Eat Meat, Veg, some Fruit, Nuts and Seeds, a little Starch, and no Sugar.

Photo: @lvnatikk @unsplash
Quote: @crossfit – from “Fitness in 100 words”

Since my journey with CrossFit began back in early 2011 (@rolybrading), I’ve dived deeper and deeper in to the world of strength and conditioning, and nutrition – the words above come squarely from Greg Glassman / CrossFit’s own “Fitness in 100 words”, as taught on our C.F. Level 1 Trainer course.

Paleo, intermittent fasting, zone, low carb, high fat, keto, clean, vegan, blood type……the list goes on. Every ‘diet’ appears with a doctor and backup science to espouse it. Every ‘diet’ has its devout followers who refuse to believe anything other than what their latest book tells them. Arguments break out, battle lines are drawn, and attacks are frequent. It’s no wonder that my own Level 1 course instructor, Karl Steadman (@karlsteadman) said of nutrition, “here be monsters”.

As I read each new book, and try to understand any genuine underpinning science, I am repeatedly pulled back to the guiding principles above, for general health and wellness. Sure, for specific goals you might tinker around but for general goals, where are these principles not sufficient?

It doesn’t say, “no carb”, it doesn’t say, “all fat”. It says, “balance”. It says, “no refined sugars” – the evidence against refined sugar is mounting, steer clear where possible. It says, “eat whole, real foods – nutrient-dense”. If you’re not a meat-eater then high five the nuts and seeds a little more. Where it does say, “meat”, read “animal based protein” with a preference for fish, then birds, then 4-legged land dwellers. Aim for organic, free range where possible but we know that cost and availability can make this inhibitive to many. But aim for it.

If I have any concerns, it is in the second of the statements. Just how much is enough / too much / not enough? The human body is a complex system of systems; it is a learning and constantly adapting unique environment. It is not a machine, despite many ‘diet’ books referring to it as such. It is the product of your entire life and is therefore, beyond basic principles, different to the person next to you. I see differences in my identical 6 year old twins that began in the womb and have already manifested in different preferences and appetite levels. No-one is the same and no two people will react exactly the same to the same portion sizes or precise food types.

So what?

Experiment. You are your own lab. Take the principles above and see how you feel. Start with general daily calorific intakes of 2100kcal for an adult male and 1800kcal for an adult woman, for moderately active people (desk job, 4 workouts a week) and see what changes happen. Use tools such as MyFitnessPal to give you an indication of what portion sizes actually look like – they do not look like restaurants want you to believe.Losing weight? Maybe add some more. Gaining weight? In muscle? Good! Increase in lumpy soft stuff around the middle? Reduce a little. Allow a few weeks for any changes – remember, this is about your whole life, not a quick fix fad. When you’ve found your balance, and you have all the energy you need to workout but you’re not gaining weight, then record it and start to tinker with the protein/carb/fat macro levels to suit any specific goals.

I believe these principles to be achievable, realistic, sensible and, more importantly than anything else, sustainable in the long term. You can have treats, you don’t have to be a dick about it and evangelise, you can have a beer and not beat yourself in to a frenzy as you ‘detox’ – 80% of the time is good enough.

Keep it simple stupid. KISS.

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Phenomenal Charity Work

Change A Life

Imagine walking in to a fire station, dressed as a waitress, to deliver breakfast to your local fire fighters, without them expecting it.

Picture yourself dressed in the worst 80s fitness clobber, walking in to one of the biggest CrossFit gyms in the UK and non-emotionally taking part in the workout, AND convincing someone else to do the same.

Or maybe spend time and effort painting yourself in to an historical piece and doing it so well that it blends naturally in to the frame.

If you’re feeling braver, now go in to a tattoo parlour and ask for a tattoo of someone getting a tattoo!

These, and 120+ challenges are being done by my sister and her team to raise money for the charity below, and to bring a smile and a little joy to an otherwise frantic, cynical and pressured world.

If you could spare it, please offer a few quid. These aren’t your standard challenges, they affect not only the charity and the competitor but each challenge is designed to change perceptions, bring happiness, and really get people talking once more in an age of social media and otherwise disengagement.

Change A Life

Back in the Game! Big, New Goal :D

You know, it’s times like these when I realise what a Superhero I am

– Ironman

It has been the longest period of inactivity on this blog in its history, and for that I apologise somewhat. I’ve been filling any spare time coaching and with other qualifications and courses; but now I have some time back and I’ve been looking forward to getting back online and blogging once more.

So, to kick off, so to speak,

I’m signing up for an Ironman in 2019.

