Strength down, Engine up. Happy for Now.

20170531_184326

Update

Sweating and heaving my way through the 3rd round of 800m Run + 21 x Power Cleans (@60kg) yesterday, it struck me that my barbell cycling and basic strength has taken a bit of a dip recently. Entirely expected, this is due to the increased attention that I’ve placed on training for the Swim/Run event coming up and the associated decrease in time therefore spent in CF Watford. I had initially worked it so that I’d still be getting enough CrossFit time in but work has a habit of rudely getting in the way of my personal life and so I had to make the decision to focus on one thing at a time!

Of course, it was also notable that my third 800m run was almost as fast as the first! So, what I lose in one area, I gain in another; let’s face it, barbell work is a lot more fun than running though so once this event is over, while I’ll keep up the open water swimming, it’s back to the box for strength!!

Open Water Swimming

20170531_182907

Having tried 3 lakes recently, I’ve settled on one that I didn’t even know existed until last week. Merchant Taylors School, Northwood, has a beautiful lake that is open to swimmers every Wednesday evening during the warmer months. At £6 per session, the 750m loop is a little puddle of heavenly joy. The school provides ample parking and  wonderful changing facilities to the managerial ‘club’ from Hercules Events. What I would say though is that while the chalkboard might read, “20C” as the temp, this is only true for the shallower areas of the lake! There are certainly some cooler spots that unexpectedly leap on you as you splash your way around the circuit 😀 I completed 2 laps (1.5km) this evening in 33 mins. The limitations of my Garmin were evident though – it is absolutely ninja at calculating pool swims but ropey outdoors; I did know this to be the case before it was purchased. That said, it could have been the app I was using – next week I’ll use the stock triathlon app that comes with it.

20170531_192431

Running

I didn’t manage to get out on a long distance run last week. 7 miles the week before as far as I’ve succeeded in so far. Keeping at around 7min 30sec per mile, I am quietly confident about the event overall. I’ve not yet practiced transitioning from swim to run but liberal application of Shea Body Butter should make the job easier! 😀 😀

CrossFit

In amongst the endurance work, I have been enjoying 3-4 sessions of CrossFit per week, including garage sessions too:

20170528_080836

I had intense Glute DOMS from Rear Rack Reverse Lunges (90kg) 2 days prior. I’d have hoped for at least a minute faster than this but to be honest, I was happy to get through it alive 😀

Nutrition

  • Carbs: 35%
  • Fats: 30%
  • Protein: 35%

Total KCal: 2300 + exercise deficit

This continues to be my plan, but with a recent tweak. While I set my total at 2300KCal based on bodyweight and requirement to get a little bigger and a little stronger, I didn’t take in to account KCal expended during exercise. This has resulted in my weight remaining pretty stable at 82kg. Since receiving my beautiful Garmin Vivoactive HR for my recent birthday, coupled with the heart rate strap, I have begun tracking my expenditure a bit more. Now, this is fraught with error, I get that – in order to not blow my good work prior to Summer hols, I am taking that watch’s assessment and reducing it by 10-15% before adding the total to my daily intake requirements. I shall continue to monitor body composition over the next month or so to note changes.

 

So, there’s the update for now. Once things calm down a bit with work and training, I’ll pick up the blog a bit more. Until then, have a peaceful and safe evening, wherever you are. x

Setting an Example, Out at the Front, not at the Top.

 

We are the Coaches.We are empowered and entrusted to develop the health and wellbeing of athletes. We have a responsibility to Deliver. We Set the Example. We Lead from the Front.

This statement I firmly believe in and I would like to take this time to break it down.

The Whiteboard. Being a coach to athletes is not about being at the top of the whiteboard, day in and day out. As a coach, there is certainly a degree of credibility that comes from being in the top few % though. Who is going to follow the person who doesn’t demonstrate a strong level of all round fitness, regardless of their competencies. At least, not in this game, perhaps more so in elite, specific sports where the coach is intentionally detached from playing but who has demonstrated high levels of competence as a dedicated coach. In fitness, you trust the person who demonstrates fitness. As coaches, it is our job to make those around us better than us and so there will always be people above us on the whiteboard. Plus, time spent coaching is time spent not training which will have an impact.

