Interview with CrossFit Athlete Llara Romanowski
#1 HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT CROSSFIT AND WHEN EXACTLY DID YOU START?
LLARA: I started doing “Crossfit” in 2011 in a globogym (a YMCA) in Australia. At the time I was working as a receptionist at the gym while completing university.
I had a personal trainer and he wanted to see me getting into more competitive sports. He suggested long distance running, which I openly laughed at, and then as a second thought pushed me toward the idea of Crossfit.
I said I would give it a go if he incorporated it into a personal training session. He decided as my first ever wod to give me Chelsea (EMOM for 30 mins 5 jumping pull-ups, 10 push ups and 15 *weighted* squats) after 15 mins I had had enough and decided Crossfit wasn’t for me. I think this is a good example of how someone with no knowledge of Crossfit can get the wods totally wrong!
Fortunately a ex-military type saw my plight and suggested I come and try some partner wods with him. This is how I started Crossfit, paired wods in a globogym and we did this together for about 8 months. Any movements I didn’t know I would ask my personal trainer to teach me- like clean and jerk and overhead squats. It was only when I came to the UK in 2012 and joined up to Crossfit Nottingham that I found out what a full depth squat was, attempted to lift more than 30kg and learnt about the snatch.
#2 WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT CROSSFIT VS. "TRADITIONAL TRAINING?" IS THERE ANYTHING YOU DON'T LIKE ABOUT CROSSFIT?
LLARA: My favourite thing about Crossfit is that it is a constant learning curve. No matter how much time and effort I afford it there is always something to learn, improve or strive towards.
The issue I always had with globogyms, even whilst working in them, is that I felt lost. Without a trainer, program or class I would find myself amongst the machines and free weights and not really know what to do or how to improve.
One thing I don’t like about Crossfit is the “elitism”. People thinking they are better (or worse) than others and then treating others (or themselves) according to these beliefs. The best thing about Crossfit is that anyone can do it, and be good at it. You don’t have to be a highly sponsored athlete from the best box with the best sporting background. You can be hard working and enjoy what you are doing and you can crush it. So the best thing is to treat everyone as your equal and to treat yourself with respect because we all do some pretty amazing things with our bodies in this sport.
#3 HOW DO YOU PROGRAM YOUR TRAINING? WHAT DOES A SAMPLE WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
LLARA: I tend to follow the outlaw way pretty strictly with some invictus and the wods from my boxes thrown in for good measure.
A sample week looks like:
Mon: & Tues:
Wake up 7:30am and travel to work
Outlaw training 11am-12:45pm
Engine work or additional strength work 4pm-5pm
Wake up 6am
Outlaw training 7am-9am
Additional training (qualifiers etc) 2pm-3pm
Wod with class (best wod of the week!) 7pm-8pm
Wake up 6am
Outlaw training 7am-9am Coach 9:30am-10:30am
Engine work 3pm-4pm
Max out session 8am-9:15am
#4 CROSSFIT SOMETIMES GETS KNOCKED FOR PEOPLE GETTING INJURIES, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS AND HAVE YOU EVER BEEN INJURED WHILE DOING CROSSFIT?
LLARA: *Knock on wood* I’ve never been injured doing Crossfit.
My take on this issue is that Crossfit is a sport, and sports are by their very nature taxing on the body and carry an element of risk. If the risk is well managed- ie: you follow a sensible program under coaches who know what they are doing; if you warm up correctly, cool down correctly and you lift according to your abilities and strengths, then it is a well mitigated risk worth taking. We are in an adult playground and we need to be sensible. Generally speaking the biggest risks I have seen are when people don’t take the sport seriously, aren’t paying attention or don’t check their ego (or listen to their coaches).
I often watch the local rugby team playing on a Saturday and I have yet to be to a game where at least one player hasn’t been seriously injured. Those injuries are treated with alcohol and machoism, not flossing, rest and mobility work- I know which sport I think is most dangerous.
#5 WHAT DOES YOUR CURRENT SUPPLEMENT INTAKE LOOK LIKE?
