Pat Burke during Event Two of the 2010 Games

2011 CrossFit Games

Pat Burke Gets Ready for Next Year

The Marine Thrives on the Uncomfortable

235 lbs. convinced Patrick Burke that he needed a coach. It's not a small amount of weight to jerk, especially after completing a mile and half of running, 72 pull-ups, and 126 kettlebell swings with 53 lbs. But you don't get to compete in the CrossFit Games by being satisfied with less than your best, and you definitely don't reach the top ten in the Games two years in a row that way.

Going into the 2010 Games, Pat's best jerk was 305 lbs. He completed the Pyramid Double Helen workout in 18:39, the 9th fastest time in the event. Given 90 seconds to complete a max jerk, Pat began conservatively. He went with 135 lbs., then 185 lbs., then 205 lbs., and finally with 235 lbs.

The fatigue and stress of competition can make choosing weights difficult, but a coach can guide an athlete to the right workout strategy. And that was exactly Pat Burke's problem. He was trying to be an athlete, and his own coach, at the same time.

Pat went on to take 7th place overall at the 2010 Games, a slight improvement over his 8th place finish in 2009. Despite his impressive overall finish, Pat's twenty third place finish in the Max Overhead event left him hungry for more. He figures that, with the right strategy, he could have made at least 265 lbs in the event. That lift would have tied him for 8th place in the jerk, and would have moved his overall finish a couple of places up, perhaps to a top 5 finish.

2010 is history now, though, and Pat's got a new strategy, and team, for next year.  For the first time in over 3 years of CrossFit competition, Pat's turned to a coach for help. He chose Tim Retzik, of Flatirons CrossFit, to program his workouts and guide him through the rigors of CrossFit competition.

Beyond the now de rigueur Games preparation of Crossfit metcons, over double bodyweight squats, and rowing and running intervals, Pat's taken a page from Jason Khalipa and has added swimming to his routine. Twice a week, Pat trains with a high school swim coach with whom he trades CrossFit training for swim lessons. Pat may be an elite athlete on land, but he admits that swimming right now is very hard. He's found though, that "putting myself in an uncomfortable situation helps with other uncomfortable states". The 3 X 6 minute row workout in the evening doesn't seem as bad when it's preceded by swimming intervals in the morning.

Dealing with the uncomfortable is Pat's specialty. With "nothing else going" for him, Pat enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 18. With six years of service as a Marine, including combat deployments, Pat's accustomed to environmental stress. He considers this an advantage going into the Games. In his words, "I hope it rains, that it's the worst conditions ever. I'm gonna thrive in that. That's what I did for six years."

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3 comments on this entry

1. Michael Schaal wrote...

The CFT before and after would be interesting. Perhaps there would be strategy involved though not completely maxing out so could follow with better performances in other events and therefor not giving an accurate measurement. Great science project though perhaps to perform at home.

2. LanceC wrote...

Excellent Pat! Consistency is not an easy thing to do in this sport, and you continually seem to be making progress. Must be doing something right!

3. Tay Smore wrote...

Never call somebody a "former" Marine!!!


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