Communication is about more than words. It is the sum of our words and deeds. Simply put, we cannot expect athletes to listen to what we say if we don’t follow it ourselves. We are being watched ALL THE TIME. Our words are just part of what we are saying. How we act, how we move, the example we set…these are powerful messages. Don’t get me wrong, I am hardly the most virtuous CrossFitter out there. I like chocolate, I like a little cake sometimes and I drink too much caffeine in the form of Monster Zero (yep, I do); I may or may not have a secret thing for Cool Doritos too. But in front of the athletes (and 80% of the time generally), it’s professional, competent and leading by example. While on communication, be careful to not overstep the bounds of your own knowledge – not rumour or heresay, knowledge. Bad advice and guidance, no matter how well intentioned, is bad advice and is not guidance. Seek help the moment you are outside your comfort zone. And then go and dive in to the books and learn!

Programming. If we are following completely different programmes then how do we sell our programme to the athletes? Standfast those on competitor programming vice General Physical Preparedness (although CrossFit opposes this view too), but if you turn up and stroll to the other end of the box to do your own thing while others are sweating in a heap on the floor then it screams, “this programme isn’t good enough for me but it’s good enough for you”. Back to my previous point about not being top of the whiteboard, you still have to be ON that whiteboard. Athletes want to see how they measure up against you; as coaches, it’s good to see where you measure up too.

Nutrition. In the words of the guy who took me through my Level 1, 5 years ago, “here be monsters”. Nutrition is a thorny subject – everyone is set in their ways, there are thousands of competing ‘diets’ and approaches. However, one thing that almost all agree on is to reduce/remove refined sugars, have some starch, have some nuts & seeds, eat lean protein, eat tonnes of beautiful, green leafy veg (REAL FOOD). Within that, you can weigh/measure/count what you like within your preference. Personally, as you know, I weigh my food for 5 days a week and see considerable benefits by the 35% Carbs / 35% Protein / 30% Fat model. Of course, quantities of each do depend on your activity levels and goals. BUT what is not included are heavily processed, manufactured, brightly coloured products that contain clearly artificial ingredients but which have killa names obviously designed to get you to part with your cash as quickly as possible.  As coaches, it is hard enough attempting to talk about basic nutrition while competing with highly-funded advertising, what is even harder is if trainers in your profession advocate them too – I should mention that this is not a common occurrence in CF Watford; it really isn’t. I’m merely highlighting a point as something that I have witness. The only way we can compete with dissociated advertising is with the up-close-and-personal approach that a coach delivers.

Effort. We might not be the best in the box. Our mobility might not be where it should be. We will have our ‘goats’ too – things to work on. But as coaches, we demonstrate the effort required to get to that next stage of fitness. We put in the full range of movement in the burpee box jump, and we explain why. We fight to maintain external shoulder rotation in the shoulders during overhead squats, and we explain why. The athletes have to see that we work as hard as they do in every facet of the coaching session. You might not think it but they are looking to see your progressions too. And this goes for that 6am session that we really didn’t want to get out of bed for too. The athletes made it, we need to bring our A-Game, even if we don’t feel like it.

Scaling. We might Rx most things…but we didn’t used to. Not only that, we shouldn’t always, either. Scaling plays its part in all our development but the coach scaling a workout occasionally will also send the message to some of the more ‘determined’ athletes, “hey, if coach is scaling, perhaps I should too”. You might have told that to scale a thousand times but nothing demonstrates “leave your ego at the door” better than actually doing it ourselves.

