Dan Bailey before the Deadlift at the 2010 Central East Regional

2011 CrossFit Games

Catching up with Dan Bailey

Sponsorship, The Effects of Not Specializing, School, Myths, and Faith

Dan Bailey does things quickly. In just one year, the former sprinter (with a 47 second 400m) has made the switch from collegiate Track and Field to CrossFit, and running stadium steps in a weight vest to prepare for Regionals to signing a sponsorship with Rogue Fitness.

The young athlete grabbed the attention of the CrossFit Community last May when he claimed 5th at the Central East Regional, just two positions below the future 2010 Games champ, Graham Holmberg. Bailey was slated to win the Regional at the start of the second day, but fell behind due to a cramp. In short, Dan came to the Regional with little CrossFit experience but considerable Games potential.

We caught up with Bailey to learn about the recent changes in his life. We talked about how the Rogue sponsorship came about, the effects of shifting from specialized training to CrossFit, the myth of the fruity pebble cramp, balancing university and graduate work, and the intersection of his faith and his training.

We hear you were recently signed with Rogue, how did that sponsorship deal come about? 

Back in December, I was invited to come down and workout at the Rogue Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio with Rogue athletes Mikko Salo, Graham Holmberg, Christy Phillips, Kate Rawlings and several other stud Ohio CrossFitters. After finishing second to Mikko in a grueling workout called "Miagi,*" I was chatting with Graham and he asked me what the logo on my track jersey stood for. While explaining it I saw Bill Henniger, the owner of Rogue Fitness, standing by. Halfway joking, I looked at him and said, "I’d like it to say Rogue." Bill responded with, "We can make that happen today." My jaw almost hit the floor. Within the next thirty minutes I was talking with Caity Matter as she printed up a contract. 

*Miagi: For time: 50 Deadlift (135/95), 50 DB KB Swings (24/16), 50 Push Ups, 50 Clean and Jerk (135/95), 50 Pull Ups, 50 Taters, 50 Box Jumps, 50 Wall Climbs, 50 Knees to Elbows, 50 Double Unders.   

Are you intending to make a run for the 2011 Games?

Yep, but I know it will be extremely difficult with some of the returning and new talent in the region.

How has your training been going? What progress have you made since we last saw you at the Central East Regional?

Training has been moving along well.  I’ve made many improvements across the board mostly in handling longer high repetition workouts and multiple days of multiple WODs. The chipper at the Central East Regional was the workout that broke me down the most. A lot of weaknesses were identified that weekend and each day I have been working on improving them.

What were your weaknesses earlier this year, say about Regionals time? Where have you made the biggest improvement?

In terms of weaknesses, I’d say almost everything. I hadn't done many benchmark workouts prior to the Central East Regional, but there are a lot of things to work on that aren't as numbers-oriented. My Fran time at that point was probably just over three minutes. To sum up my main weaknesses at Regionals:

  • My deadlift before the Regional was 475 pounds, so the 520-pound deadlift I pulled at the Regional was a huge PR.
  • Box jumps in large sets and kettlebell swings were also a weakness. Prior to the Regional I had rarely done kettlebell swings at 53 pounds and it showed in the Chipper. Now I’m comfortable snatching a 70 pound KB for higher reps. I also can go much deeper into sets of box bumps without as much fatigue, I still struggle at times but I am much better.
  • I had never really worked on full squat snatches either and had to learn that on the fly at Regionals by watching Joe Weigel and Ben Smith who are incredibly efficient and strong at that movement. 
  • Although I could do pretty large sets of pull-ups at Regionals I had no real kip. All my pull-ups were almost from a dead hang.  After attending a level one cert and some help from Brian Yoak and Charlie Dunifer I have a much faster butterfly kip for chin over bar and much a better regular kip for chest to bar pull-ups. 

            The list could go on and on… lol…there are so many exercises to be proficient at when training for the unknowable and it’s a lot to try to tackle in a year’s time, but there is some crossover in many of the exercises.  Gaining in one almost always means you will gain in another based on the function of the movements.   

How has your fitness changed since making the switch from your track training to CF? Have you gained or lost: weight, speed, etc? Are you seeing a shift in what you PR in?

