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)

Level 2 CrossFit Trainer now, don’t you know.

Some months ago I realised that my Level 1 Trainer qualification was about to expire, after 5 solid years of training others in 3 boxes (1 of them my own). I took some time to reevaluate whether or not CrossFit Coaching would have any part in my future before shelling out another $1000 on another course.

You see, for coaches there are negatives as well as the considerable positives of developing other people. Not only do we get in to the box that little earlier, set the place up (and tidy it, more often than not), and leave later, but for many of us it comes at the not inconsiderable sacrifice of our own training and fitness. That one spare hour in the day that many use to fit in their training, for us is that same hour that we coach others. It’s slightly different if you own a box but even then not too much. 

I’d identified this issue at CrossFit Keelhaul and then it transpired too in CrossFit Plymouth. Of course, it’s the same in CrossFit Watford. Despite this, I’ve made strong advances in my overall fitness attributes; I even set a new Clean personal best yesterday after 18+ months of trying. However, it was “only” 103.5kg, a solitary 1kg (2.2lb) improvement. Compared to others of my CF experience, I am well off of the mark by about 5-10kg. Still, it was an improvement and I’ll take it! I’m not sure that many athletes see the distinction between the coaches and the athletes, often perhaps thinking, “well you work here, you should be the fittest”. True, we should be among the fitter members but most often we won’t be at the top, especially if you travel from afar to coach- there simply isn’t the time to get both in. 

It could be argued that we could take part in the sessions. I’ve never been comfortable with this approach although, yes,  I have done it. Athletes pay to be coached. This isn’t Globogym (“we’re better than you!  And we know it!”) where you check in, get ignored by the ‘trainers’, do you your thing alone and leave. CrossFit is different. As coaches, we do care about our charges. While we want them all to be safe, more than that we want them to improve and soar, exceeding their own expectations, and smashing goals. We can’t ensure that if we take part too. At intensity, movement becomes shitty and patchy – we’re there to sort it out.

And it was the Coaching of others that swung it for me and prompted me to look at the Level 2 course.  Discussing it with Charlie & Hat, they offered to front up the cash and then I’d pay them back in coaching sessions. With military discount of $200, that brought the cost down immediately.  Another £180 of military funding, plus VAT rebate on it made it much more palatable and so it was last weekend that I found myself at CrossFit Perpetua in Battersea, London.

Immediately greeted by Bobbi, a belle from North Carolina, the long haired, big bearded Matt from south Wales and “I left the navy recently so am letting the hair hang out” McCoy from Scotland (and head coach at CrossFit Thames), we sat ourselves down and awaited the knowledge.


From the outset, it was pacey but very well structured. A much smaller gathering than the Level 1 Course,  there was an obvious focus on us from the coaches.  The aim of the course was to focus on coaching others in the 9 foundational movements, as well as group management. We held each other in front squats, overhead squats,  presses, etc, and analysed the positions to the nth degree before highlighting appropriate language and cues to develop the positions of others. We deep-dived in to programming methodology and had a no-holds-barred presentation on how CrossFit should be delivered as a programme, even if as affiliates we really are encouraged to build as we see fit. No questions were off limits and I took the opportunity to dig in to some nutrition information despite it not being on the programme.

We were assessed throughout,  encouraged, and given brutally honest feedback.  All 3 coaches were absolutely critical in their assessment and pulled no punches. It was exactly what I needed. After 5 years, you do become a bit soft, lazy and set in your ways. You need professionals to step in and break it up, give us fresh perspective and,  perhaps more importantly, reenergise and reenthuse. Enthusiasm was definitely their watchword. I don’t know if, as individuals, they are always like it but they held extremely high energy levels for the whole weekend.  We were treated to 2 workouts too, one MetCon and a heavy strength. Both were delivered in the manner of a ‘ideal’ lesson plan and I took considerable notes throughout.
The collection of coaches from the UK and the world who made up our 21 person contingent was immense. Australia, Denmark, Holland, Croatia, USA….all brought their incredible experiences to bear as we learned about and from each other. It is a testament to the genuine life-changing abilities of the CrossFit community that people are willing to travel so far and wide to learn and progress. I truly believe that many of us will stay in touch as our own journeys succeed onward and send upward.

