Ninjas in Training
Welcome to the next installment of Ninjas in Training! The true beauty of Ninja Warrior is that it requires such a huge cross section of skill-sets, and so everyone tackles their training in a completely different way. We’ll be asking friends of the site to share with us their approach.
Today we’re interviewing the Krispy Ninja!
Chris, thank you so much for this interview! Congrats on placing in your first ever ninja comp… were you happy with your run?
Thank you for having me!
I was very happy with my run in this competition. There’s been some key things I’ve focused on in my training and glad to see it translating to the competition. I was only two mistakes away from a perfect run. From video footage and feedback received, the mistakes were related to mental focus instead of strength and technique. One of the obstacles that I fell on was the balance beam. Balance obstacles are things I don’t train much of but when I do train them, I seem to have no problem at all. My fall on the balance beam in the competition made me realise the importance of mental focus and confidence under competition pressure. If I didn’t rush through the balance beam, I would have completed that obstacle.
All in all, I’m super stoked with the result of the competition as it was validation of the training I’ve been doing and it highlighted a key opportunity to work on (mental focus). I’ve started practicing meditation as a result to improve my focus.
Did you have a fun day at the comp? How was it meeting your competitors from all sorts of different disciplines, backgrounds and fitness levels? I can’t imagine too many comps in any sport where everyone comes at it from a different angle…
I had a blast at the competition! (June 10 is the next one – ed) It was amazing to meet other competitors especially when the ninja scene is in it’s infancy in Australia. A lot of times I feel so alone training but this competition helped me connect with like-minded ninja peeps. By the way, if you are in Brisbane and training for ninja comps – we are starting a facebook group for Ninjas in Brisbane so watch out for this!
It was very interesting to meet the different people from various walks of life. I’m a big believer that different perspective is what breeds innovation and progress. I’ve met ninjas that are ex-gymnasts, ex-international triathletes, competitive jet ski athlete, calisthenics experts, engineers and many others. This is one thing I love about ninja is that it is a sport that anyone from any walk of life can do. It most certainly helps to have some form of sporting background but there’s plenty of competitive ninjas out there that are just normal people who decided to go for total victory!
What’s also very interesting is that because of the variety of backgrounds, I noticed that there were multiple ways of approaching the same obstacle. Furthermore, there was a various mix of strengths and weaknesses amongst the competitors. For example, rock climbers may find the climbing obstacles easy but may struggle with balance or more dynamic jumping obstacles. For myself, I use a lot of power to go through the obstacles as it’s something I’ve built from my gym training. In contrast, there are gymnasts who are very graceful in their approach as they have extreme upper body control and strength and rely less on power. Another example I’ve noticed is that some people like approaching climbing obstacles with bent arms whilst other prefer straight arm.
These different approaches really opened my eyes and reminded me that there are multiple ways to approach an obstacle. It also showed me that you must know what your strengths are and play to it where possible. Just because the person who ran before you did the obstacle bent arm doesn’t mean you must do it with a bent arm.
I’m pretty lucky at the moment in that I have access to a heap of Ninja comps, so I struggle with this myself… but do you think the experience of doing a comp is worth the potential break in your training routine?
Ninja competitions are so important to me and yes, I’m very jealous you have access to so many competitions!!!!
Without competitions, I think it will be extremely hard for me to assess how my progress is going. You can train all you want but there is a huge difference between doing salmon ladder in training and salmon ladder in a competition environment. It also allows me to bench mark myself against other ninjas. Am I progressing as quickly as they are, what strengths do they have that I need to also build? I know the most important thing is that you are competing only against yourself but benchmarking also provides an indication of how you are going.
Another huge plus is the people side, you get to meet so many more people and be inspired with new ideas. You can see how different people approach things and be inspired to trying something differently. One obstacle might be very difficult to me but another competitor might find it super easy. Competitions are a great way to identify these opportunities and grow together as a community.
When did you decide that you wanted to train for Australian Ninja Warrior? What made you decide to take on such a crazy hard adventure?
Haha crazy hard adventure is a very apt term!
I decided that I wanted to be Australia’s first Ninja Warrior late last year (2016). There were multiple factors leading to this decision but one huge factor was that I never really achieved anything great in my life.
