When it comes to big names in the CrossFit world, it’s hard to look past Katie Hogan. A two time Games veteran, Hogan has only been in the sport a short time but her impact and presence is hard to miss.
I’m often asked who I’m interviewing next and usually get the the stock standard reply of “oh yeah.” Yet this time was different, as the moment people heard it was Katie Hogan the excitement became almost palpable. Few times have I seen such enthusiasm from both men and women alike over a single competitor. With Hogans good looks, infectious smile and the talent and charm to match, it is no wonder she has quickly become a fan favorite.
Hogan is a former NCAA Division II athlete in Volleyball and Track & Field, receiving All-American Honors in both sports. She found CrossFit in 2008 after a conversation in a car park sparked an interest for her to give it a try.
Within a few months her natural born skill and athletic ability found herself at the The Ranch for the 2009 CrossFit Games, a year which many claim were the most difficult to date. Despite the intensity of that weekend and her short time in the sport, Hogan would go on to finish 18th overall but most importantly obtain the kind of experience that only time can afford.
It was that experience which was on display at the Southern California Regionals last season when Hogan showed just how talented she is. She had a spectacular weekend and was one of the few women in the world to complete the 185 pound thruster ladder.
Not only did she lift a weight which many said could not be done, she would go on to set a new world record and thruster an amazing 190 pounds (86.36 kgs). Yet strength was not her only skill on display that weekend as Hogan showed she had the mental fortitude and endurance to win the brutal 100s workout a full 1:56 ahead of fellow teammate and 2011 Games 3rd place winner, Becca Voigt.
Despite the level of competition increasing over the past few years, Hogan has maintained her status as a serious contender, and in 2012 is a real chance to be crowned with the title “Fittest Woman on Earth.”
If her performance during this season’s five week Reebok CrossFit Games Open were not impressive enough, when you discover she was only at about 80 percent capacity, it is scary to imagine what she could have install for us this year.
This month Hogan will embark on yet another CrossFit Regional campaign in the hope of making it back to the Home Depot Centre for the 2012 Games. If her performance during this year’s Open and last year’s Regionals are anything to go by she is surely going to be one of the more difficult competitors to beat.
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Katie and we discussed range of topics from diet and nutrition, to who she thinks her main competitors are going to be and her expectations for this season.
First up Katie, how were you introduced to CrossFit?
I started CrossFit back in June 2008 but I actually found out about it a few months before by bumping into a person at my housing complex. He just talked my ears off about it in the parking lot. I was training for a marathon at the time, so I decided to stick with my training for the time being but then I tried it a couple of months later and haven’t stopped!
And that box was Valley CrossFit?
Yeah, Valley CrossFit was the first place I tried and I’ve never left.
So when you first started were Kristan Clever and Rebecca Voigt already training there?
Becca (Voigt) was there. Kris (Clever) was not there yet, she was still training at another gym and it was a few months later that she started coming over and kind of training with us on the weekend. But eventually she switched over to our gym full time.
How did all these big names end up at Valley CrossFit?
This is kind of just where everyone was living and it just happened to be the gym that was closest by. Like most CrossFit gyms there is a sense of community and everyone becomes friends real quickly. The coaches are fun, the activities outside of the gym are fun and what grew out of that were some pretty good friendships and we all are very involved in each other’s lives. We are all just kind of really linked into each other and I guess that’s what makes it so special.
Turning to the CrossFit Open what did you think of your performance?
I was actually kind of not super focused on placing high. I was confident I could make it into the top 60 with average performances from myself and that was really where my coach and I placed the open in terms of energy expended on it.
When the second workout popped up that’s when I decided that’s the one I want to win, but other than that I was just kind of going through it and getting my name on the board and onto the next day of training. Not really putting too much mental stress or physical stress.
I trained right through the Open and I didn’t taper. I did not treat it like a competition like I would leading up to the Regionals or the Games where there would be some sort of adjustment or tapering. I just used them as one more workout in my week.
Is it fair to say you were only working at around 80 percent during the Open?
Yeah, maybe. I mean I wanted to do well because it’s CrossFit and whenever we do a workout we’re never walking through it. But I can’t say that I ever pushed through to the max button of intensity. I was also still tweaking things with nutrition and sleep wasn’t coming into play too much unfortunately.
So my recovery peaks through those weeks wasn’t where I would want them to be during Regionals. All of that considered, I was kind of like, I’m not gonna weigh this too heavily and panic myself about a placement on a workout.
Is that going to change now heading in to Regionals?
