If you’ve taken an interest in competitive CrossFit on any level in New Zealand, you will have heard of Ruth Anderson Horrell. She’s unarguably New Zealand’s best CrossFit Athlete, having gone to The Games in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and last year won the Battle of the Fittest, New Zealand's premier CrossFit competition, with six first place finishes out of eight events.
I usually get up at 6am if I’m coaching or 6:30 if not. For breakfast I’ll have a green smoothie, scrambled eggs and coffee with coconut oil. I’ll start training about 10am. On heavy lifting days I’ll usually do the lifting first, some days gymnastic skill work, then a WoD. I fit my business work around everything else, and that usually takes about 5 hours a day.
You are a world-class CrossFit athlete even though you mostly work out by yourself in a small CrossFit box in a small city at the bottom of the world. What systems do you have in place to keep your skills sharp and to keep motivated?
My coach is Dusty Hyland who is based at Dogtown CrossFit in Los Angeles. We have a private Facebook group, just the two of us, in which I send him videos of my movements and get feedback. He makes sure my gymnastic movements are as good as possible. Also to keep improving myself I video my training pretty much everyday and review it each evening. This is what allows me to train at international level, but really it’s no different to how I would train if I wasn’t at that level. I don’t have that constant comparison to other elite athletes but at the competitions I go to I use the opportunity to test myself against top Crossfitters, and see which movements maybe I need to work on.
The elbow didn’t actually effect my mindset as I only had to avoid certain movements for a short time. I was disappointed on missing out on the Schwartz’s Challenge competition in Melbourne though.
With the thumb I don’t think it has affected me as the injury itself wasn’t painful. It was the immobilising part of having surgery has been frustrating. I can’t do anything much for two weeks, and that’s been hard. I can’t get going with rehab, like you normally would with an injury, so mentally thats been tough. The splint came off Tuesday, I hope can still do the open. I have been doing a lot of legs!
Do you have a internal monologue - that voice that chatters on in your head? Do you control it? What does it say?
Yeah I suppose, there’s a voice in my head during a workout, saying things like “come on, keep going, don’t put the bar down!” And I use it more when taking a rest, saying things like “I gotta get back into it”. Sometimes with certain things I imagine there’s someone beside me, for example when I’m pulling a sled I’ll imagine someone else doing it racing me, which helps me push harder.
Well just recently there’s a guy called Brad Davidson who runs Stark Training in Orange County in California. He’s my nutrition protocol, supplement protocol, volume of training and rest/recovery man. If there’s any questions about anything going on with my body he’s my first port of call. I’ve never met him in person but have skyped and I’ve listened to heaps of his podcasts. Every time I listen to him I’m so impressed by just how much he knows.
A long time ago I had a meeting with a guy called Cliff Harvey, a holistic performance nutritionist from Auckland. He knows a lot about sports psychology, training, and nutrition, and he’s a very inspiring person. I just spent an afternoon with him four or five years ago but that’s been a huge help to me.
The constant support of my family and friends keeps me going day to day. I could never do this on my own if the people around me were not supporting what I’m trying to achieve.
I’ve met heaps of amazing athletes and coaches so its hard to pinpoint one. My movement coach is Jules Burgemeestre, who is based in Melbourne. He’s a guru on human movement. He helped me with my thoracic spine injury in 2013, which was the hardest injury I’ve had to deal with because of the chronic pain. He knows how to fix any movement problem, and he’s inspiring way that he lives.
Dusty Hyland inspired me many years ago when I attended his CrossFit Gymnastic certificate. I have been so lucky to work one on one with him, he helps me not only with my gymnastics and CrossFit, but with my life in general. Dusty understands the mental side of competition and training having been a high level gymnast himself.
The truth is so many people have infleunced me, I'm willing to learn from anyone who is willing to teach.
Facebook Athlete Page here (nutrition tips, competition and training news, and cute animals among other interesting stuff. She's also a small animal veterinarian, btw!)
Instagram here (lots of clips of Ruth training)
Ruth is grateful for the support of Again Faster, Primal Life, Just Another WOD, Rocktape NZ and Sportsmed Physio.