2011 CrossFit Games

Candice Ruiz on Self-Doubt

The Former Marine and 17th Fittest Woman Opens Up About Her Rookie Year

Candice Ruiz got a spot on the 2010 CrossFit Games after dominating the Oklahoma (incl. N.TX, NM, AR) Sectional and South Central Regional, claiming first in both events. A few months before, she finished her fifth year of active duty in the Marine Corps where she served as a Flight Equipment Technician and Martial Arts Instructor. A strong competitor with tough life experiences behind her, she did not expect what would happen at the CrossFit Games.

Standing amidst veteran Games competitors on the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, doubt set in Candice's mind.

As she explains, “When I discovered CrossFit I was in awe of the athletes that made it to the Games. When I made it there it never sank in that I had earned the right to compete along side those same individuals until it was too late.”

In our interview, the 17th place 2010 Games finisher discussed what it was like entering the CrossFit Games as a rookie, overcoming nerves and the mentally and physically exhausting buildup to the Games, carry-over from her experiences in the Marine Corps, and what she is doing now to improve her mental game.

So far, her training has been primarily focused on avoiding burn out. When she entered the Home Depot Center, doubt mixed with exhaustion.

I was a bundle of nerves last year, mostly because it was my rookie year, and after I qualified I realized that I was so drained physically, mentally and even emotionally that I had lost my peak just before the Games.  I had a very hard time maintaining the condition I was in for that period of time and I am trying to be more careful about that this year.  My training has been pretty laid back so far and has been more focused on avoiding burn out. 

Even while holding herself back slightly, the competitively driven Ruiz is still setting PRs. Her approach to her training, with the exception of avoiding burn out, hasn’t changed much since the Games. She still likes to give time to focus on her weaknesses as skill work prior to the day’s workout. At the Games, she learned that “even the smallest weakness can change everything.”

In addition, she has worked on positive self-talk, “I am trying my best to be more positive this year.  I was far too critical of myself last year and I think that hurt me when I made it to the Games… I take more pride in what I have accomplished thus far and I have more respect for myself as an athlete in general.”

Recalling ‘what she has accomplished so far’ stretches beyond the bounds of CrossFit. Ruiz draws from her experiences in the Marine Corps, and when the going gets tough with CrossFit she reminds herself that she has been confronted with worse and persevered.

There are many things that I went through in the Marine Corps that were far more difficult than anything I have ever experienced in CrossFit. I mean that physically as well as mentally.  Having those experiences to think back on help me constantly during WODs where I struggle. Since I know I have been through much worse and that because I was able to push through those experiences while in the Marine Corps, I know I can push through the WOD.

Overall, Ruiz believes she had to overcome the same obstacles as many rookie competitors. Beside the issues of awe slipping into self-doubt, and burning low on energy after the intense build-up to the Games, there are the little things. When we talked about whether she had to overcome any obstacles on the way to the Games, her first words were:

"Yeah, I had to get someone to watch my damn dogs."

We wish her the best of luck in 2011.

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4 comments on this entry

1. Ginny wrote...

Great article! Candice is an amazing competitor and has a great attitude. Keep up the hard work Candice!

2. Deric M wrote...

Candice is a great gal, and an extremely humble competitor. I hope she does have more confidence this year, I have to admit I felt the same nerves at the Games. But how a competitor like Candice can feel such doubt after owning the competition at regionals and sectionals is beyond me! It seems she may have given a little too much respect to all the veteran CF'ers and didn't give herself enough credit. Candice you're a freak, and when you realize it the competition better watch out!!! She'll continue to be one to watch out for the more experience and confidence she gets!

3. ken c wrote...


you know that whole exhaustion thing would have been helped if you had actually eaten something while you were in california. :)

4. Randall wrote...

and she is an up and coming star coach as well! young woman of many talents!


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