PFP is designed to ensure athletes abundantly consume foods they enjoy in and that will help them look good and feel better. The PFP is a by the numbers fueling strategy, and inspried by the practice of flexible eating.

Flexible Eating.
Flexible eating is a scientific approach to nutrition and plate composition that relies on nutritional values, not food types. There is strong empirical evidence that supports the ideology that NUMBERS MATTER when it comes to athletic performance, body composition, and optimal health for athletes. In this approach to nutrition planning, energy intake in the form of calories is closely regulated as energy input and output is the basis behind body weight and performance. Monitoring macronutrients (Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and fiber levels are also vital when using a flexible eating approach and are accounted for in terms of a certain number of these each day. While using this approach, no foods are off limits or restricted. If a food fits within your personal set of goal numbers, enjoy it! The practice of inclusive versus exclusive meal planning fosters a healthier and more sustainable approach to nutrition. The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Calculator is a simple tool to help our athletes determine the optimum mix of macronutrients to support their training, performance and body composition goals.

What Flexible Eating is NOT.
Although there are no foods that are off limits in this approach to meal planning, food quality is still critically important to proper fueling. Flexible eating is not an excuse to see how many cookies and donuts you can eat … but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for such foods in moderate amounts during any given day! Food quality in flexible eating is determined specifically by the numbers in any given food … not obscure and subjective beliefs about food types. Working within a set of numbers designed specifically for your individual needs, you will discover that in order to reach the right number of Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, and Fiber, you will enjoy a variety of nutrient-dense foods that one would normally associate with healthful eating.

Jason graduated with honors from Benedictine University with a degree in Pre-Med / Nutrition and Biology, and will enter medical school in the coming months. A self-proclaimed nutrition nerd, Jason is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and nationally licensed EMT-B. Read more about Jason.




Performance Fueling Prescription Launches December 15.

Nutritionally sound.

Those are the five guiding principles of the Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights Performance Fueling Prescription set to launch Monday, Dec. 15. Registration to access Performance Fueling Prescription resources is now available.

The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription was created exclusively by certified nutrition educators to help EAD | CFAH athletes create a fueling strategy unique to their body composition and training goals.

The Prescription starts with the EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Energy Calculator, a tool developed exclusively for EAD | CFAH athletes to help each build the optimum plate composition for meals & snacks. The Performance Fueling Energy Calculator considers the following factors:


Body Composition is not determined by the scale. A hard ball and beach ball each weigh roughly 4 ounces, but they are very different. Would you rather be more like the taught, firm hardball or the fluffy, squishy beach ball?

  • Training Style. Strength & Conditioning, MetCon or Endurance.
  • Eating Preference. High Fat or High Carbohydrate.
  • Activity Level. Frequency and Intensity.
  • Goals. Maintain, Lose Body Fat or Gain Muscle Mass.

In addition to program resources and tools, athletes who commit to the EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription can participate in interactive seminars & workshops, and have the option to add on one-on-one consultation with a certified nutrition educator.

The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription is the antithesis of traditional New Year’s Resolution plans based on scarcity and deprivation, and “good” or “bad” foods. Instead, the PFP is designed to ensure athletes abundantly consume foods they enjoy in and that will help them look good and feel better.

The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription is the "anti-resolution" resolution. More than 75 percent of the people who resolve to "lose weight" or "diet" fail after just one week, primarily because they dramatically restrict calories.

The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription is the “anti-resolution” resolution. More than 75 percent of the people who resolve to “lose weight” or “diet” fail after just one week, primarily because they dramatically restrict calories. The PFP is based on abundance, not restriction.

Many athletes will be surprised to learn that they are hundreds of calories below their ideal energy intake after they complete the EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Calculator. Consuming too few calories forces the body to utilize lean muscle as an energy source, and will quickly derail performance goals — in the gym and throughout the day. The PFP includes next steps / recommendations for those athletes who are consuming too few — or too many — calories to support their performance goals.

The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription will prove to be an excellent resource for all athletes — even Paleo Peeps — looking to increase lean muscle mass, decrease body fat percentage, or improve performance.

Strength Training Yields Speed, Confidence and Success for Seasoned Endurance Athlete.

This is another in a series of personal reflections contributed by Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. Plagued by recurring injuries and unimpressed with the plan of action outlined by a running “expert,” endurance athlete Wendy R turned to EAD | CFAH for help. You can learn more about Wendy on her Blog | Taking the Long Way Home, Facebook, or Instagram. This is Wendy’s story.


Plagued by recurring injuries and unimpressed with the plan of action outlined by a running “expert,” endurance athlete Wendy R turned to EAD | CFAH for help.

I have been a runner for almost 25 years. Initially, I started running to help manage anxiety and stress, but found a love for an activity that I hated as a youngster. I continued to run through the years while raising my boys and working as a nurse practitioner. About five years ago, I started running half marathons. I finally got the courage to sign up for the Chicago marathon in 2011.

