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 Iย deserve to be there by now. I put the effort in,ย 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 ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ 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”

 

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ˜€ How I’m expected to run 15km, I’ll never know. Still there’s about 5 weeks until the event – plenty of time ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

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)

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

Motivating a Group, Training Under Fatigue

Motivational Quote

 

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Enough of these, thanks Dave.

Update

I hadn’t intended to train this morning. On the board to coach, I arrived in the box on cue at 0545 to get it set up, put the WOD up and motivate myself before meeting the athletes. As they arrived though, it was immediately obvious that the energy was lacking; you could feel it in the conversation, you could see it in the way people moved through the warm up and the drills. Early mornings are always tough to gauge anyway; you can’t give the same energy to a 6am session as you can for an end-of-the-week Friday night extravaganza, for example. As coaches, we have to be able to read the athletes and the group as a whole, and balance accordingly in order to get the best out of them.

So, I started slowly with the warm up, gradually trying to increase the tempo and enthusiasm; we upped the music; we chatted about 17.2 and about what might come up on Friday in 17.3. Nothing. Sure, everyone was working but there was no intensity.

So, I did what every good leader should do and decided to get stuck in and lead from the front. Picking one member of the group, Jav (and we’d gone head to head the night before in 17.2), I decided to really go for it, despite my rather sore glutes and generally fatigued state.

3…2…1…GO!

I’d love to say that by getting amongst it and giving my all I was able to motivate the group. I’m not entirely sure I did though. This is an area that I will revisit shortly. One of the factors is that despite training every morning together, they don’t even know each other’s names (some do) or anything about each other. In order to generate team cohesion and a sense of camaraderie, this has to be a baseline; like I said, more to follow.

I also had the evening class tonight but they’re a completely different kettle of fish altogether!

Strength

  • 4 x 12 Bulgarian Split Squats (per leg)
  • superset with 4 x 6 Straight Leg Kettlebell Deadlift (Single Leg)

2 x 12kg / 12kg / 12kg / 12kg (so, 24kg each time)

After last night’s lunges, my glutes and quads were wimpering throughout. There would have been no point trying to go heavier.

MetCon

18min AMRAP

  • 30 x Push Press @ 50kg
  • 20 x Wall Balls @ 9kg
  • 10 x Box Jump Overs @ 24″
  • 200m Run

Total: 3 + 20

I really pushed the pace on this one. The only thing to have any breaks were the push presses, broken in to 10s and 5s each time, never less – these slowed me right down. All Wall Balls unbroken and fast. Box Jump Overs were consistent. This surprised me quite a bit given how tired I feel. It does show that your body will do what your mind tells it.

The evening class. Determination in spades.

Nutrition

  • Pre-WOD: 1 x Banana
  • Breakfast: 60g Spelt Wheat / Oats with 250ml Protein Milk + 25g Whey Protein
  • Lunch: 3 x Scrambled Eggs, 70g Spinach, 90g BBQ Chicken Breast. 1 x Banana.
  • Dinner: Sunday Leftovers!! (love it!) of 2 x Lean Pork Sausages, 2 x Roast Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots and Gravy
  • Snack: Battle Oats
  • Pre-Bed: 90g BBQ Chicken Breast

 

Your kids have to be useful for something…as free weights! (and, the Bean Game)

Just a quick one today as I’m out and about other places. I am unable to train today and so did a workout with the children yesterday instead of resting. ย Whenever I get home and ask our 3 what they would like to do with daddy, the first answer is ALWAYS, “Exercises!” For whatever reason, my passion for fitness is rubbing off on them and they love taking part in whatever workout I have planned as well as then showing off their own awesome physical gymnastic attributes. Our eldest is 7 1/2, while the twins are almost 5 – all girls – all action princesses.

And who am I to disappoint them ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, for a warm up,ย the Bean Game.

Over 5 mins, call out from a range of ‘Beans’:

  • Runner – Run around the room.
  • Jumping – Two-footed jumping around the room.
  • Broad – Jump in to a wide arm, wide legged stance.
  • String – Stand straight and tall, arms straight up above you.
  • Kidney – ย Like String but then bend over to the left and right.
  • Jelly – Start shaking and wobbling like a plate of jelly.
  • Baked – Curl up on the floor in a ball.
  • Beans on Toast – Lay flat on the floor with arms stretched out wide.
  • French (Stop and cry out, “ooh, la la!”)

