Recently, Scott sent me a message about CrossFit Games competitor Chris Spealler. Spealler has been one of my favorite athletes since the beginning, not because of his skills or performances. He has been one of my favorite because of his work ethic, willingness to put the work into his weaknesses, and the fact that he is one of the smallest CrossFit competitors but works so hard to be where he is. He WAS one of my favorites until recently.
Chris Spealler had taken some time off from Games competition as he was getting older and the competitive athlete lifestyle was taking a toll on his body and family life. That’s completely understandable if you know what they put themselves through to compete. He is now at the age that he can compete in the master’s division at the games, so he took another crack at it. That’s awesome. I was pumped to hear it. Hems exciting to watch and I would have liked to see him do well as a master’s competitor.
In training for this year’s Games, Chris herniated a disc pretty badly. He stated that he was having hips, back, and nerve issues. Now this is something that hits home to me, since I’m dealing with similar pain. Initial posts stated that he may have to withdraw. He recently posted that he would still be competing.
I worked through some injury, but I didn’t know what I was actually dealing with. I thought it was just low back muscular pain. I adjusted my training and charged on. A disc issue is far different. I misdiagnosed, made a mistake, and regret it every day.
The conversation between Scott and myself was a little intense on my side. I became angry that one of my favorite CF athletes would be so stupid about his body. I was not angry for his sake. I was angry for CrossFit and here why…
CrossFit is still a new sport. It is constantly growing and evolving. It has grown leaps and bounds. Coaches are getting better, some even on the same playing field as professional sport specific coaches. Shitty coaches and gyms are washing out and disappearing. We are on the rise. I feel that bullshit like this sends a bad message. It shows that we are still mentally immature compared to many other sports. I understand that it may be difficult to train hard for an entire year, only to pull out before the Super Bowl of your sport. We preach safety, scaling, adjusting, training smart, and listening to your body. Chris is doing the opposite. He is a CrossFit icon, coach, CrossFit gym owner, and employed by CrossFit HQ. What message does this send to the people that he trains in his gym and at CF seminars?
I want nothing but the best for you guys. I want you to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and enjoy your training. I want you to STAY healthy. I wish I could say that everything is 100% completely safe but that’s not true. We train hard and there is risk in everything we do. We work our asses off to mitigate the risk as much as possible and we understand that the benefits far outweigh the risk when done properly. Everyone that trains hard will at some point experience tweaks, aches, and pains. Listen to your body and talk to your coaches. If something is off, we will guide you.
Maybe he will be ok. Maybe he will need emergency surgery. Maybe he will live with pain for the rest of his life. Maybe I’m overreacting and should shut up. What do you think?