Recovering from Injury; “We Can Rebuild Him”

We can rebuild him!

Thanks to

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.”

– Oscar Goldman

Recovering from an injury, short term or long term can be both a physically and mentally debilitating process. You might feel that you’ve reverted to a long and happily  forgotten position after rising to a particularly good place; or you may feel that goals you’d set are further away than they’ve ever been. You might tell yourself that you can never recover what you’d had or wanted to attain. Below, is a story from Grant, one of our athletes in CrossFit Watford. He requested an article on recovering from injury, having been knocked back over the last half year, having been operated on, and now focusing on getting back to his prime:

“I found CrossFit in January 2016, my aim was to lose a few kilos I had added after quitting smoking. Not only did I manage to shed the unwanted weight, I also developed a greater zest for life and confidence. I found a new job (leaving one I was ‘comfortable’ with) and pursued my studies with a renewed vigour (I was ready to call it quits at one point). These are just a couple examples of the impact the CrossFit Watford community had on me. All was going well, until 5 months ago when I sustained an injury. Cue several months of zero sleep, literally. An intense burning sensation started around my shoulder and ran all the way down my left arm into my fingers. Coupled with this, was a pain I can only describe as having knocked the ‘funny bone’ part of the elbow – 24/7!! After a time my palm, thumb, forefinger & forearm were numb. Oh, to top it off I couldn’t straighten my arm. My outlet had been taken away from me & felt like I was no longer part of the team. Instead the necessary pain of rehab, self doubt, negative thinking and anger of what had happened took over. Rehab started to get ‘easier’ and I finally had surgery last week to release a compressed nerve (on a side note – God Bless the frontline staff of the NHS). It is going to be months before full feeling & movement is restored in my hand. Further tests are also needed to resolve the numbness in my forearm. The surgeon is happy for me to start light training again & encouraged me to keep moving. On one hand, I am over the moon as I have missed training so much. But, on the other is the thought of re-injuring myself & the associated pain. On top of this is the negative thinking of ‘you can’t break the bad habits again’ – habits such as the crappy diet & the longer than needed lay in. How am I going to lift a bar above my head again?? I know I’ll get over the doubt eventually. This is just another obstacle to get over & we ALL have our own individual obstacles – I just need to do it…”

So that’s Grant’s story.


Stay Positive, see Opportunities. Perhaps the hardest part, but the most important. Whatever your goals, life is a journey; we might want to get there that little bit quicker but life may have other plans for you. The trick is to see the opportunities around you at each step. I’ve written this in previous posts but an injury is an opportunity. It may be an opportunity to work on other areas of your game that you’d not had time to focus on before. It could be a chance to really specialise in another aspect. It is certainly the time to establish a pathway to coming back stronger, fitter, faster than you were before, especially strengthening the area of the injury.


Re-Discover your “Why”. You started down this path for a reason. What was it? Does your “Why” still hold true? Be as passionate now about your journey as you were when you first walked through that door and begun building the new, better, faster, stronger you.

Goal-Setting. When you have your “Why”, start to break it down in to manageable, achievable, relevant chunks. Ask a trained coach for advice on helping you to build your new path to your goal. Sure, it might now not be the path you were once on (although, it may be), but the important thing is the end; what it is that you really want to achieve and why? The road that gets you there is not the goal in itself, it’s the way. Noone spends a day travelling to stunning mountain ranges only to comment, “well, wasn’t that lovely tarmac, I really enjoyed the motorway services!”.


Take it Slow. Depending on the nature of your injury, this is going to be a slow process. Accept it from the outset and get over it. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get back to your best – you can. This just means that human bodies take time to heal and it can be frustrating; see “Stay Positive” above – there’s an opportunity in this. What’s worse than the injury? Re-injury.


Get the Community on board. I firmly and whole-heartedly believe in the power of the community. There is nothing as miserable in the fitness world as training alone. It’s proper shit. Sure, there might be times when it is unavoidable, but generally there is beauty and strength in facing a challenge together. I have always loved CrossFit for this reason. As a coach, I see it in the faces of our athletes every time they step on to the floor; the banter, the nervousness, helping each other out, cheering each other on, and the shared relief at the end. In Grant’s case, despite the injury, we’ve seen him in the box regularly, adapting movements, training other areas, doing different workouts to everyone else, but still there joining in with everyone. This is critical, in my view. Don’t stay away and go through it alone, get the team included in your journey.


