Alex Hadlaw is a gritty athlete. She is consistent, tenacious, thoughtful, and brings her contagious positivity to the 6:30am class 5x a week. Alex’s hard work in the gym has paid off- since starting CrossFit she has seen awesome improvements in her conditioning, strength, and skills. Read below to learn about how Alex also employs mindset, nutrition, and proper recovery (this girl sleeps 8-9 hours a night!) to contribute to her success.

How do you like to rest and recover? I usually take 2 days off from the gym and if I am sore from the previous WODs, I find activity definitely helps me recover, and as a bonus it keeps me moving instead of stuck sitting at school all day! On one of the rest days, I usually go for an easy run /swim with my roommates, or go to a yoga class (to work on my inflexibilities). These activities are low-impact and usually help me feel recovered for the next day of training.

What do you eat on a typical day? 

Before the gym: I likely will eat toast, bananas, etc. with peanut butter to provide some short-term energy for the workout
Post-gym: I have a larger breakfast, my most common breakfast is sweet potato hash with whatever leafy-greens and veggies I have in my fridge + 2 eggs
Snacks: I usually pack some nuts, veggies 
Lunch: Pack my leftovers from dinner usually in wrap form
Dinner: I try to experiment with my cooking to incorporate different ingredients, my favourite thing to do as a student if I am running low on ingredients is to go on 'Pinterest' and type the ingredients in the search bar and then it shows you all the recipes using those ingredients! My go-to's for dinner are tacos, crockpot meals or curries.

Have you changed the way you eat since you began CrossFit, If so, how? Yes 100%. When I began CrossFit, I was not eating enough and doing other endurance sports so I was tired and unhealthy. When I started cooking for myself more, I did meal-prep but after a few days of the same thing I got bored with the plain meals I made so I would eat on campus more often. Now, although I don't count macros, for every meal I make I try to eat something that future or gym-alex would thank me for, like eating veggies every meal, or not eating candy because I'm stressed! I plan out my dinner recipes every 2-weeks so I know what to buy. I have also been trying to cut down my meat consumption and using other protein sources by eating at least half of my meals/week vegan or vegetarian.

How does training/CrossFit fit into your life? It's just one part of my life now! It keeps me balanced with school, work and extra-curriculars and it's just my own thing I do that is engraved into my schedule no matter what.

What reasons did you have to train when you started CrossFit? Have those reasons changed? If so, how? When I began CrossFit, I had to leave behind a competitive sport, so like a lot of people, I was drawn to do something for myself that I would be competing against myself for. I think when I began CrossFit, my mentality of success was still based around looking a certain way or fitting an unachievable mold from previous sports. Now, I still love the competitive aspect, but the most rewarding is making and achieving goals. Ultimately, I understand that my experience and success is subjective and I should not be comparing myself to others. My main reason to continue CrossFit is the positive impact it has on my mental and physical health.

What improvements have you made in the past 6 months that you are most proud of?  

Recording goals and WODs: I never used to record my goals/workouts because I thought "what's the point, if I feel good and it's making me healthier then that's all that matters"- this mindset didn't allow me to grow as an athlete. Now, I have specific goals written down (thanks to Sharon for the inspiration), and for every workout I write pros and cons for how it went
My health: My overall health has improved, as I had nutrient deficiencies last year and my aerobic capacity suffered. Now I am more vigilant of how I feel and my endurance is back to normal.
Improved my gymnastics: I feel more comfortable with T2B, C2B HSPU etc. in workouts, which I used to dread. My strict gymnastics has also gotten better.
DUs: After 2 years of working on double unders, I can finally confidently do them in a WOD without them hurting my soul.

Do you currently have a main focus or goal(s) with your training? My main goals are improving my gymnastics strict strength without acquiring any minor injuries along the way, specifically working on Mus- which is a slow but hopefully satisfactory process. Another goal is trying to focus on not going into an unhelpful resting position which for me is going down into a squat), this is my goal for all workouts because when I do it I rest for longer than necessary (especially longer/intense WODs)- so I am trying to stand up, walk, breath and stay upright!

What would you consider to be your greatest strength as an athlete? GRIT! Which stands for Guts, Resilience, Integrity, and Tenacity- I try to learn from my mistakes and try to grow in all aspects of my life

What is one thing that you do every day that you feel is essential in contributing to your success in the gym? Before going to the gym, I try to reflect on how I am feeling, taking into consideration if I am tired, stressed, sore, ate poorly the night before etc. Once I reflect on these things, I make a goal for the workout with all of these factors in mind. Sometimes the goal is performance-based, like doing unbroken sets in the WOD, and sometimes it's just to have fun and laugh with gym friends! This allows me to have my own focus and not place unrealistic goals for the workouts.

If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you started CrossFit, what would it be? Patience and goal-making are part of the process! I found that once I started getting into CrossFit, I wanted to get better at everything and so you're tempted to work on "everything". Instead, I would say to go into training each day with specific goals in-mind first, then if you still have time there is always other things to play around with!

Do you have a favourite quotation or mantra related to training? "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't- you're right"

Is there anything you would like to add? I never thought waking up at 6 would be fun until I started going to the 6:30am class!!!