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Rozhovor s Markem Váchou

Interview with Marek Vácha

Age 23, CrossFit L1 coach and active competitor in CrossFit

Biggest achievements:
1. Big Summer games 2020
5. místo v ČR CF Open 2020
21. místo Athens Throwdown 2019

Hi, how did you actually start with CrossFit?
I got to him through Dad. He has a gym in Strakonice, where he originally practiced mainly martial arts, but gradually elements from CrossFit began to be included as a fitness accessory. This then dragged mostly into CrossFit.
We started learning the individual movements ourselves, trying out various workouts and benchmarks, and somehow we were caught. Originally, we learned most things from Youtube, technology and so, well, not a perfect start. I started at about 17 years old.

Did you want to race from the beginning?
As yeah, sure, I'm quite a competitive type. From the beginning, I was fascinated and motivated mainly by the performances of athletes from CrossFit games. What are they capable of, to what extent can they endure pain, all those unpleasant states and so on. Even with regard to martial arts, I liked it a lot, in both sports you have to be able to work well with your head and pain, turn off your mind and handle even difficult situations. It is very important to be able to get into the flow, into the conscious presence when we fully focus on the given movement task and do not allow our negative inner comments or thoughts. My dad and I hung out and moved quite quickly.

What did your first workouts look like?
From the beginning, it was mainly accessories for martial arts, as I said, we practiced various circuit training and so on. We didn't have much equipment, so we did our best, the English were almost on the agenda until the collapse. These trainings were about 3 times a week. Then it somehow went wrong, it engulfed us, and at one point we practiced hard every day. Some rest days, deload weeks or days of various intensities were out of the question, if you didn't go dead, it was a sloppy training for us. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone at all, but we did everything we could to move forward. Certainly not perfectly, but it served its purposes for a start. From the beginning, I was most bothered mainly with gymnastic elements, and then strength. In general, I was mainly fitted with breathing apparatus, lightweight workouts, which I still have now. Bar muscle ups or Ring muscle ups bothered me the most and it took me a long time to learn them at all. We learned most of ourselves from Youtube, so everything took longer and it left some of the mistakes. Now I'm trying to prevent this, at least with my clients.

How are you training now?
Over the last year and a half, I have completely changed my approach to CrossFit.
I consulted a lot, and in the end we came to the conclusion that I was training unnecessarily. So at the same time, I reduced the total volume of training a lot, the more I try to focus on regeneration and other overlooked factors.
I used to have 12-15 workouts a week. Now I have some 7-8 workouts, it varies slightly depending on the parts of the year, but overall I train less.
I practice regularly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and then on Fridays and Saturdays. The rest of the days I have time off or active recovery, depending on how I feel. So 3 + 1 and 2 + 1, I found that this method suits me best. I deal with the intensity of individual phases very intuitively, so if I already feel in the middle that the body is tired, then I usually don't try to fight over the edge. I'm used to training in 4 weekly cycles, where I go to max for 3 weeks and 1 load for 1 week.
In deload, my intensity and volume of training go down significantly, and how many times do I not go to the gym even 5 times a week, I try to include, for example, activities for which I do not normally have the time capacity. Plus I focus even more on accessories, especially on the back shoulders, shoulder blades, middle and lots of relaxation exercises. In the past, we practiced almost all the time for blood and almost to anger, but over time I reconsidered that there was no need to keep going to the maximum. It is necessary to think reasonably about this training, so that one does not regularly get into a state of overtraining or lose the desire and drive to the training itself. I think I made the same mistake as a lot of people that I just focused on training and ignoring the things around me. When bad training is needed, I do not focus 100% on performance, but, for example, on keeping short transitions, or going through individual exercises in motion, moving well in them and so on. So I'm trying to look for other challenges that I can meet in a given combo. It is important for me to leave each training with the feeling that I left everything I could there that day. Hard days are the ones that shape and move us the most. It is important to realize and reckon with the fact that not everything always goes the way we would like.

What about you and the injuries?
Fortunately, nothing so serious yet, but for a long time I have been bothered by the hips and other parts of the body from time to time. I always have periods when it's better and when it's worse. I've been working hard on it for the last year, so hopefully it will be better in the future.

Favorite WOD?
I probably don't have a very popular workout, but I like Karen benchmark style combinations (150 Wall Balls for time), or combinations where there is a large volume of a certain exercise. Workouts with a light axle, barbell, KB, and so in heavier combinations on the head, that's for me.
Now, for example in CF Open, I enjoyed 20.1 (10 RFT: 8x G20H + 10x B.F.BP.) or 19.1 (15min. AMRAP 19x WB + 19cal Row) Exactly these types I enjoy.

What are your personal lifts?
147.5 kg for the headband, 220 kg for the corpse.
Then in weightlifting 115 kg snatch and 153 clean and jerk.