Oh yeah. I mean Regionals is the Games at this point because no one is guaranteed anything at this stage. Aside from the few people who have won the Games who technically have a bye, but even they have to show a strong performance in order to secure their spot at the Games.
So no one is walking into the Regionals thinking they’ll just walk through it. No one I have talked to or met is going into it with that attitude. Everyone is just as focused as if it was the Games. The competition has risen so high that you’ve got to make it that much more important.
Who do you think are your main competitors this season?
Everyday when you compete in CrossFit, it’s you and yourself. It’s ultimately how you perform against your own physical and mental strength, so in that sense my number one competitor is going to be my own head and staying in the right mindset throughout the weekend.
There’s nothing any one person can do to me in a workout. It’s not a sport where your competitor has a direct impact on you. Until they put us in a race where we can push each other aside, there’s no defence in CrossFit, so unless you let someone get into your head, it’s all about what you can do.
That being said I workout in a gym with some of the top female competitors in the sport. So I know exactly who I am up against. I know Rebecca Voigt, Kristan Clever, Lindsey Valenzuela and a handful of girls at the other gyms. I mean Lisa Ryan is one of the up and coming competitors at Valley, so you never now what to expect on the day.
Does that give you an edge over your competitors, knowing all these big names personally?
I will tell myself that yes I do have a mental advantage. I will take and tell myself anything to give myself an extra advantage. Anything that can mentally focus and prepare me, I will say it.
So I’m gonna say yeah, it’s gives me a mental advantage that I know these girls well and I know what they can do, and I know what I can do. We are also very supportive of each other so I think that can be an intimidating presence in a heat when it’s all Valley girls.
Turning to nutrition: what’s your current diet like in the lead up to the Games? Do you Zone, Paleo or take any supplements?
At the moment I’m focused on trying to lean out a tiny bit before Regionals and then I’m going to go back to some more performance nutrition.
Right now I’m pretty much protein and fat most of the time with a little bit of light vegetable and lettuce as my carbohydrate and that is really it. I do a post workout that is carbohydrate.
Supplement wise I currently take Pro-Anox three times a day, which is an antioxidant company that I’ve been partnering with. It kind of has the same physical effect as fish oil. You don’t really notice any change in how you feel in the negative sense, you just kind of feel recovered and better for your next workout. I really like it, I was doing one pack a day, then I went to two packs a day and now I’m on three packs a day. Breakfast lunch and dinner!
I also take a ton of fish oil and vitamin D both from PurePharma and I take some amino acids as well.
With so many companies now getting involved with CrossFit do you think we could see it become a full time professional sport?
Just being a competitor I don’t know if you could, because right now throughout the year there are not enough comps to keep making money off them. Like in other sports you can just keep entering in competitions, but there’s nothing like that yet, you kind of have to win the big prize to not have to work for a year. But I mean it might be moving in that direction as the sponsors get more and more involved.
I feel I’m talking to so many companies that I didn’t even know were out there who are interested in getting involved in the sport and interested in helping and supporting me with things like travel expenses, equipment expenses and all these other things. So in a sense, who knows?
Fast forward a few years and it might be that you don’t even have to win, as long as you’re the face of the sport. As long as you’re going around talking CrossFit and promoting the different companies supporting you, you might be able to. But from what I know about professional sports I think we are still a little bit away from it.
Well one person who is almost a professional with her win last season is Annie Thorisdottir. Do you think she can be beaten this year?
I think everyone is beatable. I remember when people would say that about Kristan (Clever), and now people are saying that about Annie (Thorisdottir). She is a phenomenal athlete. I don’t even know if she is at the top of her game yet really because she’s so young.
I mean anything can happen on the day and that’s what I tell all of my athletes who are starting out in local competitions or in the Open. You just don’t know and all you can do is show up and do your best.
I actually really like Annie, I wanna say that in all honestly it could happen and she is well aware of that. That’s why she trains so hard and that’s why she consistently performs. Because she knows it’s nothing of a guarantee.
Finally, what are your expectations at this year’s Games?
My expectations first and foremost are Regionals. That’s what I’m focusing all my energy on at the moment. Everyone is thinking towards the Games, I mean you can’t help it, but my main focus right now is Regionals.
I want to win, I want to go to the Games, and once that is taken care of I’ll start focusing on my expectations for the Games.
Being a competitor my whole life I want to win. I’m not gonna ever say, ‘well I’d like to go in and be 20th place again.’ I can’t bring myself to train for a sport if that’s my mindset.
To find out more about Katie follow the links below.