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CrossFit® / August 2019
Brittany Burke, Global Content

Pat Vellner Didn’t Become This Kind Of Competitor By Accident

As he fights his way through the CrossFit Games, the athlete reflects on the habits that got him here.

Let’s be clear: Pat Vellner is focused. When asked about how he was feeling as he approached the 2019 CrossFit Games, he was confident that he had put himself in as good of a position as possible. “I had a good training camp before the Games, I had good training partners, I had a good taper, so I kind of have everything I need to put the pieces in place to perform well this week,” he says. “I think I’m in as good a spot as I could hope for.”
That training brought him to a top ten finish after Day One, and ready to take on the competition for the rest of the weekend. Throughout it all, though, he says he’s motivated by that “Second Fittest” title he’s held for 363 days;.
“Being second best isn’t a bad thing, but it’s definitely the ‘room for improvement’ award. At the end of the day, you have to remind yourself when things are tough, you need to push yourself a little harder to be able to climb up that next spot,” he says. That said, it’s a new year, and now that competition is on, it’s all about what happens now. “It’s time to do the dance all over again—and that’s the beauty of it,” says Vellner.
Vellner’s admirable focus and work ethic are the product of years of multi-tasking, and pushing hard for the things he was interested in. While some people focus exclusively on CrossFit competition, Vellner has another career as a chiropractor that he gives his all to. He says this ability to do many things—and many things well, to be honest—is how he was raised. “The second my family and I have a free minute, we fill it. It’s taught me to be really effective and efficient with my time.” Some might find having differing priorities distracting as they prepare for a major competition, but for Vellner, it’s who he is: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He manages his full plate thanks to a laser focus, which has served Vellner really well as a competitor. “I built a strong work ethic through necessity—growing up I wanted to do a lot of different things, so I kind of had to learn to do my best on what I was doing while I was doing it, not think about everything else on my plate, and then move on once I was done,” he says. These days, that looks like heading from a few hour stint at the gym straight to the clinic for his work.
He also says that in his busy, demanding schedule, routine is something he relies upon fully to make sure that he can get everything he needs to get done, and get them done well. “Routine is not glamourous,” he says. “I go to bed and wake up at the same time, I eat virtually the same thing all the time. It’s easy, simple, and doesn’t take me any extra time or thought. And all of that time I save frees up mental energy to put on my work, my school, or my training.”
He also outsources as much as he can so that he can really only focus on the things that matter to him, and need his undivided attention. “Anything to deal with nutrition, my nutritionist handles and I don’t have to think about that. Anything to deal with programming is on my trainer,” he says. “Freeing up my plate and my energy lets me put those long hours in work on in the gym without burning out. Anything you can do to lighten your mental load and make it all a part of your routine and automatic helps. Your energy is finite, and the less you spend on small things, the more you can use on the things that need it.”
Things like, say the CrossFit Games. And Vellner says that his well-rounded lifestyle gives him a unique perspective on the biggest competition of the year. “At the end of the day, I have a life outside of CrossFit, but in competition that doesn’t give me satisfaction,” he says. “I always try to push myself and do something great every time I’m on the floor.” We’ll see more of that today.
To see more from the CrossFit games, click here.
CrossFit® / August 2019
Brittany Burke, Global Content