In terms of CrossFit's definition of fitness, I am in the overall best shape of my life by far.  However, I don't have quite the same speed or cardiovascular endurance I did when I was strictly training for track. It takes a lot of focused and specialized training to be the fastest your body will allow you to go especially in the longer sprints such as the 200m, 400m and 800m.  Since CrossFit doesn't look to reward the specialist I no longer specialize in just being fast although it will still be a portion of my training.
            In terms of weight, during college I usually competed at around 160-165lb which is very similar to what I am at now.  In terms of PRs I have been hitting them consistently in the Olympic and power lifts since last January as well as several benchmark WODs.  I really didn't start going to Legacy until after the Sectional last March so I haven't been doing CrossFit for a year yet.  PRs are pretty frequent as a result of learning new skills. 

Would you mind listing some of your current benchmark stats?

Fran: 2:19
Grace: 1:36
J.T.: 5:35

Deadlift: 520lbs
Overhead Squat: 270lbs (up from 225lbs)
Clean and Jerk: 275lbs
Miagi: 33:13
Not sure about a current 400m time given the drop off in sprinting.  All time best in the 400m is 47.83. 

You were slated to beat Graham Holmberg at the start of the second day of the Central East Regional but you fell behind due to a cramp. We've heard that you ate fruity pebbles and a protein shake the night before the event. Is that myth or fact, and would you mind describing your nutrition both then and now?

To answer your next question a lot of people say that if it hadn't been for the calf cramp I probably would have made it to the Games.  Even though the cramp didn't help at all, I don't look at it that way. I didn't make it to the Games because my body wasn't as strong, and didn't have the endurance of the other competitors. I don't like living in a world of speculation, the truth is they (Braden Lutz, Ben Smith and Graham Holmberg) were better than me, they deserved to go, and I didn't.  Hopefully that’s changed and that’s why we compete. 

Fruity Pebbles? Really? Ok admittedly I go on cereal binges at times, it's a necessary evil but that is not at all what happened the night before the event.  I ate a great well-rounded meal of steak some veggies and bread.  Since that time I have switched to a more Paleo minded meal plan.  No, I don't do it 100%, it's too expensive and time consuming for me at the moment, but I have cut out many of the processed carbohydrates and "white" starchy foods and replaced them with more vegetables and whole grains. 80% of the time I keep on good track with my diet and 20% of the time I eat as much as I want of whatever I want. I got that methodology from a short SealFit commentary about nutrition and it has been working for me.  Overall I eat about 160 to 180 grams of protein a day, especially on higher demand days when I am doing multiple workouts.  Overall carb and fat intake will fluctuate as well throughout the week.  

Are you still studying physics at the University? How's it been going balancing schoolwork, training, and now a sponsorship deal?

Currently I am still studying Physical Science (Physics and Chemistry) at the University of Akron.  I have also begun graduate work in Exercise Physiology/Adult Fitness. 
            Balancing those with training can be difficult.  If I want to be successful in each, sacrifices have to be made in other areas of life. Normally that cuts into fun time, but I still find a way to have balance.  The sponsorship deal has definitely added extra motivation to try and become better at CrossFit.

Did you continue to train on your own after the Central East Regional, or did you join a CF box? If so, which one?

After the Regional I did no real physical activity for two weeks. Since then I spend 2-3 days per week going to an awesome box in Barberton, Ohio called CrossFit Legacy run by a great coach, Brian Yoak. On occasion, I also make trips to Columbus to train at Rogue Fitness with David Ulmer, Graham Holmberg and Brandon Couden, All Heart CrossFit in Kent, Ohio, and Cocoa CrossFit/Gorilla Pit in Cleveland, OH.  I like going into each place not knowing what the workout will be but knowing each one will have its own unique take on rep scheme, weight, exercises and organization.  The other 3-4 days I train on my own at home in a pretty cold garage.  

We hear you are religious. We recently ran this post on Chris Spealler who told us that his faith is essential to his mental strength in workouts. Is there an intersection between your faith and your training? If so, what aspect of your Christian faith do you draw from when you're in competitions or training?

