The Ready State Virtual Mobility Coach is like having a virtual Kelly Starrett in your pocket.
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Kelly: [0:04:39] Annie, welcome to The Ready State Podcast.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:04:41] Thank you. I’m excited to finally be with you guys.
Juliet: [0:04:44] We’re so excited to see you. It’s been far too long. I’m just going to kick it right off with the Instagram video we’ve all watched 100 times, which is your 200-pound snatch at the CrossFit Games, which I’m not exaggerating, I literally think I’ve watched it like 100 times. It’s just an amazing… Anyway, it was amazing to watch. I mean it was all over the place and it was so special.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:05:08] It was amazing to perform.
Juliet: [0:05:09] So special. So yeah, that’s what I want to know. So tell me about what… Obviously, there was a lot we could see on your face and we could see the crowd, we could see a lot. But tell us what that was like from your perspective.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:05:18] So like a snatch event just in general is a really scary event because it’s a very technical lift, it’s not just like super grindy, heaviest weight. It’s like you have to hit the right snatch and have like, yeah, the perfect lift to be able to hit your very max. So it’s like scary because you might make a fail on some of the lighter weights. So on the lighter weights, you’re like, yes, I got through it, I got through it. And then when you start seeing some of the other girls fall out, you’re like, okay, okay, we’re getting there, we’re getting there. And then in training I hit like 190 and this is my best postpartum. I haven’t hit my max, but I’m like right at my max there. So once I hit 185, I’m like that’s pretty fricking awesome. And then when I realized that we were only three left, like we were only five left, I’m like, wow, mission accomplished. Like this is a strength at a CrossFit Games. And I feel like going into the Games I felt like I was lacking when it came to my running and I felt like I was lacking when it came to my maxes, like my strength, because I haven’t hit my maxes in anything and I haven’t been able to push myself the way that I wanted to push myself postpartum when it comes to strength training.
And then being there at the CrossFit Games less than a year from my birth and my circle has been real this year. It’s been a real circle. And then hitting the weight before 200, was like I was so ecstatic about it. And I think you can also see it, the girls are so focused and I’m all over the place. Just like the emotions were just on the surface. I couldn’t hold anything in. It’s been like a roller coaster up and down and it had been like the whole Games. I decided I’m just going to take everything in, and every single experience I am just going to let myself enjoy it. And also, if things don’t go the way I want them to go, I’m just going to let myself feel that as well.
And then hitting the 200, when I failed it and I threw it over myself, I was like, damn, I have the strength. The strength is actually there. Like I could have hit that. And then I didn’t expect to hit it on the second try in the 30 second window and when I hit it, it’s like it’s hard to explain the feeling. But I think you guys pretty much just see it. I really shocked myself when I hit that weight. And after I finished then, it’s very seldom that I say that I am thoroughly proud of myself, but I was very proud of myself. I feel so happy being able to say that, that I was proud of myself in that moment. I’m trying not to cry right now.
Kelly: [0:08:04] Oh man, you’re making me cry right now.
Juliet: [0:08:06] I’m getting a little weepy right here. I mean yes, you have every reason to feel so massively proud of yourself. And I think we all felt that with you too. I mean I think we know you, we know your story, we know how long you’ve been doing this, how hard you’ve worked. We know you’ve just had a baby. Like there’s so much to it that we were all with you. And just seeing your facial expression in the bottom of that snatch and sort of the aftermath of that was like really special. It was really special and it was just cool to share it with you, and thankful for the internet that we could all keep watching it over and over and over again. It was amazing.
Kelly: [0:08:36] I was at the first CrossFit Games that you competed in.
Juliet: [0:08:40] I was there too.
Kelly: [0:08:40] And watched your muscle up. So to have known you this time, been a small part of your journey… And then I think one of the things that I think is so great, how has being a mother changed… In that moment, you said that you couldn’t control everything, you were just going to feel it. Do you feel like it’s a secret superpower? You have this love and this baby and this incredible partner in Frederik. Did that change any aspect of your movement, because it’s a real pressure moment. And we’ll talk about your technical excellence in a second. But did that impact your mindset a little bit?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:09:16] It definitely affected me in many different ways, becoming a mom. I think for such a long time, CrossFit has been, I’m not going to say my everything because thankfully I have an incredible family and a close relationship and I’ve been very careful to keep my family and my friends a priority, but when you have a bad training day, it can really affect you. You can really let the pressure get to you. You can let a lot of things get to you. But after having Freyja, it gave me like a different perspective on life. I know it seems really weird to say. But that’s what it did. And I guess I didn’t take it for granted being at the Games this year because I really didn’t think it was going to happen this year.
And I also had to learn how to I guess, I don’t know the right word for it, compartmentalize myself a little. Like I did that every time this year at the Games, I had to be like in the morning, my phone call with Freyja, and I cried and I missed her and I was a mom. And then I gave myself five minutes where I just let myself miss her and then I took a few breaths, and then I was like okay, now my role as a mom is on pause and I’m going to become the competitor Annie. And I put myself into that role while I was competing. And then every evening I let myself become just… Now I’m going to let myself be vulnerable and I’m going to be Frederik’s girlfriend and I’m going to let him take care of me, and I’m going to talk about my emotions and let them all out. So I kind of felt like for the first time I was able to put myself in different roles and I was actually able to stick with them because I am so many different things, and we all are so many different things. And to become 100 percent, like when you’re competing, you have to be able to distance it a little.
