Kara Webb is a world favourite CrossFitter and for good reason. She just keeps it real. And that rock-steady approach to life and training earned her the Spirit of the Games award in 2016. She went on to compete in the CrossFit Invitational, nailing a 220lb / 100kg snatch!
I caught up with Kara for this quick interview about working toward lifetime goals, taking advantage of the big moments in life and rolling with the punches when it’s not your day.
Adam Lesniak (AL) - So you just snatched 220lbs / 100kgs at the CrossFit Invitational. WTF! No doubt, you started with the broom stick like the rest of us, so what got you to 100kg?
Kara Webb (KW) - In the warm up area, I worked my way up from about 55kg jumping to 75kg, 85kg, 90kg, 95kg, 97kg, and then made the jump to the 100kg. I didn’t plan on lifting that heavy. I was simply just trying to warm up to the lift with bigger jumps at the start so I had an idea of what to open up at out on the floor.
With the travel, you just never know what your body is going to offer you so I need to play it by ear on the day. 100kg has been a long time goal of mine and I honestly thought it was so close but so far away. I had sat at 95.5kg for a while but was never able to get anything above that due to my regular training volume being so high and taking such a toll on my body all the time.
Turns out that training in a team environment and having not only the support of my team members in a wicked environment but a reduced training volume was just the combination of factors I needed. Everything was there ready to snatch that weight. I had put in all of the work and built the strength and just needed the right environment to be able to hit it.
To get a 100kg snatch takes time, training positions, good movement patterns, and the strength and stability required to catch that weight at speed. I couldn’t say it’s any one thing or that its simple. Its many small efforts every day that contributed to such a milestone for me.
No accident that’s for sure.
AL - You’ve had many big moments in your career – triumph and tragedy – what are a couple of the most memorable for you?
KW - Being an athlete means that you need to recognise every single experience as a triumph eventually. Sometimes an experience can mask itself temporarily as a tragedy but perspective allows a triumph to be noticed.
My list is massive, but in order of occurrence, I’ll mention in 2012 my first games I went into the rope climb and sled workout quite nervous about the sled. I ended up struggling with the rope climbs which had never happened to me before and was so embarrassed to fail my climbs and drop from the top of the rope several times. I was crying on the side of the mat and felt totally helpless. I remember talking to Brian [Bucholtz – Kara’s coach] and telling him that I shouldn’t be there and I didn’t deserve it because I couldn’t even climb a rope.
I’ll never forget him looking me in the eyes and telling me to never say that again. He was quite gruff with me and I pulled my head in and realised that there were many more workouts to come and right at that moment I had a choice to let this ruin my weekend or move on. I went out into the next event which was the clean ladder and got a PB, did a full clean for the first time in competition, and had an absolute blast with the other girls. I made a choice to turn it around.
Next, in 2014, I entered the competition injured and had no idea what the outcome would be. I managed to fight my way through the competition in the leading position until the last day and dropped into third after the handstand walk pushed the injury over the limit and forced me to withdraw from the competition.
It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make and I grieved for months afterwards while rehabbing my injury. It took quite a while to come good after that and to let go of the fear of such a tragic event happening to me again.
Again, with the help of Brian and those around me, I made a conscious choice to feel better and move forward. It shaped what happened to me and how I reacted to speed bumps the following year.
In 2015 I suffered from severe heatstroke and passed out in the hero WOD “Murph”. It was certainly not what I expected to happen in my comeback year, but it did. After the struggle of withdrawing the year before there was no way I was going out like that again. It was the hardest thing I have had to do but I fought for every single workout after that in a very bad condition. I was sick every day and hurt way more than I should have, but I knew I had come way too far to give up yet.
Each experience allowed me to evolve as a human and as an athlete. Each year I manage the hurdles a little better.
AL - Clearly, it’s important to anticipate, or at least recognise, a big moment or a game changing opportunity; what’s your advice to recognise opportunities and take advantage of big moments in sport and life, whether they are good or seem pretty bad at the time?
KW - As mentioned above, it is important to take responsibility for your own perspective and understand that the tragedies are often the greatest triumphs if you want them to be. Don’t ever fall into the trap of being the victim and always search for an alternative. Keep an open mind and try something new and you will always move forward.
AL - It’s also clear that if you weren’t doing CrossFit, you’d most likely be successful at whatever it was that you were doing. Could you explain to us how we can develop the drive we have in ourselves and apply it to our lives in and out of the gym?
KW - Every day I make a choice to be the kind of person that moves forward and has something to contribute to the world. I read books, talk to influential people, and surround myself with positive people.
AL - I was in the carpark of the CrossFit Games last year and was constantly hearing people from all over the world saying that they couldn’t wait to see Kara Webb in action. You are such a great ambassador for Australian sport, summed up by the Spirit of the Games Award, and you just keep it real. Tell us how you balance being unapologetically out spoken but humble; you need to be “athlete selfish” at times but balance that by being gracious and charitable, and you handle the heat of being a labelled too muscular saying, “Yeah, but look at all the cool shit I can do!” How can we get to that un-breakable place too?
KW - I don’t think I am outspoken at all. My mum raised me to be honest and true, and to be accountable for my own actions and what I bring into my life. Unfortunately, that’s not a common trait anymore and it can seem as though I’m a little outrageous and different.
I’m ok with that. I’m just trying to be a good to others but also always value myself enough to have pride in what I do and not let people walk all over me.
As for the “heat” of being labelled, I just don’t care what people say about me. There are only a handful of opinions that really matter to me and they come from my loved ones that are closest to me. Everyone will always want to have their say and that’s ok, but sometimes I choose not to take it on board if it doesn’t offer anything positive to my life.
Make sure to share this with your friends and hit up the FB comments with your favourite quote of Kara’s.
Adam Lesniak is the Co-owner of Again Faster Australia / New Zealand
Photos courtesy of Kara Webb Facebook