Wake at 4:30am. Coach. Train, Coach. Train. Coach. Train. Recover and repeat.
My name is Natalie McLain (Newhart). I am a 2013 CrossFit Games athlete, a 2015 Games hopeful, a part owner in affiliate CrossFit Vail of Vail, Colorado and now a professional athlete among the National Pro Grid League (NPGL). In numbers, my week consists of about 30 hours of training, 15 hours of coaching, 5-10 hours of general business stuff and an unmeasureable amount of heart.
A typical day in my life:
4:30 am – Wake up; visualize my ultimate goal and how today will get me closer to it; dress, eat small breakfast and head to the gym
5:30 am – Coach CrossFit class
6:30 am – Start training (make programming checklist on whiteboard ☺, quick visualization of the day)
9:00 am – Coach CrossFit class
10:00 am – Continue training
12:00 pm — Coach CrossFit class
1:00 pm – Eat
1:30 pm – Finish training
3:00 pm – Eat, chill out, respond to emails, program for athletes or gym, mentally recap my training for the day, visualize my goals for the following day.
8:00 – 8:30pm – Bedtime (definitely hard as the sun is still very high in the sky)
Staying Dedicated to My Goals
My life is busy, but it is also passionate. I am absolutely dedicated to becoming one of the greatest CrossFit athletes in the world that the last 5 years of my life have consisted of decisions and sacrifices to put me in the position that I am in today- an opportunity to train hard and often so that I can purse my dreams of one day standing on the podium of the CrossFit Games, and be one of the most highly-valued players in the NPGL.
Since the feat I’m tackling is a large one, I need to commit my very being to it every single day. I’ve made the decision to set forth on this journey, and there’s no turning back from it. I am all in, regardless of how I feel each day. For that reason, training is the most important part of my day. I visualize my programming the night before, set goals for myself the day of and have a relentless drive to complete all of my training to the best of my ability every single day. Contrary to most athletes, I train alone so it is imperative that I keep my goals/dreams crystal clear in my head so that outside distractions do not negatively influence my path.
There’s two routine things I do prior to training to help keep my focus on the ultimate goal: 1) a checklist is made and 2) a motivational video is played throughout my warm-up.
I love making daily checklists. They help me see my entire day so that I can plan accordingly and feel productive. My most favorite part about them is the act of physically checking off each individual task and feeling good about it. I make my checklists on a small whiteboard (who doesn’t love writing on whiteboard?), consisting of my programming for the day and other business/personal tasks that need to be done. I typically allocate specific times for each task to be completed. For example, I’ll write 645-7am: mobility, warm-up, and crossover symmetry. Although I’m not super strict about the time allocations, designating specific times helps keep me on track so that my time is not wasted playing on the phone, chit-chatting, etc. I’ll even specify a certain time for me to eat between classes and training, so that I don’t forget to eat. It may sound crazy and neurotic, but I like it especially since I train alone and distractions can easily get in the way.
The second thing I do every morning after coaching my first class is I play some type of motivational video during my warm-up. The start to every training session is always the hardest for me, and listening to a motivational speech helps me focus on my ultimate goal and why every second of the day and every decision I make will dictate whether I reach my goal. That stuff gets my fire within burning, and keeps that goal in the forefront of my mind. Its not easy training alone, but I give it everything I got because that’s all I got. No excuses. Motivation gets me going; discipline keeps me going.
Recovery and Balance
My days are quite routine: coach, train, and eat. I take all three of them quite seriously, trying to do each one to the best of my ability. Once my training is complete, I typically spend the rest of my day mobilizing, eating and taking care of small business tasks such as writing emails, programming for athletes and the gym, and researching.
My recovery days are typically Thursday and Sundays, where I typically do just that: mobilize and recover. Periodically, if I’m feeling good, I’ll go do something outside like dirt biking, skateboarding or just going for a hike. It can be difficult to enjoy hobbies, however, as mine specifically can be dangerous. One bad move and I could sprain an ankle or tweak my knee. It’s a fine line between having fun and playing it safe. I definitely don’t want an injury to pull me away from all the hours I’ve put into my goal, but I also don’t want to get to so burnt out that CrossFit is no longer fun. An athlete must find a balance to appreciate both.
I thrive on the ultimate outcome of getting stronger, faster, and graceful with technical movements. Being a top athlete requires a lot of time and sacrifice, and I am ok with it. I eat, sleep and breathe training because that is what it takes. A champion will do whatever it takes to reach their goals.