Listen to your Coaches / Specialists. We are exceptionally fortunate in CrossFit Watford to have some genuine talent in the coaches. not least the physiotherapists and movement specialists that coach (and the technically talented athletes too!). Listen to your coaches and specialists. They know what they are talking about and, as I overheard earlier this week, if they don’t then they will not bullshit you, they will seek specialist advice on your behalf. As coaches, it is our goal to see success in others, as odd as that might be for a goal. Your recovery and rehabilitation, your achievements, your wins are our goals.

You’re not Alone, You’re Inspiring. Your recovery, done well, will inspire others. We all get injured, we all have set-backs. Seeing someone recover positively from an injury is inspirational and gives fuel to us all when faced with similar problems. So really, we should Thank You for getting injured, you’re doing us a service! 😉




Leave your Situations at the Door

Leave your situations at the door

So when you step inside jump on the floor

– Mary J. Blige 

Staring in to the down gazing eyes of one of our athletes, it was clear that she was about to just give up on the day, if not the week. Hard work ebbing onto the floor, leaving a sullen shell to clear the rower and remaining kit away before shuffling out door defeated. 


Not having that shit in this box! 

I don’t care what is going on in your life outside the box (well, I do actually but my upcoming point still stands), you do not allow it in to the box. Leave it at the door. I say this not from a standpoint of how it might affect the mood of others, nor how you’re not going to be on your game – both of those are valid – but from the this:

Your time in the box is your time. 

What you do in that hour is for you. It is your opportunity to develop, to succeed, to improve, and to win. How DARE the comments of colleagues, the stresses of work, or the rising cost of the bus fare impinge on YOUR time?! You have your goals, you have set out your plan, and you have paid your subs. The effort you put in within the hour we set for you is all yours. It is not to impress coworkers, it isn’t to think about tomorrow’s meeting, it certainly isn’t to worry about that note you forgot to write – all of those things are important but they won’t be solved in your hour with us.

This is YOUR TIME. Everything else can get f@#&ed. When with us, you are not judged, you are critiqued and not criticised, you have nothing to prove to anyone except to yourself.

How often in your daily routine do have to answer to none except yourself? How many times a day do you end something a stronger, faster, more powerful version of you than when you started? When else do you get to shut the world out and focus on your own needs? Give yourself over to this time, this chance, and kick the rest of the world in to touch.

This is YOUR time. How dare anyone ruin it for YOU. Own it. Dominate it. Leave as a fitter person, on YOUR terms, than when you came in.

Rant over.

Coaching Goals, back to the Programme

“Who exactly seeks out a Coach? 


– Chicago Tribune

What would you like to see from my blog this year?

How can I help you?

Answers in comments below.


Coaching Goals. Yesterday, I noted a few of my own health and fitness goals for 2017 and the reasons why. Before I get in to today’s blog proper, I should also note a few other goals related to yesterday’s but specifically for Coaching. To continue to grow as a generalist Coach, a CrossFit Coach and as a coach to the athletes of CF Watford, I will:

  • Revisit all of my Level 5 Diploma Coaching notes and papers.
  • Take on coaching opportunities with specific CF Watford Athletes.
  • Complete the CrossFit Level 2 Coaching course.

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s wet. It’s 6am. But I’m Batman.

Morning Session

And so it was, the alarm rudely interrupting me from a quite awesome dream of world domination, that I crept out of bed far more bleary-eyed than I would have liked. Late last night, I toyed with the idea of attending the CF Watford 0600 session but lazily decided against it in order to get back in to my Snatch Programme in-house. Tripping over my attempts to pull the compression socks on, I nudged the Tassimo in to life and smiled at the warming Americano smell, almost feeling the caffeine work its magic before it touched my lips. Blanketed from the cold morning north London air by my dad’s (too) large Ospreys hoody and my Ospreys hat, I trotted over to the gym, stopping only to Instagram my shiny new Batman mug ( and post a few choice words.

