CrossFit Open 2018 – Final Scores

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CF Open 2017

  • Worldwide Masters (35-39) – 86th %tile
  • Europe Central Masters (35-39) – 87th %tile

CF Open 2018

  • Target: place higher than 2017
  • Stretch Target: 90th %tile

Achievement

  • Worldwide Masters (35-39) – 85th %tile
  • Europe Central Masters (35-39) – 89th %tile

I’m happy. I dropped a placing Worldwide and gained 2 in Europe Central. When you look at my per-WOD scores and take in to account the car crash of 18.2, you see that I actually did pretty damned well. Indeed, only 30 secs faster on 18.2 would have seen me well above the 90th %tile, perhaps as high as 91st, with my Worldwide score beating my target handsomely. Oh, for a bit of a kick in the pants during that WOD. Nevermind. It’s done now.

I hadn’t quite realised it either but this is my final year in the 35-39 Masters category. As of next year I shall be in the 40-44 age group!

So what’s next?

Well, tomorrow I begin my first non-Open competition with “The Battle For The Middle Ground“. 3 WODs over 3 weeks as Qualifiers, with the finals in Huddersfield 15/16 June. I’m competing in the Masters Middle Ground division and obviously have no intent on reaching the finals, I just want more competition experience to ensure I don’t crash out as I did in 18.2. And besides, it gives me something to work towards, I love competing and don’t get the chance all that often. After this…more of the same, I hope, with the UK Throwdown Event in October looming too.

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C.F. Open 18. Performance and Understanding – a review of me

Grab yourself an organic, large Americano, put on some modern dance jazz, and put your feet up.

I’m sat in Leon in Moorgate, London, feeling comfortable and mindful while I wait for an Augmented Intelligence presentation in an hour. With C.F. Open EOD 18.5 looming on the immediate horizon, I’m in the perfect frame of mind to reflect on this year’s Open as it stands, and begin to look forward to the new training year 18-19.

I entered Open 18 on the back of a very strong training year. I’ve posted some really consistent improvements, in strength as well as conditioning. Personal Bests have been achieved, repeated, and overcome again. The atmosphere in CrossFit Watford has been simply incredible at times, the box tourism has been brilliant, and the little garage gym has served me extremely well too.

It was with real enthusiasm and excited anticipation that I approached C.F. Open 18. Last year’s percentile placings were 86th Worldwide Masters (35-39) and 84th Europe Masters. Year on year growth since 2012. Always wanting to just be better than the previous year, I set that as a goal but added a ‘stretch’ target of top 10% Masters Worldwide. Why not?

Score: 315 Reps Rx – 86th %tile, Europe Central Masters

Starting relatively ‘basic’ this was an all-inclusive workout that meant all boxes, all standards could have a crack RX and get off to a flying start. Plenty of strategies were published and I was determined to to follow one instead if just hammering it. With an aim to complete each row at approx 1200Kcal per hour, all TTB as 5/3, and all DB Cleans unbroken, I followed this to the letter, meeting it every time. Of course, the problem here being that I took my expected average Kcal per hour from an out of date 2000km Row attempt. I realised perhaps too late (after the wod!) That I should have pushed to an extra 50Kcal per hour or so to squeak out a few extra reps. However, all in all, not a bad start.

Time: 8:48 Rx + 103kg Clean. 70th %tile Europe Central Masters

I cocked this one up royally. Trying to follow a strategy again, I was far too paced on the Burpees. Completely unbroken throughout, I got stuck in a pace and realised too late to change it. It was when I finished the 7s and someone shouted “3:50” that I realised my mistake and had nothing left in really speed up. My video shows me leisurely jumping over the final bar in stark contrast to the retching and vomiting of others. Bollocks. I rapidly composed myself and hit the cleans, achieving a weight that I would never have been able to do this time last year, testament to the extra time I have carved it for specific strength training this year.

Total: 317 Reps Rx, 85th %tile Europe Central Masters

A bit of a mixed bag here. With my child-like ankles and duff Achilles, I knew that I was going to suffer on the double unders. I’ve avoided them a lot this year. So, it was a massive surprise when I hit 100 unbroken in the first round, in a time of 62 seconds! I think it was helped by a certain song coming on right at the start, telling me that my dad was definitely watching (“Thanks Dad, I miss you buddy!”). I did start the dubs with genuine tears in my eyes and a smile on my face 😂. The overhead squats were broke once, not to plan but I wobbled and dropped it. Quickly regained and finished though. The next set of dubs were a challenge. My right Achilles twinged immediately and I was forced to slow it right down, breaking 3 or 4 times. It was the muscle ups that really broke me though. Singles from the start, I was forced back in to false grip, almost strict, efforts despite the recent focus on neutral grip. Definitely work to do here in the next year. The 3rd set of dubs really, really hurt and I managed 85 in the remaining time.