We departed late on Sunday afternoon, a little battered and stretched, new certificate in hand, and definitely with a spring in our step. I feel as I did after the Level 1, ready to employ everything I’ve learned with the athletes, and with energy. 

Next up for me will likely be to get stuck in to the Anatomy Primer and to do a few of the online courses. 

In the meantime, it’s about the athletes.

I’m feeling motivated.

Sometimes, you just have to get the work done. Just Do it. But prepare for the Zombie.

Fitness.

Because one day the Zombies will come.

zombieA full CrossFit session in the AM, inc. strength and a MetCon, the AMRAP Plus One Strength session in the evening, and then duathlon training. That was my yesterday. My morning today? Zombie. Coffee. Oats. Zombie.

After taking a day off last week mainly through laziness, and with weekends sacrosanct, I played catch-up yesterday, determined to get CF, Strength and the Running & Swimming in there too. I have 2 events on this week which take up space in my calendar where I’d otherwise be improving myself – that said, one of them is at a Steak restaurant so….you know….that might work too 😀

Yesterday AM @ CF Watford

3 x 3 Front Squats – 60/80/100kg. I intentionally kept it light, knowing I had more to come that day.

  • 20 Dumbbell Snatches
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 40 Box Jump Overs @ 24″
  • 800m Run
  • 40 Box Jump Overs
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 20 DB SnatchesCFW

Time: 14:56 Rx. This was supposed to be a partner WOD of double the reps but I was the odd man out; I still did the 800m Run though. It seems that it was a pretty fast time by comparison. Only the Toes to Bar were broken, everything else was done in a oner.

amrapplusoneEvening AMRAP Plus One Strength, Duathlon Training

  • Power Clean 2×3 @ 70%, 3×3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Power Jerk 2 x 3 @ 70%, 3 x 3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Straight Leg Deadlift 3×5 – 67.5kg

All light; I am forcing myself to trust in this programme, despite it having some pretty light stuff in there. I might usually be hammering myself at 85%+ otherwise. However, perhaps the light load was perfectly timed, given that I then had:

  • 2.4km Run
  • 1km Swim (Pool)
  • 2.4km Run

This is a slightly awkward one because I have to run with a rucksack to carry swim gear, water, ID card, wallet, phone, etc. The run was therefore never going to be fast, and it wasn’t. The swim was my first taste of what

being within a pack will be like – the pool was full, the lanes narrow and there were very different standards trying to train. It made it all extremely difficult to keep any pace or cadence but worthwhile as I ploughed through the 40 lengths. After that, a jog 2.4km back to camp, trying hard to will my body to move a little faster with each stride but feeling like I was pulling against a thousand invisible hands dragging me backwards.

And then Bed.

I find myself in front of the computer now, at 0640, having attempted to head over to the gym for my Strength session but having returned; feeling like a Zombie, hands and legs a little sore, fingers wrapped around my Ospreys RFC coffee mug. There was no way I was getting anything meaningful done this morning. I took a quick look at the CF Watford session tonight and realised that I can fit the two together rather neatly and so can sit here, eat my oats and start the day more sedately.
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The Ultimate HIIT Workout Book – Hoyles Fitness – Excellent.

It gives me genuinely great pleasure today to present a review of a product that has been sent to me this week, a book of HIIT workouts from Steve Hoyles of Hoyles Fitness.

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The Author

Steve Hoyles is a strength and conditioning coach of over 10 years experience, having coached 1000+ athletes to specific goals. Steve takes a no-nonsense, efficiency-based approach to fitness, achieving top quality results without compromising the athlete’s quality of life along the way. He is a coach who leads from the front, never asking his athletes to undertake something that he couldn’t demonstrate himself (and to a high quality). He is a coach of a type that I trust and respect.