My faith in Christ is reflected in all aspects of my life.  Athletics, and CrossFit are no exception. Two verses that reflect my mental attitude for competition and everyday life are Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." and Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." 
            By placing my faith in Christ, I have the freedom to compete to win with all my heart, without fear of failure. This attitude is an everyday process that isn't always easy to have. It still hurts to lose, I still get frustrated and there are definitely days I want to quit, but my faith is what drives me to continue. In college I spent a lot of time letting my success or perceived failure on the track define who I was and how I was viewed. Anymore I enjoy the process of joining the CrossFit community and a CrossFit box like Legacy.  Getting to meet, work out, and share life with others is more rewarding than any medals or awards I’ll probably ever win.   

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16 comments on this entry

1. Graham Holmberg wrote...

Good stuff Dan! Look forward to more workouts with you and possibly the opportunity to go against you on the big stage at the HDC.

Good luck in training. Stay healthy.

God Bless.

2. Speal wrote...

Dan, very cool. I've been down the same road with competition and still struggle with the truth of my self worth daily. What a huge gift to have that freedom though when we truly grasp it.

3. Chris Crawford wrote...

Well deserved Dan! Always a pleasure to count your reps and hangout. Stay hungry - The gym is behind you!

4. Mike wrote...

Hi, awesome article I have to say.

I have a question regarding the "Miagi" WOD.

On a Rogue site i found the same WOD but its slightly different and i wanted to get some clarification around it as we wish to try it out.

The Rogue site says this:
http://www.roguecolumbus.com/?p=128

“Miagi” 50 reps of each -
Pullups
Deadlift - Bodyweight
Clean and Jerk - 135/115
Box Jump 24?
Double Kettlebell Swing - 24KG/16KG
HSPU
Kettlebell Snatch
Kettlebell Tater - Flip Catch to Front Squat 24KG/16KG
Knees To Elbows

Which as you can see is very different to what is posted above.

Two questions:

Can you provide the actual "Miagi" WOD that they all did or confirm what is the legit Miagi.

What the heck is a "Tater"?

Many many thanks in advance and i hope someone can answer this for us.

5. Ben Smith wrote...

Hey Dan, great article! Glad to see everything is going well for you! I look forward to competing with you this year, best of luck man.

6. Caity wrote...

Mike,

The "Miagi" WOD that Dan posted above was the original we did back in 2008 at Rogue preparing for the Games. We have done a few different variations of the workout since.

A "tater" is a KB swing, with a flip at chest level, and down into a front squat. A fun movement, as long as you keep your teeth out of the way!

7. Ollie wrote...

Awesome article! Glad to hear of such a supportive crossfit community in ohio and the athletes that rogue sponsors.

8. Leshaunte wrote...

Great article Dan. If anybody deserves it you do man. God bless you and continue the good work.

9. Wert. wrote...

Nice job Dan! As Dan's track coach in High School, I can attest to his strength, courage and motivation. I had the extreme pleasure of sharing the same track with this legend. Even though he was the leader of the team he was always more concerned with his teammates. No runner ever amazed me more than DB! He was blessed with a "God-given" talent to go along with the best work ethic I have ever seen. He was confident and humble. His balance of strength, stamina, and speed was unheard of. He will go far with "Cross-Fit!" Trust me! Good luck and Godspeed DB!

10. Tim Carr wrote...

What's a "tater"?

11. Russ wrote...

Tim,

See Caity's explanation, comment number 6 above.

12. Tyler Sullivan wrote...

Way to go Dan! You're a class act that represents us Christian athletes well. Keep it up brother. I'll see you at the Games this year! Look forward to training with you again one of these days.

13. Nate wrote...

Dan,

Knew you would be where you are now the day we met at sectionals. You are an absolute beast and even a better person. I am grateful to have met you. Keep up the good work and best of luck in the Games. See ya at the Arnold? :)

Nate and your fans from Michigan.

14. Erin (Reese) wrote...

Just came across this, awesome article dan!! As a previous teammate I have seen how hard you work to acheive nothing but the best!! Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading about more of your successes (i know there will be lots more to come). Maybe one day i will join the CrossFit world :), your article definately has me inspired!!

15. Jim wrote...

Good work Danny Boy! Good to see all your hard work paying off. Couldn't happen to a better guy. Keep it goin and keep me posted! God Bless!

Jim

16. Charlie Nilsson wrote...

Awesome article, hope to see you competing at the games this year :)

To get a sponsorship would be awesome!

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