Alena Yancey runs Battleborn CrossFit in Reno, NV.

I have had the pleasure of working with her and some of her team over the past few years on developing the Warrior Athlete.  With permission, I want to share an email she sent me that I think perfectly exemplifies the heart of the Warrior Athlete in action.

Coach –

First I want to say thank you for the phone call, you have no idea what a calming state it put me in, and how much I appreciate you taking the time to think of me.

I wanted to say thank you so much for the program we are doing – so much of it, the running especially, helped me out this weekend.  We had a 5 mile hill run that normally would of invoked repulsion and fear, but Saturday when they announced it I thought, “hmm that’s really nothing”.  I’m still learning how to pace, but for the most part I was very happy with my performance on the run, and that is definitely new for me.

After hearing your voice-mail message, it kept playing over and over in my head while they announced our 4th workout.

The workout was:
Row or calories
Thrusters increasing weight each round – 67, 75, 85lbs
3/2/1 rope climbs 15 feet each ascent
1 pood kettlebell swings

Then while I watched numerous men and woman fail at this workout, 15ft rope falls, rolled ankles, people passing out, a torn knee, I thought “holy f***, this is scary.”  Then as I looked closer, watching a man on his last rope climb 2 feet from his mark just hang there and shake his head no.  I watched his mental toughness snap, and he gave up.  He sat in that same spot for 2 minutes. That was the moment I knew I had to find it and find it quick, but I didn’t know where “it” was or even what it is I had to find.

I told my guys before this event, Chandler, Mel, Matt that I don’t know where or if I even have that inner “warrior” .  How do I go about finding it, what is it that takes you to that level?  I have never quit on a workout before, but I know I have not always given it my all.  There was something somewhere that held me back, made me talk bad to myself, and feel less of an athlete or even a person because of my performance.  Failure is such a huge fear of mine that I think it has hindered so much of my life.

The fear did not get any better as I watched one of the guys from our gym DNF in the last WOD.  I watched the moment his eyes changed, the moment his mental game snapped, and it broke my heart.  I was in the warm up area and I was in the next heat.  At that moment, I had to start looking, digging, trying to find that inner warrior.  Is she in here?  Does she even exist?  Can I do this by myself?  None of my guys are here and I am on an arena floor in front of 500 people I don’t know.  Will I break too?

3-2-1 go!  I start the pull on the row, feeling good, and jump off the rower first (to be expected).  Then I get to the bar for thrusters and have my game plan of  3 sets of 10, 3 deep breathes in between, first set works out close to planned.  Ahhhh rope climb, got the 1st one down and thought holy crap, I still have 2 more of these this round – just climb just climb.  Then I get to what I think is my bread and butter, the kettle bell swings, and plan to move 30 swings in one shot.  Yeah well, 15 in and my forearms are on fire, and the reps only count with full extension – kettlebell directly overhead with no droop.

The second round was the hardest of the 3, thrusters suck, my drive is gone, I just want to sit in the hole and rest, but I know I can’t.  Those rope climbs were brutal and I climbed on the rower for my last round, and 10 calories seem like forever – my thrusters are now broken into single and double sets, and the clock is ticking two girls are done, I still have 4 thrusters, one climb and 10 swings.  We are at 2 mins flat remaining – my head shakes back and forth, I am spent, there is nothing in the tank, I rest in the hole on my thruster.  I have to finish, have to find it, sit in the hole for what seemed like minutes.  I could hear one judge yelling for me to get up while another on the other side screamed “Drive Drive Drive! 

Then the world goes quiet, and somehow I hear my own voice for the first time in a sincere and not condescending tone say “get up you can do this. I won’t let you quit.” 

There were no bad names, no evil words no laughing at myself knowing I would fail, only the shear determination to finish.  I popped out of the hole, finished my 4 reps in one shot, dropped the bar and got to the rope with 1:15 left.  I looked up and thought it’s now or never, that last climb was hard, but somehow I knew I was OK.  I finished in 24:37. 

I am almost 36 years old, and for the first time in a long time I am proud of myself, really proud, knowing I accomplished something extraordinary.  I know what it feels ike to find “her” in me.

All my warmest thoughts and love Coach!

Alena Yancey “Warrior Athlete”

Thank you, Alena, for allowing me to share this with others.  As Bruce Lee said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act in the presence of fear.”