Zachary Marino has been a member of CrossFit Queen Street for almost a year. He initially joined the gym to have a place to train for weightlifting, but after participating in a few classes, his competitive side kicked in and he wanted to see how much he could excel at areas of fitness beyond strength and Olympic lifting. Now he considers CrossFit a “part-time hobby,” regularly training at the gym at 3pm for 1-2 hours 5 times a week, which he fits in around a busy work schedule.

Zach is a persistent and consistent athlete, and his hard work with his training and recovery has been paying off. Recently, Zach’s most proud of his accomplishments with double-unders: recently he retested the workout 17.5 from last year’s Open, and shaved about 8 minutes off of his time!  Read more to learn about how much food this guy can eat, what it was like buying weightlifting shoes back in the day, and what goals Zach has with competition going forward.

What reasons did you have to train when you started CrossFit? Have those reasons changed? If so, how?: I used to compete in weightlifting. After missing out on qualifying for nationals in 2017 shortly after moving to Kingston for work, I decided I was going to take a break from it. I had done some team CrossFit competitions before (without training for them) and enjoyed it.
CrossFit has always interested me, and after I picked up my weightlifting coaching certification I did my Level 1 Coaching certification about a year later even though I wasn't training CrossFit. I figured it would be good to have if I wanted to drop in somewhere and could maybe negotiate coaching a weightlifting class to cover my drop-in fee or something like that. 
Weightlifting used to be pretty underground and I remember ordering my first pair of weightlifting shoes online. It was a word document you'd send to the site's email address with the style and size of shoe you wanted. To be clear PayPal existed at this time. Now you can sometimes find them in certain sports stores. Bumper plates are all over the place. This is largely thanks to CF exposing the masses to the lifts. I've seen both sports evolve in North America from within one and the periphery of the other. There were periods where I've trained out of CF gyms because there were no weightlifting gyms in the geographical area, but they had all the equipment I needed. It's a very welcoming and accommodating community that I'm happy to be a part of now.

What do you eat on a typical day? I typically eat 3 large meals that range between 1100-1400 calories each.

I wake up around 5am to cook breakfast and not feel rushed before heading into work for between 6:30 and 7:15. 

One of the first things I do after waking up start drinking water, I aim for a litre before I leave for work. I usually snack on an apple while making my eggs and pork sausages. Normal breakfast has 5 and 4 of each. I also throw in 3 fist-fulls of spinach with a bunch of peppers and mushrooms. I finish off breakfast with a banana with some peanut butter on it. Typically breakfast is my fat-heaviest meal of the day.

Lunch is the meal I eat before my typical training session. I make 1 and 1/4 cup of oatmeal with some whey isolate mixed in for extra protein. I also have some more fruit and depending on how hungry I am will dictate how much peanut butter I put in to the mix with the fruit.

Dinner is eaten after I get home from training. Lately there's been a lot of extra cardio so as I'm making dinner I'm eating fruit, a protein shake and PB+J sandwich, although when training is less taxing it's usually just a protein shake and a fruit. Dinner itself is lots of veggies (green beans, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms) mixed with 270g of chicken and at least a half cup of brown rice. Lately I've been mixing in some salsa for extra flavour, but spices work too.

The common denominator between all meals is peanut butter, which is the glue that holds my body together.

Have you changed the way you eat since you began CrossFit, If so, how? I'd say I've increased the number of carbohydrates I eat in a day. Weightlifting did not require nearly this much energy, and watching fat intake wasn't important because 0.25 seconds worth of work isn't going to make you puke after eating a cheeseburger. I also tend to have more time between meals and training now. Again, eating less than an hour before weightlifting training is no big deal. Eating right before some WODs is an assured recipe for gastro-disaster. This might also come back to the fact that I tend to eat 3 big meals. Smaller snacks probably aren't as much of an issue.

How do you like to rest and recover? On rest days I like to eat foods I wouldn't normally eat on training days because of either how they make me feel or not fitting the needs of fueling my body for training sessions properly.  Regardless of it being a training or rest day stretching and to a lesser extent rolling play a big role in my recovery. In terms of non-gym or food related activities, I like to watch movies, study, draw, write, play an occasional video game, and listen to music.

Do you currently have a main focus or goal(s) with your training? The Open starts next week and I want to be able to end each week/WOD with the knowledge that I gave it everything I had and not question whether I could have performed better if I had done XYZ differently. 

If my results can help CFQS qualify a team to regionals, well, that would be amazing.

In the next year I want to start to be able to qualify for larger competitions, either as an individual or as a part of a team. Two that come to mind for individual competition are BeachWOD (now The UG Games) held in Collingwood and Wodapalooza in Miami, Florida. I competed at BeachWOD on a team last year and it was a blast. I participated in the online qualifier for Wodapalooza as well, but I was nowhere near qualifying at the time. 

As goals these are a bit harder to gauge how far or close you are to being able to do so than with weightlifting where it's usually a certain amount of weight you have to lift. WODs are more varied and you're scored against everyone who registers rather than just a total lift marker which is binary, you either lifted enough or you didn't. We'll see how it goes.

What would you consider to be your greatest strength as an athlete? It's a strength and a weakness: my stubbornness. It keeps me going even when I fail, but sometimes it keeps me in a way of doing things that might not be the most efficient or straightforward path simply because I'm set on doing things a certain way. I'm working on being more self-aware and realize when the latter is happening.

What is one thing that you do every day that you feel is essential in contributing to your success in the gym? Getting enough sleep is very important (I sleep 7-8 hours a night) but I'll give this one to stretching. 
Movement is such an important part of CrossFit. You look at top athletes, not just in CrossFit, but any sport and the absolute best move exceedingly well. They have the mobility and stability to hit all the proper positions and execute flawlessly. 
Having reduced ROM makes a movement harder than it needs to be and can also result in injury through repetitive strain.
Not to say stretching assures you won't get injured but it helps reduce the risk. In my opinion stretching/mobilizing and proper warmup/cooldown is a force multiplier to your training and the ROI for your training should be a no brainer to anyone who takes it seriously.

If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you started CrossFit, what would it be? Scaled/Rx/Rx+ doesn't matter. Intensity does. Sometimes lighter weights can be scarier than heavier weights. If they aren't, you aren't going fast enough.

Do you have a favourite quotation or mantra related to training? One rep at a time.