I was asked to put down my thoughts on my 2017 season and reflect on what might seem to others as my most successful CrossFit season to date.
I’ve tried to write this reflection a number of times and every time I end up closing my laptop, as I’ve found myself writing what I thought people would want to hear.
The reality is, 2017 was by far my most challenging competition season to date, both mentally and physically.
I will start from the beginning…
I started CrossFit mid-2014, just as the Athletic team was heading over to California to compete at the World Games. This inspired me to pursue a competitive future in CrossFit and set me up with some clear goals.
For the next 10/11 months I was determined to learn all the skills required to compete, as well as trying to build some fitness on a base that hadn’t really ever worked continually for longer than 90 seconds (that’s how long a floor routine lasts for in gymnastics).
CrossFit Athletic has been home since day one and I believe it has some of the best coaches in Australia, if not the world, who have always been very encouraging and supported me to learn safely, to learn quickly, and to reach my goals. I was lucky enough to be selected for my first Regional / CrossFit competition on the Athletic team for the 2015 season. Over the next 2 years work was put in and goals were achieved. I competed at the World games in both 2015 and 2016 as part of the Athletic team and had an absolute ball both years.
Fast forward to finishing the games in 2016, I was on top of the world and so motivated to attach my next goal of qualifying as an individual (I had narrowly missed in 2016 finishing 37th in the open).
From the end of July till around October I trained harder than ever before. I pushed my body hard doing multiple double sessions a week, track and swimming training, everything was going great and I felt confident I was on track.
Around November of 2016, I started to feel my body changing. My energy levels were dropping and I was finding it difficult to sleep. My coach suggested that I see someone to get a checkup and find out what was going on. I went to a doctor who specialises in sports performance. After multiple tests, she basically told me that I needed to take an extensive break from training as my body was very fatigued and close to burning out.
This wasn’t easy to hear. It was not only a physical challenge but mentally as well. For me, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced and I honestly wouldn’t wish Adrenal Fatigue on anyone!
I noticed a change in my moods, both at training and at home. I was feeling more and more weak every day. At training my body was struggling to cope with the volume and weights that I used to have no problems with. I had a negative outlook on everything, which I felt I had no control over. Christmas 2016, I was absolutely exhausted, I was dragging myself to training in the morning and then once I returned home, the thought of doing household chores or being social was too overwhelming for me.
I pushed through, I slowed down my training volume as I had no choice, I was taking a million different supplements to try and support my body and I focused a lot more on my sleep, relaxation and recovery. Doing all this I was able to scrape into Regionals as an individual for the first time. Goal achieved, but body and soul paying the price.
Regionals training was intense and I admit, I struggled. Looking back, I believe the struggle was more mental than physical. I think I told myself and close friends, daily “I don’t know why I am doing this”, “I am no way good enough to compete at Regionals in this state”
The weekend of Pacific Regionals arrived and to say I was looking forward to it, would be a lie. I was almost dreading it.
The weekend was over before I knew it. The workouts were challenging for me and didn’t really play to my physical strengths, but after having to come to terms with this and having the opportunity to compete it took my mental strength to a new level. The atmosphere with the other girls was truly amazing and something I will never forget. I can confidently say CrossFit would have to be the most supportive and inclusive sport I have ever been involved in.
This season has taught me a lot about my physical strengths and weaknesses but more significantly, it has taught me what I am mentally capable of. Mental health, mindset, mental strength and character are such a huge part of this sport. I have always known this, but this season was one hell of a reminder. The support I received from friends, my coaches and training buddies was truly amazing and for that, I am forever grateful.
After the 2017 Regionals, I took 5 weeks off to rest from anything and everything. This was just what I needed as it gave me time to think, assess and make a plan to move forward. In this time, I was able to take a step back and realize that there were other areas in my life needing some love/attention. I made some big changes, which have had a massive impact on my happiness. My partner (who has been the biggest support through all of this) and I bought a puppy! I have been asking (begging) for a dog for the last 3 years! So, as you can imagine, this was a dream come true. A puppy’s happiness is pure happiness!
We are now 4 months post Regionals. I’ve returned to training at a lighter volume whilst focusing on rehab for my shoulder. I have done a lot of soul searching, read a lot of books, been for a lot of long walks, done a lot of meditation and I have found my happiness again.
I am now motivated, refreshed and ready to put my heart and soul into my 2018 season. Whatever it may bring, it WILL bring me happiness, self-satisfaction and a whole lot of fun.
Thank you so much to The Box Community for all your support through a tough season. Your encouragement meant so much to me. I am forever grateful.
Dominique Johnson xx
CrossFit Athletic Athlete
2017 25th Fittest Woman in the Pacific Region