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This is my goal. Having exercised an average of 5-7 sessions per week for the last 3 months or so, I now need to actually train for something. Exercise with no goal, no competition, no defined endstate is just that, “exercise”. In recent months, I have really struggled to maintain my motivation and dedication; I have attended all sessions, and worked as hard as I could at the time, but there’s been something missing and it has dragged me down – I’m not making the progression that I really expected and it’s because I’m not motivated to push myself as hard as I need to. The little successes in the WODs have not been enough to keep me motivated, the minor ‘failures’ have been blown out of all proportion in my head. My negative self-talk has increased to the point where I’m now seeking to give it a name of its own! (suggestions, please!)

What has been missing has been the goal, and it’s been missing for too long. However, it was obvious from the CF Open that I’m unlikely to ever be a genuine CrossFit competitor; this is not “negative self-talk” but is just a reflection of the time and dedication it would take to get to that level and sustain it meaningfully. Fair play to those that do! But, I do know that CrossFit has to play a part in whatever I do; I’ve come a long way and I still really believe in it as a training methodology.

What then? What kind of challenge will give me the satisfaction I need just from completing it? I’ve done a Marathon….Ultra Marathon then? No chance, not for me, I’m not sure I can keep myself mentally focused for that long. But an Ironman…3 disciplines, well-understood and respected, achievable, and I am not motivated to win it but want to complete it for the sake of that achievement alone.

IRONMAN: An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.

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I’ve not yet firmed up precisely which one. I hope to take part in Ironman Wales Sept 2019 but I don’t yet know my timetable for next year and may end up being deployed somewhere, ruining the whole thing. So, I’ll pick the exact event next year when I know better. However, it’s Wales that I’m focusing on.

In the meantime, I know what I have to do. It’ll be long, arduous, with twists and turns, I am sure, but it’s what I really want to achieve next year, my 41st year on this planet (I’ll be 40). CrossFit will remain a large part of my training, most likely the CF Endurance programme, because regardless of what time I am aiming for, I strongly believe in maintaining the multi-joint, multi-planar training methodology in order to maintain overall capacity, and limit the losses of what I have achieved thus far.

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So let’s see where this takes me. The next few months will be spent getting my swimming stroke sorted, my running up to to par, and I really need to find a bike! I have a Concept II now so can work hard on the endurance aspects at home too. In the meantime, I’ll still be training at CrossFit Watford, until I leave at the end of this month, I’ll pick up sessions at CrossFit Plymouth, and you’ll see this Nomadic CrossFitter making the most of any opportunity to come his way in the meantime.

Wish me luck!

CrossFit Open 2018 – Final Scores

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CF Open 2017

  • Worldwide Masters (35-39) – 86th %tile
  • Europe Central Masters (35-39) – 87th %tile

CF Open 2018

  • Target: place higher than 2017
  • Stretch Target: 90th %tile

Achievement

  • Worldwide Masters (35-39) – 85th %tile
  • Europe Central Masters (35-39) – 89th %tile

I’m happy. I dropped a placing Worldwide and gained 2 in Europe Central. When you look at my per-WOD scores and take in to account the car crash of 18.2, you see that I actually did pretty damned well. Indeed, only 30 secs faster on 18.2 would have seen me well above the 90th %tile, perhaps as high as 91st, with my Worldwide score beating my target handsomely. Oh, for a bit of a kick in the pants during that WOD. Nevermind. It’s done now.

I hadn’t quite realised it either but this is my final year in the 35-39 Masters category. As of next year I shall be in the 40-44 age group!

So what’s next?

Well, tomorrow I begin my first non-Open competition with “The Battle For The Middle Ground“. 3 WODs over 3 weeks as Qualifiers, with the finals in Huddersfield 15/16 June. I’m competing in the Masters Middle Ground division and obviously have no intent on reaching the finals, I just want more competition experience to ensure I don’t crash out as I did in 18.2. And besides, it gives me something to work towards, I love competing and don’t get the chance all that often. After this…more of the same, I hope, with the UK Throwdown Event in October looming too.

C.F. Open 18. Performance and Understanding – a review of me

Grab yourself an organic, large Americano, put on some modern dance jazz, and put your feet up.

I’m sat in Leon in Moorgate, London, feeling comfortable and mindful while I wait for an Augmented Intelligence presentation in an hour. With C.F. Open EOD 18.5 looming on the immediate horizon, I’m in the perfect frame of mind to reflect on this year’s Open as it stands, and begin to look forward to the new training year 18-19.

I entered Open 18 on the back of a very strong training year. I’ve posted some really consistent improvements, in strength as well as conditioning. Personal Bests have been achieved, repeated, and overcome again. The atmosphere in CrossFit Watford has been simply incredible at times, the box tourism has been brilliant, and the little garage gym has served me extremely well too.

