Darren Freeman's Road to the Masters
The CrossFit Games masters' qualifiers took place last month, leaving the rest of us in awe at the incredible skills, strength and fitness on display. We caught up with Darren Freeman, co-owner and head coach at Train Manchester, to find out all about his journey to the masters. Here's what he had to say:
It was back in 2011 that I realised, if I was going to be a successful athlete, I would have to take the masters path. After all, I wasn't getting any younger and the pool of people competing for a CrossFit Games spot was getting bigger and bigger, but a massive lack of consistency in my training due to injury meant I would have to be patient - very patient.
Sam Briggs was invited out to a training camp in Portugal called "The Cross", and I tagged along for the 5 days. At the time, we were already 4 workouts into the CrossFit Games open, and there was a host of European athletes already getting ready for Regionals. I remember sitting around one evening when the question was asked, "What is your goal?" - to which I replied, "to be a masters athlete". Everyone laughed but I knew, at 35, it wasn't the worst shout in the world.
One month later, and I had to have an operation on my shoulder to have a torn rotator stitched up, and part of my bone cut out. I'd had the injury way before I'd been introduced to the sport, but being competitive made me my own worst enemy. I went back to training way too soon and the shoulder took forever to heal, so in the meantime I'm squatting like hell to train anything I could - and the next thing I know, my knee blows out. It's funny how following a 5x5 squat program, and then doing the hero WOD "Manion" the very next day, will do that to you!!
Skip forward a few years of just plodding along in my training, and we arrive in 2014. I've now hit 38, and I'm only 2 years off my masters goal. The injuries are still there - however minor - but now it's time to pick up the pace. With the 2014 open over, I enlisted the help of a few different coaches. This is something I'd never done before, but being held accountable for my actions works really well for me. In December 2014, I finally find the right balance with Ste Fawcett - the CrossFit JST guys have done phenomenally well in such a short time, so they must be doing something right!
I turn 40 in August 2015, and enter my first masters' comp the following month: "Masters at War". It's a partner competiton, and I'm lucky enough to be teamed up with Fran Palama - not a bad way to start your masters journey!