Nick Urankar: Headed Back To Cali

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Nick Urankar punched his ticket to the Games in exciting fashion by going 1st, 7th, and 2nd on the final three workouts at the Central Regional.  This is Nick’s first CrossFit Games appearance since 2011. Just like that, in arguably the toughest qualifying year ever, 3 years of disappointment have been washed away. Starting July 21, everyone will get the chance to learn the name, Nick Urankar, once again.

We analyzed Nick’s Beyond The Whiteboard numbers over the past 5 years to gain some insights on his training habits. We also talked to him about his eating habits, how he likes to recover, and his mentality during the dark “non-qualifying” years.

Who Is Nick Urankar?

Nick has been active his entire life. He played every sport you can think of growing up, but football is where he really excelled. He ultimately ended up at Indiana State University on a football scholarship. Football players are known for their size and strength; it was at this time that Nick started getting really strong. In a dramatic turn of events, after his football career ended, Nick started running long distance. His run of choice was the half marathon. He ran several over the next couple of years until finding CrossFit at the end of 2009. The story becomes a little more familiar at that point. After a recommendation from a buddy, his first workout was Fran in his basement. The rest is history.

Nick is now a gym owner (CrossFit 061 in Indiana, USA), a husband, and the father to 2 little girls. You might think that with all of those responsibilities working out would take a back seat at some point. Not for Nick. Staying in shape comes with the territory when you are “outnumbered 3-1″. He has “to stay in shape to keep [his] ladies in check and safe.”

Dragon Status

Workout Then(Level) Now(Level) Improvement(Level)
Isabel 1:55 (98) 1:27 (99) :28 (+1)
Amanda 4:50 (98) 3:30 (99) 1:20 (+1)
Grace 1:57 (97) 1:24 (99) :34 (+2)
Randy 4:10 (92) 3:00 (99) 1:10 (+7)
DT 6:30 (99) 4:56 (99) 1:34 (0)

Nick has been really good at CrossFit from the get-go. His first recorded Fitness Level was a 91 in December of 2010. That same year he recorded his first Fran score…it was 2:27. Despite the amazing initial success, Nick has managed to continue to progress even further over the years. Below is a chart of some of the progress he’s made in 5 years on various popular CrossFit workouts. Notice that, for most, while he’s improved by upwards of a minute on some workouts, the level difference is often only 1 or 2 (in one case it’s nothing!). Anything in the 90+ level range is an incredibly elite score. Jumping one level in this top range is a big-time feat. Because the scores are so elite, level changes are often few and far between.

What Happened From 2012-2014 (aka The Dark Years)

Year Regional Placing
2014 9th
2013 12th
2012 6th

During Nick’s early CrossFit days he was mostly programming for himself. Basically, “[he] did whatever [he] felt like doing.” The method to the madness was simply “try to move more without resting”. He had “holes [in his game] and [he] didn’t properly address them”. He takes full blame for each of the failed Regionals during that time. 2012 was probably the toughest year because he fully expected to go back after coming off of a 2011 Games appearance. After the 2013 Regional he decided to get coached by Doug Chapman (HyperFit USA).

What Changed

The biggest impact has been on Nick’s training volume. A typical week of training back in those days can be found below. It’s from May 2011, about 1.5 months out from the 2011 CrossFit Games.

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The image below displays a week of training for Nick during April 2015.

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The volume from Nick’s 2011-2013 pale in comparison. The chart below depicts the impact of Doug Chapman’s role as programmer for Nick.

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Not only have Nick’s workout days per week increased, but so have the number of workouts/sessions for each of those days. The upward trend is shown to have started in 2013, the exact same time Nick recruited Doug for his programming needs. Most programming takes time and consistency before the true benefits can be reaped, which is exactly what happened in Nick’s case. He placed 9th at the 2014 Central East regional. He stuck with, and trusted, Doug’s programming in the end, and it resulted in a 4th place finish at the 2015 Central Regional. Nick admits that his “training and motivation have had their ups and downs” over the last few years, but that “his motivation and drive have climbed [to all-time highs], and this year [he] wanted it more than ever before”. Remember that “workout sessions” here refer to any kind of workout. It could mean Fran-type workouts. It could mean EMOMs. It could also mean tempo runs and rows. The point is that Nick’s training did not contain nearly as much “stuff” as it did after getting programmed for by Doug Chapman.

Dealing With The Central East

Nick competes out of the Central East Open region, one of, if not the, toughest regions in the world. The region boasts, or has boasted, athletes like Rich Froning, Scott Panchik, Dan Bailey, Marcus Hendren, and Graham Holberg. It’s super easy to get lost in a mix like that.

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Rest/Recovery/Nutrition

Nick began his CrossFitting career as a 98. He was also a vegetarian at that time. Maybe he was onto something? Okay, maybe not. Shortly after destroying himself with CrossFit WODs, Nick “went to a strict paleo” diet. In the beginning he worried about the macro-nutrient breakdowns, but as his training volume increased, simply focusing on “clean meals” became priority. Nick’s diet does change from day-to-day, however. He “carb backloads before [big] training days” to ensure he has enough energy to keep up with the volume. He will also fill in any eating gaps with not-so-healthy items, like donuts, if he knows/is feeling like he’s at a caloric deficit. Mostly, though, he’s eating what his wife Chelssie puts in front of him, which he made a point of saying “is always amazing”. Looks good to me!

As for rest and recovery, 5 letters: S L E E P. For how much Nick is currently doing, he needs as much sleep as possible, and “[he knows right away] when [he] doesn’t have enough”. Nick gets 9.5 hours of sleep about 4 nights a week. The other days vary. Anything under 7 and the world has to deal with a not-so-happy CrossFitter.  Rest days are “active”, usually consisting of long slow stuff like 5km runs or rows.

Nick Loves Lifting Weights

He says they “keep [him] sane through the grind”. It’s led him to becoming one of the stronger Games athletes in the field. Remember 15.1A? Nick set the world record in the Open. I’d hate to see what a barbell-less, less-than-7-hours-of-sleep Nick Urankar looks like.

Prepping For The 2015 Games

Nick is incredibly happy to be back at the games. Having said that, he’s still got lofty goals and standards for himself. His main goal is to “evaluate each workout individually and to do the best [he] can”. He’s got an eye on a top ten finish, and even a podium spot. Remember, Nick is a fierce competitor, but he also feels his training has been the best it’s ever been.

“I am just happy to be back!!”

How has Nick been preparing for the 2015 CrossFit Games? Below are pie charts depicting the modality, duration, and scheme breakdowns of Nick’s training.

Modality

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Nick has increased his purely weight lifting workouts (W) since qualifying for the Games. Also, solo monostructural cardio workouts have increased 4 percentage points. Gymnastics (G) and gymnastics + weight lifting (GW) workouts have declined.

Duration

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Leading up to Regionals, Nick spent half of his training devoted to Medium duration (10-20 min) workouts. Both Short (5-10 min) workouts and Medium workouts have declined since Regionals in favor of Sprint (<5 mins) and Long (>20 mins) workouts.

Scheme

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As for workout schemes, Chipper (4+ movements) workouts and Triplets have taken a step back in preparation for the Games. Instead, Nick has increased his focus on Couplets and Singlets, up 6% and 3.5% respectively.

Weaknesses

When asked about his biggest perceived weaknesses, Nick made mention of running, rowing, swimming, and “really long” workouts. If that truly is the case, and given the CrossFit Games’ history of including a “really long” running, rowing, or swimming workout to start the week-long event, it’s probably wise Nick has increased his volume with monostructural, long, singlet workouts. Upon further examination of some of the movements he’s been focusing on over the last month and a half, the numbers appear to be in line.

Movement # of WODs from June ’15 – July ’15 # of WODs from Jan ’15 – May ’15
Swim 5 3
Bike (Airdyne) 3 10
Run 21 47

Percentage wise, Nick has done more in the last 1.5 months for these movements than he did in the previous 5 months.

Still, it’s strange to think someone a with a recorded 5:50 mile run could think that running is a weakness. #eliteathleteproblems

Sponsors

Sponsors play a big role in athletes’ lives because they give them the support to dedicate more time to their sport. We want to give a quick shout out to Nick’s sponsors 2pood, Rx Smart Gear, and Epiq Results.

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Lessons For Aspiring CrossFitters

In all of the glitz and glamour that comes with qualifying for the CrossFit Games, Nick hasn’t forgotten what’s helped him get to where he is. When asked about the single biggest reason he feels he qualified for the Games this year, he adamantly commented, “I 100% committed to my programming and to making my training a priority”. Those are words to live by for any aspiring Games competitor and the exact conclusion we came to in a previous article entitled How Long Does It Take To Get Good In CrossFit.

In a day an age when doing the most popular, fun, trendy programming seems to be all the rage, it’s still usually those who stick with a game plan (for an extended period of time) who wind up on top. Enjoy the journey!

Be sure to tune into the 2015 CrossFit Games July 21-26 to see Nick Urankar on CrossFit’s biggest stage once again. And, if you’re ever in Granger, Indiana, be sure to stop by Nick’s gym, CrossFit 061.