Jumping in on WODs. This is a habit that I started getting in on but have now drawn back from. CrossFit is not cheap. It is far more expensive than typical gym memberships, despite not having the free towels, DVD memberships, spas, beautiful changing rooms and TVs. It is expensive because athletes pay for the value that a coach brings in giving them the personal attention throughout the 60 mins of the day that they invest in. It is our duty to unrelentingly pursue their progression and development. If there is another coach present to take over then dive on in – athletes do want to compete against the coaches, after all. But ultimately, they pay for coaching; they didn’t pay for globogym.

So, that about covers it, I think, although I’m sure I’ll think of something else as soon as I publish this.

Is there anything you look for in your coaches? Are there strong examples out there that we could learn from? Are there bad examples out there that we can learn from?

Answers, not on a postcard, but in the comments box below.

Cheers.

My Nutrition & Slowing Down for the Open

Good Nutrition = Results

(You can’t out-train a Bad Diet)

I’ve just signed up for a Swim/Trail Run Duathlon in June!!! – 1km Sea Swim and 15km Trail Run, Devon, 25 June. More to follow…..

My nutrition has come up for a bit of discussion lately. Specifically, it came up more at the end of my recent post on “Miscounting”; I suspect this is because I drew people in (one of my highest ever read posts) but they then saw what it is I am eating routinely, and the immediate question from across the board was, “where are your carbs?!”.  First up, I need to assure (reassure) readers that I do eat enough (now) 😀 From a purely bodyweight point of view, not that I regularly weigh myself, I am still at or about 13st (182lbs). I have been this weight since….forever. Critically, in the last 5 years (of CrossFit), my waist has shrunk, chest expanded, body fat decreased (not as much as I would like), legs and arms grown, etc, etc. I take 2100mg of DPA/EHA (high quality Omega 3 oils) each day too. Now, that’s not to say that I have always got it right, not even in the recent past. When working on a squat programme last year, despite it being an excellent programme (not my own, I might add), I failed to improve my 1RM in 3 months of 3 sessions per week. Not a single Kg. Happily, my thrusters, wall balls and muscular endurance all shot through the roof but my actual strength flat-lined. I can only contribute this to nutrition and simply not eating enough / correctly. I remember how hard I worked in those sessions and know it wasn’t through lack of effort.

How Much. In reviewing goals for this year and in preparation for CF Open 2017, I watched, “Eating for Strength” from Barbell Shrugged (link below) where macros were outlined in broad order to promote strength and growth. Through that, and using MyFitnessPal to monitor, I realised that I was not getting anywhere close to enough Protein, was eating too much fat (should have been obvious) and not enough carbs to support high intensity training. Taking on board the “1g protein / lb bodyweight” advice for increased strength and growth, and typically “1g Carbs / lb bodyweight”, this amounts to (by KCal) 35% Carbs / 35% Protein / 30% Fats. This gives me a daily requirement for 184g of Carbs, 184g of Protein and 70g of Fats (approx 2100 KCal – a few over here and there are fine as long as the targets are met). Interestingly, this amounts to approximately 2100 KCal per day, some 400 below the generally accepted ‘norm’ of 2500 for an adult male. By and large, I hit these targets on a daily basis now and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I need to continue with this for the next few months, through the competition, and monitor changes. See Links below.

What I Eat. In terms of What I eat to meet those goals, I like to think that I have taken a “100% Clean, 80% of the Time” healthy view of it. I eat a few nuts and seeds, oats, milk (recently dropped from full fat to semi-skimmed to balance fat requirements), chicken/tuna, lots of eggs and lots of leaves / green veg. My evening meals are typically around 200-250g of lean beef / chicken with some rice and lots of veg again. Sure, I have MyProtein Whey Protein to supplement post-WOD and sometimes before bed (with milk) but this is to ensure I meet my targets in a simple, easily digestible manner.

I can report a noticeable reduction in body fat in the 4-5 weeks or so that I’ve been following and tweaking this.

