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 😉

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

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)

Sometimes, you just have to get the work done. Just Do it. But prepare for the Zombie.

Fitness.

Because one day the Zombies will come.

zombieA full CrossFit session in the AM, inc. strength and a MetCon, the AMRAP Plus One Strength session in the evening, and then duathlon training. That was my yesterday. My morning today? Zombie. Coffee. Oats. Zombie.

After taking a day off last week mainly through laziness, and with weekends sacrosanct, I played catch-up yesterday, determined to get CF, Strength and the Running & Swimming in there too. I have 2 events on this week which take up space in my calendar where I’d otherwise be improving myself – that said, one of them is at a Steak restaurant so….you know….that might work too 😀

Yesterday AM @ CF Watford

3 x 3 Front Squats – 60/80/100kg. I intentionally kept it light, knowing I had more to come that day.

  • 20 Dumbbell Snatches
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 40 Box Jump Overs @ 24″
  • 800m Run
  • 40 Box Jump Overs
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 20 DB SnatchesCFW

Time: 14:56 Rx. This was supposed to be a partner WOD of double the reps but I was the odd man out; I still did the 800m Run though. It seems that it was a pretty fast time by comparison. Only the Toes to Bar were broken, everything else was done in a oner.

amrapplusoneEvening AMRAP Plus One Strength, Duathlon Training

  • Power Clean 2×3 @ 70%, 3×3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Power Jerk 2 x 3 @ 70%, 3 x 3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Straight Leg Deadlift 3×5 – 67.5kg

All light; I am forcing myself to trust in this programme, despite it having some pretty light stuff in there. I might usually be hammering myself at 85%+ otherwise. However, perhaps the light load was perfectly timed, given that I then had:

  • 2.4km Run
  • 1km Swim (Pool)
  • 2.4km Run

This is a slightly awkward one because I have to run with a rucksack to carry swim gear, water, ID card, wallet, phone, etc. The run was therefore never going to be fast, and it wasn’t. The swim was my first taste of what

being within a pack will be like – the pool was full, the lanes narrow and there were very different standards trying to train. It made it all extremely difficult to keep any pace or cadence but worthwhile as I ploughed through the 40 lengths. After that, a jog 2.4km back to camp, trying hard to will my body to move a little faster with each stride but feeling like I was pulling against a thousand invisible hands dragging me backwards.

And then Bed.

I find myself in front of the computer now, at 0640, having attempted to head over to the gym for my Strength session but having returned; feeling like a Zombie, hands and legs a little sore, fingers wrapped around my Ospreys RFC coffee mug. There was no way I was getting anything meaningful done this morning. I took a quick look at the CF Watford session tonight and realised that I can fit the two together rather neatly and so can sit here, eat my oats and start the day more sedately.
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Fatigue in the Legs, Energy in the Mind

Laziness is Nothing More than the Habit of Resting before you get Tired

– Jules Renard

Having added endurance swimming and running training to my programme, and incorporating the AMRAP Plus One Strength programme, these legs are tired. I don’t mind admitting it but this morning’s WOD was a labour. At only 10 mins long, I had expected to motor through it but the Burpees slowed me right down; there was just nothing in the tank. I really did will myself on too; I pushed myself hard but it just felt sluggish. I have to expect this and get enough food and rest onboard to compensate. In the mind, I am extremely motivated right now. I’m enthused by the challenge coming up in June and can’t wait to get the wetsuit on and in to open water. As long as I can maintain this mental energy then I’ll find the means to overcome the physical fatigue.

AM CrossFit Watford Coaching

Strength

3 x 5 Cleans w/ 3 x 3 Clean Pull supersets.

With a class of 13, I wasn’t able to fit this in and I don’t mind. There were some more newbies in and I was keen to get them moving properly; besides, I have my strength programme going on anyway. A big shout out to xxxx and xxxx for top efforts this morning.

MetCon

10min AMRAP

  • 10 x Toes to Bar
  • 10 x Power Clean @ 60kg
  • 10 x Bar over Burpees

To get some energy going so early in the morning, I split the class in to 2 even groups and had them cheering each other on. With only a 10 min WOD, this was simple and it really worked too; 6am sessions are not normally known for the same levels of overt enthusiasm that you see from the 1830 crowd. It tends to be more of an ‘inner strength’ kind of period. This morning as really good though and as a coach it was excellent to be a part of. As I mentioned above, my own experience of this was not the best, despite my own willingness. In total, 5 rounds and 2 Toes to Bar. The burpees, while unbroken, slowed me down. The Toes to Bar were unbroken for rounds 1-4, with just a break at number 7 for round 5. The Power Cleans were very tough, I won’t lie. I got through the first round unbroken but after that it was 6+4, and then 5+3+2 for the remainder.

PM Running & Swimming

Last week’s 5 Mile Run (38 mins 30 secs) was pleasing and I know I’m in a good place. With a 1km Swim on Sunday in 21:45, I feel in a secure place.

So, tonight, I was going to do a 2.4km Run, 1km Swim and 2.4km Run. But having realised that my trunks and goggles are 235 miles away at home, I have taken it as a sign and am putting my feet up!

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Easter Week Training. Open Water Swimming, Long Distance Running. And Weights :D

Easter Week Update

Swimming

What a beautiful scene. Tranquil harbour, blue haze, warm sun.

Utterly ball-freezing British water.

Yes, at only 10.4C, I don’t mind admitting that I was nervous before diving in and shocked to the core once in. It took almost all my reserve to pretend it was fine, look cool, and swim off. For my first open water practice of the season, I’d hoped for 600m but in just a 3mm Shortie I made it a mere 400m before deciding that the shivering was hampering and semblance of style I may have begun with. Besides which, I quickly realised why swimming wetsuits are designed the way they are; attempting front crawl in a suit made for body-boarding / messing about in the surf is really tough, especially in the shoulders. I can’t wait for my new DHB swimming wetsuit to arrive today! Longer distance this weekend. 