What were your first races? Do you remember any of them?
It was in 2015 the Beast Open in Pardubice, organized by Martin Štěpánek.
Originally, I didn't want to go there at all, because I didn't feel ready enough, but my dad checked me in and didn't ask me anything at all.
In the end, the races went well and I finished in 4th place, my dad in 5th right behind me. Those were great times when we hacked at each other like that. If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't be where I am, I'd say. Open Beasts are such basic races for beginners, which I think is great because a lot of people want to race and here they have the opportunity to try well-built races that even a complete beginner can handle. In recent years, the level of races in our country has moved quite upwards and most of them are not built for complete beginners, but these races are.
We have been touring these types of races regularly for about 2 years. How many times does one say that these are completely light races, but this is not quite the case. Due to the fact that there are no such heavy weights, it is all the more demanding in condition, where even a lot of elites might burn. For the first years of crossfit, I thought it would be a lot faster, but you have to realize that if you don't have a background in weightlifting or gymnastics, or something that occurs in CrossFit, it really takes time to develop versatility.

Do you have ambitions to get to CrossFit Games?
I would like. It is a long-term goal and I am trying to get closer to it and I believe that it will work out.
Ideally, I would like to prove it within the next 2 years, if the qualification rules are as they are now. But I don't want to predict anything at all, we will see how everything develops. I always had a problem at the races that the first workouts worked out nicely for me, but the closer I got to the end, the more difficult I had to keep the drive and motivation until the last workouts. I started to think too much about everything and made mistakes. With the change in training, I incorporated more mindset work and in the last races I managed to take care of everything much better.

In what exercises do you have the biggest shortcomings?
For me, squats are the biggest problem. Front, back and all sorts of squat variations in weightlifting bother me. Recently, I've started a lot of work on hip mobility and other aspects.
I try to gradually lift those squats, but if you have a weakness, it just takes time to improve it. Probably partly because we learned most of the techniques ourselves in the beginning and made a lot of bad habits. Then I'm quite bothered by strict hand-stand push ups, so as not to forget.

What does CrossFit mean to you?
I take it as a lifestyle. I try to perceive it as my way, thanks to which I develop comprehensively both physically and mentally. At the same time, the opportunity to spread their attitudes among the people around me.

Do you have a type for people to focus on in the beginning?
Be sure to start with exercise techniques and work with body weight. A lot of people want to learn all the exercises on the horizontal bar right away, but they do the movements badly because they don't know the technique and don't have the strength to do it. Likewise, weightlifting, one of the hardest parts of CrossFit for me, a lot of people would like to raise their wounds right away, but without technology and a good foundation, you can easily get injured.
And I would definitely pinch the work in the middle of the body, if it doesn't work properly for you, the rest will be hard. The basis is to learn to breathe properly in the middle and be able to involve it in more difficult movement patterns. There is no need to rush into complex exercises immediately, everything takes time. It's nice to start with the basic exercises and be able to work in the right position and gradually move on, even though most people don't want to hear it.

Do you have a daily routine?
The morning routine that I try to do every day is important to me. I have the first 30-60 minutes reserved for myself every day. In the morning, the basis of the day is for me and it decides what the whole day will look like. I try not to think about the problems or things that await me on a given day, on the contrary, to tune in to my visions and goals, to remind myself why I do all this.
The basis for me is always to start the day peacefully and enjoy at least coffee in the morning. That's one of the nicest things for me. In the morning I change different variants, I always start with a contrasting shower and coffee, the rest of the time changes differently. Sometimes I focus more on breathing, other times more meditation, then sometimes mobility and so on. I also focus on the evening routine, for example, before going to bed I limit the blue light and overall thinking about work or problems. I try not to eat for some time before going to bed and to observe a regular time of falling asleep, as well as getting up.

Do you have any preparation of your own before training?
Certainly. Pre-training habits are also very important. I need to mentally tune in enough for training, for everything that comes. Personally, before training, I always listen to various motivational videos during warm-up, during which I imagine and go through the entire training, I experience individual crisis points that could occur. From the point of view of physical training, I start with a cylinder or a ball, I go through the places I need. Then some dynamic stretching, working on my problems and, last but not least, activating the necessary parts of the body and center.

What do you do besides CrossFit exercises?
My girlfriend and I have a dog, so we regularly and like to go for walks in nature and we train. I'm also a CrossFit coach at CrossFit HomeTown, so I spend a lot of time there.
I also do remote coaching, where I try my best to help clients achieve their goals. I mainly work with people who race or would like to experience some races in the future. All of this is related to my education regarding training, mindset, etc. I am also finishing my studies at UK FTVS. On days off, I like to fall out of the city into nature, move away from people and enjoy the silence and space. How many times do I just read and do nothing, very nice activity. A lot of people can't do anything if they're not productive, they feel guilty, and so they keep pursuing their goal furiously, but the joy of the activity and their path slowly escapes them. Unfortunately, the balance is mostly distant for us today…

Favorite book?
An alchemist by Paul Coelho.

Metcon or Nano?
Definitely Metcony.
Although I originally started on Nana, Metcocons seem more stable to me and fit better on my workouts, they are so more universal. For example, I resist well in them.

What are your plans for next season?
I haven't really thought about it yet.
The CrossFit Open is important to me and I want to prepare for it primarily.
Because of him, I would also like to limit school and work a bit and be able to devote myself as much as possible to training and everything around it. Then I will see how the races abroad, if any. I hope so, the level of athletes is still completely different from us.

Would you like to say something to everyone at the end?
First, so that they do not collapse from the current situation and survive and endure as best they can.
Second, in general, for people to believe in themselves! In order not to be intimidated or discouraged by their surroundings, they were really busy and went for their dreams, which will make them happy. The journey is often not easy, but it can teach us all the more and develop it overall.


interview by Martin Pavlis -