Dani Speegle secured a trip to the Reebok CrossFit Games in 2019, heading to Madison for the first time and experiencing the sport's ultimate weekend. One year later, she is competing for the second time, albeit in a unique situation. Instead of joining the 29 other female competitors, Speegle will take part in a virtual first stage while a close-knit group of supporters cheers her on.
Speaking with PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview, Speegle discussed what has been a very unique year in her athletic career. She won The Titan Games — joining fellow CrossFit athlete Matt Chan — but also struggled with injuries to her labrum and ankle. She has spent time rehabbing while continuing to train for the 2020 CrossFit Games, a process aided by the several COVID-19-prompted delays. Now that the games are here, however, Speegle is ready to compete while simultaneously missing the camaraderie present at normal events.
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"I have a little bit of mixed feelings about it. Obviously, it's amazing to be able to compete," Speegle told PopCulture. "This is what everyone works for in my field. This is the event that we spend all year training for. The fact that we don't get to go and do it all together is always... It's going to sting a little bit, but we still get to compete.
"[...] I'm feeling hopeful. I'm feeling ready to go, but I have to kind of keep it in the back of my head that for the better part of this year, I have been injured," she continued. "So I'm just taking that along with the ride. But other than that I'm ready to go. It's been so long since we've been able to compete. So I know I'm not the only athlete, totally chomping at the bit ready to go."
When Speegle spoke with PopCulture, CrossFit had announced six of the weekend's events. There are three named workouts — Friendly Fran, Damn Diane and Nasty Nancy — as well as three other tests of skill. She said that all of the events will be entertaining but two, in particular, stood out for very different reasons.
"Honestly, they're all looking pretty fun and nasty all at the same time," Speegle said. "There's a workout, the Diane workout with the heavy deadlifts and the strict handstand pushups. Diane is one of my favorite workouts and I'm definitely looking forward to that. And then I think the max handstand hold is going to be pretty interesting. I'm actually really looking forward to that one as well.
"You don't see it a lot. You see, we have handstand pushups or a handstand walk. Putting athletes in a box and just seeing how long they can do a freestanding handstand without moving around too much is going to be super interesting as well. ... I've seen a lot of athletes who are phenomenal at handstands [when] they're walking. They can stay up for a really long time but put them in a little box, and I think without the ability to travel and kind of keep their balance, they struggle a bit."
While Speegle's second appearance in the CrossFit Games will be very odd due to doing the events at her home gym instead of at a central location, she will have several factors providing a level of comfort. HQ previously relaxed rules regarding footwear, so she can don her trusty inov-8 training shoes. Doing so will remove any concerns about adjusting to new shoes on the fly or getting a troublesome blister due to a poor fit.
Additionally, Speegle will follow her daily schedule regarding nutrition. She said that she doesn't enjoy eating solid foods in the morning before a workout, so she will attack Friendly Fran after drinking a coffee-based protein smoothie. Once this short and brutal workout is complete, Speegle will eat a quick snack and prepare to attack the one-rep max front squat.0comments
"I'll be on the floor writhing around after the workout and I'll probably have someone hand me something just really quick to eat — like half a protein bar or something," Speegle explained. [I'll] take something, drink some water, take my five to 10 minutes and then I'll start warming up for the front squat. I'll do those pretty close together. I know a lot of athletes may take a good amount of time in between, but I always do best when it's right after I workout. ... And then after that, I'll have a pretty big meal to get ready for [Damn] Diana."
Following the online stage on Friday and Saturday, the final five men and women will prepare for their trips to Dave Castro's family's ranch in Northern California, where the Games originally took place in 2007. This in-person event will run from Oct. 19-25 and will air courtesy of CBS. All of the athletes will partner with an experienced judge from the CrossFit Seminar Staff.