All my life I’ve been average at what I do or a bit above average. I’m the untalented kid that always works their butt off but never seems to make it to the top. My “trophy cabinet” is filled with participation ribbons and 2nd or 3rd place medals. Even though I don’t have natural talent in anything, I would try to compensate it with unquestionable tenacity and effort. If someone ran 10 laps, I’ll run one more. If they trained for 2 hours, I’ll train 3 hours. If they shot the basketball 100 times, I’ll shoot it 200 times. I remember when I was trying out for a club football team one year, the coach pulled me aside and said that I’m not good enough to make it into the team BUT he’s willing to offer me a spot on the backup roster for the bench just because of how hard I worked. I didn’t play that season and ended up quitting half way through..
Time after time, I would either come close or I would end up quitting before I got there. This has happened in my sporting life, my career and my personal life. There always seem to be that one person who’s better than me even though I worked extremely hard. Eventually, I give in and quit. My mother has told me all through my life that I quit when it gets really tough.
On top of quitting when it gets tough, I’m always looking to challenge myself. I never want to do something where I knew it was an easy win. To me, those things aren’t worthwhile. This combination of constantly seeking what seems out of reach and a quitting attitude has put me in a perpetual cycle of mediocrity. It wasn’t until late last year that I realised this was happening to me.. I decided to change and do something about it and commit to not quitting when it gets tough. Ninja warrior is a way for me to prove to myself that I can make it to the top and unlike before, I’ll do EVERYTHING I can do get there and accept no less. Ninja warrior represents my internal battle to prove to myself that I can make it to the top and not just on the bench’s backup.
The odds are stacked against me as I’m not an ex-Olympian or an ex-gymnast. I don’t have parkour background or some extreme sport background. I’m just an accountant living in a suburban home living a normal life. This is going to be a huge challenge but unlike my previous adventures, this is one where I will not quit and finally prove to myself that I can do it.
How are you tackling things like diet and recovery? Any tips for new players?
This is a very good question. I find diet quite easy to do as I plan and do my meal prep every weekend which means my whole week’s meals are sorted. If there is one tip I can give any new players for diet is to SCHEDULE TIME IN TO DO YOUR MEAL PREP. It’s that simple! Plan your meals for the week and do it all on the weekend.
From a recovery perspective, I treat it with the same tenacity as training. I find that I’m constantly getting small injuries from pushing myself in training. After talking to my physio, she mentioned that this is the reality of training at an elite level is that injuries will occur but managing them is what makes the difference.
Listening to and learning about your own body is critical to recovery. Everyone recovers at a different pace and sometimes in different ways. I ensure that I’m constantly aware of how my body is feeling. Which body part feels stressed and if injured, how recovery is going. By listening to your body it will help identify small niggles way before they become an injury. The moment you identify those niggles, get on top of it right away and start doing remedial actions. I often think of my rehabilitation work as a session. For example, my hips were giving me a bit of pain before so I tagged on a “hip stretching session” to every workout to help recovery. I even have reps and sets in this hip stretching session (for example: hip stretch x 1 rep of 30 seconds for 3 sets).
Another challenging part of recovery, which I still struggle with, is learning when to stop. This is where I rely a lot on my physio to help me monitor if training is still appropriate or if it needs quality rest time. I do get very antsy when my physio tells me to stop training something but I believe the ability to do so is part of what differentiates champions for another competitor. The discipline to stop and rest is a champion’s trait that is heavily understated and one people don’t exercise enough.
To sum it up, my biggest tips are to learn to listen to your body, treat your recovery like training itself and when required to stop, do stop and let it rest. It also helps to have a physio that knows you well and what you are training for to provide professional advice.
Would you share with us one of your favourite workouts to prep for a Ninja comp?
My favourite thing to do before a ninja competition is….. REST AND MEDITATE. The day before any big competition or event in my life is always blacked out for rest and meditation. I find this helps me clear my mind so I can focus on one thing – winning the Ninja comp. The competition that I just had I didn’t do this quite well and suffered for it.
Thanks so much Chris, if peeps want to follow you and all your adventures, what should they hit?
They can follow my journey on Instagram @krispy.ninja . I’m always keen to meet new people so feel free to DM me on there at anytime!
Thanks again to Chris for sharing his training, goals and progress. We wish him the best of luck to smash out 2017.
Please note : We can’t tell the future, we don’t know if our interviewees will actually make it onto Ninja Warrior. They are athletes that we find inspiring and hope you will too.
If you’d like to share your training routines and motivations, please contact us.
Train hard Ninjas