Juliet: [0:11:11] Yeah, I mean I really relate to that a lot as a mom. And I’ve always worked since my kids were little. So I totally hear what you’re saying there. And I think you have to do it as a mom. I don’t know how else you can get by.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:11:21] Yeah, because I missed Freyja all the time and I wanted to just watch videos of her all the time. Yes.
Juliet: [0:11:28] It’s really hard. It’s really hard.
Kelly: [0:11:28] Before you ask your next question, for those people who are not listening… Understand we’re talking about the CrossFit Games, which you are one of the most successful athletes in the history of CrossFit, really helped invent the sport, what’s possible in the sport. You were a long time away as a new mother from your baby. How long were you away from Freyja, because I don’t think people understand the sort of sacrifices that the couple mothers who were there, especially from other countries, it was real that you had to come and quarantine. Tell us about that experience because you were away from your newborn daughter a long time.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:12:00] Well, I really pushed then. So I didn’t go to the States until pretty much last minute. So I did my heat training in Iceland. And yeah, I pushed it this time. And I wasn’t away for more than two weeks. But it was two weeks and one day that I was away from her. Yeah. And that’s the first time that I went away from her.
Kelly: [0:12:19] If we pause and if you’re around a person who is a parent right now, Freyja’s about a year old? How old’s Freyja?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:12:25] Yeah. She wasn’t a year then. Now she’s one year old and two weeks.
Kelly: [0:12:29] Think about how many parents, especially mothers, have been away from their kids for two and a half weeks, in the first year. Almost none. I mean that’s crazy.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:12:38] And it was really, really fricking hard.
Juliet: [0:12:42] Really hard.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:12:42] So I pushed making a decision about going to the Games and competing at the Games until literally when we were leaving. And I told Frederick on the plane, I was like, “I might be going home tomorrow, you know that right? I might not”-
Kelly: [0:12:57] Love it.
Juliet: [0:12:57] This may not work out. This may not work out, Frederik.
Kelly: [0:12:59] That’s great.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:13:00] And he was like, “Yes, I know, and that’s okay. If we need to go home, we go home.” And then I just took it as one long weekend. And when one long weekend was gone, I took it as, okay, we’re going to be here a week, and then if I decide I’m not competing at the Games, then we just go home. And then the week had passed, and I was like, all right, we’re already halfway there. Like I broke this up like a workout in my mind, pretty much.
And thankfully, Freyja was with my parents and my mom is really similar to me and Freyja’s really used to my mom. We spent a lot of time with them because COVID, a lot of time at the summer house, and Freyja knows them so well. And I just told my mom, “Just spoil her as much as you want to. Ruin the routine if you have to. You can hold her while she falls asleep.” I had taught her to fall asleep by herself. You just sing one song. You give her the bottle, sing a song and then leave and she would just fall asleep. I’m like scratch it, ruin it all, I don’t care. If she’s crying, just spoil her, stroke her, sing to her. Just make her feel good. And my mom just did that and it was amazing. And I could see that Freyja was so happy. I got so many videos and called her every day. But I didn’t expect to be like this as a mom. But man, it was hard to leave my kid.
Juliet: [0:14:19] So hard. It’s so hard. Well, on this topic, you’ve been pretty vocal about how you have gone through some pretty serious postpartum depression.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:14:28] Yeah.
Juliet: [0:14:29] And I’m just wondering if you’re willing to talk a little bit about that experience and how you realized you were experiencing postpartum depression, and anything you’re willing to share because I think it’s obviously so much more common. I was thankful to see you post about it. I have a lot of friends who have gone through it. But I still don’t think it’s talked about that much and I think a lot of postpartum depression is missed, so I’d just love to hear about it, if you’re willing to talk about it.
Kelly: [0:14:49] And let me just set this up for people. I’ve known you, Annie, for a long time. You’re one of the best athletes in our world. Like you’re a complete athlete. You’re a total athlete. You’re a total pro. Your partner is also a professional athlete on multiple sports, right? And you guys are a professional athlete family who know your body, know mindset training. It’s not like you were poorly prepared coming into this. Like you really were the most stable, loved family, so I think that’s what makes this so interesting, particularly. Now, kind of teed that up for you, now go ahead and talk about it.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:15:22] So yeah, well, this wasn’t something that I was planning to share. I share a lot on what I do in my personal life because that’s just who I am as an athlete and as a person. But I had shared my whole pregnancy and I had an incredible pregnancy. I didn’t expect that. I had such a great pregnancy. I was able to train throughout and I felt great, and I was like, okay, I’m going to be able to start training like two or three weeks after birth and be in like really good shape. Yeah.
