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. 

HELL NO!

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.

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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)

Confession, the Open (success), Reboot

Where is your journey taking you today?

 

Forgive me, dear readers, for it has been approximately 2 weeks since my last blog post. Since the end of CrossFit Open 17, I have been a bit lost and have struggled to find the motivation to open the WordPress machine and start tapping away. In all honesty, 17.5 didn’t go well for me; I over-revved in the early rounds and died in the latter, recording my worst individual CF Open WOD this year. Worse even than 17.1 when I was ill. It was my own fault and I felt like I’d wasted the Open this year, let the box down, lost credibility, rah, rah, etc…..

However.

While my scores on Beyond The Whiteboard have proven to be low this year, it would appear that I SMASHED my Top 25% target in the Open itself! Yes, winners, I actually hit the top 17% of Individual Men Worldwide and top 14% of Masters Men (35-39) Worldwide. I can put this down to one major factor:

Beyond The Whiteboard is a measurement of Rx versus Rx only – there is no accounting for non-Rx/Scaled scores, unlike the CF Open where a huge percentage chose Scaled.

I knew this would be the case in advance but didn’t think the difference would be so stark. To confirm my improvement, I went back over the last 2 years and compared against the same criteria (position as a percentage of all those who completed at least 1 WOD, either Rx or Scaled). I have improved in the competition over the last 3 years, despite heading in to my late 30s. Without wishing to be too over-confident though, Strength has still proven to be my Weakness. The 3-month squat programme of last year gave me more in mid-weight Thrusters / Olympic Lifts than it did for all-out strength. Something to review for this year.

So, all in all, it was pretty good really. Next year – top 15% within the same criteria.

South Milton Sands Swim/Run, 25 June
I alluded to this a few months ago when I signed up but yes, I have entered a 1km Sea Swim / 15km Trail Run Duathlon in June. Completely at odds with any strength work I want to do, I have opted for an endurance competition. Swimming has not been a strength of mine really and I am proper excited about this. Follow me as I prepare for this challenge (more mental than physical, I think!). 

I kicked this off on Tuesday with 2.4 Km Run, 1 Km Pool Swim and another 2.4 Km Run. All this in under an hour, including changing room nonsense, unknown route, etc

AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme

At the same time, I have begun a Strength programme from AMRAP Plus One. I know, I know…how can I carry out strength training and endurance training at the same time? Well, while I do want to complete the Duathlon, I just want to complete it. I have no aspirations of a placing, it’s just for my own fun and challenge. With that in mind, I’ll be simply getting miles under the feet and water under the arms to a point of confidence. I won’t be spending every day out pounding the pavements or floundering in the sea. My overall focus is still strength but I’ll assess as I begin to head in to this.
Nutrition

MyFitnessPal is awesome. That’s it. In Jan, I set myself the task of getting to my Summer 2016 form by end of Feb 17. I achieved that and more. Through careful consideration of exactly what I eat, as well as precisely how much, I have lost a noticeable 4-6% body fat. I feel swifter, with no loss of strength and improved endurance. I highly recommend getting a set of kitchen scales and a MyFitnessPal account.

Ok, I’ll finish there, that’s enough of a catch up for now. I’m motivated again and promise it won’t be as long next time!

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

 

Pistols in Turkey, Max Out at Home

Wake up with Determination

Go to Bed with Satisfaction.

Last week saw me traveling again, out to Turkey once more. Knowing the lack of gym, but abundance of space, I decided to make use of what was around and work on some of my weaknesses. As I mentioned in my last post, Handstand Push Ups and Pistols were on the menu. Both of these movements can be practiced anywhere and have considerable gymnastic, strength and agility benefit. However, I personally like to do them on top of a great hotel, overlooking a beautiful city.

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5 Rounds for Time:

  • 10 x Handstand Push Up (Strict)
  • 20 x Pistols (Single Legged Squats, Alternating)
  • 30 x Sit Ups

Time: 15:13 Rx

I really got the hang of pistols for the first time ever. The left leg is by far the most stable at the bottom but I got a good rhythm up; not fast but consistent. The Handstand Push Ups were unbroken for the first 2 rounds,7+3 in the third and then 5+5 and 5+3+2 for the final 2. All Sit Ups were unbroken.

And then a swim ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Despite having fun out there, I didn’t get long and still only had 3 workouts last week. So, getting home I had to put in a bit of ‘catch up’ work. Again though, without being able to get to any equipment, it was a return to bodyweight work over the weekend.

  • Max Effort Push Ups (neither hands nor feet moved throughout, knees never touched the floor)
  • Max Effort Sit Ups (non stop, completely unbroken)
  • Max Effort Air Squats (non stop, completely unbroken)

115 / 300 + (I got bored) / 200+ (daughters got border)

That left me with a nice, relaxing Sunday before heading back to work.

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Monday

AM Snatch Work

20 mins to work to a 1RM

  • 5 x 45 / 45 / 50
  • 3 x 50 / 50 / 55
  • 2 x 60 / 60
  • 1 x 65
  • 1 x 70

After the confidence boost of last week’s Power Snatching, this was another. Ok, so 70kg isn’t a lot but 75kg is my 1RM and it was 0630hrs! Essentially, I’ve not become weaker over this year but have really increased engine. Superb.

PM CrossFit Watford

Strength

Strict Press 5/3/1

  • 5 x 60
  • 3 x 70
  • 1 x 75
  • F @ 80

Equaled my 1RM here. Content.

MetCon

In Pairs, For Time:

54 / 42 / 36 / 30 / 24 / 18 / 12 / 6

  • Thrusters @ 42.5kg
  • Over Bar Burpees

This is a pairs-version of a WOD that has come up twice in the Open. I completed the official version (half the numbers) in 19 mins first time, with considerable illness, and then 15 mins the second time. Doing this in pairs, and hitting 5 reps each time, was outstanding and allowed me to really keep up the pace. My partner struggled with lower back issues and it allowed me to add in a few extras too.

I tell you what….I’m as ready as I’m going to be and really looking forward to the Open!

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.

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.