Bring a notebook, support your local coach

“1930 Night Ninjas, bring a notebook, it’s in your interests ๐Ÿ˜ˆ”

If there was one behaviour I could change at the local CrossFit level,  it would be for the athletes to bring a notebook to class.

As coaches/trainers, most of us are a bit geeky about seeing positive change in our charges. We read articles on programming, movement, fitness, nutrition, et al, often late in to the night, even when we know we have a 6am session to prepare for. We’ll take a question from an athlete and go away to find the answer as soon as we can. We like being innovative in delivering classes, ensuring as many people get the benefits of time with a qualified trainer as possible. We’ll explain why the workout is the way it is, what the athlete will get out of it, why the programming is structured this way or that.

We do this because we genuinely care about athletes’ development. We want to see growth and change; it’s why we become trainers and coaches.

And so it is so incredibly frustrating when a strength portion of a WOD calls, rightly, for the class to work at a certain percentage of a 1RM and for the response to be, “I don’t know what my 1RM is” despite us having spent the previous cycle working up to one. Or to suggest scaling and for the question, “what should I scale it to?” despite you having just spent the warm up working up to the correct weight or rep scheme. My particular favourite – being blamed when an athlete has to change the weight half way through a WOD because, “you didn’t tell me what to scale it to so I rx’d it”.

You’re right, I didn’t tell you. I didn’t tell you because typically, we have classes of 11-16 people. We have a membership of about 100 people. As a coach, I could not possibly hold on to all of that information – if I could, I wouldn’t be a CrossFit trainer, I would be a maths professor working on the Mars lander programme. This is the responsibility of the athlete. Only you know what you got last time, how many reps you did, how fast you went, what your weakness was and what your strength was. Yes, as coaches we need to know our athletes, I fundamentally believe that, but I cannot know your 1RM Push Press or how fast you can do 50 Bar Facing Burpees.

Bring a notebook to class.

Not a phone.

A notebook.

I know it sounds patronising but consider the effort a coach has gone to in order to give the best they possibly can to a class of people driven by their own distinct, individual goals and motivations. We could turn up, turn on the lights, shout “3,2,1, GO!”, sit back and then clear up after (we do these things too, and more). Would that be worth your money when you can go to any generic branded gym and do that for a fraction of the price? It certainly wouldn’t be worth my time to get out of bed at 0515 every day if that was all I was going to give.

Please, bring a notebook. Make a note of the workout. A quick note of your top lifts in the session and jot down your time / reps for the WOD. Add a line on which bits you struggled on and where you excelled – that’s all there is to it.

Then, when the coach suggests you spend 5 mins before a WOD working your weaknesses, such as double unders, pull ups, handstands, whatever, you can look back and immediately identify where you are currently imbalanced in your fitness journey. When the board says, “Push Press 5 x 3 @ 85% 1RM”, you can quickly flick back through and know your numbers. When the MetCon has, “20 x Deadlifts @ 70kg”, you can look back and see that you managed 15 unbroken last time and so have a goal of 20 unbroken this time! We can’t possibly know all of this stuff about you, only you can.

So, help out your local coach. If they put the effort in to give you the best possible route to your goals, do your bit as well. Taking a photo doesn’t count, you can’t reference it quickly or write notes on it.

Get a notebook.


Here, I’ll even give you a link, because I’m a coach and I care: Mega Cheap Notebooks


Struggle, fatigue, mindlessness….battle on

It’s okay to struggle,

but it’s never okay to give up on yourself.

I failed to get through my squats last night. From the outset, I knew my legs were simply too drained from the the Tuesday night session; my hips were sore, adductors fatigued, I couldn’t keep a strong core and my my form consequently collapsed. Knowing all of this, I packed up the kit and spent a bit of time trying to work the mobility. Nothing seemed to click though and so I headed back to my pad.

Resting this morning, I had hoped to get in to CF Watford raring to go, recovered and ready to tackle the session head on. From the double-unders in the warm up, I could feel that I just wasn’t there mentally. That said, the strength portion went well – something simple that I could really focus on. The MetCon less so. But you can’t be on top of yourself every day; I’ve had a lot of success lately and take huge heart from those achievements. Sometimes, it just doesn’t click – this week has been disjointed, PT-wise and next week will be better. Until then, a bath, a beer and a movie beckon!


5 – 3 – 1

Jerk (from rack)

60 / 80 / 100 / 102.5 / 107.5 PR!

Yes, a personal record in the Jerk. With more time and a little more focus, this would have been 110kg, without a doubt. Previously, my best had been 102.5kg and so I am very encouraged by this.



Handstand Practice.

Freestanding Holds / Walking / Shoulder Touches

Always a winner with me, a chance to show off; even then though, while I was walking up and down the box, even going so far as a slow press in to handstand from squat, I wasn’t enjoying it as I usually might. My mind was wandering and I took to coaching others (who did AMAZINGLY well, by the way!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ) instead.


4 Rounds For Time:

  • 25 x Overhead Lunges (9kg Med Ball)
  • 20 x Wall Balls
  • 15 x Med Ball Cleans

Aiming for sub-10, I struggled home in 11:47. Only the Wall Balls were unbroken throughout; something I absolutely forced myself to achieve. The first round was completely unbroken and almost so was the second. I dropped the ball at rep 7 of the Med Ball Cleans and then cursed out loud; I knew from then on in I would find it all too easy to break the reps.