Kelly: [0:15:53] You were crushing during your pregnancy to the point where I was like, wow, my pregnant friend is destroying me. Like that’s what I thought a lot of times. Like I was like, I need to get my act together.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:16:04] Yeah. I was very safe. But I was pretty good. I was like I’m going to improve my VO2 to max here because that’s an opportunity while you’re pregnant to work on that actually. Like I did a lot of zone work. But yeah. Then I had a horrible birth. Start with that. I had a horrible birth. It took three days. I was in the push phase for way longer than I should have been. I would say there were some mistakes that were made. My daughter was like in a stargaze and crooked so she just wasn’t popping down properly. So everything just took a really long time and I ended up in the surgical room with there were like eight or nine people in there to assist and hold me down. It was like ridiculous.
And I finally got her out pretty much in the last moment before emergency C-section. I actually think we probably should have gone to emergency C-section sooner. But I’m still grateful that everything went okay. She was really [inaudible 16:58] when she came out, but thankfully they monitored her the whole time. And I guess it was also just like a shock when she came out. It took some time until she could start breathing. And then immediately I started blaming myself that I am too stubborn to get her out. They would have made different decisions if I wouldn’t have been as stubborn. And all these things just go through your mind. And then I lost a lot of blood and I tore ridiculously badly. So after all of this, I didn’t sleep for about three days just because of stress and –
Juliet: [0:17:25] Trauma.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:17:36] After all the numbing and everything. Yeah. I would say this was definitely a big trauma. I was in the hospital for like two days afterwards. And we came home and I still didn’t, wasn’t able to sleep, and was just like nervous about everything. And I needed assistance going into the shower. I couldn’t hold Freyja myself. I couldn’t sit and breastfeed because of how awful I felt down there. And it was like a lot of things. And then I remember three, four days later, and I still hadn’t been able to sleep. And I remember standing there and looking at myself in the mirror and I had this still big belly. And somehow through the pregnancy, hadn’t bothered me at all. Like you’re growing something, there’s a life in there, there’s a reason for it. But at this point, I was like there’s no reason for this belly to still be so big. And I’d see the intestines starting to move in there and everything so soft. And for the first time, I just looked in the mirror and I just didn’t recognize myself. And I couldn’t take care of myself. I was so weak. I remember feeling so weak. And couldn’t eat. I had no appetite.
And then I remember sitting and watching TV. The crazy thing is the only time I was happy is when I was holding Freyja and I think that’s why I couldn’t sleep, because I had to have her in my arms at all times. And it’s such a weird thing. It was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And the most down I’ve ever been in my life. So I was so happy holding her, and she was healthy, thankfully, and so beautiful. And then when I didn’t have her and she was asleep, I was watching TV, I’m like why are people even acting in these TV shows, we’re all going to die. Yeah. I was like really breaking far down.
And I remember at that point, I remember it so vividly because Frederik was bringing me chocolate, and I’m like I don’t want chocolate. Usually, I at least want something. I always want something like that. I am always in the mood for that. And me as a person, yeah, I can get down but it usually takes like one, two minutes and you can get me happy and giggly again. Tell me a good joke or give me some chocolate or say something silly and I can start laughing at myself, can start laughing at the situation. But there I was like there is something wrong, there is something wrong right now. So I talked to Frederik, thankfully, and cried about it. And after that I pumped and I went into the bedroom and I slept for three hours. And I remember when I woke up and came out again, I’m like, I was a different person. I started seeing color again.
And I’ve never understood depression. And I know this seems silly, but I don’t think I ever believed in depression because I think it’s just like, dude, just go out, exercise, meet people, see the world, do something to make yourself happy. And there, I felt like it was such a long time until I would ever be able to exercise again. And then not talking about I needed to compete again or get in fantastic shape. I needed the endorphins. I needed to feel like myself. I needed the power and the strength again, the independency again. And after talking about this, and then I talked to my mom about it, and I slept, and some of these emotions started coming again. It took me like two, three days. But every single time I talked about it, I felt better and better.
And then we went out for a drive, me and Frederik, after being about a week in our apartment, and I saw there was still a world out there and people were still going to work, and they were biking, and they were running, and they were happy. And I’m like, the world will go on, time will pass, I will get over this, I will recover. This is just an injury that I will recover from.
And as soon as I opened up about it, I felt like I took the power away from it that it had over me. And then I started being able to laugh at it, like Kelly did here when I said we’re all going to die anyway, so why are we acting. Now it’s easy for me to talk about, but when I said this out loud first time, I was like holy shit, I am far down.
Juliet: [0:21:47] Dark shit. Yeah. It’s dark.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:21:48] Yeah. This is some dark shit going on. Being able to laugh at it, you take away the power, being able to share it, you take away the power. You gradually, it becomes fine. And thankfully, I am so grateful that I dealt with it so fast and so quickly that I was able to share. And then a few months later I started talking to some of my girlfriends and telling them about it, and then I heard from them that they gone through something like this and hadn’t shared until about a year later, and then they’re finally getting over it. And some that hadn’t talked about it for like years. And I’m like okay, there’s something wrong with that.