The Book

Immediately on picking up the book, you know you’re getting quality. It is quite small, yes, and we’ll come to that. The wording, imagery, layout and formatting are all professional and modern. This is not a locally produced, fast-buck production. The language throughout is easy to read, no bullshit and easily referencable. Steve makes it clear that the function of the book is to deliver high quality workouts that can be chosen by the reader to suit their situation and available equipment, delivering excellent results swiftly. You will find brief explanations of High Intensity Interval Training and its value but, rightly so, the book does not major on the science behind it, getting to the worthwhile stuff as soon as possible. Trust him, he knows his stuff. I mentioned that it is a small book. Do not be fooled by the size. This could be THE book that you’ll carry with you, either in paper form or eBook, while travelling, on holiday, in unfamiliar surrounds, or simply as your go-to set of workouts. It is for everyone, regardless of age, sex, experience.

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The Workouts

The book is not a training programme, nor does it claim to be. It is a selection of graded, highly scalable workouts that can be dipped in and out of to suit the athlete. That doesn’t mean that the workouts couldn’t be used to form a structured programme, and Steve can help with that, but this is to give the athlete something to use to their own ends.

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The workouts cover 5 modalities:

  • Kettlebells
  • Sprints
  • Barbells
  • Tyres
  • Rowing

Before undertaking any of the workouts, there are notes to account for the experience and fitness of the athlete, offering recommendations for scaling wherever necessary. This is important, as it is with any fitness publication but more so when approaching High Intensity training with real world objects such as kettlebells, barbells and tyres. Steve offers demonstrations of movement standards and progressions on his YouTube channel at: here.

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HIIT is TOUGH, as any modern S&C coach or practitioner knows. It is what makes this type of training SO effective, and boy are these workouts effective. Ranging from 4 min Tabatas, through 10 min Hill Sprints, up to 20+ min “Never Again”, there is something for all requirements. This makes the range of workouts eminently suitable to a structured General Physical Preparedness (GPP) programme, should you need it. Just be prepared to push yourself to a whole other level if you open this book.

Summary

You can probably tell from my excitement that I really love this book. I’ve been fortunate to have been given a digital epub and I won’t be giving it back. I travel a lot, being the Nomadic CrossFitter, and this’ll be downloaded to my laptop, tablet and phone. It covers everything I’d want from a selection of workouts and if I’m away for any length of time, I can easily programme these to accomplish against all 3 metabolic pathways, ensuring my fitness is not only maintained by significantly enhanced.

Thanks Steve, cheers for the chance to review this.

 

Fatigue in the Legs, Energy in the Mind

Laziness is Nothing More than the Habit of Resting before you get Tired

– Jules Renard

Having added endurance swimming and running training to my programme, and incorporating the AMRAP Plus One Strength programme, these legs are tired. I don’t mind admitting it but this morning’s WOD was a labour. At only 10 mins long, I had expected to motor through it but the Burpees slowed me right down; there was just nothing in the tank. I really did will myself on too; I pushed myself hard but it just felt sluggish. I have to expect this and get enough food and rest onboard to compensate. In the mind, I am extremely motivated right now. I’m enthused by the challenge coming up in June and can’t wait to get the wetsuit on and in to open water. As long as I can maintain this mental energy then I’ll find the means to overcome the physical fatigue.

AM CrossFit Watford Coaching

Strength

3 x 5 Cleans w/ 3 x 3 Clean Pull supersets.

With a class of 13, I wasn’t able to fit this in and I don’t mind. There were some more newbies in and I was keen to get them moving properly; besides, I have my strength programme going on anyway. A big shout out to xxxx and xxxx for top efforts this morning.

MetCon

10min AMRAP

  • 10 x Toes to Bar
  • 10 x Power Clean @ 60kg
  • 10 x Bar over Burpees

To get some energy going so early in the morning, I split the class in to 2 even groups and had them cheering each other on. With only a 10 min WOD, this was simple and it really worked too; 6am sessions are not normally known for the same levels of overt enthusiasm that you see from the 1830 crowd. It tends to be more of an ‘inner strength’ kind of period. This morning as really good though and as a coach it was excellent to be a part of. As I mentioned above, my own experience of this was not the best, despite my own willingness. In total, 5 rounds and 2 Toes to Bar. The burpees, while unbroken, slowed me down. The Toes to Bar were unbroken for rounds 1-4, with just a break at number 7 for round 5. The Power Cleans were very tough, I won’t lie. I got through the first round unbroken but after that it was 6+4, and then 5+3+2 for the remainder.

