Rucking: My Active Recovery by Hannah Crooks

I recall my first Tough like it was yesterday. It was a Zombie-themed event in St. Augustine and at the time I had no idea what I was getting into, but I loved the fact that it would require and test not only physical ability but also mental strength and resilience. And that it did. I first learned about rucking through the CrossFit gym that I joined when I moved to Jacksonville – CrossFit Black Hive. A lot of people at the gym worked at GORUCK and they eventually swindled me into my first Tough. Rucking is really a great active recovery workout for me. It keeps my conditioning in check and really forces me to do cardio, my least favorite activity. The great part about it though is that it’s easier on your joints than running, but it still gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Cardio is a necessary evil when I’m trying to cut for a weightlifting event.

I first found my love of weightlifting through CrossFit. Each CrossFit WOD, or “Workout of the Day,” consists of a warm-up, strength component and metcon (metabolic conditioning – the actual workout which is usually measured by time or rounds). I quickly found that my favorite part was the strength component. I really enjoyed picking up the “heavy stuff.” When Black Hive decided to create a weightlifting club I was excited, but hesitant, just because this was something totally new to me and outside of my comfort zone. But I decided to give it a try. The very first time I stepped up on the platform at a meet, just me and the barbell, I fell completely in love. The adrenaline rush was like none other I had experienced and at that moment I knew I was hooked. I loved that the months and months of hard work and dedication came down to one moment on the platform to excel under pressure.

I recently got the GORUCK Kit Bag and I use it as my gym bag. I AM OBSESSED. It has so many pockets that I can keep all of my weightlifting accessories like tape, straps, headphones, wrist wraps, and socks organized. Then I still have room for things like my shoes, belt and journal in the main area. It is also a great carry on size so I don’t have to worry about checking a bag for Nationals because who wants to deal with lost baggage. Seriously, it’s the best thing that happened to my old middle school cheerleading gym bag.

Training for weightlifting competitions is a lot like a GORUCK event. It’s tough and there are days that I don’t want to show up but the reward is worth it. As Nick Saban preaches, being successful is truly about loving and trusting the process. I’m also an Alabama alum, so please excuse the shameless plug. Our weightlifting coach, Fluff,’ is amazing and he continues to challenge us and push us outside of our comfort zone. Weightlifting has made me comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it’s SO MUCH FUN. Our little weightlifting team has come so far and we are all each other’s cheerleaders, which I love. It is so inspiring to watch your teammates overcome obstacles every day. I think it is safe to say we have all shared the highs, lows, tears, and joys that come with this sport.

My proudest weightlifting moment happened in the back of the gym one Friday afternoon while I was training by myself. This was during the Crossfit Open so many athletes were up front completing the workout while some kids played in the back. I was chipping away at my training session when I heard two little girls under the age of 5 riled up in a competitive way with one another. They weren’t fighting about who was prettier, who had better toys, or who had the cutest braid in their hair…they were arguing about who was stronger. It was eye-opening to see firsthand that those little eyes are always watching. So far, my biggest achievement isn’t a PR that I’ve hit, it is the realization that I have the opportunity to positively impact those around me. I was thrilled to witness these two little girls not only saying that they wanted to be strong, but that they were proud to be strong.

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