Total: 92 Rx, 90th %tile Europe Central Masters

Well, all I can say is that I’m thankful that I am still ok at handstand push ups. I was RAGING at the end of this one, as the immense crew of CrossFit Plymouth soon saw. In the past, I’ve completed “Diane” (the first round of 21-15-9) in 4:51 previously. This time…8:50. However, never have I attempted these standards for Handstand Pushups. It’s insane. I believe the standards are unfair but I’ll cover that at a later date, they are what they are. I was left with 10 secs to Deadlift the 143kg bar, which I managed twice. Despite my upset at the time, I’ve since hugely mellowed, having seen how the whole community has struggled with it too. Again though, as per ring muscle ups, there is work to do in this next year.

Looking ahead to 18.5, with the Open not complete, I’d like to share some thoughts about myself from this year’s experience.

1. I am too hard on myself. I put too much pressure on myself this year and have unfairly chastised myself in the wake of apparent “defeat”. Not hitting my ‘stretch target’ of Top 10% is not failure; not in the eyes of the other coaches, the athletes nor in any other sense. With the exception of cocking up 18.2, the others scores are solid and a good basis for yet more development.

2. CrossFit. As demonstrated particularly by the ring MUs and handstand push ups, I am not “cross fit”. I have gained strength over the last year but at the expense of the gymnastic movements. As the new training year begins, I will review my programming accordingly. Gymnastic movements have been my strength over the last few years and I need to regain that.

3. Coaching Credibility. As a coach in CrossFit Watford, among some genuinely talented coaches and athletes, I don’t feel like I have necessarily led by example on the scoreboard. A post for another time but I feel that CrossFit Coaches are required to lead by example in a way not necessarily born out in other sports. However, this pressure is absolutely unwarranted and I need to get over it. Coaching is not about being top of leaderboards; it’s about knowing what your athletes need (not always just in the box) and understanding how to help them achieve their goals, ensuring high standards of performance throughout. That said, I feel that consistent Top 10% is probably a realistic benchmark for coaches to achieve, within their respective age group, of course! 😂

Despite knowing these things, I have been incredibly frustrated and upset throughout this competition. I felt ready, free of injury, and on an upward track yet haven’t quite hit the higher notes that I felt I could have. Sure, not every day is a PR day but given my perceived advancement over the last year (and there really have been some excellent ones), I wanted to demonstrate that to myself and to our team (#bluebadgeholders, I love you lot). I feel like I haven’t but have to reset again for next year. In my heart, I know I’ve been too hard on myself and that I’ve done pretty well (less 18.2) but still…more to do.

There are a few people who have known my incredible frustration over the course of this Open and who I should thank. Starting with Mrs Nomad, she’s been incredibly supportive and grounding. Heading out each Saturday morning for the workout, after I only commuted home late the night before, will have been annoying but she knows I love it. To the 3 genuinely talented athlete coaches, Charlie, Hat, and Tash (and James of CrossFit Plymouth!)…they help to put it all in perspective and bring many decades of collective competitive experience that I simply don’t have. And, to the athletes in CrossFit Watford and CrossFit Plymouth…2 awesome communities that I would love to tie together somehow.

All that’s left is Open WOD 18.5. The clue suggests back-to-back-to-back WODs…its being hosted by 3 female athletes…my guess is Fran in to Karen in to Isabel. You heard it here first. I’ll be taking this one with far more laughter and less seriousness, don’t worry. I’ve learned a lot and will develop strongly from my 5th Open comp.

#strongerthanyesterday

Prelude: CrossFit Games Open 2018

CrossFit Games Open 2018

Its that time of year again. Since first taking part in 2012, in Afghanistan, and officially entering in 2013, the CrossFit Games Open competition has become a staple of my year. If I compete in nothing else, I move all I have to in order to ensure I can compete in this.

Why?

It’s my annual stock take. It’s the review of my training, demonstrating my improving fitness year on year. It’s a chance to throwdown with those I’ve trained and have trained with. It’s an opportunity to see how prepared I am for the ‘unknown and unknowable’ as Dave Castro does his best to challenge us in new and imaginative ways.

Goal

My final Masters (35-39) placing last year was 86th percentile (top 14%), with it slightly higher across Europe with 87th percentile. The goal this year is of course to beat that, with an ambitious target of 90th percentile for Masters worldwide.

