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”

 

Airports. I love them. And I sprinted this morning.

I haven’t been everywhere.  But it’s on my list – Susan Sontag

I really love airports. Flying for business or pleasure, I absolutely don’t care. I can’t get enough of the experience. I never tire of it. Sure, you can have all sorts of delays, cancellations, baggage losses and other upsets, but there’s something about the diversity, emotions, hope, and anticipation that floods through an airport. 

I am very fortunate that in my job there is a pretty decent amount of travel. Yeah, so occasionally, I might have to go to an actual nasty place but that is becoming less likely these days. More often than not, I find myself conducting what most people would simply term as “business trips”. I take very short trips, often just a night or two, to far flung places to have a meeting, shake some hands and come back. These are ideal. These are short pauses in normal routine where I get to envelope myself in the hustle, joy, tears, fears, panic, and peaceful excitement of the greatest cross-section of the world. 

As I look around, I see immediately the Red and Blue of a Great Britain sports team. Not immediately obvious who they are but clearly focused, in peak condition for whatever they are headed towards. There are some who just can’t keep their eyes off the incoming arrivals and outgoing planes, streaking away in all directions across the sky. There are those buried, oblivious to the world, in a phone/laptop/tablet. Some are trying new foods for the first time at the sushi bar. Many have shopping bags, carrying devices, clothes, wine, that they didn’t think they needed when they passed through check-in. 

The smiles are the most obvious expression. Kisses and embraces at almost every turn. So far, no arguments; well, not with each other, perhaps at the coffee bill!
Anyway, you get the picture, I’m flying again. Heathrow Terminal 2 once more. My gate has just flashed up as A18 so I should get this posted. 

Strength  

4 x 6 (per leg) weighted Box Step Ups @ 24″

4 x 32kg (2 × 16kg Kettlebells). Maintained a strong core. Supersetted with Handstand holds.

MetCon 

For Time:

  • 600m Sprint
  • Rest 4 mins
  • 400m Sprint
  • Rest 3 mins
  • 200m Sprint
  • Rest 2 mins
  • 20 x Burpees 

Time: 13:43

Definitely my wheelhouse, this one. Out front from the start, despite the 0530 eye opening today. I kept up the pressure throughout, each round relatively as fast as the previous. 20 Burpees then smashed out in 42 seconds. Considering 9 mins of it was “Rest”, this is pretty strong.

Nutrition 

Still 2100 KCal per day but now compensating for cals expended during exercise, using Vivoactive HR (with HRM strap) for increased accuracy.

Still sticking with 35% Carbs / 35% Protein / 35% Fats. Still mostly unprocessed and simple.

Enjoying the Journey, Strength, Open Water Swimming, Recovery

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself,

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

The intense beauty of Istanbul is all well and good but it did smash through my workout plans for last week. There was little strength training beforehand and none out there at all although I did manage 7 miles on a Treadmill and a WOD that I’d programmed for long haul flights.

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Unfortunately, the run was in minimalist shoes…cue getting up for my flight the next day and collapsing in a fit of one-legged agony at 0430, my left calf as solid as the marble on the mosque roof on the other side of the dawn-bathed Bosphorus. It wasn’t exactly funny at the time but imagine the inevitable pain that comes another 24 hours later! Saturday morning, trying to get down the stairs to the Action Princesses was hysterical. Trying to get a cup of tea up to the Chief Warrior Princess was even funnier! It turns out that walking backwards up stairs isn’t very clever either (unless you like Early Grey covered carpets).

I want to highlight my last post. Before heading out to the continental bridge between Europe and Asia last week, I got a new Clean PR baby! 103.5kg! I kind of brushed over it in my last musings, covering the Level 2 CrossFit Trainer course instead. But hell, I got my first major PR in AGES! Boom and, indeed, SMASH! I put it down to the strength programme, CF Watford’s programming, good nutrition and adequate recovery.

Having a goal is really keeping me motivated at the moment. More than that though, I’m enjoying the process. I’ll be honest, I do enjoy weighing and tracking my food. I love seeing my power output in workouts and I’m pushed to keep writing this blog in the vain hope that someone might read it 😉

Anyway, back in to it today with Day 24 of the AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme and my first proper Open Water Swim training.

