“I just widened my squat stance by a few inches so it would stop me closer to parallel and speed up wall ball cycle,” Patrick Vellner said. “I was just trying to look for areas where I could speed up a bit without taxing me much more aerobically since I’m out of shape. That was the best I could come up with. Gave me 30 more seconds at the end. Sped up my wall ball by like 3 seconds per round. Nothing to do with fitness. That’s why smarter athletes win at the top levels. Boom.”

I read that on Morning Chalk Up and smiled. Especially that last part

“Nothing to do with fitness. That’s why smarter athletes win at the top levels. Boom.”

One more time…

“That’s why smarter athletes win at the top levels.”

Going faster, harder, blowing right past your red line in the first five minutes, go till you puke. These things seem like the default CrossFit strategy in most classes. And they can carry you, but only so far. These strategies rarely make for a high performing athlete.

Smarter athletes win at top levels.

That’s why 19.1 was a great workout. Not good. Great.

It was accessible to everyone, punished those who came out hot, and rewarded those who kept pace.

As I learned first hand.

I stuck to my game plan for 19.1 and it worked magically

  1. Mentally prepared the night before.
  2. Read through the workout and come up with a theory.
  3. Walked through 1 round of the workout on video to test the theory (11-8 wall balls and 1,200 cal/hr).
  4. Reviewed the video and pulled back just a hair on the row.
  5. Visualized the workout.
  6. Maintained almost exactly the same pace every round in the workout with a push at the end.
  7. Finished in 91st percentile.

But then, I got curious.

What if I tweaked a few things? Revved up my row a little faster? Placed the rower EVEN CLOSER to the wall ball target? Wore lifters? Pushed that first round just a few seconds faster and get ahead of pace before settling in?

Didn’t mentally prepare. Didn’t walk through. Didn’t visualize.

The result?

Disaster. 5 less reps and felt significantly worse.

I don’t regret the redo. It was a great opportunity to gather more data and test a new theory. It had zero to do with leaderboarding.

And I learned a valuable lesson: Know yourself and be smarter than the next person.

Work smarter, not harder.