LLARA: Currently I am using ICON Nutrition’s Cookies and Cream whey protein after I wod. I also take a vitamin D3 in the morning and am trialling HMB from blonyx.
When I can get to them, before they are sold out instantly, I chow down on Battle Oats protein bars - the new chocolate brownie flavour is amazing!
#6 WHAT'S YOUR APPROACH TO NUTRITION? DO YOU FOLLOW A PALEO APPROACH TO NUTRITION?
LLARA: I love food!
I try to eat as well as I can, fortunately I do not have a sweet tooth and have no interest in fast food whatsoever. My biggest weakness is breakfast as I just love vegemite and cheese on toast with a cup of tea, even though I do make a wicked scrambled eggs with feta, coriander and bacon.
I like the idea of paleo and have tried it and incorporate a lot of the ideas into the way I eat, however I also love pasta and wine and homemade pizza and cheese platters.
#7 IF YOU TAKE COUNT, HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU EAT PER DAY?
LLARA: I don’t count! I would say at a guess I have some form of protein with most meals and snacks, most of my protein comes from chicken and fish with my secondary sources being from shakes and nuts.
#8 WHAT'S THE HARDEST WOD YOU'VE EVER DONE?
LLARA: 14.5 without a shadow of a doubt, that was a bad bad place for me and cost me a trip to the 2014 Regionals.
#9 DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH RECOVERY? WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE FOR BETTER RECOVERY?
LLARA: Sometimes I do suffer with feeling lethargic or sore. The best advice I can give is to listen to your body. Rest days, mobility, sports massages, good food and good quality sleep are essential to recovery- no amount of red bull or “pushing through” can make up for treating your body right. In the long run you will benefit from less niggling injuries, improvement in mood and overall mental and physical health.
#10 WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE EXERCISE AND LEAST FAVOURITE?
LLARA: Favourite/s: Hard to just name one favourite! I like gymnastics- so pull-ups (of all varieties), handstand (walks, push ups) and box jumps.
Least favourite/s: I’m not a great squatter (although I’m working hard on this) and I’m very short- so my arch nemeses’ are wallballs and thrusters.
#11 WHAT'S YOUR CURRENT PBs?
LLARA: CLEAN? 80kg
FRONT SQUAT? 85kg
CLEAN AND JERK? 80kg
#12 HOW MANY REST DAYS DO YOU TAKE PER WEEK?
#13 WHAT'S YOUR FAV CHEAT MEAL?
LLARA: I love red wine- so really my cheat meal can be anything if it is accompanied by a nice glass of red!
#14 I KNOW YOU HAVE COMPETED AT SOME BIG COMPETITIONS, HOW WAS THAT EXPERIENCE AND WHICH WAS YOUR FAVOURITE?
LLARA: Regionals 2013! By far the best experience I have had in competition. I got there by chance (I qualified 63rd and 17 girls declined their positions) so I had absolutely no expectations- if I came last I had already improved my qualifying position by 15 places. As it turned out I had the performance of a lifetime and ended up coming 20th! I loved the wods, the atmosphere and just couldn’t believe I was there. After the last workout- which was televised - I jumped on the finishing matt and started crying with emotion. The elation was unparalleled, I felt like I had won the whole competition- getting a big hug off Jami Tikkanen was just the icing on the cake. I’ve wanted to go back ever since.
#15 HOW DID YOU GET STARTED COACHING AT A BOX?
LLARA: fell in love with Crossfit as soon as I started doing it properly at Crossfit Nottingham, I got myself on a level 1 course and started sitting in on classes to learn what I could. I then looked around for boxes interested in a coach (I had been doing “work experience at Crossfit Nottingham for about 8 months and felt like I was ready to have a go at coaching in my own right). Crossfit Worksop gave me a chance and I have been with them ever since (over 2 years now). I also do some work at LN Crossfit. I love visiting different boxes and seeing different coaching styles and programming methods - I just love Crossfit.
#16 IF PEOPLE WANT TO CHECK YOU OUT, WHERE CAN THEY FIND YOU?