Young, strong, and elite
Mirjam Von Rohr is one of the youngest elite competitors in Hyrox. She currently ranks 9th in the women’s Elite 15, recording a time of 1:02 at Hyrox Stuttgart in 2023. In 2022, Mirjam won the Hyrox European Championships and finished third at the Hyrox World Championships in Las Vegas. She is also an accomplished CrossFit athlete and finished 2nd at the Vize World Championship Functional Fitness in November.
The Hybrid Letter talked with Mirjam about her versatile fitness background, her race strategy, and her keys to recovering from intense training in multiple sports.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Hybrid Letter: You have a CrossFit background. How did you get into hybrid fitness and Hyrox?
Mirjam Von Rohr: My first sport was gymnastics. I did this a little bit more than 10 years. And then I was a runner. I ran in the beginning short distances. Five kilometers, 10 kilometers. And then the goal was to run a marathon. I ran the marathon in 2021. After that, I started with CrossFit. I have been doing CrossFit for a little bit more than two years.
My start to Hyrox was a little bit special. I go to a CrossFit class, and normally we have a Saturday morning team workout, and then there was a Hyrox PFT [Physical Fitness Test]. The owner had us all do this Hyrox PFT. I train the row, wall balls, and lunges. So I got a record in this workout. Then I started to look into a normal Hyrox, and I saw it's a lot of running. Before I was a runner, but I'm not the fastest runner. And then I said, Okay, I will try this. I tried my first Hyrox event in February 2022, and I finished in a very good time. I won that event. One month later, I competed in the European Championships in Hyrox.
I switched focus in the summer of last year to CrossFit and functional fitness. My goal was to qualify for the World Championships in Functional Fitness. And I finished in second place in a field with CrossFit Games athletes, so it was a high level. It’s better for me to go to CrossFit this season. My goal is to reach the European semifinals. Hyrox is now my second sport. The focus is more on CrossFit. My training is more weight, heavy barbells, short workouts. I do a Hyrox workout once a week and run around 20 kilometers of running in a week. It’s not a lot, but it’s very hard when you are an athlete in so many sports. Hyrox is a very good conditioning training for Crossfit, but when you are a professional athlete on a high level, it’s difficult to run a lot and lift heavy. You have no time for recovery. So, I switched my focus.
THL: How did your background in gymnastics, and running, and CrossFit help you in your first Hyrox?
MVR: When I started I was strong but not as strong as I am now. Now I'm really strong, and it’s important that you have power for the sleds. Gymnastics is not so important for Hyrox; it's a more important background for CrossFit. For Hyrox, it's more important that you do an endurance sport. A sport where you spend a long time at a low intensity And then you do a strength sport. It's powerlifting or weightlifting or CrossFit. Then you have the power for the workout. The blend of the two is good for Hyrox.
THL: What has kept you continuing to train for Hyrox with all the other training that you need to do?
MVR: I like the stations at Hyrox. My favorites are the lunges and wall balls. And I like the switch from running to an exercise. So, every kilometer is different. It makes the event so interesting. How can you pace the race? If you go hard in the workouts, are you slower on the run? When you run faster, are you slower on the workouts? It’s very difficult to find your best strategy to finish Hyrox in a good time. Every race is a little bit different, and I learn something new at every event.
THL: You’ve now raced in the elite field and the open field. What have you learned from competing at the elite level? What’s different?
MVR: The Elite race is different from a normal race. For me, it’s very special to start with the 14 other girls at the start line. The running level is really really high for me. At the start, I know that I cannot run as fast as the other athletes. So I go my pace and try to make up time in the stations. Also, the friendship in the Elite 15 is great. Every athlete pushes each other by the wall balls, and it’s amazing. That isn’t in a lot of sports.
THL: Is there a race that stands out for you?
MVR: This is hard. The one that pops into my mind is the 2022 European Championships in Maastricht [Netherlands]. I had Covid one week before so my body wasn’t feeling ready for the competition. I went so hard at my limit. My heart rate was more than 200 in that hour. Yes, it was so hard, but it was a special feeling for me. [Mirjam won the race with a time of 1:04:20.] The 2022 World Championships in Las Vegas was my very first big event. This was so special with a lot of spectators and the first time competing with the best athletes all over the world. Even the last major in Stockholm, the level is very fast. From two years ago to now, there has been a big progression. It is nice to see how the sport is being pushed forward
THL: With all the training you do for a variety of sports, how do you stay healthy and avoid injury?