I chose to train for the 2011 marathon using a traditional plan, which incorporated a lot of miles—and not much else. I did well with this plan, and my 20 mile long run went off without a hitch. I thought I was ready. But the morning of the race, the temperature was 75 degrees and sunny. Having struggled with running in the heat all summer, I was extremely nervous, and my lack of confidence did me in. I finished in 5:26, a full hour longer than I had anticipated. Several months after the race, I developed a stress fracture in my foot and battled plantar fasciitis, injuries which sidelined me from running for several months.

WendyDropQuoteAfter I recovered from my injuries, I got up the courage to run a few more half marathons. While I did well at this distance, I continued to have all kinds of nagging injuries. I did some research on running after age 50, and almost everything that I read emphasized the need to add strength training. It seems that we older folks lose muscle mass at a faster rate than younger runners and athletes.

Initially, I consulted a running coach for advice. A fast talker, she told me to prepare to take some time off of running as she would rework my regimen. “Lots of drills,” she told me. Take time off from running? Drills? I’m in my 50s…the thought of taking time off and rebuilding was not attractive to me. When I asked the running coach about her background, she told me she had been a star collegiate runner. But she had no formal training as a coach. It just didn’t feel right to me.


Wendy credits her sessions with Coach Becky with helping her achieve things she never imagined she could do.

So I called Coach Karen for advice. She recommended that I come in to meet with Coach Becky (Editor’s Note: Becky is an certified and licensed Athletic Trainer / Corrective Exercise Specialist / Performance Enhancement Specialist) for an evaluation. I was a little intimidated. After all, I’m a runner, not a weight lifter. But immediately after I met Becky, I felt that I was in good hands. Becky told me right away that she didn’t know much about running. But that she’d let me keep on running while she worked with me. I liked the idea that I’d still be in control of my running while she “rebuilt” me. She evaluated my strength and focused on areas of weakness—my hips, my glutes, my “posterior chain.” At my weekly sessions with Becky, she had me doing things I never imagined I could do—lifting heavy weights, doing intervals, flipping tires—you name it. Over time, not only did I get stronger, but my running pace, time, and form improved dramatically, culminating in a huge finish at a half marathon last fall—my fastest time in several years and my strongest race to date.

This summer, while Becky and I were completing a six week session of heavy lifting, I learned that I won a free entry to the Chicago Marathon. I looked at this as an opportunity to redeem myself from that disastrous marathon three years ago. I asked Becky if she would train me and she developed a personalized training plan. We increased our sessions to twice weekly. Initially, I questioned her wisdom as the plan was fairly low in mileage compared to anything I had done in the past. In fact, she had substituted long bike rides in for some of the long runs! She told me to “trust the plan.” I took this advice to heart, using it as a mantra, and adopted several other mantras along the way, such as: “I can and I will”, “Running is fun” and “Control what you can control.”

Some of the workouts were impossibly difficult. Becky had me doing intervals—rowing alternating with Burpees, Slam Balls, Sumo Deadlifts, Kettlebell swings…you name it. Weight days were heavy lifting with progressive Deadlifts, Back Squats, pulling the sled, pushing the Prowler…sometimes I felt like I was going to vomit after those workouts! I never stopped though, and felt amazing when I recovered. I saw the results of these workouts in faster, stronger running sessions. Becky also added weekly speed work sessions—something I had never done as a runner but found to be something that I loved as I got faster and more confident.

When several accomplished marathoners learned that I was training for another marathon, I shared with them what I was doing. “Really?” I heard from one. “I’ll be REAL CURIOUS to hear how this goes for you,” said another.

During the training, I voiced self-doubt about my ability to successfully complete this marathon. Becky came up with a great strategy to help me shut that down. She told me for every word of self-doubt that came out of my mouth I would have to do 10 Burpees. I hate Burpees. She never actually made me do the Burpees, but the whole idea of doing them made me push past those negative thoughts.

The day I knew I was ready for the marathon was about three weeks before the marathon when I ran my speedwork session faster than I had run since my 30s. Those mile repeats were sub-8 mins/mile. Who’s old? I couldn’t stop smiling!

The day before the marathon, Becky gave me a card all about accomplishment, and a rock, on which she had written “believe” on one side and “26.2” on the other. She told me that she never doubted that I could do this. With those words in my head and that rock in my pocket, I lined up for my second Chicago Marathon.

I finished the marathon in 4:17:55. My legs were strong and I never hit the wall. At mile 23, my hamstrings were starting really hurt, but I pictured myself getting down in the middle of Michigan Avenue doing 10 Burpees and busted out laughing. I was going to finish this thing! I was proud and excited to crush my previous finish time by 1 hour 10 minutes.

Two days after the marathon, I went for an easy four mile run. That’s how good I felt. I continue to run strong throughout my recovery. This is almost as good as my marathon performance!

Here’s what I have to say about my training. It’s one thing to be a runner, to be fast to put in the miles. But what made me stronger was all those intervals, all that weight lifting. And what made me mentally tougher was pushing through those hard workouts. Endurance is endurance. No matter how you get it. Sure, you have to put in the miles. But there’s a lot of ways to get to the finish line. This was fun. And would I do it again? Definitely yes!

Follow Wendy’s journey on her Blog | Taking the Long Way Home, Facebook, or Instagram