Snatch Progression

Every Minute on the Minute, 20

3 x Snatch Hi-Pull

  • 5 Sets @ 50kg
  • 5 Sets @ 52.5kg
  • 5 Sets @ 55kg
  • 5 Sets @ 60kg

I thought I’d started at about the right level but didn’t progress up quick enough. I should have completed the final set of 5 x 3 with at least 65kg, perhaps more. I’ll address that next week. Still, it was good work all round and will be complemented nicely by the Overhead Squats that are coming up tonight.


CrossFit Watford Evening Session


3 x 3 Overhead Squats

65 / 70 / 80kg

A New 3 RM! 77.5kg was my previous best. It might be 2.5kg but it’s an improvement. Am very happy with this! Strong and stable.


Alternating EMOM 21

  1. 15 cal Row
  2. Max Effort Burpees
  3. 10 x Deadlifts at chosen weight

Score – Burpees: 15 / 15 / 12 / 12 / 10 / 10 / 13 = 87

I opted for 100kg initially for the Deadlifts. After 2 rounds, I realised this was foolish and then dropped it to 90kg. The burpees were the hardest part, if I’m honest. Going straight in to those after the rowing was evil 😉



  • Pre-Morning Session: 10g Walnuts (have run out of mixed nuts in my room!)
  • Post-Morning Session: 25g MyProtein Whey + 200ml Whole Milk
  • Breakfast: 50g Porridge Oats + 150ml Whole Milk
  • Mid-Morning Snack: 10g Mixed Nuts (final bag in the office)
  • Lunch: 3 x Scrambled Eggs + fresh spinach, home-grown chillis & mustard leaves, cherry tomatoes
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: 10g Mixed Nuts
  • Dinner: Homemade Chilli (Zone portion) with twice as much cauliflower / broccoli
  • Post-WOD: 25g Whey Protein + Water
  • Snack: 3 thin slices Roast Beef

5 Years of CrossFit. CF Leatherneck to CF Watford.

It’s not the Will to Win,

it’s the Will to Prepare to Win,

That Makes the Difference.


5 years ago this week, I ran over to CrossFit Leatherneck in Afghanistan and began my true CrossFit journey. I’d dabbled in it with my old school mate and buddy, Roly, but it wasn’t a regular, ingrained part of me until I took the 1.5 mile run across the sweltering, boiling hot, sand-covered tarmac to Camp Leatherneck and the nutcase US Marines running perhaps the greatest CF Box ever to have existed. And then the 1.5 mile run back!



Under an improvised construct of timber and tarp, we sweated it out in the Afghan heat for 3 days, resting for 1, for the better part of 6 months together. It was my sanctuary during that tour away. At home we’d had the news that the twins were coming and I had to find some way of making sense of it all! 😀 Coming in from trips to outstations, there’d always be that, “welcome back, dude, glad you’re safe” waiting for you.


Kyle and Nick


How Brett gets that bar to float, I’ll never know. Magic!

580052_329608990427826_817095627_n 328675_236894709699255_279061151_o

On off days, we’d meet up for coffee at the Green Bean Coffee shop, discuss WODs, mobility and how regular gym users couldn’t possibly compete 😉 This group of guys and girls, Americans, Brits, Army, Navy, Air Force were a genuine brotherhood and many of us still talk today despite being thousands of miles apart.

Hell, we even worked out on Christmas Day together!


12 Days of Christmas WOD – Beautiful. Dragon, Brett, Kyle, Mike and many others.

561287_329621913759867_1052520046_nAnd yep, we pushed our way through 13 miles on New Year’s DAy 2012. Indeed, Nick even did it in a respirator (gas mask)!

When I returned to the UK in 2012, I was adamant that I was going to take this a step further and scraped together the cash to attend the CF Level 1 down at CF Black Dagger in Royal Marines Base Chivenor with another good friend, Tom. No sooner did I return from that in Oct 2012 than I wanted to open a box for those where I was working, Whale Island, in Portsmouth, UK. I know, I know….the risks associated with jumping in to managing a gym of any kind, with such limited experience, were great. I had already qualified as a Chartered Management Institute Level 5 Diploma Coach & Mentor though so I wasn’t completely lacking. Not only that, the Royal Naval Physical Training Instructors kept a very keen eye on what we were up to.