And like I said, it wasn’t something I had planned on sharing. But I shared my birth, part of my birth, and that seemed to help a lot of people. The amount of stories that I got in return from women that had gone through something similar and appreciated me sharing it. And it made me feel better reading their stories because I felt like I am going to recover from this. So I decided to share this as well in case if it helps one person open up about their postpartum. Why are we ashamed of that? It’s just feelings. That doesn’t mean that I am a depressed person. This is just a period that you go through. And I always tell myself we’re not our thoughts. We are what we do. We’re not what happens in our head. We’re what we do with our thoughts. And that’s what matters to remember. So it’s okay if we get stupid thoughts or weird thoughts or embarrassing thoughts. It’s just something that happens. Get over it and continue. So yeah. Now I’m here talking to you guys about postpartum depression that I know nothing about, but I know what I’ve gone through and I know what helped me. So hopefully it will help more people.
Kelly: [0:23:34] Thank you for sharing all that. Juliet and I are reliving a ton of our own trauma and Juliet’s trauma with the birth of our daughters for sure. I think you’re right. It’s very common. I’m hearing this and thinking, wow, it’s hard.
Juliet: [0:23:48] It’s really hard.
Kelly: [0:23:50] It’s really hard. And it makes you leaving your daughter, going to the Games, putting a freakish snatch up while after having an episiotomy, and I just want people to understand how crazy what you did this last year was in the context of where the year started for you. It’s bananas.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:24:08] I am still like I don’t understand how all of that happened. I don’t understand how I got third place at the CrossFit Games. It’s crazy.
Kelly: [0:24:16] Let me just be clear: Anyone who knows you isn’t surprised. We’re not surprised.
Juliet: [0:24:19] Yeah, it’s not surprising to us, Annie.
Kelly: [0:24:21] And I just want to circle back to my coach nerd self. Juliet’s going to roll her eyes. But your snatch was technically so good.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:24:28] Oh, thank you.
Kelly: [0:24:28] Your foot position was good. Your mechanics are good. I was like, look, you may not have had 120 percent of your power, but you put 100 percent of your power into 100 percent. That’s a full snatch. That was almost like, huh, there we go, our work here on earth is done. You’ve just seen perfection.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:24:44] Oh, thank you. That means a lot coming from you, Kelly.
Kelly: [0:24:45] It didn’t always look like that.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:24:49] Nope.
Juliet: [0:24:50] I’m going to turn a little bit in a different direction because we’ve all mentioned Frederik a few times on this. So this’ll be a two-part question. But first of all, who is he? And then the second question, and I’m asking you this because people ask Kelly and I this question all the time, which is how do the two of you work together? What’s that like? How do you manage that? And I feel like you and Frederik work together because you guys are both professional athletes, you’re training partners. So who is Frederik and how do you guys make it work to be both spouses, parents, and training partners?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:25:22] So Frederik is my boyfriend for many years now. No, we’re not married yet. It’s like a custom I guess, like people wait longer in Europe. We’ve talked about it. It’s not that he needs to propose to me. We will get married when we feel like, I want to have the time and energy to focus on it. While I’m competing, I feel like it’s going to be a stressful thing to have. Anyways, I don’t know why I said all of that. But yes.
Juliet: [0:25:50] Well, because you know someone will ask, that’s why.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:25:51] It’s a question I get very often. We’ve been together for 10 years now, almost 11 years. We have a baby girl together, one year old now. And we’ve been training partners that whole time too. Frederik has competed at the Games five times, I think. Five or six times. And I think the reason that it works so well for us is that we just have a lot of respect for each other.
And I am a very open person. I say… I don’t bury things in for a long time. I say it if something is bothering me, if something is wrong, if there’s something that we need to do better. And we just work really well together like that. I think he’s also a phenomenal coach, so he’s taken that role on quite a bit as well. Jami Tikkanen is my coach. But he’s not always hands on. Like he’s not always with me at the gym. But Frederik’s been with me at the gym and has taken that role a little bit as well. And yes, it works. I listen to what he says and I don’t get super mad about it. But I don’t take that role with him at all. I don’t.
Juliet: [0:26:59] You don’t coach him.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:00:00] No. I don’t coach him that much because he doesn’t take it quite as well. So yeah, I think that’s how it works. We know each other really, really well, so we know how to be around each other at the gym, when to give space, when to give support, and so on. But this year we made the decision if I was going to compete again, he was not going to compete at the Games. So we just knew it wasn’t really going to work with Freyja and everything. She’s not in daycare or kindergarten. She’s still just at home with us.
We love being able to do that. And with that reason, we needed like a priority. Yeah, we trained a lot together. But she sleeps outside in a stroller, and if she was waking up, especially as we got closer to the Games, she was more Frederik’s responsibility, and then his training might get a little bit more ruined. And I was able to continue and do mine. She wakes up really, really early in the morning, so we took it… On rest days, I would wake up with her, but on training days, he would wake up with her. And then we would rotate and he would get to take a nap. But I got to be a priority in a lot of those things.