MVR: I train five days in a week. One day is active recovery. I go swimming or take an easy run or bike ride. It's not hard training and not very long. It’s one hour. One day is a full rest day. Every day I do mobility, but not for a long time. It's 10 or 15 minutes, but what’s important is the consistency. I do a lot of shoulder mobility and shoulder exercises from my physio. And I do long warmups.
Not every training session for me is high intensity. It's important that you train at high intensity, but not every time. And it's also important that you have a training plan with a structure around those competitions. You push hard in the weeks leading up to a big event. I peak for the important events in the year. But when you're in the offseason, training is a little bit easier. This helps me avoid injury and make sure my body is recovered.
For recovery, I get a massage once a week. I drink electrolytes. I think the most important thing for recovery is sleep. I sleep every night for 9 hours. It’s a lot. But it’s very important that you go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. If you have the same routine everyday, it’s very good for the body.
THL: What about the mental piece of racing? How do you approach the mental side of the sport?
MVR: I work with a sports psychologist. We have an appointment every two weeks. It’s nice to have someone that I can speak to about my problems or what’s not so easy in this sport. For Hyrox, it’s a lot of strategy. I plan how I am going to attack the Hyrox event in advance. I know how fast I will go on the skier. I know how many wall balls I will do unbroken. Normally, 100! I know before the event how I will do it. For training, it’s not only to finish this work as fast as I can but I plan out my pacing with the competition in mind. I pick something challenging, but achievable. That helps me gain confidence that I can do better in the competition.
THL: During a race, when things get tough, where does your mind go?
MVR: My goal in the race is to focus on me. It’s very difficult when all the athletes are on the skiers and their times are on display. You can get caught up in it, push too hard, and have a problem at the next station. I go my way, what I planned before the race. My strategy is a little slower in the start and see how I’m feeling. And if I’m feeling good, I go a little faster.
THL: What are some of your goals for this year?
MVR: So, I have a lot of goals. My next Hyrox event is Vienna, the European Championship. It would be nice to get a ticket for the World Championship, but it’s very difficult. I’m not competing in the next major in Washington DC because it’s a long trip and at the same time as the CrossFit Open. Then I’ll do the Last Chance Hyrox Qualifier in Cologne. My big goal for the Hyrox season is to make the Elite field for the World Championships in Nice. If that is not possible, then I will go to the Under 24 category and win the World Championship in my age group. Last year, I did my first doubles with Rebecca Naether from Hamburg, Germany. We won the World Championship. The goal is to win doubles at the World Championship again.
In Crossfit, my first priority, my goal is to reach the semifinals. In functional fitness, I will be competing for the first time at the European Championships. And then I want to qualify for the Functional Fitness World Championships in Hungary.
I have a new sport. I entered a weightlifting competition for the first time. Snatch is not my best exercise, so I will try to work on that. For me, it’s great when I have a goal. So, I’ll do a qualification event in February or March. The goal is to qualify for the National Championships in June. I want to have a better snatch with more consistent reps. That’s my plan for this year.
To see more of Mirjam’s training, follow her on Instagram.
Hybrid athlete of the week: Bryan Tremaine
Name: Bryan Tremaine (aka The Ginger)
Hometown: Orange, CA
When did you start competing in hybrid competitions? I’ve always been a-lift-heavy-things type of guy and only started running because of OCR, so when hybrid came out and combined the two…I was like “this is for me”!
Favorite race to date? HYROX PRO Division. It forces the runners to get stronger and the big, strong guys to become better runners.
Do you have a race goal? My current goal is to get my running speed dialed in. My age group is very competitive!
Favorite station? Farmers Carry. Pick up Heavy Weights and run fast – the truest definition of “hybrid”!
Least favorite station? AirBike [Zone 7 in Deka]. It’s currently my hardest/weakest station. I even put one in my living room to get better at it!
Things you wish you knew when you started racing? Focus on building up the run game. Can’t be good at these races if you run like shit!
Shoe of the week: Saucony Endorphin Pro 4
One of the most popular shoes among elite racers in Hyrox and Deka is the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. It has a high stack and a carbon plate that helps competitors push the running pace with less effort. But there is enough structure, stability, and grip to survive the stations.
Saucony is expected to release the Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 in April. Based on the promotional images, the shoe appears to have a gripper bottom, a slightly more structured upper, and a less aggressive rocker.
Could this be the ultimate hybrid shoe? Stay tuned.