Why am I retiring? Letter from Mathew Fraser

Today, just over eight years after the start of my competitive CrossFit career, I am announcing my retirement.

In 2012, the owner of Champlain Valley CrossFit entered me in the internal Winter Throwdown competition. I couldn't afford the entry fee for the event, and he offered to pay for it but told me that if I won, I had to buy a pair of CrossFit shoes. At the time, I was training in Nike Air Max 90s.

I didn't understand the hype around CrossFit.

I came from the Olympic Training Center, where I lived and breathed Olympic lifting. My goal was to compete in the Olympics, where every snatch and every deadlift was a serious, silent event. But in Champlain Valley, it was a class full of people running from one movement to the next and falling dramatically to the floor at the sound of the clock.

At the Throwdown, I finished with a first place and $500 in my pocket.

When I was a broke college kid, I thought I had struck gold and immediately wanted to find more opportunities to earn extra money. I looked on this website where all the local events posted the dates of the competitions and the prize pool.

I started traveling all over New England competing for $1,000 here and $5,000 there. It wasn't a bad job for a full-time student, but I didn't start CrossFit with the intention of making it my career.

Nearly a decade later, I crossed the finish line at The Ranch hand in hand with the training partner who has become more like a sister. Together, we each broke the record for most CrossFit championships in history. She had gotten her fourth, and against all odds, I had gotten my fifth.

In my first Open, I could barely do a dozen burpees in a row.

At my last CrossFit Games, I won by the largest margin of victory in the history of the sport.

So, on the one hand, it's a tough decision.

CrossFit is how I have met my best friends, business associates, and even my wife. CrossFit is how I found the artist who tattooed my chest, how I was able to travel the world, and how I bought the house we will soon be moving into in Vermont.

Since the end of the 2015 season, when I decided to stop fucking around and fully commit to the sport, CrossFit has been my world.

And for that very reason, this is also an easy decision. Except for a few weeks in August, when I allow myself a break, my concentration has been relentless.

I've given up vacations, bachelor parties and more dates with Sammy than I can count, all so I wouldn't miss a single training session or a full night's sleep.

For eight years, every day has been pretty much the same: get up earlier than I'd like, sell my soul to Assault Bike and swim intervals and 40-minute AMRAPs, eat, sleep, repeat.

No decision was unintentional.

In the weeks leading up to the Games, I stopped doing obviously risky things, like riding my bike to the gym, and even little things that could make a difference, like not using a steak knife. It wasn't worth the 0.01% chance of cutting myself and ruining my training week or compromising my performance during the competition. I was obsessed with finding improvements anywhere possible and was always terrified that I had missed one.

I trained with fear.

The hard work paid off. But now I am prepared to make decisions based on how they affect my family, friends, health and happiness, not just my performance.

The good news is that after retirement you will see more of me than ever.

I never wanted to give up even the slightest advantage, so I didn't publicize my workouts, publicize my programming, or even hint at my weaknesses. Instead, I trained them, relentlessly, and in the process earned a reputation for being stoic, maybe even arrogant, depending on who you talked to.

The only time I am in the public eye is when I show up for work. I focus on my goal. I'm there to accomplish what I've spent hundreds, even thousands, of hours pursuing. That never bothered me-it was a small price to pay for being the greatest-but I'm excited to show them the Mat that everyone close to me has always seen.

I'm still figuring out how I'm going to be a part of this community. I don't plan on opening my own affiliate, but I'm about to start building a home gym, which you'll see a lot of on the YouTube channel Sammy and I are launching soon. Other than that, I'm looking forward to experiencing the season as a fan, just like the rest of you.

So thank you for allowing me this opportunity, and a special thanks to everyone who has helped me as sponsors, training partners, coaches or friends. I will always be involved in CrossFit. I just won't be doing it from the competition floor anymore.

Original article in: Morning Chalk Up

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