PM Running & Swimming

Last week’s 5 Mile Run (38 mins 30 secs) was pleasing and I know I’m in a good place. With a 1km Swim on Sunday in 21:45, I feel in a secure place.

So, tonight, I was going to do a 2.4km Run, 1km Swim and 2.4km Run. But having realised that my trunks and goggles are 235 miles away at home, I have taken it as a sign and am putting my feet up!

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Early start after a week of lay-ins

No photos today as the Android WordPress App is being crap and refuses to upload anything. Pictures just sit there…..queued…..forever…….like zombie passengers at Heathrow.

The alarm screeched at me at 0520 this morning. After a week of relative lay-ins, this was an unwelcome bitch of a wake-up call. However, knowing I had CF Watford to get to, and willing athletes raring to go (maybe), I dragged my sorry ass out of bed, in to the bathroom and splashed water on my face before hauling my hunched frame to the Tassimo and the glorious Costa Americano that awaited me. A quick swig of the steaming awesomeness and I was already feeling up for it. Grabbing my kit and leaping like a gazelle down to my awaiting chariot (ok, that might be a bit much….I jogged, at best), I was up for the box and well up for the WOD.

Confronted by two newcomers, Ola and Darren, among the regular legends I was immediately struck by their determination to succeed through:

Strength

  • 3 x 5 Thrusters
  • Superset: 3 x Max Effort Unbroken Push Ups

60/65/70kg – If I’d bothered to check BeyondTheWhiteboard, I would have seen that this was my previous best and I could easily have beaten it with just a few 1.25 or 2.5kg plates! Idiot! 😉

MetCon

18 min AMRAP

  • 200m Run
  • 5 x Bar Muscle Ups
  • 10 x Burpees
  • 15 x Wall Balls, 9kg @ 10′

Total: 5 Rounds with 15 secs to spare. I didn’t bother attempting a run at the end. There was significant time spent coaching during this one, as I am there to do. I certainly don’t begrudge it – I only workout when there is capacity and freedom to do so and the athletes always come first. Having said that, I completed all rounds completely unbroken, Muscle Ups included. This is a huge achievement and I have been rocking it all day.

AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme – Day 14

I began this 2 weeks ago and am enjoying the focussed attention on the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Last week, I spent a great deal of time in my garage working this solely, without any associated metcons. On Saturday, I trotted through a Snatch routine and EASILY moved 70kg above my head. Why I didn’t continue upward, I don’t know. Instead, I moved on to the next part of the programme. I know I’m getting close the most elusive PR of them all though (for me).

Day 14:

On the Minute

  • Snatch 5 x 1 @ 73% – 55kg, 5 x 1 @ 78% – 57.5kg, 5 x 1 @ 83% – 62.5kg, 5 x 1 83%+ – 70kg, 75kg Fail, 72.5kg Fail, 72.5kg PASS.
  • Snatch Pull 3 x 3 @ 85% – 65kg, 3 x 2 @ 90% – 67.5kg

Further accessory movements.

I am not going to be disappointed for not hitting my PR or getting above it today. I think I put a little too much expectation on myself. My movement is good and I know this programme will get me over the line.

Nutrition

Back in military-world, I am able to control my intake much better than at home. Still, I ate a Cadbury Creme Egg (it fit in my macros though!) pre-WOD. I am keeping to 2300 KCal at the moment and feel good about it. As macros, that equals:

  • Carbs: 201g (804 KCal – 35%)
  • Protein: 201g (804 KCal – 35%)
  • Fat: 77g (693 KCal – 30%)

Other than the wondrous chocolate goodness, I’ve eaten lean beef mince, an avocado, 3 eggs, a truckload of veg, some oats and some whey protein. Oh, and 10 almonds. And 5g Creatine.

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.