980324_646133418775380_9186678480016677542_oCrossFit Keelhaul, Whale Island, Portsmouth

Regularly training and coaching at 11 each day, we scrounged a location, then equipment, even funding. Above a Costa Coffee, on a sprung dance floor, we had to carefully place all weights down, hearing the shouts from below as occasionally a light fitting crashed down in to a large Machiatto.


Olly, Al and a waiting USMC Lt Col


Paul’s Going Away WOD

My love of coaching others really flourished here with some of the most motivated individuals in the UK military. 11am was never a good time for most people but it was the only time we could get our room for; they would shift heaven and earth to move their schedules around and get over to the box. In the time I was there, we even trained up a next generation of CF Level 1 Trainers. My only regret was that as a few of us left, the enthusiasm to actually manage the box left with it. I believe it is no longer operational. However, it was incredible for the 18 months that we had it – the change in each and every person, Donna, Steve, Olly and Al especially, was immense.

imag0876_1Yep, this is Mike Burgener, Olympic Lifting legend! (CF Weightlifting Course)

From there, I was posted to Plymouth, to my dream job. Very quickly, I established the location of the local box, CrossFit Plymouth, and its owner / coach, James Bish. It was always my intent to get straight in to coaching there and “Bish” gave me that opportunity. From the outset, I pretty much covered 0615 sessions and the crown jewel session, Friday’s at 1730 & 1830.

12096195_10206129009883211_6266900448195865733_nPrimal Games Masters – digging the compression socks.

Having only competed outside of the CF Open once prior to CF Plymouth, I was keen to get involved immediately and took part in a few of the Primal Games competitions, with Ian and Fiona.


Over the course of 18 months, I really embraced CF Plymouth (I have TONNES of photos). Training alongside Regional Masters athletes (Maz Glover) was a privilege while being developed as a coach by Bish was an honour.

And so I find myself now at CrossFit Watford. For the first time in my CrossFit life I am actually paying for membership! While I am hoping to get back to coaching early morning sessions later this year or early in the New Year, paying really does add that incentive to turn up and give it that little bit extra.

13335727_10157065635815523_4396518201443234686_nMe, Charlie, Roly (the guy who got me in to this shit!)

The head coach, Charlie, and her partner, Hat, are fantastic (isn’t everyone?). Having got back in to training rather than focus on coaching, my own fitness has really launched. You can find plenty of photos of this place on my Instagram feed. With a range of athletes from beginner to pretty-damned-awesome, there is a top class community. I’ve been fortunate to attend early morning sessions and the late night ones. To a man (woman!!! Sorry, Charlie!!), they are out for each other, supporting each other and pushing each other through to some extraordinary achievements.

In my time within the CrossFit world, I’ve jumped from 54th to 75th percentile on Beyond The (although have recently dropped to 70th but that’s not for long). I have completed 5 CF Open competitions and have risen from ‘average’ to within the top 25% of CrossFitters worldwide. Hundreds and hundreds of coaching hours have been accrued, I’ve learned about managing a box, and my own skills as an athlete have lept ahead. My enthusiasm for CrossFit hasn’t waivered, despite the idiocy over giving out handguns as prizes in this year’s CF Games. I’ve travelled to France, Australia, USA and the UAE – in each place I touch down I make a point of finding a box and training with like-minded Ninjas.

From here, I am really hoping to continue my journey and pass the CF Level 2. Getting money for that will be hard but it’s an aspiration for next year. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to coaching at CF Watford, if that transpires – I really miss coaching others. New goals have been set and I’m already seeing incredible gains from an ongoing squat programme.

Above all else, I need to thank everyone who has been a part of this so far. From Mrs Nomad, who’s had to put up with CF nonsense for 5 years,  to those in each of those boxes along the way. Each person has taught me something new about coaching, about CrossFit and about myself.

So here’s to another 5 years, thanks everyone.

My Father’s Day. I miss you, Dad.


