Since the Open ended, I - along with the many others across the world who qualified to move on - have been in full blown Regional prep mode. This year, Regional prep is 100% different than the one I went through last year. For starters, I am healthier. Last year I had my appendix removed during the last week of the Open which caused my Regional prep to be a constant struggle of trying to recover from the surgery while trying to maintain my physical abilities. (Disclaimer: I don't recommend this. I ended up destroying my immune system with the lack of recovery time I allowed myself and actually came down with shingles the day before I left for regionals. Competing hard for three days with shingles is not very fun.) This year is also different because I know I will not have teammates out on the floor with me through the workouts. In comparison to the workload you have to do as a member of a team at Regionals, going to compete as an individual is significantly more demanding on the body. This is something I have embraced as my "progress" in the sport over the past year. I know for a fact that last year there was no way I would have been able to handle the amount of volume required to compete as an individual. The last difference and probably the biggest one is my shift in attitude as I work toward Regionals. Last year I had the attitude of just being along for the ride and having a fun weekend with my team. This year I want to do some damage, stomp on some people's heads, and make some noise. Being able to look back and compare last year's non-nonchalant and almost unappreciative Regional prep period to the grind I am in now has been one of the coolest parts of my training the past few weeks. The daily practice grind is grueling. The volume is high, the weights are heavy, the workouts are hard. I feel like I get my butt handed to me everyday, yet somehow survive. I know however, that is the mark of a great program and a great coach, and one that has success on gameday. If you don't believe me just read the god-amongst-men (Coach K) say it himself. Some days I walk into the gym feeling like a million bucks, and some days I walk in and want to just curl up in a ball and lay there. I can feel every muscle in my body daily and no amount of stretching is ever enough. I am hungry about 80% of my waking hours, no matter how much food I try and eat. Sleep is beyond sacred. These past few weeks I have been constantly reminded what "mid-season" feels like.
I know it's a common theme in my posts to make constant references to my basketball days or the general flow of a basketball season. However, that is really where any and all of my experience lies in the sports world. It was my life for 15 of the 23 years I have lived through - it is unavoidable. While Regional prepping, I have picked up on some glaring similarities between myself as a basketball player and myself as a competitive exerciser. Some of these have scared me and some have made me happy - either way they are undeniably there.
Inconsistency comes with immaturity.
In high school, and also in college, I was fortunate to be "thrown into the fire" from the moment I stepped onto campus. In both cases I was physically strong enough, skilled, and athletic enough to hang with the girls three and four years more experienced than me. However, I learned quickly that what I was missing was the maturity and the consistency in the sport that they carried. They had more poise and confidence in their play, they understood the ins and outs of the game, the long demanding season, and the ups and downs that come with it much better than I did. I simply was not there yet - as much as I thought I was. That lack of experience always results in inconsistency. There are just as many bad days as there are good days. But, it actually goes further than "good" and "bad" days. There are days of god-awful, waste of time performances mixed in with mind-blowing, out-of-nowhere great performances. If you ask any great coach, in almost any sport, they will tell you that inconsistency is the mark of immaturity. I've felt this the past few weeks. Luckily, unlike my high school and even college days, I am aware of it and I am doing my best to stay leveled and focused on being as consistent as I possibly can be. My college coach use to tell me that good and bad days were acceptable and almost inevitable - but they could not be drastic, they could not be detrimental, and they could never be good or bad mental days. Your mind must stay in it, engaged, confident, and focused on the bigger picture and the goal lying ahead. The next four weeks that is one of my top priorities - limit the bad training days, and stay as consistent as possible day in and day out.
"Lights Are On" syndrome.
This is one that I thought was non existent in my exercise days but I have noticed it resurface in these intense weeks of training. It is not something I am 100% proud of, but it is most definitely there and needs to be addressed. Flat out - I don't love practice. I would much rather be in front of a crowd, lights and sounds blaring, pressure on, in an all eyes on me type situation. Unfortunately, without hard, rigorous practice, you don't ever have the privilege of competing in that situation. This was nearly my downfall during the Open because of the nonchalant attitude I approach too many training days with. I became so accustomed to this that is was hard to snap out of it for 4 of the 5 Open workouts I did in my own gym as if it was any other training day. I know from my own coaching experiences, this is one of the most frustrating things to deal with in an athlete. In fact, it was brought to my attention by my current coach about two weeks ago. We had never spoke about any of this. I had just finished a weekend competing on a team at a local competition. He told me that he was reminded how good I was and could be after watching me all weekend. He explained that watching me "practice" everyday had put doubts and questions in his mind that left when he watched me on game day. Maybe some athletes would like to hear that? But I knew that wasn't a good thing. I've had enough experience in competitive sports to know that you can't just show up on game day - it doesn't work that way. That conversation with him woke me up. I have to make a conscious effort to mentally prep myself before entering the gym and remind myself that every day for the next four weeks needs to be gameday. This is imperative so that when gameday actually comes, I will be confident I prepared myself as best I could.
I am grateful for the part of my personality that is fearless when it comes to competition. During my basketball days, I always wanted to "play up" or play with the boys who were usually faster and stronger. Since I can remember, if I see someone better than me, stronger than me, or more skilled than me my immediate thought is "let me take her". I always thought I could score on whoever would try and guard me. In fact, the better the defender they were hyped to be, the more points I planned on giving them that night. I noticed I carry the same attitude over to exercise - maybe it is simply because the NYC basketball courts raised me, maybe it's just a permanent chip on my shoulder, or maybe it's the constant need to prove myself. It's never a disrespect of any sort. Don't get me wrong, I 100% know and respect my competitors and what they are capable of. I just always want to go up against them, preferably on the biggest stage possible. Credentials, stats, and hype just don't have the ability to get in my brain and mess with me. Every time I stop and relax for a second and actually think about Regionals, this fearless hunger to compete with the best surfaces. There is no nervousness to be found but instead just an almost anxious need to get out there and have my performance stacked up among my competitors. I think this is what makes sports so fun and exciting for me and what drives we to keep working daily.
Before I compete at Regionals I will head up to Boston, MA on May 2nd to participate in the National Pro Fitness League combine. The NPFL is a brand new league where athletes will compete in exercise racing (don't laugh, I'm being serious). I'm excited for this combine because you can pick the various lifts, gymnastics, and specific workouts that you want to showcase. Completely opposite of The CrossFit Games, this league rewards the specialist - which is pretty cool. I do not know what will come of this combine for me but I am excited to be attending with some great athletes and am looking forward to showing off some of my abilities. If I get chosen to move on to Sunday's activities there, I will be put on a team and we will basically "run pickup games". Yes - exercise racing pickup games. (How did this end up being my life?! I promise I use to play a real sport.) All jokes aside though, competing on a team in the sport of exercise is a ton of fun. I am really looking forward to next weekend. Three weeks after that I will have my individual regional debut (May 23-25) at the Patriot Center of George Mason University. My career record at the Patriot Center (GMU was in our conference) is 3-1 while shooting 45% from 3 point range (9-20), 35% from the floor (12-34) and 100% from the FT line (6-6). I always loved playing in that arena and I cannot wait to get back there. I will be throwing around barbells this time instead of my roundball. It should be an awesome time.
To help support my Regional weekend you can purchase my uniquely designed shirt from Move Fast Lift Heavy by clicking here. There are men's tees and women's tanks available on pre-sale. I hope you are able to make it out to watch that weekend and my hope is that I will see a sea of Capurso shirts somewhere in the stands :) ! All of your support and efforts to help me achieve what I work so hard everyday for is greatly appreciated. Nothing goes unnoticed.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: