Scaling Back & Saving Dogs: Why This Games Athlete Cut Her Training in Half

The signs were there.

Meg Reardon, a CrossFit Games rookie in 2016, had no energy. No desire to train, let alone compete. Still she slogged through last year’s Open, pressuring herself to climb the leaderboard.

“I thought, ‘I’ve already been to the Games once, I can’t mess up’,” said Reardon, who admits that mental toll only exacerbated things.

“I definitely was overtrained. There are some people that can do well with that. I was not that athlete. I was like, ‘Whoa, I feel terrible, I need to take a break’. Even when I was taking time off I still felt terrible.”

So Reardon did something a lot of us —from the elites to local competitors— would resist. She cut her training in half.

She prioritized recovery, warmups and cool downs.

She acknowledged that the stress in her life outside of the gym —Reardon became the sole owner of Wags & Weights® last year— had taken a toll.

Reardon , who failed to qualify for the CrossFit Regionals in 2015, surprised everyone the following year by finishing in 3rd, punching her ticket to the Games.

“I had to take a step back and say, ‘What is it that I want? What do I want for my company? What do I want as an athlete? What will make me happy?” said Reardon, who finished this year’s Open fourth overall in a stacked Northeast division.

“I changed up my training, made it more doable and changed some things outside of the gym. I understood what it meant to have balance and before I really hadn’t.”

That balance includes nights coaching at CrossFit Glendale, mornings training and days spent growing Wags & Weights, an apparel company which donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues.

The company is the brainchild of Reardon and her former partner, who had seen how much people were obsessed with dogs and fitness. (Reardon felt the same about her rescue pitbull, Bey.)

They wondered, How had no one decided to combine the two? And promptly started Pups & Prs in 2014.

Reardon with her rescue pitbull Bey. Reardon’s company Wags & Weights donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues.

Things started small, but the company (which had to change its name due to an already existing company named Pups & Prs) picked up steam thanks to its ties to helping rescues and social media success.

“I had to take a step back and say, ‘What is it that I want? What do I want for my company? What do I want as an athlete? What will make me happy?”

Reardon, who didn’t even qualify for Regionals in 2015, surprised the field the following year by not only placing, but punching a ticket to the Games.

Here is the thing people don’t realize about the elites: the sacrifices they must make in every other area of their life.

“I wasn’t able to focus on anything else but getting to the Games,” said Reardon, who was eating 300 grams of carbs to survive her training. “[Once there] it was the hardest five days of my life hands down. It was day-in, day-out being in that gym and focusing all my time and energy [on training].”

If last year has taught her anything, it is that she will never make that mistake again. Wags & Weights, which releases four to five new products a month, is too big. Too important.

Training is a big part of Reardon’s life, but it is not —it cannot be— her entire life.

She wants to continue outreach efforts with Wags & Weights, to grow big enough to have a serious impact on rescue dogs like Bey.

“If I could do it over again [last year], I’d basically put myself in the same mindset as 2016, and say, ‘You know what? You are doing this because you love it. It gets you more fit,’” Reardon said.

“That’s why 99 percent of people do it and I think that’s how elite athletes need to look at it more. At the end of the day, you are going to be more fit and more healthy for life.

Competing is amazing and I love it, but it doesn’t pay my bills. Wags & Weights is so important to me and I’m so passionate about it and I’m never going to make that mistake again. 2017 was a big year for me.”

This one could be even better. She sits fourth going into Regionals and finished this year’s Open ranked 31st worldwide among females. She’s upped her food, eating 400 grams of carbs daily, to help aid recovery and fuel her sessions.

Pretty impressive for a small business owner who cut her training in half.

I definitely was overtrained. There are some people that can do well with that. I was not that athlete. I was like, ‘Whoa, I feel terrible, I need to take a break’. Even when I was taking time off I still felt terrible.

Reardon, who has also spent a lot of time working on her mental game, sees owning a business as similar to her time on the competition floor.

“My mom always encouraged me to go out and be the best athlete I can be and chase my dreams. That’s why I moved out to California and started this business, which are risky things,” Reardon said.

“But as I’ve evolved as an athlete and person, I’ve learned, there are ebbs and flows. There’s times when I feel like [I’m in] the best shape of my life and times where I’m like ‘Wow, I don’t feel good, I should have done much better’. It’s a mind game, really.

You are going to be physically fit, it’s your mind telling you something else. But you have to know that you are doing something to get better every time you go into the gym.”

 

Photos courtesy of Megan Reardon.