Strength

  • Cleans 5 x 1 @ 75% – 77.5kg
  • Cleans 5 x 1 @ 80% – 82.5kg
  • Cleans 5 x 1 @ 85% – 87.5kg
  • Clean Pulls 3 x 3 @ 90% – 92.5kg
  • Halting Clean Deadlift (3 x Knee), Finish (x1), Floating Clean Deadlift (x1) @ 87.5kg

I didn’t warm up completely this morning and felt it in the catch, in the lumbar. It took me all day to unknot it. However, each rep was strong. I’m enjoying this programme.

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Swim

1km Open Water @ Denham Water Ski

Time: approx 24 mins.

Nothing fancy, a chance to try on the new DHB wetsuit (which I love) and get in to the cold water (11C). I plodded around (is there a ‘slow swimming’ verb?) and made my way out in good order. Of course, what noone tells you (unless you actually read triathlon websites! – Ed) is that trying to walk after a 1km swim is REALLY funny! 😀 How I’m expected to run 15km, I’ll never know. Still there’s about 5 weeks until the event – plenty of time 😀 😀

Nutrition

  • Pre-Strength – Banana
  • Breakfast – Porridge, Whey Protein, Milk
  • Snack – Brazil Nuts and Cherries
  • Lunch – Turkey Burgers, 2 x Eggs
  • Snack – Seed Mix
  • Dinner – 2 x Organic Bramley Apple Pork Sausages, tonnes of carrots, broccoli and parsnips.
  • Post-Swim – Whey Protein & Milk, Chicken, Rice, Egg

Total Carbs: 202g (808 KCal)

Total Protein: 211g (844 KCal)

Total Fat: 73g (657KCal)

Confession, the Open (success), Reboot

Where is your journey taking you today?

 

Forgive me, dear readers, for it has been approximately 2 weeks since my last blog post. Since the end of CrossFit Open 17, I have been a bit lost and have struggled to find the motivation to open the WordPress machine and start tapping away. In all honesty, 17.5 didn’t go well for me; I over-revved in the early rounds and died in the latter, recording my worst individual CF Open WOD this year. Worse even than 17.1 when I was ill. It was my own fault and I felt like I’d wasted the Open this year, let the box down, lost credibility, rah, rah, etc…..

However.

While my scores on Beyond The Whiteboard have proven to be low this year, it would appear that I SMASHED my Top 25% target in the Open itself! Yes, winners, I actually hit the top 17% of Individual Men Worldwide and top 14% of Masters Men (35-39) Worldwide. I can put this down to one major factor:

Beyond The Whiteboard is a measurement of Rx versus Rx only – there is no accounting for non-Rx/Scaled scores, unlike the CF Open where a huge percentage chose Scaled.

I knew this would be the case in advance but didn’t think the difference would be so stark. To confirm my improvement, I went back over the last 2 years and compared against the same criteria (position as a percentage of all those who completed at least 1 WOD, either Rx or Scaled). I have improved in the competition over the last 3 years, despite heading in to my late 30s. Without wishing to be too over-confident though, Strength has still proven to be my Weakness. The 3-month squat programme of last year gave me more in mid-weight Thrusters / Olympic Lifts than it did for all-out strength. Something to review for this year.

So, all in all, it was pretty good really. Next year – top 15% within the same criteria.

South Milton Sands Swim/Run, 25 June
I alluded to this a few months ago when I signed up but yes, I have entered a 1km Sea Swim / 15km Trail Run Duathlon in June. Completely at odds with any strength work I want to do, I have opted for an endurance competition. Swimming has not been a strength of mine really and I am proper excited about this. Follow me as I prepare for this challenge (more mental than physical, I think!). 

