Slow Down, you’ll go further, perhaps faster.

While walking along the north Norfolk coast this weekend, I had a glimpse of true relaxation. For a brief moment I understood something that self-help books have preached for years – Slow Down.

In the modern world, Expectation governs all we do. Everything is at 100 miles per hour. Everything has a deadline. Everything has to be completed perfectly or not at all. Yet, rarely do we achieve perfection, and certainly not to the deadline. We rush about thinking we know what is expected of us, believing we know what others want from us, or what we absolutely must get done for ourselves.

And the fact is, it’s bullshit.

We wrap ourselves up in this expectation, without seeing the stress and damage it is putting on us. Sure, we all have responsibilities, that’s true. And some things do need to be done on time, and sometimes highly precisely. But not everything. Indeed, not even most things. The harm that this stress is putting on us (me) is far more critical and must be addressed. Tension, disagreements, upset. It all becomes too frequent. Mistakes happen. The stress increases.

And it was while laying on my back on a sun-dried marsh, staring at the sky, that I took a deep breath and …. relaxed. The clouds wandered past, the faces and animal shapes morphing gently. The boats floated to the breeze alongside. There may have been a call from a tern but I started not to notice or care. I lay there and realised how tightly wound up, how tensed, how detached I have become. I saw how the expectations of my working life have driven my behaviour in my private life. For that fleeting space, my mind lifted to those clouds and I discovered how some times could be if I just slowed down for a moment.

Imagine dropping from 100 miles per hour to 80. Pretend that the spelling mistake in that bit of work doesn’t matter. Take a chance and disbelieve that you know what the important person next to you really wants. Will anyone notice, as they speed around in their own frenzied bubble? When you’ve tried it, picture how your shoulders might feel. See your vision opening to take in more of the world around you and not simply tunnelling in to that one task. Enjoy the unexpected for-no-reason-at-all smile.

Do you think you may just achieve that next task a smidge better without the stress? You just may!

Do you think someone might notice that smile though? You betcha!

And, of course, the brief break in time was sped up as my little Action Princesses lost interest in the clouds and wanted their next hit of excitement, almost skidding over in a less dried out area of the marsh as the rush restarted.

But I did notice that my strides were a little shorter, my pace a tad slower, and my breathing just a fraction quieter.

The smile broadened that bit bigger, in to a grin

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Greatness comes from Joy…and a truck load of Hard Graft.

If you can’t find Joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward now,

how do you expect to find Joy when you get there?

I experienced 2 great lessons this weekend. Ones that we all ‘know’, that we’re all told over and over yet few truly believe or adhere to.

While at Wookey Hole Caves on Saturday, I was aggressively reminded that Greatness takes time. In our modern, consumerist, “now” society I think that many of us (certainly, not all) have collectively forgotten just what is required for true success to be achieved. There is a sense of entitlement pervading society; there is the belief that we somehow deserve success without having to put the true effort in to achieve it – we look at the cover models of Mens Health, or at Olympians, or CrossFit Games athletes and think, “I should be be there”. Yet, when you look around a cave formed over 10s of 1000s of years, and wonder at the splendid magnificence of it, you see that genuine greatness really does take time. When it was explained to us how the larger, 73 foot high caverns were formed, some beginning with nothing more than dripping water, you can’t help but make a comparison with modern life. I have my goals and I regularly get upset and frustrated that I have yet to achieve them. I often decry the length of time this process takes, missing the small gains along the way, focusing on the distance yet to travel. And I get upset because I feel that I deserve to be there by now. I put the effort in, I believe, and I am entitled to see the success NOW.

But life isn’t like that. Success takes time. Not only that, the successes along the way need celebrating too. I have no idea just how big that cavern is going to be in another 100, 1000, 10000 years but it’s pretty goddamn amazing now. I don’t know how strong, fast, flexible, powerful I will be next year, in 5 years, or in 10 years time, but I have put a lot of effort in and I am in a pretty outstanding place now. As long as I keep chipping away at it, one drop at a time, the only way is success.