Still, as I say, you really can’t be at your best every day. I had had considerable recent successes and am genuinely happy. Today was an off-day, after a bit of a broken-up week. It’s hometime tomorrow for some recuperation.

Speaking of which….it’s time for that bath!

Have a very good weekend and don’t be too hard on yourself ๐Ÿ˜‰


Wednesday 18 May 16 – The sun isn’t shining today.


Leaving Dad at 0300, Mrs Nomad and I hand over the watchย  to my elder cousin before curling up on waiting room chairs. He was in a good place. The dimorphine and midazolam were doing their job and he was sleeping soundly; the best sleep in weeks.

I awoke to the pizza boxes being cleared away by my sister.

“Why haven’t you cleared the last one?”, I muttered.

“Thought you might like cold pizza for breakfast”, she honestly retorted.

No, I didn’t start the day by wolfing down congealed pepperoni and bouncy, drying pineapple. Immediately recalling Dad’s good form during the night, I felt buoyed with hope. Yes, his comfort was drug induced but even so, his body was physically coping with the oxygen being delivered to him. He can stay like that for what… days? A week? More?
Scratching my unwashed head and feeling the product of 8 slices of Domino’s on my teeth, the world looked a little bit rosier.

Walking in to Dad’s room, the sound struck me first. The bubbling, gravel- crunching breathing sound is back. The bottom of his lungs is filling up again, limiting further his capacity to process oxygen. He wasn’t awake either. Still dozing, the shallow, strained, forced chest movements bellowed limited puffs in to his lungs. The monitor showed diminishing saturation levels.
Not over yet, the pain-relief of the dimorphine and anti-anxiety effects of the midazolam mean that Dad is not physically fighting to compete with the monitor’s score-keeping and is able to relax as much as possible, efficiently processing the O2 on offer.

But he is filling up with fluid. And the clots in his lungs are restricting blood flow. And his diaphragm is damaged from repeated chemo. And there’re those rapidly growing tumours.

The medication can be upped. And it can be upped again. Soon though, it can’t be upped any further.

That is the exact moment I am dreading and want to run from. The moment hope dies.

Our Team retreated to the home of close friends to shower, eat breakfast and, perhaps more importantly, play with the kids. Their laughter brought a little of the sunshine out and Summer almost seemed on its way again. I went to work for a few hours, Mrs Nomad took the Team to the hospital. The “Wales lot” were decamping, packing away, brushing hair, chatting, wandering, making excuses not to enter that room and say goodbye. Dad’s mum, “Granan”, with stoicism of an almost forgotten generation, made her farewell. She’s 84. He’s 58. Trembling tears and kisses from his sister, tight hugs and kisses and tears from his nieces, a stuttering, gentlemanly handshake and hug from his brother-in-law. This was their last goodbye.

I received a text from Mrs Nomad telling me his sats were dropping again; I logged off the utterly meaningless and irrelevant systems, unable to comprehend their screens anyway. The car journey to the hospital apparently took place. There was lunch in there somewhere, and conversations with the focused corum of Mum, sisters and partners happened. Oh, and the oncologist. Dad wants more air, doc will see what he can do. (Nothing). I hug my elder sister, she’s the medical one. She knows too much. She has the burden of knowledge, knowing not to hope, knowing the reality. No tears from us…..yet. …..just the long, tight, understanding embrace.

The numbers on the monitor fluctuated. Dad took a sip of diet coke, his sats collapsed to rock bottom. Mask on, sats slowly rise….but not as high.

It’s just him and me now. Complaining overtly for the last few months about womens’ intrinsic need to fill silence with noise, we sit quietly. I have nothing left I need to say and it would be selfish to make him talk just to satisfy my own cravings to hear him. Besides, the medazolam inhibits new memory formation, what would he take with him anyway? It’s enough that I am here next to him, right now. Father and son time. He can have his quiet.


The younger sister, the practical one, is chasing tasks for Mum. Arranging accommodation shutdowns, darting around town, keeping busy for other people, relieving the burden of us and herself in the process.

He awoke to take the monitor off of his finger before then drifting off once more. No longer competing with the mechanical scorer, perhaps there’s less pressure on him.

Sats at 72. He wanted the monitor connected again but the alarm sounds immediately. We silence it and he sleeps, roughly, coughing occasionally, with some irritability and agitation.

We take the 3 Action Princesses to see him and he clocks them immediately, removing his mask and beaming at them through struggled gasps and gulps. We take them back out again, blowing kisses at him, just in time for him to replace his mask and suck down his O2. A lot of pride and dignity in my old man. I love him. I miss him already as he stumbles out of the door to this life. Dad, I’m so proud of you.

I want him back!!!! Fuck you, Cancer!! Give me back my Dad!!

Where is my equipment to deal with this? Why is there nothing to hit, blow up, run at, overcome? ???


We’d hoped today would be like yesterday and tonight would be like last night. Dad wanted a Gin and Tonic last night but was asleep when it came. We’ve hoped a lot of things but my dreaded moment is almost. ….finally……maybe….maybe not…here.

Stop struggling, Dad. We got this.

I got this, Dad. Stop suffering. I got this.