I kicked this off on Tuesday with 2.4 Km Run, 1 Km Pool Swim and another 2.4 Km Run. All this in under an hour, including changing room nonsense, unknown route, etc

AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme

At the same time, I have begun a Strength programme from AMRAP Plus One. I know, I know…how can I carry out strength training and endurance training at the same time? Well, while I do want to complete the Duathlon, I just want to complete it. I have no aspirations of a placing, it’s just for my own fun and challenge. With that in mind, I’ll be simply getting miles under the feet and water under the arms to a point of confidence. I won’t be spending every day out pounding the pavements or floundering in the sea. My overall focus is still strength but I’ll assess as I begin to head in to this.
Nutrition

MyFitnessPal is awesome. That’s it. In Jan, I set myself the task of getting to my Summer 2016 form by end of Feb 17. I achieved that and more. Through careful consideration of exactly what I eat, as well as precisely how much, I have lost a noticeable 4-6% body fat. I feel swifter, with no loss of strength and improved endurance. I highly recommend getting a set of kitchen scales and a MyFitnessPal account.

Ok, I’ll finish there, that’s enough of a catch up for now. I’m motivated again and promise it won’t be as long next time!

Open WOD 17.4, Travel WODs

There’s always room to work out


Another work trip this week, another break in training but a welcome one. After conducting 17.4 last Friday, after 4 hours of judging it in total, and after an awesome engine-building session on Monday  (plus more judging), I’ve not been too disheartened to take a little rest this week while off on travels once again.

17.4 was just brilliant, right? Genuinely, I loved it. Back on 16.4 (same workout), I was suffering with flu quite badly. I was also visiting a new job and so decided to Drop-in to CrossFit Watford for the very first time. Charlie (Owner) took one look at me and openly questioned my sanity; I was baggage. Idiotically,  I took my place at the start and proceeded to very slowly lurch my way through 55 Deadlifts. The wallballs made me almost vomit and the rower….did…actually make my vomit. It was criminal. I ended up in a pool of my own fluids, retching, coughing, and 145 reps for the worse.

So this year, at full capacity, I was determined to deliver something better. The aim was 4 Handstand Push Ups.

  • Deadlifts. 4 sets of 10. 1 x 8, 1 x 7. Strong, good form, rapid.
  • Wall Balls. 20, 15, 10, 10. Solid, rapid.
  • Row. Over 1200 cals per hour average.
  • Tiebreak Time: 9:09
  • Handstand Push Ups: 5, 5, 3, 2, 3, 2 (20)

Yes! Yes, I did get 20 HSPU and an increase of 40 over last year, with a final total of 185!  ðŸ’ª What impressed me most were the Deadlifts; I never expected sets of 10, having planned for sets of 5. I remember last year really struggling with 5s. The atmosphere in the box was absolutely amazing too; we kept the tempo high and energy soaring. By the end of  night, I had definitely my bed.

That score puts me in the top 17% of Individual Men and Top 15% of Masters 35-39 worldwide! 😎

One to go.


But on to this week, and a trip overseas again. Knowing the hotel well, I anticipated the lack of a gym and took playing cards instead. 

Shuffle well. Start clock, turn card over and do what the card tells you, for Time. 

  • Clubs = Push Ups 
  • Hearts = Sit Ups 
  • Diamonds = Burpees 
  • Spades = Air Squats

Aces = 14

Completing it in 22:55 at 7am, I got bored at 5pm so did it again in 22 mins.😂 It’s a little toughie. You might end up with 2 or 3 cards of the same type, which really sucks the strength and happiness. Of course, the beauty of this particular WOD is that it is always different and impossible to get a firm hold on.

I then finished off the day with underwater laps of the small hotel pool, overlooking the beautiful city of Istanbul.

Do you have a ‘go to’ WOD for when you’re away from the box?

Pistols in Turkey, Max Out at Home

Wake up with Determination

Go to Bed with Satisfaction.

Last week saw me traveling again, out to Turkey once more. Knowing the lack of gym, but abundance of space, I decided to make use of what was around and work on some of my weaknesses. As I mentioned in my last post, Handstand Push Ups and Pistols were on the menu. Both of these movements can be practiced anywhere and have considerable gymnastic, strength and agility benefit. However, I personally like to do them on top of a great hotel, overlooking a beautiful city.

