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James McGrath on his season so far: ‘I’m finally strong again’

After a long road with a shoulder injury, the Beast is feeling better.

James McGrath has a long history with American Ninja Warrior and a point to prove this year. Season 10 is his ninth season on the show. Up to season nine, James was enjoying a long streak of National Finals qualifications. However, in season eight, he injured his shoulder on the Jumping Spider. That sent him down the long road of surgery and recovery. James returned for season nine, but it was obvious to everyone that he wasn’t himself. At points on the Cleveland course, James would actually lay down and gasp for air.

Even with all that, he still completed the Cleveland Qualifying course and made it to the Nail Clipper in the City Finals. Impressive by most standards, but it slammed the breaks on his trip to the National Finals.

Season 10 has given James the time he needed to fully work his way back, both mentally and physically. In Philadelphia, he hit the buzzer on the Qualifying course and was just feet away from the top of the Spider Trap in City Finals when his traction gave out. But he’s heading back to Las Vegas.

James gave us a little perspective on what this journey has been like and how he’s getting ready for his return to the final four stages.

“All I’ve been doing is rehabbing and recovery. I’m finally strong again. I feel great about that.

Re-watching my Cleveland run, I couldn’t believe what I was watching. I remember it, but it all seems so hazy. All I remember is being tired and being in pain from being tired. I was watching myself on the course just going like, ‘I don’t know who that person is.’ That’s not who’s showing up this year.

I’m finally able to train the way I like to train.”

“So far, I would say haven’t done exactly what I wanted to do. Coming back and competing for real for the first time in two years, I really wanted to make a statement. I wanted to get up that wall. I wanted to finish City Finals. Things didn’t exactly go as planned, but I’m here in Vegas and right now that’s all that matters.”

“Last year in Cleveland, I hit the buzzer and felt utterly defeated. When I hit the buzzer in Philly, yeah, I was disappointed I didn’t hit the buzzer on the higher wall, but it was just happiness. Happy that I’m back, that I’m able to run through the course the way I know I can.”

“I have a more structured Stage One, Stage Two, Stage Three type training. Really intense interval training. My rope climbing training. I up the intensity and lower the rest so that when I’m here in Vegas, I can recover between stages a lot easier. Not just in between stages, but in between obstacles.

I’m a big believer in tapering my workouts. About two weeks ago I started tapering. I’ve been doing less and less and less.

Whenever I’m training, I’m training like I’m never good enough. I’m always thinking about training and how I’m never going to be good enough and I need to get stronger. I need to do better. That really pushes me and it helps me think about ways that I could fall on the course. So I figure out things I shouldn’t be doing. How do I get through, being not very good, not very strong? Not having a lot of endurance.

Then, as I get closer and closer to running the course, I get more and more confident. Start thinking there’s nothing this course has to offer me, there’s no way I can fail any obstacle. So when I’m on the course, it’s 100% confidence. I’ve worked out a game plan that would work for someone of a lesser ability. I feel like I’m being extremely efficient. You gotta go out there with maximum confidence, feeling like you’re the best.”

“It feels so good to be back to the National Finals. I can’t wait to get on the course and do my thing. Hitting buzzers, that’s my expectation.”

James will stare down Stage One of the National Finals when they kick off on August 27.