It’s been just a day over a whole month since we parted. If I’m honest, I’ve not done too badly so far; a few wobbles here and there; I’ve been there for Mum. My sisters and I have talked a lot and of course we’ve kept the Welsh side very engaged. It really just feels like I’ve not spoken to you in a while and that at any point you’ll email me or send me a WhatsApp message about the rugby. Then you don’t and I feel confused. We always talk after the rugby. Always, Dad. To be fair, it’s been pretty torrid. New Zealand are predictably dancing a merry dance over us despite our best efforts; and they are good efforts but they’re just not good enough, as usual. Obviously, the thousand and one forward passes that NZ seem to get away with has helped and I’m sure you’d have something to say about some dubious high tackling and challenges in the air too. The thing is, Dad, I can hear you saying them and that’s …..kind of alright, apparently….except it isn’t. I want to challenge you, to pick your brains and to hear your thoughts. But all I have are reflections, ‘recordings’ of you in my head that I can’t interact with. I know what you would say about things we’ve shared together but what about all the stuff we won’t share, Dad? I think I know how you would react, feel, frown, smile…..but what would you say? You were a man of carefully chosen words and I appreciated that so much; I tried to learn the same skill from you but I don’t feel like I got it all; how can I know what you would say about Bethany’s first boyfriend or Freya and Chloe ganging up on the school bully to protect someone?. How are they going to know their Pops’ words?? There was more to come and I’m missing out now. How am I supposed to complete my learning as a man and a father without you here? I’m going to get lost, surely? Help me, Dad?!

Except that, Dad, you know what? As I’ve gone through Fathers’ Day today and gulped down the tears at every card, advert, restaurant menu special, I’ve realised that when once you were my teacher, then my coach, you since became my mentor. I’ve reflected on the last few years and seen that where once there might have been telling, direction, coercion, coaxing, now there was merely suggestion and a gentle word. Where we might still have disagreed, there has been acceptance that I’ve made my decisions based on the sound direction and guidance you’ve given me in the past. Where we’ve agreed, it’s been as 2 best friends; 2 friends who shared some hidden secret for 37 years, a bond that was utterly unique and golden. Even the silences we shared on long car journeys or in the house or pottering in the garden were the silence of comfortable companions, happy that the space didn’t have to simply be filled with anything. You’d have been pleased yesterday, Dad; I got my shed to the point where I was about to label everything and ban anyone from going in there. I think I just stepped back from the brink there though.

It is this understanding of where we were as friends that has given me comfort today, Dad. When I look up at the photos of you above my desk, I see the happiest, strongest, most caring father a man could wish for. In each of the photos, I can see what you are thinking in your eyes, I can see the joy in you and I immediately hear the words I need to hear. And because I can hear you, I don’t feel lost. I know you taught me all you needed to teach me and the words you wrote in my birthday card were true, “All that need be said between us has been said. So Proud Of You Son”. You had reached that point where you could just take a step back and smile. You looked on me with pride, I know, I feel it every day. That pride, from someone as loved and respected as you, gives me the confidence I need to be the father I know you saw in me.

It doesn’t make it easy though, Dad. This feeling of our communications just being ‘cut off’ still confuses me greatly. I want to phone EE and tell them to give me your new number. I can’t believe you’re not there. This is still so unfair. I miss you so much all the time. But you’re still there. You’re still there when I need to hear you laugh, I can picture your upset at another Welsh loss, I can imagine your pride at Bethany’s sports day, or the Twins’ gymnastics. I can imagine your love for them as they grow up and begin to lead lives of their own, even one day having their own families. And I know what you would say for each scenario that presents itself.

How can I picture all of this and know this with such confidence? Because you taught me well as a child, Dad. You coached me through some pretty mental times as a petulant and trying young adult, and you mentored me in to the husband of a wonderful, loving wife and father to 3 warrior princesses. I know that I see the world through the eyes that you and Mum gave me and that had you thought there was anything more for me to learn, you’d have let me know. As our girls grow up, they will hear your thoughts and words through me; you will live on in that way, Dad, and they will know you.

I miss you, Dad, that is true. I’ll miss you every day, forever.

“Thank you for Everything” seems too short; for that I am sorry, you would have thought of something better. But I mean it. I mean it with my whole heart.

UDRM, Dad.