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5 Rounds for Time:

  • 10 x Handstand Push Up (Strict)
  • 20 x Pistols (Single Legged Squats, Alternating)
  • 30 x Sit Ups

Time: 15:13 Rx

I really got the hang of pistols for the first time ever. The left leg is by far the most stable at the bottom but I got a good rhythm up; not fast but consistent. The Handstand Push Ups were unbroken for the first 2 rounds,7+3 in the third and then 5+5 and 5+3+2 for the final 2. All Sit Ups were unbroken.

And then a swim 😉

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Despite having fun out there, I didn’t get long and still only had 3 workouts last week. So, getting home I had to put in a bit of ‘catch up’ work. Again though, without being able to get to any equipment, it was a return to bodyweight work over the weekend.

  • Max Effort Push Ups (neither hands nor feet moved throughout, knees never touched the floor)
  • Max Effort Sit Ups (non stop, completely unbroken)
  • Max Effort Air Squats (non stop, completely unbroken)

115 / 300 + (I got bored) / 200+ (daughters got border)

That left me with a nice, relaxing Sunday before heading back to work.

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Monday

AM Snatch Work

20 mins to work to a 1RM

  • 5 x 45 / 45 / 50
  • 3 x 50 / 50 / 55
  • 2 x 60 / 60
  • 1 x 65
  • 1 x 70

After the confidence boost of last week’s Power Snatching, this was another. Ok, so 70kg isn’t a lot but 75kg is my 1RM and it was 0630hrs! Essentially, I’ve not become weaker over this year but have really increased engine. Superb.

PM CrossFit Watford

Strength

Strict Press 5/3/1

  • 5 x 60
  • 3 x 70
  • 1 x 75
  • F @ 80

Equaled my 1RM here. Content.

MetCon

In Pairs, For Time:

54 / 42 / 36 / 30 / 24 / 18 / 12 / 6

  • Thrusters @ 42.5kg
  • Over Bar Burpees

This is a pairs-version of a WOD that has come up twice in the Open. I completed the official version (half the numbers) in 19 mins first time, with considerable illness, and then 15 mins the second time. Doing this in pairs, and hitting 5 reps each time, was outstanding and allowed me to really keep up the pace. My partner struggled with lower back issues and it allowed me to add in a few extras too.

I tell you what….I’m as ready as I’m going to be and really looking forward to the Open!

Pre-Open Confidence, More Travel Training

A Tiger doesn’t lose Sleep

Over the opinions of Sheep.

Strength. My Weakness. Despite significantly increasing my engine over the last year, my overall strength and heavy barbell cycling have plateaued, nae, reduced. It’s been a goal of mine for a few years to increase my strength but I have categorically failed at each attempt. My Snatch 1RM remains 75kg, with my Clean & Jerk at 102.5kg. 

It’s too late to make strength gains now but going in to this Open, I do have more confidence that I’m going to improve my global ranking with the improved engine and gymnastic skills. However, I have been worrying about Snatch specifically. I needed to prove to myself that I can at least match last year’s abilities.

I wasn’t going to train today, after training and coaching twice yesterday, and with travel today. But then, CF Open WOD 13.1 showed up on the programming.

17min AMRAP

  • 40 Burpees 
  • 30 Snatch @ 35kg
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch @ 60kg
  • 20 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch @75kg
  • 10 Burpees
  • Max Effort Snatch @ 95kg

What an opportunity!!My best at this, during Open 13, was 14 Reps of the 60kg Snatch. I attempted it a year later and scored only 9 at 60kg. I’ve not tried it since, until today.

Total: 12 Reps @ 60kg 

While not a match for my best, I take a lot of confidence from this. In competition mode, I’ll add a few more reps to this, I have no doubt. Most of the Snatches were of good form although I acknowledge that some were indeed shitty. I REALLY need to get stronger but right now I know I can cope with 60kg (135lb) work in Open 17.



Travel

Once again, I find myself on a plane. Again, disrupted training. Again, an opportunity to work other aspects of my fitness portfolio. In this case, I’ll be working on Pistols and Handstand Push Ups. After a few years of increased gymnastic work in the Open WODs, I am expecting to see Pistols coming up this year. It pays to refresh certain skills and they are both easily dealt with while in unfamiliar surrounds and with no equipment.