 

 

AM Snatch Programme

5 x 5 Hi-Hang Snatch Hi-Pull

50 / 55 / 60 / 65 / 70kg

super sets: 5 x 5 Snatch Balance (Strict)

45 / 47.5 / 50 / 52.5 / 52.5kg

With the Open approaching next week, I am not going to increase my Snatch strength now. Instead, I have opted for a higher number, more time on the bar and slightly lower weights. This will support barbell cycling, which is going to come up more than outright strength. I am particularly happy with the Snatch Balances. These were done completely strict, with no heave – this is specifically all about the confidence to push yourself under that bar and QUICKLY.

PM CrossFit Watford Session

Partner WOD

7 Rounds of:

  • 1min Burpees
  • 1min Row (Cals)
  • 1min Rest

Score = Total Burpees and Cals between you.

Lauren was all on her lonesome this evening and so I swallowed the sickening feeling, having only eaten an hour previously, and joined her. We managed a respectable total of 427 between us. I kept to a pace of 18 cals per Min, on average, and 16 or 17 Burpees each minute. I’m pleased with this overall.

Nutrition

  • Pre-AM Session: Nothing – I forgot!!
  • Breakfast: 35g Oats, 200ml semi-skimmed Milk, 1 tbsp dessicated Coconut + 20g Whey Protein, 200ml semi-skimmed Milk.
  • Mid-Morning Snack: a few almonds, a walnut, a hazelnut + 2 x small boiled eggs.
  • Lunch: 3 x Scrambled Eggs (with 100ml semi-skimmed Milk), 25g Protein Cheese, 2 x Corned Beef Slices, 20g Leaves.
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: Nil
  • Dinner: Chicken Rogan Josh (250g Chicken  Breast, 210g Sharwoods Rogan Josh sauce), 100g White Rice
  • Post-WOD: U-Fit Banana Protein Drink (this pushed me over my protein numbers)
  • Drink: 1 pint of Becks Blue (alcohol free)
  • TOTAL Cals: 2085! Boom!

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

 

Links

Eating: your choice vs polite company

Junk food you’ve craved for an hour or the health & fitness you’ve craved for a lifetime?

 

Having spent the last 4 days on my own terms, eating what and when I liked, I am now back with family for the weekend. While Mrs Nomad knows my immediate goals for this year, diet is always one of those ‘taboo’ subjects to discuss in polite society. In the words of Karl Steadman, my CrossFit Level 1 Course Coach, “here be monsters!”. This weekend is being spent with Mrs Nomad’s family in North Devon; we’ve not seen them since before Christmas and so this is a bit of a celebratory weekend in itself. They actually take a lot of care with what they eat normally anyway and so you’d think maintaining my ongoing plan would be easy. But, of course, what I consider right for me is not necessarily what they consider right for them.  So how do I broach the subject of my eating plan and stick to the good work that I have managed throughout this week?

The answer is that I don’t. Not really.

When it comes to diet, I believe that it really pays not to take it 100% strictly. I own a great “As Rx” t-shirt that reads, “100% Paleo, 80% of the time.” I think this is a good approach.

  • Firstly, you can become exceedingly boring (and bored) if you don’t allow yourself some freedoms in your diet. I am not advocating splurging out on weekends regularly but you have to accept that there will be restrictions in your planning and allow yourself some ‘play’ in your diet. For instance, I had to attend a last minute set of meetings in London this week. I did not have time to plan my own lunch and knew I’d be hit with sandwiches, sausage rolls and related ‘beigeness’. Thinking ahead, I grabbed an apple and tangerine on the way in, just to tide me over while everyone stuffed themselves with pastries. During the break, I was able to nip out and grab an (overpriced) egg salad with nuts, seeds, good fats, etc.
  • Secondly, food and drink are an important part of social occasions; sticking to a diet distinctly different to those around you, unless you have a medical / religious issue that is understood by all, can appear extremely rude. To sit at someone else’s table, confronted by wonderfully roasted potatoes and a pint of Woodfordes beer, just to snub it in favour of “proteins,  no carbs, thanks” is foolish.
  • Thirdly, we’re playing the long game here. I’ve returned to how I was eating in summer/autumn last year, before the silly season kicked in. This is not about a fad diet to shed a few pounds before beach season (“Globogym! Because we’re better than you, and we know it!”). If you’re spending 80% of your time without the junk, sugar, alcohol, processed crap then you’re doing well.  The fact is that much of the fun stuff is junk…really tasty, sweet, delicious junk. There are times when it is absolutely necessary to abuse yourself and have fun with others. And there are times where you will eat beyond things your control.

