© Alastair Staley
A veteran of the CrossFit Games, Annie Thorisdottir is one of the sport’s most recognisable faces. She was the first woman to win the CrossFit Games twice, after being crowned ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’ in 2011 and 2012, and has stood on the podium four times. But ‘Iceland Annie’ isn’t done yet.
Here, the Polar brand ambassador shares her goal for 2019, chats about ‘contrast bathing’ and reveals how practicing positivity has helped her overcome setbacks.
You have a background in gymnastics. How did you find yourself competing in CrossFit?
As a kid and teenager I was always interested in testing my physical limits and participated in many different fitness competitions in Iceland. One of those happened to be a qualifier for the world championships in CrossFit. I won the qualifier and got invited to compete at the CrossFit Games in Aromas, Ca. I placed 9th but after that experience I knew I had found my sport.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I wake up around 8:00am, eat breakfast and head to the gym for my first session at 9:30am. My first session is from 9:30-11:30am. I refuel and am usually back at the gym around 2pm for another 2-3 hour session. I coach a few hours every week, but try to limit it as much as I can. Every time I’m on the floor I give 100% and it drains me from my own training.
You’ve said, ‘Train your mind to see the good in everything’ – has this philosophy helped during setbacks such as when you herniated a disk in your back?
I definitely think so. It’s so easy to only see the negative in bad situations, but at the end of the day you have to play the hand you’ve been dealt. Trying to stay positive even when you feel like the world is turning on you is not something you are born with but something you need to practice as most other skills.
I had many bad days trying to recover from my back injury and it challenged me a lot, but making a conscious effort to see a few positives every day and monitor even small progressions made me come out even stronger on the other side.
You first competed in the 2009 CrossFit Games and have been immensely successful since. How has the Games changed since then?
The sport has been growing tremendously since 2009 and the competition has gotten even fiercer. It has been incredible to follow the evolution of the athletes and how their development have shaped the sport and the other way around. Constantly changing challenges forces the athletes to adapt.
What is your ‘recovery’ routine after a tough training session?
Refuelling is the number one priority after a hard training session. I try to fuel within the session as well if the training is very demanding.
You’ve been known to practice contrast bathing*. How often you do this, and how does it help you?
I actually do this almost every day. I’m not sure how much of a physical advantage it gives me, but mentally it helps me calm down and recover overnight.
[*Contrast bathing is the practice of immersing muscles in cold and hot water to reduce inflammation]
Which have been your favourite and least favourite workouts from this year’s Games or Open?
I loved the “Chaos” event, even though it didn’t quite play out the way I wanted it. The unknown and unknowable is a big part of general physical preparedness that CrossFit preaches and this was a perfect test of that.
In comp season, what does a typical week’s training look like, Monday – Sunday?
Monday: two sessions, Tuesday: two sessions, Wednesday: one aerobic session, Thursday-Saturday: two sessions, Sunday: off.
How does your training change during the off-season?
I am more focused on building strength and increasing my aerobic base during the off-season and as I move closer to the competition season I add in more sport-specific training (more lactate threshold work and lifting under fatigue).
Can you share one of your favourite AMRAP workouts with us?
I love the workout, “CINDY.” which is a 20 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 air squats.
How do you keep your energy levels topped up when training multiple times a day?
I weigh and measure everything I eat to make sure I fuel my body properly. On days with higher training volume I will increase the carbohydrate intake to accommodate for the increased burning.
You’ve recently become a Polar ambassador. Which Polar products are you a fan of?
I have been using the H7 and now the H10 chest heart rate monitors for more than 5 years. Heart rate training has been a big part of my training regime for years now, and it’s helped me regulate my training to maximise the results.
More recently, I’ve been using the brand new Polar Vantage V. This is Polar’s top of the range multisport watch which has some incredible training load and recovery metrics. I use both that and my phone to pair with the chest strap to see my heart rate and various other metrics in real time.
Do you have any pre-event rituals or things you do to stay calm and focused ahead of competing?
I do a lot of visualising, seeing myself perform the workout I’m about to do. I try to stay to myself and not engage with my competition – they can only affect me negatively so I focus on me and not them.
Have you set any goals for 2019 or do you usually wait until the season starts again?
My goal is to become the fittest woman on earth for the third time.
Who are your sponsors right now?
Reebok, Rogue fitness, Kingkong apparel, Foodspring supplements, Polar, Rehband, WOWAIR.