Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir Plays Mental Game To Win CrossFit Games
Iceland native Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir came into Southern California and cooled off the CrossFit Games competition with a come-from-behind performance to capture the title of "Fittest Woman on Earth" on Sunday. Davidsdottir took first place in just one event, but her consistency and mental focus throughout the Games propelled her to the top spot on the podium. We caught up with the champ to find out what it's like to be the fittest in all the land.
espnW: You're the Fittest Woman on Earth. That's quite a title. Have you processed what it all means?
Katrin Davidsdottir: I keep [thinking], "Whoa, I did it, that really happened." It's amazing. I didn't set myself a number goal of where I wanted to be. I just set a goal of coming off the field every time and every single workout knowing that was everything I had at the time, stayed focused on one task at a time and focused on myself, and I guess that pays off.
espnW: You didn't qualify for last year's games? Did that motivate you at all this year? If so, how?
KD: Not making it last year affected me a lot, and I think that is a differentiator. I started working more closely with my coach, Ben Bergeron, and he not only got me the fittest that I've ever been, but he got my mental game to a whole other level. And I think that's the biggest thing. We can all work out and we're all fit, but this year I've been working so much on my mental approach and just staying in that mental mind game, staying focused on yourself, and only the next task at hand.
espnW: You talk a lot about the mental aspect of your win. Take us through your mind on each event. What different mental exercises did you do?
KD: It really depends on what kind of event it is. If it's a pure endurance event and it's purely who can suffer the most, then block out the pain, go, go, go. As soon as you cross the finish line, you can stop, and the pain -- it's not pain. You're going to be uncomfortable for a while, and when you stop, it's going to go away, so you know that.
If it's a technical event, I will normally have a strategy in mind. And that will be the only thing going through my mind, is the strategy that I have and sticking to that. If there's anything in the tank, then I'll go more. If it's an event that I'm scared of, then I'll have my coach out there on the field and he'll be with me, in my mind, and I'll think about what he would say.
espnW: Toughest event?
KD: Physically or mentally?
espnW: Let's say physically and then mentally.
KD: Physically the toughest event was Murph, for sure. Not only was the event the most grueling and demanding -- it was the mile run, then you do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats before you go into a mile run again wearing a 14-pound vest -- and it was just a lot for each muscle group at a time. Wearing that 14-pound vest in the midst of the day, I think it was a grueling workout and it was just so hot that it was very physically demanding.
The most mentally demanding workout, I'd say, was the one that had the rope climbs in it because that was the factor last year that made me not make the Games. I've worked so hard on them every single day. Four to five days a week I've been working on my rope climbs, knowing that they're going to show up, and when they do, I wondered, "Can I beat them this time?" I was really proud of myself in that workout. That was a really mentally hard workout and I stayed with it.
espnW: Now that it's all over and you can look back, was there a moment you loved that you think the cameras didn't capture?
KD: The best moments are always when you're out on the field and you can feel the electric atmosphere. That last event, when I was doing my deadlifts unbroken, the stands went crazy. It gives you the chills. You can't even feel the weight anymore. The kettlebells don't even feel heavy. [The fans] help you do the work. Also, what I love about CrossFit and the community is it's not over until everyone's over the finish line. If everyone's done and there's one left, we'll go cheer her on. We want her to finish, too.
espnW: What does the Fittest Woman on Earth do after she's the dusted the competition?
KD: That's a good question. I don't know. Right now, I'm just relaxing, doing interviews and just enjoying the experience. I don't know what comes from here. I know I'll start training again in a few weeks. In a few days, I might start taking classes and just moving around, but not for real for another few weeks. I'm really excited to see what this year brings.
DaKari Williams is a licensed physical therapist assistant, massage therapist, chiropractic assistant and a CrossFit Level 1 certified trainer.