6/28/15. 12:04 AM. Barton Springs. Austin, TX.

This past Saturday night/Sunday morning, the team that will be representing CrossFit Jääkarhu at the 2015 CrossFit Games took on a nighttime training session designed and led by my good friend and owner of Atomic Athlete, Jake Saenz and myself.

The purpose of the session was to push the team and its athletes outside of their traditional training atmosphere, time domain and comfort zone. One of our main goals outside of that was to draw out a leadership, communication and team bonding element that so many teams miss out on – training only the physical aspect of fitness while neglecting the mental aspect that accompanies it.

The tests were completely unknown to the team, as was the duration of the session. They were given minimal information and minimal prep time. They were expected to rely upon themselves and execute different tasks as they unfolded before them. Anything was fair game.

We met at Barton Springs at 8:55 PM and had planned to begin with a ~30 minute swim. Mother Nature had other plans, and with thunder and lightening storms looming in the distance, B Springs called a 30-minute weather delay. Not knowing whether we would be able to get in the water at all, Jake and I decided to call an audible and begin with the second phase of the night’s training. The team split themselves into two groups of four (two men, two women), attached glow sticks to their person (green for the green team, red for the red team), and began by moving approximately 1 mile from the springs to another location at Zilker Park.

Green Team: Orion Hones, Kyler Allison, Ingrid Kantola, Alyson Boyd.

Red Team: Jeff Vanlandingham, Ricky Redus, Jessica Estrada, Karen Pierce.

There, we began the land portion of their training:

Run 1.2 miles: Teams must hold 3 lb. chains linking each member of the team to the next.
200′ Bear Crawl in sand
25 Team Pushups in unison
200′ Walking Lunges in Unison
25 Team Pushups in Unison
Run 1.2 miles: along with 3 chains, 2 tires were added to the team’s load
Accumulate 5 minutes laying on back, feet 6-12 inches off the ground
Run 1.2 miles: along with 3 chains & 2 tires, 2 x 44# kettle bells were added to the team’s load
200′ Bear Crawl in sand
25 Team Pushups in unison
200′ Walking Lunges in Unison
25 Team Pushups in Unison
Run 1.2 miles: along with 3 chains, 2 tires, & KB’s, 2 x 15# medballs were added to the team’s load
Accumulate 5 minutes in a plank position
Finisher: 1.2 mile team run for time

Teams could distribute the items and load however they wanted. At any point, they could switch who was carrying what. They could carry things between two people or they could have 1 person carrying two items. There were very few “rules”. All told, the team ran a total of 6 miles and spent 2 hours and 15 minutes moving. Most of it was actually a walk/ruck, as carrying so much equipment necessitates.

While the teams were working, Coach Saenz and I observed. We would walk/run alongside them, trail them or watch from some distance. We would offer support or guidance when we felt it appropriate or necessary, and we would give motivation when we thought it would help. Other than that we tried to remain as out of the way as possible and step back in when it was time to shift gears to the next evolution of the session.

Key learnings and takeaways from the coaches:

1) Working as a team requires making decisions that are best for the TEAM, not for the individuals within the team. Many times ego got in the way, and instead of loading one member of the team with more weight than another to keep the teams moving swiftly and efficiently, the teams kept the loading more “equal” amongst team members to keep it “fair”. This cost them time in the long run. aka: This is a team competition, not a dick-measuring contest.

2) Communication is vital – most importantly when the shit hits the fan and things are at their worst. When the going gets tough, people close their mouths and work. This is ok in some instances, but teams must also continue talking to each other, letting everyone know how they’re doing, what they need and “where they’re at”. It doesn’t always have to be directional communication – most times it needs to be external positive speak. The green team was enjoying themselves, at times laughing and cracking sardonic or wry jokes. The red team was altogether silent for many parts of the training.

3) It does not matter who leads. But someone must. The women faired better than the men on this test. They handled the volume and loading better, and were overall stronger throughout. However, they were hesitant to take charge, make suggestions or simply tell people what to do. They can, and they should! Our women are strong, capable and amazing athletes (as are our men) and in this particular test, they had more of an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership.

4) Attitude ruled the night. The team worked from 9:30 – 11:45 PM, constantly adapting to what they were being told to do on the fly. The team that fared better was the team that continued to “enjoy” the training. They continued to talk and communicate what was going on within themselves and with the team. This lead to confidence and the ability to make changes that would help them move faster. Moving faster gave them more confidence. The team that fared worse was more silent and did not communicate what they were thinking and feeling, leading to uncertainty and frustration. They wanted to move faster but couldn’t – not because of their physical capabilities, but because they simply didn’t know what to do to help the team succeed.

This was the first time we have attempted a training session like this. Jake and I were both very pleased with how it turned out and how the teams handled themselves and each other. Lessons were learned – lessons better learned in training instead of on the field of competition. These are things we will take with us to Carson and will apply to our performance at the CrossFit Games.

This team is a special team, and I am both proud of them for their dedication to each other and the team and excited to watch them go head to head to vie for top honors at the Games.


Week 48: 15.06.29

5 Rounds for Time:
Run 800m
100′ Bear Crawl
20 Pushups
100′ Walking Lunges
20 Air Squats

Coach’s Note: This is a modified version of the nighttime training session that Team Karhu took on this past Saturday night/Sunday morning. Enjoy.


CrossFit Jääkarhu is a local community in Austin, Texas that is focused on identifying goals, coaching progress and getting results. If you are interested in learning more about our gym, visit our main website (click here). About CrossFit Jääkarhu Programs Available How to Start

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