So don’t beat yourself up and get upset if you find yourself confronted with a plate of rice / potatoes / toast / beans (pick your selected dietary aversion). Control your portion size, be polite and enjoy it! If you really are focused on a longterm change then a few individual breaks are not going to harm you.

NomadCelt’s 2017 Goals

wp-1483463235645.jpg

New Dawn

Be More Awesome than Last Year

As we say a fare-ye-well and good riddance to 2016, it’s time to think about what we want to achieve in 2017 and why we want to achieve it. New Year’s Resolutions are all well and good; New Year is a chance for a fresh start after a natural pause in life. However, all too often they are ill thought out. Like any goal, you need to be absolutely invested in it and fully understand why you want to achieve it. You then absolutely have to set targets in time as well as have a back-up plan in case life gets in the way and you have to either accelerate or slow-down your plan. Goal Setting is a skill in itself and I’d be extremely happy to help anyone identify, set and achieve their goals in 2017. Just send me a message or drop a comment below.

open

NomadCelt’s 2017 Health & Fitness Goals

Achieve a top 25% placing in the CrossFit Open 2017 – Feb/Mar 17. After a strong 2016 where my anaerobic and aerobic capacities significantly increased (even if my strength plateaued), I believe that I am on course for this one. However, with the introduction of the new Masters Category (35-40 years old), I don’t know how that will affect things. Depending on how it was calculated, I either achieved this last year or was back down in the 50%s. This year, I intend calculating it against all those who entered the Masters RX competition.

zone-food-pyramidLook and Feel Healthier. Counter to what I said above about setting tangible objectives, this one initially appears subjective. In Summer 2016, I believe I felt and looked the healthiest that I have ever been. The autumn and subsequent Christmas binge scuppered that. I am bloated, ‘irregular’, sleeping poorly and feel sluggish. I will exceed my Summer 2016 view of myself no later than the end of Feb 17. To achieve this:

  • I will measure myself and take photos in the next week – they will not be published ;).
  • I will be back to a Zone-based, clean-eating plan (more to follow), recorded within the CF Watford Community pages.
  • I will absolutely reduce alcohol and treats to weekend activities and special-occasions; even then, they will be limited.
  • I will be in bed no later than 2230 each night; no later than 2200 when training / coaching at 0600 the following day.
  • I will measure / photo myself again at the end of Feb.

Comratracelogoplete 2 x Obstacle Course Races. I have intentionally not run more than a few miles in the past year. My achilles and ankles have long-term issues that I wanted to give a chance to resolve. This appears to be the case and I intend running again this year. It is my aim to complete 1 x 10km and 1 x 10km+ Obstacle Course Race (Spartan / Rock Solid / Rat Race, etc) this year. Accompanying and supporting this goal, I also intend entering some of the more extreme cross-country races on offer.

the_snatch_5

yeah, obviously not me!

Strength / Olympic Lifting. A weakness for SO long, this is an area that I am determined to address. I have established a workable olympic lifting programme and will implement it as of tomorrow morning.

But WHY?

My ultimate aim, my unifying purpose, is to be the healthiest and fittest that I can be as a parent. I wish my children to see me as a positive role model in this regard and perhaps to emulate my thirst for health & fitness themselves. Mrs Nomad provides so much to their development and I sometimes feel a little bit of an outsider, especially as a military daddy to 3 girls! I will be that 50 year old father still taking part in the the parents’ race at school sports days (and winning #obvs!). With luck, I will be the grandfather throwing the long spin pass out to my grandchildren – in a VERY long time, I might add!