Can I do it? I believe I can. I worked extremely hard on strength in 2017, improving significantly in all lifts. My CV conditioning is also greatly improved, with regular PBs coming in benchmark WODs. Sure, I’ll need to be illness-free to make this work. I usually suffer during at least 1 WOD but have taken a week of rest this year prior to the run-up. With a great deal of travel over the next few weeks, I’ve also booked in to other boxes to ensure I can squeeze them in.

One and Done

Each year, I promise I’ll be “one and done” but always repeat at least one. I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity this year, with some having to be performed on Friday AM, and others on Monday PM. Unless something goes very wrong, it will be ‘one and done’.

Fun

Yes, I want to show improvement. But there are too many things out of my hands. If I don’t succeed, it’s not the end of the world. It has to be about Fun, first and foremost. Enjoying the experience, wherever it takes place, and putting my all in to it, leaving nothing in the tank for ‘if only’.

So, Dave, bring it on. Show me what you got. I’m ready.

2018, Let’s Begin.

With goals established for 2018 (See previous post), and the final big family gathering (feasting) of the season complete, it’s time to kick off 2018.

Moving away from building strength and focusing on the looming C.F. Open 2018, it’s time to spend a little more time on MetCons and less on pure strength. This means more EMOMs instead of the AMRAP Plus One programme to supplement C.F. Watford programming. My weakness remains barbell cycling, a key likely component of the Open WODs, and so this is entirely logical; I know I can make big improvements here within the next 2 months.

Nutrition-wise, it’s back to the successes of the second half of last year. Keeping with 40% complex carbs, 35% protein, 25% fat, it’ll look something like:

Breakfast: 80g Huel

Snack: Huel Bar or pressed fruit bar

Lunch: 120g Flavoured Rice, 120g Chicken

Snack: 10-15g Nuts

Dinner: 1 x Takeaway tub-sized meal with rice / sweet potato, loads of veg, 200g (approx) chicken/fish.

Post-WOD: 40g Huel + 35g Whey protein.

Pre-Bed Drink: 200ml Semi-skimmed Milk + Cocoa powder.

This is pretty balanced and typically brings me up to the 2400KCal range; I do monitor as best I can with my Garmin Vivoactive HR, with heart rate monitor band, but it’s never perfect, only a reasonable gauge. I must ensure that I’m getting my carbs in about 30-45mins before the workout, typically in the evenings, so that I’m primed for the session.

My recent DNAFit Fitness Diet Pro test threw up a few added details in there which directly affect my nutrition but I’ll write about those in a future post.

So, until the next time, LET’S DO THIS! See you in the box.

 

 

Unexpected Gains. No Goals, but still some Successes.

Motivation is What gets you Started,

Habit is what Keeps you Going.

My last post covered the problems associated with having no over-arching “Why” to drive you to achieve success. Well, me, specifically. We define “the Why” as that intrinsic (internal to oneself) motivator that keeps you focused on your goal. Without one, I would argue, you could become lost to the wilderness of laziness, sitting in your pants on a bed eating mince pies (“maybe”), and consigning training to the ‘all too difficult’ pile. I argued in my last post that while you can achieve a level of success without a ‘Why’, you will never achieve your true potential.

Strength

Well, while I struggle with my ‘why’, and just let “Habit” drive me to the box on a pissy wet Thursday 6AM session, I should also take stock of the successes I’ve had in CrossFit and strength over the last few months. Specifically, I embarked on a Weightlifting programme much earlier this year, with the goal of, by Christmas, a 110kg Clean & Jerk, and an 80kg Snatch. “Why”? Because the last few CrossFit Opens have highlighted a weakness in my strength. Why do I want to do better at the CrossFit Open despite it not leading to anything higher? Dunno…..

Anyway, I began the programme in March, I think, with my personal bests as:

  • Clean & Jerk – 102.5kg
  • Snatch – 75kg (persistent for 2 years)
  • Bench Press – 105kg
  • Strict Press – 82.5kg
  • Deadlift – 200kg (last achieved in CrossFit Keelhaul, circa Jan 14)

Following the AMRAPPlusOne 13-week Weightlifting Programme (@amrapplusone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), I dipped in and out as my schedule allowed. There was a 3-4 week break in May, and I restarted the programme as soon as I completed it; I’m on Day 55 again now.

In that time, I also recognised that I wasn’t eating enough, and upped my KCals per day to 2400 (from 2100) to cope with morning strength sessions and evening CrossFit Watford sessions. My bodyweight was 82kg when I started.