Kelly: [0:28:06] Frederik I’ve also known for a long time and what I can tell you is that fortunately for a lot of men who have had some success, our egos have been stroked enough. Frederik was a professional athlete playing football, now he’s a professional athlete in CrossFit, so he is accomplished and very good. And we call this phenomenon Team Queen, when you are married or partnered with the person with the brains and the talent, it’s okay to be on that team for a minute. And I just want to give a shoutout for Frederik, because it is, he is a very good athlete. But for him to say, well, in this business family, we have more success with you, likelihood as the breadwinner, and that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal to be married to a tightened woman. I just want to shout out to all the men whose wives are better at everything than they are.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:28:53] No, absolutely. I agree. It is a big deal. And like this is an individual sport, but in my mind it’s also a big team that you need around you, especially when you’re at the level that we’re at. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have Frederik as my support, Jami as my coach, Andrew as my body worker. I need that solid team that’s around me. And yeah, there is no way that I would be doing this if I was by myself.
Juliet: [0:29:26] So I want to go way back because I don’t want to assume everybody knows who you are. But could you just tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from? I know you had an athletic life prior to finding CrossFit. And then how did you find CrossFit? Kind of those three things.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:29:39] Yeah. So I’m from Iceland. And I did gymnastics growing up until I was about 15 years old. And then I decided that I was going to become a doctor so I wasn’t going to focus too much on my training and I was going to be focusing on school. But it was really hard to go from training 24, 30 hours a week to doing nothing. So I started doing dance. I got into the dance academy in Iceland. And I was doing bootcamp at the same time. I just needed an outlet. And then I decided I wanted to become a pole vaulter. So I started pole vaulting and became the Icelandic champion indoor and outdoor in that.
Kelly: [0:00:00] I had no idea. Seriously?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:30:25] Yeah. Yeah.
Kelly: [0:30:27] Wow.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:30:28] And my goal was actually to go to the Olympics 2012 in pole vaulting. And at the same time, I was still doing bootcamp. And I was signing up for random fitness competitions in Iceland. We have a lot of these weird fitness competitions here that’s not like bodybuilding or anything. It’s like you do burpees and sit-ups and running and bench press and these things, just like one goal as fast as you can.
And then we got a CrossFit competition in Iceland and I decided to participate in it. I ended up winning it and got a spot at the CrossFit games, 2009. And I was like, okay, I get to go to the States and compete in CrossFit, that seems really fun. So I learned a little bit about Olympic weightlifting and had about a couple months to get ready for it. I competed at the games 2009 and I think I found what I had been looking for. I had been doing dance, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. I had been doing pole vaulting but it wasn’t enough. You were always doing the same thing. I love jumping, but you were always doing the same thing, which is why I was doing bootcamp and these fitness competitions at the side because I was like, I needed something more. And then I did CrossFit and I was like this has got everything. I’m never going to be bored in this sport.
And I can call myself the fittest woman on earth if I win this. So I decided to put my dream of becoming a doctor to the side and do one year of just CrossFit competing, 2010. There were a lot of people that did not understand this decision, by the way. But for some reason, my parents supported it all along. And then getting second place 2010, it light this fire in me. I’m like, I can actually do this. And the rest is history. I’m now a decade later still competing in CrossFit.
Juliet: [0:32:20] So I just have to tell you when we first saw you, because Kelly and I were at the ranch when you competed that first time and watched you, I remember it, but I feel like 2009 was like this pre-Iceland aware time. I feel like now everyone I know goes to Iceland nine times a year. But in 2009, nobody I knew went to Iceland. And I remember you were so exotic because your name was Iceland Annie. And nobody really knew what Iceland was and it was before everybody traveled there. And you showed up and you had never done a muscle up and you learned how to do one during the CrossFit Games. I mean it was just so memorable. And part of that was because none of us were really Iceland aware. It was like she’s from Iceland. Who’s from Iceland?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:33:01] That’s very true actually.
Juliet: [0:33:02] Yeah. Right? Don’t you think?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:33:03] Yes. I feel like there were a lot of people like Iceland, where is that. or that they learned in school, Iceland is really green and Greenland is full of ice, right? I’m like yeah, you know your facts.
Kelly: [0:33:16] It turns out that you have an incredible roster of talented athletes around you. It’s sort of bonkers. It’s sort of not fair how deep the talent is. One of the things I think is you have a really unique voice on, and I’ll follow up with another question, but how have you seen and experienced the growth complexity of the games, complexity of being a CrossFit athlete? Because I think in 2009, we sort of had this loose idea of what that meant. I mean it is-
Juliet: [0:33:47] Well, and for reference, we were camping in a tent at the CrossFit Games when we first. I mean just to… We were there with you and literally we were all camping in a tent. And then now it is what it is. So I’d love to know what you think about the growth and trajectory.
Kelly: [0:34:02] I mean what is sort of the 10 years, what’s the most stark sort of thing that’s happened around the growth or the evolution of the sport of CrossFit?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:34:13] I guess the easiest way to say it for me is that it used to be CrossFit is about not specializing in anything but knowing how to do everything. And I feel like it’s evolved to specialize in everything, you know?
Kelly: [0:34:31] There’s no way you could have gotten off a plane today and just wandered into the podium, you know what I mean?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:34:37] No.
Kelly: [0:34:38] Or Top 10. There’s no way.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:34:38] No way.