You can see that with a little imagination you can have your family (and you, because you HAVE to join in) doing burpees, running, stretches, jumping, star jumps….it’s brilliant!

Then we had a little race that they like to do around the house, for time. 7 x 10 sec sprint around a course in the house gets them going!

And on to the “workout”:

5 x For Good Form

  • 5 x Push Ups
  • 5 x Squats
  • 5 x Sit Ups
  • 5 x Lunges

We went through the first 2 rounds as a warm up, practicing the movements – obviously, they’re squatting is much better than mine although I’m happy to say that I’m pretty close these days! For the final 3 rounds, I used 1 child as a weight for each movement, either on my back or in my arms (including the situps), while the other 2 children completed 2 more rounds each. The twins were testing enough at about 16kg while the eldest’s 26kg was a step up!

They all absolutely loved it and we had great fun messing about with exercises; I’m so proud of their enjoyment of it.

Snatch Increase (not PR), Weighing My Food

Train Hard.

Eat Well.

Rest.

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The reason for Fitness: to be able to explore and enjoy as much of the world as possible, for as long as possible.

After a long and tortuous journey on Friday, it was a relief to get home for a weekend of just ‘family time’. Since early Dec, we have been with friends or family every weekend; this was the first opportunity in what felt like ages to just do our own thing. What a superb weekend it was too! From walking around Burrator Reservoir, to Scratch coding with our eldest, doing colouring-in (DC Super Heros colouring book for Christmas ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), to an awesome family Sunday lunch (with leftovers today, thanks Mrs Nomad!!), it was excellent. I just had to get that in there ๐Ÿ˜€

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Batman rest on Sunday with a Superman mug of coffee.

One thing I noticed over the weekend was that I am starting to get my abs back. Now, I’ve never had a six-pack and am unlikely to but I’m getting back in to the shape I was in during last Summer. I had set that target for the start of the CF Open in late Feb but I’m there now after 3 weeks of disciplined eating (for the most part anyway).ย  I’m now going to take this further and see how I pan out over the next few weeks. With that in mind, I’ve taken Mrs Nomad’s kitchen scales and will spend this week weighing my food so that I can actually see what I am eating – I’ve already noticed that some of my estimates over the last few weeks have been well off. By creating a little notebook of quantities, I’ll be able to gauge my intake better in future as I tweet my training and nutrition.

But on to this morning….

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-4C

…it was COLD! It hit -4C as I was driving back last night and no doubt a little further down the slide over night. Walking to the gym for the morning Snatch session was not a pleasant stroll.

Morning Snatch Session

Chatting through my Friday frustrations with one of the CF Watford Coaches (Hat, cheers for the logic!), I decided to switch my programme around slightly so that my Snatch 1RM work is done on a Monday, leaving Wed and Fri for the technique / accessory work. This way, I am rested and more likely to get in to the 85% bracket.

And that’s what happened today. Despite struggling and failing to get beyond 60kg on Friday, I achieved 67.5kg today (90%). Ok, there were a few fails in there but that’s because I’ve been messing with my technique a little as I seek to keep that bar as close to the hips as possible without actually smacking it forward and away.

Evening CF Watford Session

Strength

3 x 5 Strict Press

60 / 65 / 67.5kg

My record is 70kg but I wasn’t able to get to that in the time this evening. It’s fine, I’m confident with upper body strength.

MetCon

30min Partner WOD – one completes entire round while other rests.

  • 15 Cal Row
  • 12 x Clean & Jerk @ 42.5kg
  • 12 x Wall Balls @ 9kg
  • 12 x Toes to Bar

Total: 9 rounds + 28 reps. Between Tom and I, we completed 9 rounds. I completed 5 of those but only because I started first. Hadย  Tom started, I doubt I would have done so well; while I completed each set of 15 cals in under 40 secs, the C&Js slowed me down – first round unbroken, others were 6+3+3. Wall Balls were unbroken and TTB were 6+3+3 or 6+6. My grip strength really struggled but it wasn’t just that. My head wasn’t in it but I’m actually not too fussed by it at the moment. I know I’m in a strong place overall.