As at now, my scores are:

  • Clean & Jerk – 107.5kg +5kg
  • Snatch – 80kg +5kg
  • Bench Press – 112.5kg +7.5kg
  • Strict Press – 85kg +2.5kg
  • Deadlift – 200kg +Same

Bodyweight: 84kg +2kg

It’s now late November and I have defeated my Snatch goal; I reset that immediately in an attempt to get an 82.5kg Snatch by Christmas. I have also achieved 77.5kg at 0630hrs very recently (yesterday) which shows that I am becoming more comfortable at those weights. A 5kg increase in C&J is pleasing and I’m ploughing on to get my target. If I don’t, it’s no biggie, it might have been a little ambitious and I am pleased with where I’ve got to so far. The Bench Press and Strict Press have been a bit of a surprise but perhaps shouldn’t have been given CF Watford’s strength programme, and my extra food intake. While the Deadlift was a ‘match’ for a previous best, I have not been able to get even close to that since Jan 14; considering the extra 3.5 years I now have on that, I am exceptionally pleased with that.

CrossFit

Without going back through my notes too much, there are also notable increases in CrossFit across the board: Barbell cycling has improved (not as much as I would like but it really has done); balance and proprioception (especially in Pistols!!);  Wall Balls (50 unbroken this morning, without a warm up and ‘easily’); I have a much better endurance ‘engine’ (seen with significantly improved FGB-style WODs); and I’ve improved in gymnastic ability overall (muscle ups, handstand walking, etc). As the New Year rolls in, I’ll be seeking to lean-out a little after Christmas and will then switch focus to the 8-15 min MetCons that are typical of the CF Open. Goal for CF Open 2018? Better than last year, despite the age 😉

Reflection

A reflection like this is extremely important every so often; it’s easy to think that you’re in a rut and have plateaued but if you stick to CrossFit as it is meant to be (5 days per week, 3 days on , 1 day off) then you’re unlikely to truly plateau and will always see gains, as long as you get the nutrition, rest and mobility in too.

So, even without a deep, burning “Why”, “habit” is enough to keep you going – for how long? I guess we’ll have to wait and see; that said, I feel a new goal is just around the corner (top 20% on CF Open, anyone?)

Recovering from Injury; “We Can Rebuild Him”

We can rebuild him!

Thanks to tvtropes.org

“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.

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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.

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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!”.

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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.

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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.

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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! 😉

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Nomadic Gains

Sorry, sorry, sorry!

Yes, I know it’s been a few weeks since the Huel Review post. I have no excuse and seek your forgiveness. Do I have it? Cool, thanks! You guys and girls are great.

So, I’ve been away for the last few weeks. My travels and holidays haven’t stopped me working out though, and I’ve seen gains on the way.

Before I get in to the travels….a new Clean & Jerk Personal Record! After the 103.5kg a short while ago, I then nailed 105kg…followed with 107.5kg in the garage gym, on a Sunday! @amrapplusone programming really pulling me up this hill. Love it!

First up, Tampa, Florida. Yeah, boy!

Florida in July. All with work but after a 9hr flight, I was invited to throwdown in CrossFit TAS by a long-time buddy of mine. Yep, within 90 mins of landing, this was us:

CrossFit TAS are regular Regionals Team competitors and yeah, it shows. What a box. Newbies and elite athletes throwing down together to the same programming each day. Immense attitude and genuinely friendliness too, top bunch. It was awesome to catch up with Roly. He got me in to CrossFit in early 2012 although he has really progressed onward and upward. Great to see.

Next up, back to the garage gym and another Personal Record, this time in the Snatch.

Using my 10.5kg York Beefy Bar, and a random collection of old plates, I secured a 77.5kg Snatch. That’s 2.5kg higher than a number that I’ve held for over 2 years, unchanged.

Staying in the garage gym at home, I also recorded this little number: https://youtu.be/kRCmAJJirJQ

Do check it out.

In between all of that, I’ve been getting workouts in regularly, not letting the excuse for a British Summer put me off with its regular downpours and cold snaps. We’ve also been out and about in Cornwall and North Devon. While I have no photos, I did this on the beach in Combe Martin:

I ran the mile down to the beach in an ok 7:30, did the WOD with a piece of wall, bricks and cement (all unbroken) and then staggered back the second mile.

So, it’s been a good couple of weeks away. Back now, and back in C.F. Watford for the next few weeks, I’m looking for some more pre-summer holiday gains and improvements.

Watch this space!