Stafford Slick is a professional beach volleyball player who resides in Hermosa Beach, California. He is currently a part of Team USA and is heading to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He competed in HYROX Chicago, and is a partner of REFIX. Check out below for Stafford's experience preparing for HYROX, and then competing in HYROX for the first time:
- Every weighted exercise in the HYROX event was familiar to me and existed in some form in my strength and conditioning program at USA Volleyball over the years. The most significant difference was maintaining the load over an extended period of time in lieu of short, sport-specific, bursts. It was essential for me to incrementally progress to the total competition distance in my training.
- Beach Volleyball is an explosive sport comprised of short bursts of high energy output (20-30 seconds). The cardio components of the HYROX event (skiErg, rowing, burpee broad jumps) were all comfortable movements, but I elected to opt out of these and allow my partner Zach to carry our team through each element on his own. This allowed me to focus my energy into what was arguably the most difficult obstacle of the entire event for me...running.
- In my sport we sprint, and jump...I flat out don’t run, especially any significant distance. The 8KM I ran during the Chicago event was the most I’ve run in any single day in my entire life. While most HYROX athletes used the running portion to improve their position in the race or use it for recovery; I was gritting my teeth to get through it (almost a half lap behind my partner each time). As the men’s/ women’s pro divisions were lapping me, I couldn’t help but be humbled at their exceptional endurance. Felt like I was a being trampled by racehorses!
- One of the surprising challenges I faced was the mental strain leading up to race day. Pretty restless sleep the night prior and woke up with significant butterflies the morning of. I’ve played in multiple AVP finals (live on NBC) and played medal matches on the FIVB World Tour, and I’ve got to say that HYROX rivaled some of those experiences. However, the performance anxiety faded as soon as I stepped into the arena and felt the energy/ excitement from the other participants ready to compete. The game face switched on and all that mattered was the work!
- Last but not least, I have to say how damn proud I was of my Brother-In-Law, Jim. He’s a 45 year old father of 4. Spends a few days each week in the gym to stay “in shape”. HYROX finally gave him a chance to test just how in shape he was! He ran the event solo and finished in an impressive time of 1:40. HYROX truly is for everyone, it was incredible seeing the competitors (all shapes/ sizes/ ages), showing up to push themselves and test their fitness against the only competitor we’re all fighting, the clock!