CrossFit Games veteran Dan Bailey is one of the sport’s most beloved athletes. And when the 2017 competition kicks off in August at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., he will attempt to earn his first win in the annual event.
The Reebok ambassador has finished in the top 10 on four separate occasions, with his best finish (fourth) coming in 2015. To beat this year’s competition, Bailey is training six days a week, two times a day, in the Reebok Nano 7.
With the CrossFit Open beginning today, Bailey spoke with Footwear News about the Nano 7, his workout playlist and shoes he wears when he’s not working up a sweat in his local box.
Footwear News: How does the Reebok Nano 7 stack up to past Nanos?
Dan Bailey: Previously, the [Nano] 4 and the 6 were my favorites because you could put them on and go; they were really simple shoes, no break-in or anything like that. In terms of the 7, they made some pretty dramatic but cool changes. They tightened up the toe box a little bit and changed some of the upper, so everything’s a little bit more sturdy; I’m learning to like it more the more time I spend with it in the gym. The 7 is my favorite one yet, so far; I haven’t had any problems with running or doing any of the stuff I have to do.
Aside from the Nano 7, what is in your Reebok sneaker lifting range?
DB: The other ones I workout in are the Legacy Lifter and the Speed TR. Those are two of the main ones. And I’m also in their typical running shoe [Reebok’s Print series] when I’m on longer runs.
What is your favorite CrossFit shoe used in competition?
DB: My favorite shoe to use in the competition is the Nano. We’re typically given some type of running shoe, the Nano, and an Olympic lifting shoe. We’ve had to get cleats before or some super specialty shoe you’ll only wear for one event, depending on what that event might be. Out of all the ones you get, the Nano is the one you’ll be in for most of the weekend.
Does Reebok look for your input when developing footwear for CrossFit?
DB: Yes, for some of them. It just depends on if you’re the proper sample size and things like that so you could get stuff ahead of time to give them feedback. They take a lot of feedback from all the athletes when we get first runs of different pairs of shoes.
When you’re not in your favorite CrossFit box lifting, what does your footwear range look like?
DB: When I’m not lifting or working out, typically I’m still wearing Reebok, maybe something from the Classics line. If I’m not wearing Reebok at all I’m usually in a Red Wing Heritage boot or something like that.
What’s on your workout playlist?
DB: It depends on the day, depends on my mood a little bit. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a country station like Old Crow Medicine Show, The SteelDrivers, or a handful of country or bluegrass bands that I don’t mind listening to when it’s a little bit more laid-back. When I’m turning things up a bit, I like to listen to Lecrae. NF is another artist that I’ve just become familiar with that I really enjoy, and David Crowder band and other kind of worship music, sometimes I’ll put that on as well.
What lift do you think you will own in the upcoming CrossFit Games?
DB: That’s tough to say because you get into the CrossFit Games and you’re the best at really nothing but you’re really good at everything — that’s the goal that you’re shooting for. If there were any one lift that I know I would perform the best at, it would be a one-rep max power clean or something like that if we’re talking about one-rep maxes. In terms of events, anything that’s really short and fast, a burner event under two minutes; that’s usually what I perform the best at.
Who do you see as your biggest competition in the 2017 Games? Is there one athlete you believe will be neck-in-neck with?
DB: Anybody who is under 30 years old. I’m going to be 33 this year, and there are a lot of young competitors, there is always somebody new now who is up-and-coming. Obviously guys who have been around for a long time like Josh Bridges, Mat Frasier — he’s one of the newer guys but he won the Games this past year. Ben Smith has been around forever; all those guys are stiff competition.
How will you use your past Games experience, falling short of the podium, to get you that win you’ve been looking for in 2017?
DB: Just that I know what it takes and I know where I’ve come up short before. I’ll fix those things and take care of any little holes in my fitness that I might have and hopefully that will be on display this year and be enough to get a victory.
What is your training regimen like leading up to the CrossFit Games?
DB: It’s pretty aggressive. I typically train at least twice a day. Usually in the morning, it’s going to be a mixture of some kind of cardio, whether it’s running, rowing or biking, maybe swimming, and mix in a little Olympic lifting or a workout of the day from CrossFit. Something similar in the afternoon, usually a little more focused on Olympic lifting and gymnastic skills and more conditioning. Conditioning is king and is what puts the best athletes over the top, the ones who spend the most time doing that. Usually this is at least six days a week. Not every day is redlined, but you still may be in the gym for four hours a day.
Do you do any lifts that aren’t typically associated with CrossFit, such as bench press?
DB: Every now and then I’ll do something that’s not typical to what most people would view CrossFit to be. I’ll break out a curl bar or some dumbbells; those things could be important, too, in terms of building up some of the muscles that can stave off injury and help keep your shoulders and biceps healthy. Every now and then I’ll do bicep curls or bench press and things like that, but I usually keep the intensity high, keep it more like a CrossFit style workout where if you move on from one thing to the next and try to get the work done as fast as possible or accumulate as many reps as you can in a certain amount of time.
What is your diet like?
DB: Diet is super-important. If you want to run a super car, you can’t pour dirty gasoline in there — you’ve got to give it jet fuel. My diet didn’t always used to be great. I used to eat almost whatever I wanted because you train so much that you just need to get the calories in. But as I’ve progressed, gotten a little older and a little bit longer in my competition, I’ve learned the value of eating cleaner and staying more on top of getting healthier foods in my body.
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