Nutrition

MyFitnessPal: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/nomadcelt

Having listened to the very excellent “Eating for Strength” from Barbell Shrugged, I’ve tweaked my requirements a little to support strength and recovery.

  • 182g Carbs – green leafy vegetable carbs, on the whole.
  • 180g Protein – Lean Meat, Nuts, Seeds, Whey Powder to supplement.
  • 70-90g Fat – keeping it closer to the 70g mark while I lean down a little.

These numbers won’t be hit exactly and will require a little tuning over time. I am including more carbs late in the evening though in order to raise insulin, which leads to a drop and a subsequent drop in cortisol, which aids sleep.

More Newbies, Less Time. FGB-Style.

Every Pro was once a Amateur.

Every Expert was once a Beginner.

So Dream Big

And Start Now.

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Morning Coaching Session.

I remember my very first thoughts this morning when my alarm went off, “people are relying on me to get out of bed. My fitness is in their hands.” Genuinely, in all seriousness, I actually thought that. It had quite an alarming effect on me and focused the urgency as I pulled on my kit, pressed “Start” on the Tassimo and raced out of the door to my beautiful Seat Leon “Stormy” (short for Stormtrooper as she does look like one from the front).
Getting set up in the box, I noticed a few new names on the sheet and was immediately worried to see 3 newcomers walk in to join the 1 regular. With Turkish Get Ups and Cleans in the WOD, I knew there was going to be a significant degree of ‘teach’ rather than ‘coach’; I hadn’t prepared for this and had to revisit my plan on the fly. Curtailing the warm up and using the movements themselves to warm the team up, we began breaking down the Turkish Get Up in to component parts, explaining the rationale and utility of the TGU. While 2 of the newcomers ‘got it’, 1 took longer than I’d intended – more work required by me to develop my coaching technique, I think.
The same was then true with the Clean; after teach/coaching it yesterday successfully, I’d hoped to follow the same pattern today. Alas, teaching military folk and teaching civilians does take a fundamentally different approach in many cases – today was one of those cases. Again, while 2 succeeded very quickly in getting a sufficiently safe movement pattern locked in for the upcoming WOD, 1 needs significantly more time. There’s no denying the effort put in at all, and I suspect the time of day was partly responsible, but there was only so much time I could devote to focusing on one person. I suggested substituting Front Squats in to WOD instead but found that they had ignored it and opted for some crazy attempts at Power Cleans instead, albeit at a very low weight – just how far can a coach go to say, “no, put that down and please do as I’ve suggested”? Especially as it’s not my box and if they take it badly, never to return, it’s not my pocket that it is hitting.
So, an interesting start to the day. BAGS of effort throughout but deeply frustrating for me as a coach not to have prepared correctly and not to have been able to address issues immediately.
We continue to learn.

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CF Watford Evening Session

Strength

  • 4 x 100m Farmers’ Walk AHAP
  • super set 3 x 4 Turkish Get Ups AHAP

24/28/32 (x2 kettlebells) kg for the Farmers’ Walk.

3 x 4 TGUs at 20kg. 22 would have been manageable ‘just’ but 24 was too much.

MetCon

FGB-style

5 Rounds of:

  • 1 min Row (cals)
  • 1 min Power Clean @ 65kg
  • 1 min Burpees
  • 1 min Rest

Score = total Reps+Cals = 203

That was tough. However, I knew from the outset that the power cleans would slow me down and so I went harder on the row, maintaining 21 on each round (22 on the last one). I achieved 6-7 power cleans on each round and then topped it off with burpees.

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Nutrition

  • Breakfast: 75g Porridge Oats + 50g Dried Skimmed Milk Powder + 25g Whey Protein (I forgot to buy milk).
  • Snack: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Lunch: 3 x Scrambled Eggs + 100g Chicken Breast + tonnes of leaves, a few tomatoes and a small beetroot.
  • Dinner:
  • Post-WOD: 25g Whey Protein + 25g Dried Skimmed Milk Powder

Wellness Update

I’d been having a lot of trouble sleeping; I listened to a Barbell Shrugged podcast that spoke about “Eating for Strength” and included the requirement to get some carbs in before bed. Ever since, I have added dried skimmed milk powder to my protein, adding carbs and casein. Since then….sleep!

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The athlete’s most important tool.