This week, as we are amping up for Regionals, Box Stalker brings you an interview with Allison Brager. Read on to learn more about her day-to-day life, favorite foods, and her day job - and why it includes "slicing up brains."
Why I Chose CrossFit
About four years into graduate school, I was becoming bored with training alone; I was competing in post-collegiate track and field (pole vault, long jump, and hurdles). Around the same time, a teammate of mine from college who lived in San Francisco said that I should check out CrossFit and a friend of mine from high school—Danny Broflex/Dan Bailey—had also been doing it.
So, my husband who was also burnt out with post-collegiate swimming and I decided to commit to CrossFit. Fortunately for us, the closest CrossFit gym in Kent, Ohio was coached and run by Games athletes—Charlie Dunifer and Lisa Shiu—and had a ton of like-minded, post-collegiate athletes. It made it very easy to become hooked.
…And Why I Love CrossFit Now
First, the community is second to none. I love the atmosphere of training hard with post-collegiate athletes. It makes you feel like a collegiate athlete again which were some of the best years of my life.
I am also inspired to see people with no prior athletic or fitness background push themselves to their physiological limits. Personally, I love that push to the physiological limit. I don’t feel like I’ve worked out if I’m not reaching some level of lactate-induced pain, neuromusculuar fatigue, and mental delirium. That sh*t is addicting!
I also enjoy how CrossFit taxes a ton of different metabolic pathways. With track, it was always a test of anaerobic fitness which can get boring.
Surgery and Radioactivity: What I Do When I’m Not CrossFitting
I’m an academic researcher with a focus on neurobiology, namely in sleep and circadian rhythms at Morehouse School of Medicine. The job is never boring because you are always doing something that requires a great deal of mental concentration and physical skill from writing papers and grants, doing small animal brain surgeries, working with radioactive materials, slicing up brains, and troubleshooting equipment that costs more than a house. When I’m not at the lab bench, I am teaching courses at Morehouse College.
I don’t have much of a life outside of work and CrossFit, but luckily, I have a wonderful husband who also has a similar lifestyle. In our free time, we do like to travel abroad with or without our two dachshunds.
Allison Brager and her husband
My Favorite CrossFit Accomplishment
Qualifying for the 2013 CrossFit Games with my teammates was the highlight of my athletic career thus far, especially alongside my homie Sonya Mac who has been my training partner since summer 2011. There was a significant amount of uncertainty about whether or not I would be on the team that was beyond my control so proving myself in Regionals was a sigh of relief as well. Plus, having Emily B join our Games team amplified the excitement and nostalgia of training for and competing in the Games.
People Say This About CrossFit – But It’s Not True
“CrossFit will get you injured.” Yes, when an injury does occur in CrossFit it tends to be more catastrophic than less high-impact sports, but the overall rate of injury compared with other sports is significantly less. As a scientist, I often shake my head at the inability of humans to understand basic probability and the difference between anecdotal and empirical evidence, but at the same time, it’s a hardware flaw of brain development that takes practice to overcome. Besides the general wear and tear that comes with a high volume of training for any sport, I have had far less debilitating injuries (knock on wood) in CrossFit compared with gymnastics (pick and choose any knee ligament) and pole vault and javelin (pick and choose any shoulder ligament).
All About My Workout Fuel: Breakfast
My husband likes to make fun of me for the lack of variation in my cooking. Breakfast consists of 3-4 eggs fried in coconut oil plus caveman coffee (French pressed coffee, clarified butter, and more coconut oil). After working out mid-morning, I have a protein shake (shout out to supplement sponsor, MHP!).
Lunch + Snacks
Lunch is usually something healthy from the med school cafeteria; they have really good homemade chicken salad (and they always give me extra scoops for free) or dinner leftovers. Because I am often at work past 7 pm, I started getting nut- and fruit-based snacks delivered from Nature Box, a monthly subscription service that is pretty cheap if you consider the types of snacks offered. I’m always so deliriously hungry by the time that I am done with work that on my bike ride home (I don’t own a car) I will often stop at this mom n’ pop grocery store in Castleberry Hill--Box Car Grocer--and grab a kombucha or ginger- or tart cherry-based drink.
Dinner, Dessert and Beverages
I usually snack on cheese, preferably swiss, while making dinner which is often a chicken, beef, or fish-based dish with veggies. I can’t help having something sweet after dinner, usually dark chocolate or an apple dipped in the most amazing, desert spread sold at Trader Joe’s: speculoos. After long training weeks, I will eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s (and only Ben and Jerry’s) to treat myself. I don’t drink much alcohol, but if I have a drink on the weekends, I stick with tequila mixed with La Croix or some porter or bock style beer. My body rejects wine.
Why I Am Excited About CrossFit Regionals
I am beyond pumped for Emily B, Sonya Mac, and I. Words cannot describe the heart and work put into this year’s training and bonding with my teammates. Plus, we removed ourselves from outside distractions. Our coach, Ben Benson, and his brilliant programming (Squat Mafia) have transformed us into athletes who are prepared for anything, known or unknowable. As a three year veteran to Regionals, I have never had this much confidence and excitement headed to Florida. We’re pandastrong, baby!
Be sure to check back soon, as we continue posting interviews with our athletes, as well as information on WOD and home workout tips, Paleo and other CrossFit-approved recipes, and more!
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