It was with real enthusiasm and excited anticipation that I approached C.F. Open 18. Last year’s percentile placings were 86th Worldwide Masters (35-39) and 84th Europe Masters. Year on year growth since 2012. Always wanting to just be better than the previous year, I set that as a goal but added a ‘stretch’ target of top 10% Masters Worldwide. Why not?

Score: 315 Reps Rx – 86th %tile, Europe Central Masters

Starting relatively ‘basic’ this was an all-inclusive workout that meant all boxes, all standards could have a crack RX and get off to a flying start. Plenty of strategies were published and I was determined to to follow one instead if just hammering it. With an aim to complete each row at approx 1200Kcal per hour, all TTB as 5/3, and all DB Cleans unbroken, I followed this to the letter, meeting it every time. Of course, the problem here being that I took my expected average Kcal per hour from an out of date 2000km Row attempt. I realised perhaps too late (after the wod!) That I should have pushed to an extra 50Kcal per hour or so to squeak out a few extra reps. However, all in all, not a bad start.

Time: 8:48 Rx + 103kg Clean. 70th %tile Europe Central Masters

I cocked this one up royally. Trying to follow a strategy again, I was far too paced on the Burpees. Completely unbroken throughout, I got stuck in a pace and realised too late to change it. It was when I finished the 7s and someone shouted “3:50” that I realised my mistake and had nothing left in really speed up. My video shows me leisurely jumping over the final bar in stark contrast to the retching and vomiting of others. Bollocks. I rapidly composed myself and hit the cleans, achieving a weight that I would never have been able to do this time last year, testament to the extra time I have carved it for specific strength training this year.

Total: 317 Reps Rx, 85th %tile Europe Central Masters

A bit of a mixed bag here. With my child-like ankles and duff Achilles, I knew that I was going to suffer on the double unders. I’ve avoided them a lot this year. So, it was a massive surprise when I hit 100 unbroken in the first round, in a time of 62 seconds! I think it was helped by a certain song coming on right at the start, telling me that my dad was definitely watching (“Thanks Dad, I miss you buddy!”). I did start the dubs with genuine tears in my eyes and a smile on my face 😂. The overhead squats were broke once, not to plan but I wobbled and dropped it. Quickly regained and finished though. The next set of dubs were a challenge. My right Achilles twinged immediately and I was forced to slow it right down, breaking 3 or 4 times. It was the muscle ups that really broke me though. Singles from the start, I was forced back in to false grip, almost strict, efforts despite the recent focus on neutral grip. Definitely work to do here in the next year. The 3rd set of dubs really, really hurt and I managed 85 in the remaining time.

Total: 92 Rx, 90th %tile Europe Central Masters

Well, all I can say is that I’m thankful that I am still ok at handstand push ups. I was RAGING at the end of this one, as the immense crew of CrossFit Plymouth soon saw. In the past, I’ve completed “Diane” (the first round of 21-15-9) in 4:51 previously. This time…8:50. However, never have I attempted these standards for Handstand Pushups. It’s insane. I believe the standards are unfair but I’ll cover that at a later date, they are what they are. I was left with 10 secs to Deadlift the 143kg bar, which I managed twice. Despite my upset at the time, I’ve since hugely mellowed, having seen how the whole community has struggled with it too. Again though, as per ring muscle ups, there is work to do in this next year.

Looking ahead to 18.5, with the Open not complete, I’d like to share some thoughts about myself from this year’s experience.

1. I am too hard on myself. I put too much pressure on myself this year and have unfairly chastised myself in the wake of apparent “defeat”. Not hitting my ‘stretch target’ of Top 10% is not failure; not in the eyes of the other coaches, the athletes nor in any other sense. With the exception of cocking up 18.2, the others scores are solid and a good basis for yet more development.

2. CrossFit. As demonstrated particularly by the ring MUs and handstand push ups, I am not “cross fit”. I have gained strength over the last year but at the expense of the gymnastic movements. As the new training year begins, I will review my programming accordingly. Gymnastic movements have been my strength over the last few years and I need to regain that.

3. Coaching Credibility. As a coach in CrossFit Watford, among some genuinely talented coaches and athletes, I don’t feel like I have necessarily led by example on the scoreboard. A post for another time but I feel that CrossFit Coaches are required to lead by example in a way not necessarily born out in other sports. However, this pressure is absolutely unwarranted and I need to get over it. Coaching is not about being top of leaderboards; it’s about knowing what your athletes need (not always just in the box) and understanding how to help them achieve their goals, ensuring high standards of performance throughout. That said, I feel that consistent Top 10% is probably a realistic benchmark for coaches to achieve, within their respective age group, of course! 😂

Despite knowing these things, I have been incredibly frustrated and upset throughout this competition. I felt ready, free of injury, and on an upward track yet haven’t quite hit the higher notes that I felt I could have. Sure, not every day is a PR day but given my perceived advancement over the last year (and there really have been some excellent ones), I wanted to demonstrate that to myself and to our team (#bluebadgeholders, I love you lot). I feel like I haven’t but have to reset again for next year. In my heart, I know I’ve been too hard on myself and that I’ve done pretty well (less 18.2) but still…more to do.