Kelly: [0:34:40] That could happen again. Doesn’t matter how good you are.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:34:42] No. I feel like the level have become, after the first year in Home Depot… So after 2010, I feel like all of a sudden there was this crazy awareness of CrossFit. I think it grew a lot with that next year. Also, as Reebok coming in as a sponsor there it became like this real, real sport that people did. And if I just talk from Iceland, like 2011, it became this thing that everyone knew about all of a sudden. Everyone was doing CrossFit or trying it to had done some of it. So I think we’ve had… It used to be so few people, but now we’ve had so many good people, if that makes sense. There’s less room for making a mistake at the CrossFit Games. If you’re in really good shape and you made a mistake back in the days, it would maybe cost you a few spots. Now, if you’re at the CrossFit Games and you make a mistake, you’re going to be close to the bottom. You have to be on your A game in every single event if you want to place high.
Kelly: [0:35:52] I think still own a gym, yes?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:35:53] Yes.
Kelly: [0:35:55] Can you talk about… Because I think it’s really remarkable that you’ve owned this affiliate CrossFit gym for a long time and here you are at the top of the game. Do you feel like you are a better coach, are you more reasonable in terms of creating general physical preparedness, community fitness, or does your gym, it’s an elite training center for elite Icelandic, people who were born to lift heavy weights?
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:36:19] No. Absolutely not. The funny thing is, the longer I’ve done this for, obviously the more you’ll learn. It used to be just like hit CrossFit workouts all the time super hard. Let’s just go all out all the time. Now I’ve learned that I cannot do that.
Kelly: [0:36:39] You’re an old mom. You can’t do that.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:36:41] No. Like I need to be smart with my training. After I turned 24, 25, after I had my back injury in 2013, I had to learn to do smart training. And over the years I’ve also started learning that the same way. My parents do CrossFit and they train at CrossFit Reykjavik, and I want to make sure that, yes, they do fun workouts, but I also want to make sure that they do the strength that they should be doing, they do the intervals that they should be doing. There’s things that we should be doing for being strong and active when we’re old, if that makes sense. So not just destroying our body and beat ourselves down all the time. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it can be really fun. But you shouldn’t do that all the time. And we should use the machines as well. And we should learn how to breathe and move properly, not just go, go, go, and try to go heavier and heavier all the time. And yes, as a professional CrossFit athlete, I know it’s not smart what I’m doing when I’m older, but I do believe I am doing quite smart training thankfully with Jami as my coach, he’s also on top of that stuff. I’ve had my fair share of injuries that we’ve had to deal with. And yeah, we learn every single time. And I feel like that definitely goes through into the gym as well.
I do not take care of everything at my gym though. I coach very seldom. The classes I coach the most is off season. Then I do like endurance classes because I really enjoy teaching people about the different energy systems and all of that, educating at the same time. But I have, we’re three people that own the gym. And thankfully I have incredible co-owners that take a big load. And I just get to kind of like say things that I want better or improve or like give my input on a lot of things, especially in season.
Kelly: [0:38:34] I owned a gym with some incredible owners and I can understand, you know?
Juliet: [0:38:38] Okay. So first of all, shoutout to Jami for being an amazing coach.
Kelly: [0:38:41] I’m going to double down.
Juliet: [0:38:43] Oh, you are? Okay, go ahead.
Kelly: [0:38:43] Jami is the most unknown technical genius on the planet. That’s what I would say about Jami.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:38:48] One hundred percent.
Kelly: [0:38:50] He’s one of the greatest coaches I have ever met in any coach in any sport. Shoutout to Jami.
Juliet: [0:38:54] Yeah. Huge shoutout. And without giving away any of your actual training secrets, I think people would love to know what does a week in training look like for you, or even a day? Are you doing two a days? Just sort of a general idea because I think people would be curious to know.
Kelly: [0:39:08] And as a mom, it’s really interesting now to see you balance all that.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:39:11] Yeah. I do two a days. I train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I rest on Thursdays, usually active recovery or something. I just feel better by doing active recovery or something. I just feel better by doing active recovery. Like that means just like biking movement for about an hour. And then I train Friday, Saturday twice a day. And then I rest on Sundays. Coming back after my pregnancy, it obviously took me a really long time to start training again. Like way longer than I expected to be. And then I started with one a days and gradually building it up. But soon I started doing two a days.
And rather just like having a break even if it was a shorter session then, just having a break for my body to recover a little bit more. And then I did my other session. So I like doing my conditioning in one session and then I do my strength training or skill training or whatever in the other session. I just like the structure of that instead of having it like a marathon session. I don’t like doing a lot more than two and a half hours. And especially like what I had to change in my training this year is that unfortunately my warm ups became a little bit more like crisp. I still warm up well. But-
Juliet: [0:40:24] Crisp is a good word.
Kelly: [0:40:25] Mom’s don’t got time for that. I think this is the truth.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:40:26] I like still obviously warm up but I couldn’t give myself 30 minutes in a stretching area just like rolling around on a ball doing mobility and prepping and talking to my friends and then start my warm up. I had to like, okay, five minutes doing this, five minutes doing that stretch, get on a bike, get the heart rate up, get the blood flowing, all right, put on the lifters. Everything became really crisp because you didn’t know when she was going to wake up. But I was really structured with her sleeping and she’s slept three times a day ever since she was like two months old. I knew exactly when she was sleeping and how long. And then it became twice a day. And now she’s once a day, which makes it a little bit harder.