The other lesson – Joy enables that Greatness. We were treated to a circus display from the Wookey Hole Circus School. These children and teenagers train 3 times per week and the ages seem to range from about 7 years to 17 years old. They showed off juggling, trapeze skills, strength, rope work, incredible balance & acrobatics, high unicycles, etc….it was clearly a physically and mentally tough performance for them all. There were some minor errors in the latter, and more complicated, stages but there was one thing that stood out throughout, especially during the minor mistakes – the sheer joy on the faces of those taking part. It  was amazing and incredibly uplifting. They were laughing at each other, constantly smiling, helping each other, and willing each other on through every moment. It looked like the world’s most fun ever and they were right in the centre of it. Sure, they had to demonstrate intense concentration to achieve some remarkable feats but never once did it look like pressure. At all times, it just looked like they were messing about with friends.

This is such a key lesson in life. When we look back, do we want to focus on the minor mistakes, the what-ifs, the could-have-beens, the oh-so-closes…..or do we want to look back on those moments of sheer joy and success with friends and family? Those fun-filled events where you achieved so much with a grin on your face, no matter what the adversity in front of you. I took a lot from this, especially as a parent to the Warrior Princesses.

Funnily enough, as I was thinking about this post, Andy Murray (tennis player bloke off the tele) was talking about this year’s Wimbledon prep. He said that in previous years he focused on the process, the preparation for winning-at-all-costs, that he didn’t really enjoy the success when it came. This year, he’s just enjoying his tennis, taking it how it comes and celebrating each little victory with a smile – a perfect case in point. Here’s to you and a third Wimbledon title, Mr Murray!

Strength

5-3-1 Strict Press

62.5kg / 70kg / 80kg / 85kg (F) / 82.5kg PERSONAL BEST!

So, 38 years old and still getting strength personal bests! Smash! It’s a 2.5kg PB over a lift 2 years ago. If I’d had a bit more time, I suspect I would have got the 85kg on another attempt too. BIG SMILES!

MetCon

For Time:

  • 50 x Double Unders
  • 10 x Clean & Jerk (Power) @ 50kg
  • 40 x Double Unders
  • 8 x Clean & Jerk @ 60kg
  • 30 x Double Unders
  • 6 x Clean & Jerk @ 65kg
  • 20 x Double Unders
  • 4 x Clean & Jerks @ 70kg
  • 10 x Double Unders

Time: 8:54 Rx

This would have been even quicker, had I not stopped to put my Vivoactive HR watch on to monitor!! Still, that took less than 5 secs so not exactly a game breaker 😀 😀 The temp here in Devon is peaking at about 28C which added to the spiciness of it all too. When I threw my scores on the the CF Watford Coaches WhatsApp group, I then found out that the head coach had increased the weights on-the-fly as she thought it would be too easy for people. Personally, I think it was absolutely bang on for my own requirements and I went for it. Thoroughly enjoyed it too!

Coming Up Next….. “Don’t let the shit get in the way of Your Time”

 

Easter Week Training. Open Water Swimming, Long Distance Running. And Weights :D

Easter Week Update

Swimming

What a beautiful scene. Tranquil harbour, blue haze, warm sun.

Utterly ball-freezing British water.

Yes, at only 10.4C, I don’t mind admitting that I was nervous before diving in and shocked to the core once in. It took almost all my reserve to pretend it was fine, look cool, and swim off. For my first open water practice of the season, I’d hoped for 600m but in just a 3mm Shortie I made it a mere 400m before deciding that the shivering was hampering and semblance of style I may have begun with. Besides which, I quickly realised why swimming wetsuits are designed the way they are; attempting front crawl in a suit made for body-boarding / messing about in the surf is really tough, especially in the shoulders. I can’t wait for my new DHB swimming wetsuit to arrive today! Longer distance this weekend. 


Running

In training for the South Milton Sands Swim/Trail Run, I’ve also started pushing my running figures up too. Yesterday saw 5 miles in 38:45, the furthest and fastest I’ve run in a very long time. Indeed, according to Beyond the Whiteboard, it’s a pretty good time for a CrossFitter. I don’t mind admitting that I’m going to aim for faster than that, with an average pace of 7:30 per mile by the time of the race. I think that this will allow me to keep under 8:00 per mile after a 1km Sea Swim. I hope. Maybe.


Strength

And, not to rest on the simple monostructural events, I’ve been digging in to the AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme too. On day 10 now, I still feel like it’s a bit of a transition phase, having not lifted beyond 80% of 1RM in either Clean or Snatch. I see that from next week this starts to increase though and so am very much looking forward to that. I did love getting my improvised squat rack out too!

