O2 welcomes Bethany Shadburne to the family! Bethany is an accomplished CrossFit athlete and well-known for her work ethic and positive attitude both in and out of the gym. We sat down with Bethany to talk about her training background, preparation for the Games, and quirky shoe choices.
How did you get started with CrossFit?
Bethany: I started my athletic career as a gymnast, but I hurt my back, and I had to quit. After that I jumped around trying different things like long distance running, obstacle course racing, and bodybuilding, and nothing fit me like gymnastics. I’ve always enjoyed competing, and I wanted to find something that I could compete in.
I finally found CrossFit. It took a long time. I was always against it, especially because I was in bodybuilding, and bodybuilders were always like, ‘CrossFit is stupid! I’m not doing that!’ [Laughs]
Once I fully jumped into CrossFit, I really liked it. There are so many different aspects of CrossFit, and it’s similar to gymnastics in the sense that you’re always trying new skills out. It takes forever to get them, but once you finally do, you feel so accomplished!
As a former gymnast, do you ever slip a few backflips into your workout?
Bethany: [Laughs] I can’t! My back doesn’t really allow me to flip. I’m just not that flexible anymore.
There is one [gymnastics] thing that I do once a year or so: press handstands. I just did one before the West Coast Classic! I’ve still got it!
Ok, so no flips, but how does gymnastics influence your CrossFit training and performance?
Bethany: There are so many of us [gymnasts] in CrossFit. I think there are multiple connections.
You have to be very independent in CrossFit and be able to push yourself through boundaries. You have a team surrounding you - something that has helped me a lot this past year - but, at the end of the day, you have to want to do it and that is very similar to gymnastics.
Also, CrossFit and gymnastics both require a lot of hours. So you really have to enjoy working out and suffering and pushing through those thresholds.
So you enjoy suffering? Please help us understand!
Bethany: I do! I’m one of those weirdos! [Laughs]
But it’s really about the mental accomplishments that come from the suffering. There’s a lot of that in CrossFit where you feel like you just can’t go on, and you just have to remind yourself that suffering, like all pain, eventually does end.
I feel like that’s a very big connection to life, because, in life, people don’t want to be uncomfortable, they just want instant gratification. People don’t want to go through the suffering process; they want to go from A to Z right away without having to do B through Y. But, I think the process is really important. There’s something about the process and going through suffering - doing things and finishing what you said you were going to do - that lasts throughout life, long after all the athletic career and ability goes away.
Last year you moved to Las Vegas to train with Justin Cotler, a good friend of O2. Tell us about that.
Bethany: Basically, I had hit my ceiling in Texas, and I didn’t want to give myself any more excuses for not doing well. I think the last couple of years I had a lot of excuses about my energy, nutrition, my rest or whatever. In Las Vegas, there are zero excuses for why I can’t do well which is a very vulnerable spot to be in. When I made this change, I chose to put it all out there.
I also didn’t really have anyone to train with full time in Texas; there wasn’t anyone there who was doing what I was doing. I believe that iron sharpens iron, and if you’re around other people that have the same mentality that you do and are in the same career as you are, there’s just magic that happens. That’s what has happened here in Las Vegas for me.
Training with Kari Pearce is great. She’s one of the nicest competitors I’ve met at this level. She just wants the best for me and wants to see me at my best. We fine tune each other and help each other out during workouts. Overall, the women in CrossFit don’t help each other out like the guys do. I’d love to be the pioneer of that for women. We need more of that.
Congratulations on your recent win in the CrossFit West Coast Classic! What do you think drove your success?
I think I took care of myself mentally. As part of my normal routine, I do things to relieve stress like journaling or reading outside of the gym because it helps inside the gym. We’re all talented enough to make it to the CrossFit Games, so the difference is mentally who can stay in it. If you can manage your stress a little bit on competition weekends, then you’re already ahead. That’s what I figured out at the West Coast Classic: I felt like mentally I was there the entire weekend.
Also, it was hard, but we were prepared because we trained that hard every day. On top of it, training with other motivated people helped me get into gears I could never get into training by myself.
Good recovery has also been a really important part of my recent success. I've actually dealt with a lot of stomach and GI issues for the last 10-15 years that resulted from things that I did to myself. I went on a lot of stupid diets and did bad things to my body that I’ve been paying for, and it has made post-workout recovery in the past really hard. It’s taken me a long time to heal.
You’ll be competing in the CrossFit Games at the end of July. How’s that preparation going?
Bethany: We had a quick turnaround after the West Coast Classic, which has been a blessing in disguise. The stress is better to manage because we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We had about three weeks of hard training and that’s it. Staying healthy is really the most important thing so we can be 100% at a 5-day competition doing 15 different events!
And we have to ask about the Crocs. We’ve seen the videos of your training in them. How did that start?
Bethany: It’s just a silly thing. I don’t know. I’ve just always liked them because they’re super comfortable. And there was one day when I just decided to mix them. I saw a bunch of different Crocs in the trunk of my car, I found a pink one and a white one, and I just put them on!
It’s funny, people think there’s this huge significance with it. Honestly, it’s just my happy feet - I put them on and it’s all good!
Tell us how you became connected with O2.
Bethany: I tried my first O2 at a CrossFit competition - I got handed one, and I thought it was really good! Ever since then it’s been a drink of choice.
I like that O2 isn’t carbonated. I also like that there are caffeine-free options; that is a plus for me so that I can drink them all day! Having clean ingredients is important to me too given my past health struggles.
So I knew I liked O2 a lot as a consumer, but when I got to speak with Dave [Colina, O2 CEO] on the phone, I saw there was a lot of depth to the company and how O2 gives back to the community, and it just made me like it even more. I’m huge on giving back to communities, and it’s cool to align myself with a company and other people that have the same mindset that I do.
Want to learn more about Bethany? Check out her O2 Athlete Page.