But that means that all the way leading up to the Games, it was two a day. If one of the sleeps was a little bit shorter, that meant that Frederik took care of her in the second sleep. Now going down to one a day, that means that we train together for one session and then I get to go for the second session, or she goes for the babysitting at the gym. We’ve tried that once now and it went great. But I don’t like her being there for more than an hour, so it means we’re in and out, you know? So it’s very different training with me this year than previous years because I’m usually like a little late to the gym and then take like two and a half, three hour session, enjoy just talking to people and chill. But now it’s structured.
Juliet: [0:41:48] You’ve got to be efficient. I mean I’m not at all comparing anything I do to what you do training wise. But I train with this group of moms and we often organize the workout so whatever, like the cardioey thing is first. Like if there’s 1,000 meter row, we just put that first because we’re like got to warm up and we didn’t really have time, right? And so we’re just like okay, we’re just going to organize the workout so there’s like this extra built-in warmup into the workout because it’s like we’ve all got an hour because everyone’s got to get back to their kids and get to work and that’s how we make it happen.
Kelly: [0:42:17] And also, I want to just point out that what you’re actually describing is the actual evolution of athletes who have a really dense training age where you don’t need necessarily the kinds of volume or your kind, your density is very high right now, and the volume is slightly different because you are actually this competent and this durable and this skilled. So it is an evolution. We see sometimes the things that get people to the big dance are not the things that keep you at the big dance. And I just want to give you a shoutout for this natural evolution of figuring, hey, I can make this work, but just acknowledge and shoutout to the fact that you have decades of preparing yourself to be able to do this in this way. You really know yourself too.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:42:56] Absolutely. And I think that makes a big difference too. I know when I’m doing too much and when I need to slow down. And I know when I can push a little bit harder and add in sessions. And that’s what I had to do a little bit faster leading up to the games this year because I had like… Yeah.
Kelly: [0:43:15] And I want to just also acknowledge your relationship with your coach because one of the phenomena that we see is in CrossFit people jump coaches a lot, right? This isn’t working or they think there’s someplace else. I regularly ask coaches have you ever been responsible or worked with someone for a decade. And very few hands go on. And then I’m like nine years, eight years, seven years, six years. Three years is usually kind of a number. And it’s really remarkable, your relationship with Jami, your successful collaboration, because he’s known you and your development, and also you know you. And he’s very much a co-equal. I mean he’s not the boss. He’s a partner in this thing. But it puts a lot more stress and control into your lap. But that 10-year partnership is really unusual and pretty amazing.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:44:00] Yeah. It’s definitely special. I think he was one of the first CrossFit coaches really. Like at the Games, no one really had a coach when I started working with him. Yeah.
Kelly: [0:44:14] Crazy.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:44:14] that’s pretty crazy. And I think I challenged him a lot and made him a better coach by doing so.
Kelly: [0:44:23] Oh yeah. For sure.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:44:23] And he’s challenged me and made me a better athlete.
Kelly: [0:44:26] I have to say, I know a lot of what I know about the sport of CrossFit through Jami because you were our test dummy. So I apologize for all of the so much of I don’t think people understand is that some of the greatest influences you have as a coach are your athletes and having been very close to Jami for so long, so much of what I understand is a function of your training, Frederik’s training. It’s really… So thank you for all the knowledge you’ve given Jami and I.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:44:53] You’re welcome. And I got to say thank you for all the knowledge you’ve given Jami and me through the years. No, it’s actually really, really cool because he gets really geeky with things and he keeps on reading up and learning and studying. And with all the injuries that I’ve gone through or aches or something, we always need to learn something else and figure new things out. And every time when we’re working together, he asks me to change something or do something different. And I’m like I trust Jami 100 percent. But I never just like trust blindly because I am never going to compete at the Games and if things don’t go the way they’re supposed to go, I’m not going to be like, oh, it’s Jami’s fault. He overtrained me or he forgot to program this or forgot to program that. I am responsible for myself and my training and I take full responsibility for my performance. However, we are a team.
It’s funny. When he asks me to change something, I’m like why are we changing it. And then he has to like explain and then I try it and then we try the different things out. And we figure things out together, which I think is such a special relationship that we got and developed throughout the years. Like I said, I challenge him, but he is phenomenal. He does not get enough credit in the CrossFit world. I think he is hands down the best coach out there. That’s why I’m still with him.
Kelly: [0:46:21] I agree with that.
Juliet: [0:46:22] I think it’s really special. I mean just to kind of reiterate what Kelly said, I think a lot of athletes do do that though. They don’t reach their potential in some competition and then they’re like it must be the coach, not me, so I’m going to switch. And I imagine you have had some games where maybe your performance wasn’t as good as you hoped. But man, if you look at sort of the trajectory of your whole career, you’ve had so many good performances. And I’m sure part of that is this amazing and long relationship that is very collaborative that you’ve had with your coach, which I think if you popped around coaches, you might not have had.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:46:52] No. I don’t think so.
