Ben Smith earned the “Fittest Man on Earth” accolade in 2015 when he took out all competitors at the CrossFit Games. Now, two years removed from a championship and coming off a second-place finish in 2016, Smith is working hard at CrossFit Krypton in Chesapeake, Va., to podium once again.
Smith took a break from a photo shoot with Reebok for the Nano 7 Weave to speak with Footwear News about the shoe, his favorite sneakers in and out of the gym, and how his diet and training consistency leads to peak performance in the Games.
What do you like about Reebok’s newest CrossFit shoe, the Nano 7 Weave?
In CrossFit, you’re always doing something different, and the biggest thing is finding a pair of shoes that you could do some lifting or something with a barbell in so you don’t slide or move around too much. The Nano 7 has been solid with that; it has a real solid base, and it’s nice when you’re doing something like that. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Nano’s evolution through the years. The Nano 6 was a good fit for me that was both lightweight and supportive. I’m excited to test out the woven technology in Nano 7 Weave and put the shoe through some solid workouts this season.
What is your training footwear range like? Do you use multiple Reebok models to get ready for the CrossFit Games?
I’ll use the Nano or I’ll use the Reebok Harmony Road; it’s a new running shoe they just came out with this year [$119.99 via reebok.com]. I stick with it for running and conditioning and bodyweight workouts that have some running in it. It’s a really good running shoe, and I even like wearing that around. It’s a good, nice, comfortable shoe. And the Nano is good for everything else outside of running.
Are you still in Reebok sneakers when you’re not in the gym?
I get jokes about it, but I pretty much wear the Nano all the time, outside of the gym also. Or I’ll wear the Harmony Road. Those are the shoes I like, and I’m pretty picky, so I just stick with the ones I like. And I have a pair of old Nano 2s, they used to make a leather type of Nano 2, and I wear those out like a dress shoe or whatever, but I can get away with it because they’re pretty nice.
What is your training regimen like getting ready for the CrossFit Games?
It’s two to three sessions per day, and the sessions might be an hour to two hours, tops. I try to mimic a day at the CrossFit Games as much as I can. You normally have two to three, maybe four events throughout the day, so I’ll do maybe a 10 a.m. session, and then a 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. session and then a session at maybe 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. But I’m taking a little bit of a rest right now, getting rest from regionals. I’ll start ramping up for the Games here soon, maybe starting later on this week. Regionals was tough this year, but I’ll be getting back on a regular schedule here soon.
What is your diet like when getting ready to compete?
I try to stick with as consistent of a diet as I can. Intake is normally the same, and I make it similar each day. In a day, breakfast is normally oatmeal, eggs, avocado, with some sort of fruit or peanut butter in my oatmeal. Lunch is normally chicken, fish, steak and rice or potatoes on the side, like a protein-carbohydrate-fat type of meal. And dinner is typically the same, just add some vegetables in there. And then snacks I’ll have a bar or protein shake after a workout. I try to keep my diet down to 10, maybe 12 foods, and keep them consistent to get my body used to processing those foods.
What thoughts were going through your mind when you finished No. 1 in 2015?
That’s been my goal since I first saw the CrossFit Games. It’s hard to describe because once you get there, it’s like, “OK, what’s next? Where do you go from here?” It took the stress off out of competing, but it taught me how to compete stress-free and how to have fun competing, and that’s what led me to be able to compete better, in my opinion. I don’t have as much pressure that I put on myself, and I’m able to go out and enjoy competing and having fun trying to be the best again. The feeling when I won it, something I worked seven or eight years for and it finally happened, it felt surreal.
After finishing second in 2016, what do you have to change to become champ once again in 2017?
That whole weekend I performed better than I did in 2015. If you look at finishes, my finishes were way more consistent in 2016 than they were in 2015. My approach during each workout and my approach during the weekend was better. I thought I had actually competed better in 2016 than I did in 2015. The competition was just better, that’s the problem. All I can do is what I can do. I can just go back like I have for the past eight years and work at trying to get better and compete better and go out and be a little more competitive when I’m out there, put in that extra effort in the gym every single day so it translates over to the playing field at the Games.
How have you been able to not only make several CrossFit Games but finish near the top of the leaderboard each time? What can you attribute this consistency to?
I think that’s what it takes, consistency. I enjoy what I do, I have a great community around me, and it makes it easy to do what I do every day. It’s not a grind, I just go out and have fun with the group of people I hang out with every day, that happens to be at the gym, at CrossFit Krypton. It’s a very stress-free environment. And my job is coaching at the gym, so it all goes well together, and it’s become a lifestyle, something I enjoy every day. It doesn’t seem like work to me.
How would you describe what it’s like competing in front of the large crowds the CrossFit Games bring?
It’s fun being out there, the energy is cool. You have to embrace it, you have to kind of enjoy it and make the most of it. You can’t let it scare you or get in your head, that kind of thing. That’s something that took a year or two to learn for me.
Is there anyone you think is your strongest competition?
Mat’s the guy. Mat [Fraser] won it last year, Mat got second the last two years, so he’s the guy that’s there, that everybody’s expecting to do well. There’s a handful of other athletes out there too as well that are all going to be very competitive this year. It should be a good competition.
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