Nutrition 

Despite it being Easter hols, I’ve been pretty good and have logged everything still. Ok, sure, the macros have become a bit unbalanced in favour of carbs but that’s a function of modern family intake, especially at Easter time, and a demonstration of me not being in overall control. Overall KCal have remained pretty steady at 2300-2500 though and so I’m happy for this week. Besides, it’s a holiday period and you can’t take these things too seriously when at parties/picnics/beach/cinema.

Halloween, Starting the Week Strong

If you are reading this then you are blissfully unaware of what is creeping up behind you.

May luck be yours on Halloween.

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It’s Halloween here in the UK (apparently, not the same date as USA?) and CF Watford had a great little gathering…but I’ll get to that shortly. 3 days out from fitness, 2 of which spent with family roaming central London and Surrey, have been extremely beneficial in recuperating a little from work even though the kids have been pretty poorly (again) and coughing their lungs up throughout the night. Poor girls, we had them on their feet for 8 hours at the Natural History Museum, long night time car journeys and muddy canal path walks; they need a rest!!

First up though, it’s week 3 of the 3rd cycle of the Squat Programme; for the last 2 weeks, I’ve managed only 2 sessions per week and so this week was always going to be tough. That said, after 3 days off I made it through and continue to gain strength. Deload Week next week and then up the weight by 2.5kg.

AM Squats

  • 6 x 2 Front Squat @ 95kg
  • 6 x 6 Back Squat @ 105kg
  • 6 x 2 Front Squat @ 95kg

I think next week is going to have to be spent in the pigeon stretch in order to try and free up these hips. Getting in to the bottom is proving tough, as a much a symptom of the time of day as it is about my mobility these days; I’m in pretty good shape in that regard but trying to squat heavy at 0630 is a real stressor. However, I completed this and am happy to proceed for now. I might have forgotten to mention that last week, on Thursday, I was forced to wear a lifting belt to get through the session. The programme calls for NO BELT and I honestly hadn’t done at all until that single session. I tell you what though, when used correctly it does make a HUGE difference. The lifts felt ‘relatively’ easy last week once I started breathing in to the thick, black support. There’s clearly the problem though – it’s a support and should not be relied upon as a tool to lift more.

Halloween WOD at CF Watford

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Arriving in costume, I was spectacularly impressed with the level of effort that everyone had put in for this evening’s WOD. Everything from inflatable sumo suits (extremely funny watching situps, running and burpees!) to storm-troopers to horror getups. All got involved to make it a great night in CF Watford.

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WOD #1

Partner Death By Burpees

Increasing by 4 (between partners) each minute.

Tom and I worked well and got in to round 8, attempting to attack 32 burpees inside the minute. We made it to 25 in the end, a fine showing!

WOD #2

Zombie Chase – Chipper

For Time:

  • 800m Run
  • 80 x Air Squats
  • 60 x Sit Ups
  • 40 x Push Ups
  • 20 x Pull Ups
  • 800m Run

The chaser (me) had a time penalty (40 secs) before starting, in the vain attempt of catching the runner (Tom). I had no chance – he’s a fit lad. I finished within about 35 secs of him and had a 25 Burpee Penalty for failing. Ouch!

WOD #3

500 x Team Wall Balls

Between 14 of us (7 x girls, 7 x boys), we had 500 Wall Balls to complete. We were split in to the winners and losers of WOD #2. And we won this one!

The hardest challenge was yet to come, however. Eating loads of pizza! Charlie and Hat sorted out 10 x 12″ pizzas for us all to tuck in to; it was great to stand about in Halloween rig, eating pizza and shooting the shit. Loved it.

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Nutrition

I stopped off last night on my way back to camp and came across a few little end-of-the-day deals in the Marks & Spencer Food store. See if you can spot them below 😉

  • Pre-WOD: 10g Mixed Nuts
  • Breakfast: 2 x Boiled Eggs w/ Spinach, 1 x pot Quinoa & Edamame Bean Salad
  • Snack: 10g Mixed Nuts
  • Lunch: 2 x Scrambled Eggs, homegrown Lettuce & Mustard leaves, 1 x pot Salmon Teryiaki Protein Pot.
  • Post-WOD: 25g Protein
  • Dinner: PIZZA!