Juliet: [0:46:54] It’s cool.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:46:54] Yeah. Absolutely. And like every year we sit down after the Games and we go through things that could and should maybe have been better. And then we reevaluate that for next year. Things are never perfect. That’s what makes it so fun, you guys. I haven’t reached my full potential yet, which is pretty incredible.
Kelly: [0:47:12] No, I don’t think so. It takes this long to be this good. I mean-
Juliet: [0:47:15] There’s too many things to be good at. It’s like a lifetime of things.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:47:19] Exactly.
Kelly: [0:47:19] And you have this super reason now. You know, there’s a great story of two of the best triathletes at the World Championships and they’re competing and they’re on the run. And one of the guy’s wife is holding the baby in the back of the camera truck. And the guy he’s competing against looks at him and realizes there’s no way he’s going to win because this guy’s running towards his daughter as a final 5K. His wife is holding their infant child and he’s running. And he’s just destroyed. He’s like, dude, that’s like cheating. What are you doing? And I just want to say that you are now fully cheating for the rest of your life. Wait until Freyja’s in the stands. It’s crazy.
Juliet: [0:48:00] So I mean tell us what you’re looking forward to and what’s next for you and Frederik.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:48:05] Wow. I’m looking forward to so, so many things. I’ve decided that I’m going to compete at Rogues. That’s going to be end of October. So that’s kind of a quick turnaround.
Kelly: [0:48:15] Oh, that’s going to be great.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:48:16] There’s things that I don’t feel like we’re ready for the Games. So I am still working on and fixing things that I need to improve and just get back to my old self. I’m still working my way there. But then I never make a decision about if you’re thinking about next year competing at the Games, that’s not even on my mind yet because that happens after New Year’s. Then I make that decision. And I’ve done so ever since 2013. I give myself a break. I continue training. But I make these decisions after New Year’s.
Kelly: [0:48:49] I love that.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:48:49] Yeah. Because it’s really hard to plan too far ahead in this sport I feel. I’m enjoying my life. I’m enjoying training. I’m enjoying Freyja so much right now. She just started walking, which is amazing. It’s crazy.
Juliet: [0:49:05] So adorable.
Annie Thorisdottir: [0:49:06] I appreciate the human body so much more after having Freyja. This is ridiculous. What we can do, what happens inside of a child. Yeah, it’s crazy. But yeah, then there’s a lot of projects that I’ve been waiting to have time to do. And that’s going to be coming out very soon. I unfortunately can’t talk about a lot of them. But in the next couple of months there’s a lot of stuff going to be coming. And me and Katrin have been working for a really long time on a lot of projects actually. So I’m like when is this podcast coming out.
Juliet: [0:49:43] Soon. Soon. So yeah.
Kelly: [0:49:45] We’ll circle back.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:49:48] But yeah. There’s a lot of exciting things ahead. We could say that.
Juliet: [0:49:52] We can’t wait.
Kelly: [0:49:53] Yeah. And we love Katrin and we love your friendship and how you two adore each other and support each other. I mean just from the outside, please do more with Katrin. I think that’s a recipe for success.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:50:04] I think so too. It’s really special to have this kind of relationship, especially with someone who does the same as you. We just know what the other one is going through and we can literally talk about anything and support each other so much, which is really rare I think in individual sport to have that kind of relationship. So I’m so grateful for that. And we have so much fun together. That always makes it also-
Kelly: [0:50:29] It’s ridiculous. We’re always a little jealous of the fun you have.
Juliet: [0:50:32] Well, I mean Annie, I just want to say for my part, thank you for being such an awesome inspiration as an athlete and a mom. And thank you for creating that moment that we could all watch 1,000 times on Instagram because it was really, like it was just fun, fun, fun for all of us to witness it live and re-witness it.
Kelly: [0:50:49] And sometime, I’ll show you the 10 years of texts between Jami and I with you competing at the Games. I get to be the greatest fly on the wall with zero skin in and I’m just like face pressed up to the glass. It’s so fun. We are so proud of you guys. Give our love to Frederik and I can’t wait to hold that daughter.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:50:08] Thank you. Yeah. It’s been so long. I need to come to San Francisco and see you guys. This is absurd.
Juliet: [0:51:14] It’s been way too long.
Kelly: [0:51:15] I’ll take out the photo of you-
Juliet: [0:51:15] Well, we need to come by Iceland and see you because our kids are old now, so.
Kelly: [0:51:19] You coloring with Georgia.
Juliet: [0:51:21] Oh yeah. I have that photo.
Kelly: [0:51:21] When Georgia was… That photo, it’s fabulous.
Juliet: [0:51:23] Before we let you go, and especially because it sounds like you have a lot of cool things coming down the pipeline, where can people find you on the internet, on social media? Tell us.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:51:34] Well, most of the things are going to be on my Instagram. So just @anniethorisdottir on Instagram. But then you can also follow @dottir on Instagram. I’ll be sharing a lot to both of those channels. So that’s probably the best one. Yeah.
Kelly: [0:51:46] Dottir. Awesome.
Juliet: [0:51:47] Hey, well, thank you again so much for being with us.
Kelly: [0:51:47] Thank you, Annie.
Annie Thorisdottir [0:51:50] Thanks you guys.Back to Episode