By taking part in competitions, they can see me competing not to win but for the love of taking part and being part of a team as well as in individual competitions. I also get the added bonus in that I love OCRs! I hope for them to see that not everything in life is easy but that the most worthwhile things take a bit of grunt.

By having a healthy and fit approach to life, I hope for them to be able to see what such an attitude will enable them to do with their life; the freedoms it brings in absolutely every aspect of life compared to unhealthy, poorly maintained people.

In the meantime though, I want to look good. Just like everyone else.

I am happy to admit it; it’s a powerful motivator.

22 Apr 15 – Nutrition Crash

 

Just a little update to today’s blogging on a subject that has upset me today and continues to.

Nutrition. Despite the best intentions and all the knowledge in the world, I still managed to stuff my face with bloody chips (sorry, Potato Fries to Americans) this evening. There they were in front of me and I had fuck all willpower to resist them; really quite disappointing but they tasted fantastic! It was Gluten Free Fish & Chips “treat night” as Mrs Nomad’s mother is leaving us tomorrow after a nice visit down with us. I told myself all day that I had to put the effort in to the WOD in order to justify the beautiful, golden, crispy battered cod but I wasn’t going to touch the chips. All day I told myself that. All day! Then one whiff of the salt and vinegar and I was like a half-starved tramp gorging myself on potatoes.

I keep telling myself that I’m working really hard and need to fuel the engine (when I over-eat) but I know it’s not the case. Sure, I’m working hard and while you can put cooking oil in to a high power diesel engine, you really shouldn’t.

And there is just a little Cadbury’s chocolate still laying about from Easter too. There’s 1 more Creme egg of mine and then it’s all gone until next year.

So this is me, once again giving myself a kick to sort this out!

 

02 Jan 15 – Chip, Chip, Chip Away

After crawling out of bed at 0540, it was down the hatch with some protein and a mug of coffee poured in to the travel mug before driving off to the box. I handed back the coaching key this morning and it was quite refreshing to be concentrating on my own workout again.  We (3 of us) began with Back Squats and moved in to a long chipper.

5 x 5 Back Squat (@80% 1RM)

100 / 110 / 110 / 110 / 110

This was a full 50kg (10 per round) better than last week and is not far off my best for a 5 x 5. Considering it is Friday and I’ve not been training regularly over this last 2 weeks, this was a good enough showing. I’m determined to get my squat technique up to scratch and am enjoying the programming in this regard. With a bit of hard work I’ll be back up to my maximum and beyond in pretty short order.

The Chipper to end the week was:

16min AMRepAP

  • 60 x Burpees
  • 50 x Toes to Bar
  • 40 x Wall Balls (9kg @ 10′)
  • 30 x Power Clean @ 60kg
  • 20 x Muscle Ups

Total: 170 Reps

The Burpees paced nicely and I was hoping to make up good ground in the Toes to Bar. However, I wasn’t able to string more than 5 together at a time through shoulder fatigue so broke it up in to chunks. The Wall Balls were routine, pushing out a 20 and 2 x 10. I should have gone harder in the outset and hit an unbroken 30 but I was determined to leave something in the tank for the Power Cleans. Sure enough, with 2 mins to go I hammered out 4 sets of 5 reps in the Power Cleans and was happy with that, especially the technique.

Diet

Pre WOD – 25g Whey Protein

Breakfast – Oats, Nuts, Dried Fruit and a small glass of Apple juice.

Lunch – Scotch Egg (Gluten Free), carrot salad, roasted veg tart (from last night) and a bowl of Chicken Soup.

Snack – half a fistful of dried fruit and nuts.

Dinner – homemade Chicken Stir Fry. Tonnes of veg, no noodles

Sweet – Small piece of Gluten Free Christmas cake (no more after tomorrow).

I have had sugar cravings this afternoon and find myself staring at Mrs Nomad’s open Terry’s Chocolate Orange pieces. Controlled it well though, we will see how Saturday shapes up.