I miss you, buddy. xx

Love always,





04 Dec 15 – Friday – I’m only upset because I actually give a shit.

If you’re not accustomed to getting up in the wee dark o’clock hours to thrash yourself with a barbell, tarmac and jumping around then let me paint the scene for you:

A quite relaxing and not-intrusive Android alarm goes off at 0540. You reach over and because it’s so soothing you actually find yourself immediately dozing off again. A more harsh alarm might be better but with a deeply sleeping family in the house you have to be mindful. So you creep downstairs to the kit that you painstakingly laid out the night before (work clothes, wash kit, training kit), you put the kettle on (pre-filled the night before so you don’t make noise with flowing taps) and pour the hot water in to your pre-prepared coffee cup. Swallowing a mouthful of mixed nuts and dried fruit (carefully closing the cupboard, noting that you really must get that squeaky hinge oiled), you lift your stuff to the front door and get changed. Quietly unlocking the door, you step in to the freezing (or wet…or both) morning and head to your car. Immediately, you think about returning to bed and the pull is very, very, very strong. The car is pretty cold and wet at this time of the year so you whack the heating up to full blast, put on Radio 4 (yep, it’s Farming Today time!) and slowly roll out of the street, only accelerating when out of sight of your own house and sleeping wife’n’kids. After Farming Today comes ‘Tweet of the Day – World Birds’ with either David Attenborough, Bill Oddie or Chris Packham crooning over the Red Throated People Eater.

Arriving at the box, you run from the car through the rain to the door, drop your keys, put your coffee down in a puddle, pick up the keys and let yourself in. It’s (still) cold, dark, it’s just not wet. Firing up the lights, you wipe the boards from the previous day, sip some coffee and then get writing. By 0615, your brain is beginning to wake up and you find yourself with a minute or two to conduct some of your own stretching before people crawl in.

And then, they don’t.

Despite putting in the effort to be there for others, those others don’t turn up. Despite the GoTeamUp planner saying people are booked in, noone arrives. Despite planning the session so that everyone can achieve their objectives and finish on time, the box remains empty. This happened this morning to the other coach; it’s happened to me before. It really is quite upsetting but not for the reason you might think. Sure, you’ve put in all the effort but actually this becomes an opportunity to conduct your own training so you do benefit. It’s actually saddening because you recall the weeks before where athletes have exposed their goals and objectives to you; they’ve sometimes been pretty upset to expose themselves to you in this way. You can see that what they are trying to do really does mean something to them; at least, it appears to. For the first week after, there they are at 0615 with that fire in their eyes, that self-motivation and determination. And then, the call of the bed becomes just a bit louder than the call of  losing weight / getting stronger / being faster / gaining fitness. The thought of that particular WOD (today’s had a lot of running in) that just might seem too hard is enough to put people off instead of seeing an opportunity to work on a weakness.

As a coach this is disappointing. Of course, we want to blame the individuals. “It obviously isn’t important enough to you!” is the mantra of most. It’s not that simple though, is it? As a coach we have to take in to account just how hard it is to make truly life changing decisions and stick to them. A routine is highly addictive; it’s a comfort blanket, you feel safe in a rut. You might want to get out of it but actually how capable are you of getting out of it? As a coach, it is my responsiblity to keep providing that hand to pull an athlete up and out until they stand tall above that rut and can march forward unaided. It’s a very slow process for many and requires a careful engagement, nudging the tiller, praising / rewarding and not small amount of poking and prodding. It can takes months and years but is so rewarding when you see the mental shift; when you eventually see the physical shift too then that truly is amazing. If you don’t have the patience to engage with an athlete and bring them along that path then you are not a coach. If you don’t have the skills to keep your athlete engaged and focused on the goal then you have to go and learn them. Coaching is not understanding a movement pattern; sure. that’s a small part of sports coaching but coaching is about the person. You coach the person, not a movement. You coach the development and achievement pathway, part of which is getting the movement correct, but the majority is about getting the mindset correct.

So when I get upset that you haven’t turned up to a session that we’ve carefully planned for you, that we’ve got our own tired ass out of bed for at stupid o’clock, that I’ve dropped my coffee on the hallway carpet (accidentally) for, I am mostly upset at myself. Yes, you do have a responsiblity to your coaches and the effort that they put in. If you’re not going to be there then don’t sign in or at least tell us.

Just know though that I hold myself more accountable. If you’re falling off the wagon and not keeping to your goals then it’s my failing. Don’t be too surprised when we have a chat though.