There are a few people who have known my incredible frustration over the course of this Open and who I should thank. Starting with Mrs Nomad, she’s been incredibly supportive and grounding. Heading out each Saturday morning for the workout, after I only commuted home late the night before, will have been annoying but she knows I love it. To the 3 genuinely talented athlete coaches, Charlie, Hat, and Tash (and James of CrossFit Plymouth!)…they help to put it all in perspective and bring many decades of collective competitive experience that I simply don’t have. And, to the athletes in CrossFit Watford and CrossFit Plymouth…2 awesome communities that I would love to tie together somehow.

All that’s left is Open WOD 18.5. The clue suggests back-to-back-to-back WODs…its being hosted by 3 female athletes…my guess is Fran in to Karen in to Isabel. You heard it here first. I’ll be taking this one with far more laughter and less seriousness, don’t worry. I’ve learned a lot and will develop strongly from my 5th Open comp.

#strongerthanyesterday

Prelude: CrossFit Games Open 2018

CrossFit Games Open 2018

Its that time of year again. Since first taking part in 2012, in Afghanistan, and officially entering in 2013, the CrossFit Games Open competition has become a staple of my year. If I compete in nothing else, I move all I have to in order to ensure I can compete in this.

Why?

It’s my annual stock take. It’s the review of my training, demonstrating my improving fitness year on year. It’s a chance to throwdown with those I’ve trained and have trained with. It’s an opportunity to see how prepared I am for the ‘unknown and unknowable’ as Dave Castro does his best to challenge us in new and imaginative ways.

Goal

My final Masters (35-39) placing last year was 86th percentile (top 14%), with it slightly higher across Europe with 87th percentile. The goal this year is of course to beat that, with an ambitious target of 90th percentile for Masters worldwide.

Can I do it? I believe I can. I worked extremely hard on strength in 2017, improving significantly in all lifts. My CV conditioning is also greatly improved, with regular PBs coming in benchmark WODs. Sure, I’ll need to be illness-free to make this work. I usually suffer during at least 1 WOD but have taken a week of rest this year prior to the run-up. With a great deal of travel over the next few weeks, I’ve also booked in to other boxes to ensure I can squeeze them in.

One and Done

Each year, I promise I’ll be “one and done” but always repeat at least one. I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity this year, with some having to be performed on Friday AM, and others on Monday PM. Unless something goes very wrong, it will be ‘one and done’.

Fun

Yes, I want to show improvement. But there are too many things out of my hands. If I don’t succeed, it’s not the end of the world. It has to be about Fun, first and foremost. Enjoying the experience, wherever it takes place, and putting my all in to it, leaving nothing in the tank for ‘if only’.

So, Dave, bring it on. Show me what you got. I’m ready.

2018, Let’s Begin.

With goals established for 2018 (See previous post), and the final big family gathering (feasting) of the season complete, it’s time to kick off 2018.

Moving away from building strength and focusing on the looming C.F. Open 2018, it’s time to spend a little more time on MetCons and less on pure strength. This means more EMOMs instead of the AMRAP Plus One programme to supplement C.F. Watford programming. My weakness remains barbell cycling, a key likely component of the Open WODs, and so this is entirely logical; I know I can make big improvements here within the next 2 months.

Nutrition-wise, it’s back to the successes of the second half of last year. Keeping with 40% complex carbs, 35% protein, 25% fat, it’ll look something like:

Breakfast: 80g Huel

Snack: Huel Bar or pressed fruit bar

Lunch: 120g Flavoured Rice, 120g Chicken

Snack: 10-15g Nuts

Dinner: 1 x Takeaway tub-sized meal with rice / sweet potato, loads of veg, 200g (approx) chicken/fish.

Post-WOD: 40g Huel + 35g Whey protein.

Pre-Bed Drink: 200ml Semi-skimmed Milk + Cocoa powder.

This is pretty balanced and typically brings me up to the 2400KCal range; I do monitor as best I can with my Garmin Vivoactive HR, with heart rate monitor band, but it’s never perfect, only a reasonable gauge. I must ensure that I’m getting my carbs in about 30-45mins before the workout, typically in the evenings, so that I’m primed for the session.

My recent DNAFit Fitness Diet Pro test threw up a few added details in there which directly affect my nutrition but I’ll write about those in a future post.

So, until the next time, LET’S DO THIS! See you in the box.