Athlete Q&A: Ottawa’s CrossFit Competitor Karine Shrum
Karine Shrum “Red Wolf” is a top CrossFit Regional/Sanctional athlete, ranked 106 in the world. She lives and trains in Ottawa, and we had a chance to sit down with her following the latest competition – the Rogue Invitational in Ohio.
You were born in North York, raised in North Bay and moved to Ottawa 9 years ago – has athletics always been part of your life?
Yes, my mom was a National swimmer, my dad and brother both played hockey to a high level, and I was in competitive soccer. We’ve always been an active family.
When did you get into CrossFit?
2013. I was working a gym, doing my own training. The workouts were getting repetitive and stale. My brother Dan had been doing CrossFit for a while, and asked me to come to a workout with him.
It was awesome! The workout was crazy hard, but it was what I was looking for: functional movement, weight training, and cardio mixed in, plus the atmosphere was so fun.
You’ve been competing since 2013. What are some of the biggest changes on the women’s side of the sport?
The size and athleticism are the biggest changes. At 5’6”, 150lbs, I would have been considered a bigger athlete in the early days of the sport. The ladies were still athletic but much smaller. Today, the competitors are so dedicated to their training; the athleticism is through the roof. I’m now considered a small athlete.
At the Rogue Invitational in Ohio, you missed securing a spot at the 2019 CrossFit games by one place. Take us through the ups and downs of that weekend.
It was my biggest event to date. I had an idea of where I wanted to finish, and I was going up against most of the top ladies in the sport. Day 1: 4 workouts. For the most part, it went well; I finished strong. Day 2: 4 more workouts. It was rough, both physically and emotionally. I was beaten up from the first day, but I fought through. After the second day, there were a few girls I was going to need to catch to earn a spot. Day 3: 4 workouts – I started well, but in the last 2 workouts, I couldn’t catch the girls that were in front of me. It was a great experience; I gave it everything I had. I left it all on the “dance floor”.
Yes, the infamous Day 2 “dance floor” comment. How did that come about?
We had just finished the “Chipper” workout; I was so tired I couldn’t think straight. Suddenly, there is a camera in my face, interview, go. I strung together a few sentences and said, “I thought I did a good job leaving it all on the dance floor”. I honestly don’t even remember saying it, I was so tired. People kept coming up to me, asking how the dance floor was. It fits though. I’m having fun out there, and I have a great time on dance floors (laughs).
Are you going to keep it going?
Your brother Dan is your coach, what’s the best and worst part of that?
The best part is that he knows me so well. When to push, and when to give me a bit of a break. The worst part is he’s brutally honest. In the end, I love that he is, but in the moment it’s a bit of a grind.
What’s the most underrated part of the training that you think most people miss?
Sleep/recovery – you need balance and time to recover. You can’t keep beating up on your body every single day.
CrossFit is known for some crazy workouts; Do you have a favourite?
A workout called “Diane” – the rep scheme is 21-15-9 of handstand push-ups and deadlifts at 155lbs.
What is your favourite thing to do outside CrossFit?
I love going for hikes. We’re spoiled here with great trails in Gatineau Park, and there are great ones around Montreal too.
What advice would you give for someone who’s on the fence about joining CrossFit?
1) Give it a go – you’ll find out quickly if it’s for you or not. Most of the CrossFit gyms have a free class to try – Wolvish does!
2) Don’t be intimidated if you walk in and see people lifting big weights – CrossFit is so welcoming, so don’t let your eyes deter you.
3) Remember that all workouts can and should be scaled to your current ability. Nobody expects that you should be able to do everything from the get-go so you shouldn’t either.
You joined CrossFit Wolvish as your affiliate – after being at a few great gyms around the city, what stuck out for you there?
The owners Anj and Steve have done a great job with the culture/atmosphere at the gym. It was also great that people didn’t care or didn’t know that I am a sanctional athlete. The members help keep me level headed and on occasion humble me in workouts. It’s been great!
Interview by Andy Maahs