Running

In training for the South Milton Sands Swim/Trail Run, I’ve also started pushing my running figures up too. Yesterday saw 5 miles in 38:45, the furthest and fastest I’ve run in a very long time. Indeed, according to Beyond the Whiteboard, it’s a pretty good time for a CrossFitter. I don’t mind admitting that I’m going to aim for faster than that, with an average pace of 7:30 per mile by the time of the race. I think that this will allow me to keep under 8:00 per mile after a 1km Sea Swim. I hope. Maybe.


Strength

And, not to rest on the simple monostructural events, I’ve been digging in to the AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme too. On day 10 now, I still feel like it’s a bit of a transition phase, having not lifted beyond 80% of 1RM in either Clean or Snatch. I see that from next week this starts to increase though and so am very much looking forward to that. I did love getting my improvised squat rack out too!

Nutrition 

Despite it being Easter hols, I’ve been pretty good and have logged everything still. Ok, sure, the macros have become a bit unbalanced in favour of carbs but that’s a function of modern family intake, especially at Easter time, and a demonstration of me not being in overall control. Overall KCal have remained pretty steady at 2300-2500 though and so I’m happy for this week. Besides, it’s a holiday period and you can’t take these things too seriously when at parties/picnics/beach/cinema.

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!

Lake Swim, Team WOD, In-Flight PT -Sun 11 Sept

Stretched out across 3 empty seats, I’ve gorged on, “Captain America: Civil War” (enjoyed it, geeking out on superhero stuff), “Daddy’s Home” (brilliantly predictable and very funny), slept, eaten some Thai chicken curry and bored the hell out of myself with, “London Has Fallen” (utter turd, waste of 90 mins of my life). With 3.5 hours remaining of this United Airlines flight, and before I treat myself to some,”Big Bang Theory” hilarity, I thought I’d catch up on yesterday’s action.

Saturday

Having not headed home, with the flight looming, I made a plan to really make the most of my day. Following up on the extra swimming during the summer holidays, I decided to find a lake to get some distance in.

This is not easy in the UK. Too many refuse swimmers on health & safety grounds. Like much of the UK outdoors, we over – egg the risks and simply lock it away, preferring our society to engage through the perceived safety of consoles and devices, getting lazy and slow instead. Not this Team Nomad, I can certainly say that. Our family love the outdoors and between Mrs Nomad and I we encourage all activities outside. However, I found Denham Water-Ski centre about 20 mins away and shot off there for 0730.

It was about 500m in to my 1km loop that I realised how out of swimming condition I am; or compared to present compant anyway. At least 5 people overtook me, 3 with “Ironman” swim hats on. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will be going back there in the future. The facilities were first rate, cafe-bar very well maintained and spacious, and the staff were extremely friendly. I wasn’t too put off by seemingly being the only one not a triathlete. 

Pulling on my CrossFit Towoomba t-shirt (feeling immediately better about myself 😉 ), and after my body had recovered, it was over to CrossFit Watford for a Saturday morning Team WOD. I’ve been looking forward to one of these for a while.

Strength 

3 x 3 Back Squats (to 90% 3RM only)

105 / 110 / 115 kg

After this week’s squat programme, I decided to go easy on this and push myself only to about 85%.

Team WOD

20 min AMRAP (team of 4)

  • 250m Row (each)
  • 20 x Burpee Box Jumps 24″
  • 20 x Kettlebell Swings 24kg
  • 20 x Pull Ups

Total: 3 Rounds plus 731m

We rattled through this quite comfortably. The row was the hardest part but I stuck to 2000+ cal/hour Avg. We had a very strong team, breaking everything up in to 5s or 10s and changing over rapidly. I’ve always performed far better when I know others are directly relying on me; today was no exception. We stormed through as the top team.

The remainder of the day was spent catching up with friends that I’ve drifted far too far apart from.

Treating myself while watching,  “Interstellar” (awesome movie, boggles the mind in to weird shapes),  I gave myself a Kronenborg 1664 while eating a Marks & Spencer Thai Banquet For One (extremely tasty), and went to bed feeling pretty strong (although that could just have been the beer).

Commando Bear and Tigger on more Adventures

Sunday

Out of bed at dawn o’clock, car to the airport,  stumble through security and then some bacon, eggs and coffee in Terminal 2. And wake up.

Next stop, Houston International and then onward to San Antonio.

About 6hrs in to this flight though,  right before I thumbed this post, I realised I’d not left my seat at all – dangerous business on a long haul flight. Standing up to stretch off, I munched on a “Graze” box of nuts (expensive for a few nuts but it’s on expenses) and looked down the plane, wanting to do some exercise. So, in typical NomadicCrossFit style,  I headed to the back and did this:

Have you ever had to improvise to get some exercise in? Do you have a routine?

I’ll be off for a day or two but will catch up with you all from Texas!

Open Water Swimming – Newbie Top Tips

Looks calm…..looks easy….

Through the recent good weather, and with ankles/achilles too crook to run, I’ve really taken to Open Water Swimming. Specifically sea swimming, but also considering lakes and other inland areas, I am enjoying the challenge not only in swimming as a skill that I’ve neglected but also in the nuances and natures of different bodies of water. However, as we all know,  the risks of open water swimming must be well understood in order to safely appreciate this environment correctly.

These are notes, and certainly not exhaustive ones, of what I have discovered so far as a newbie myself.

Noone about, all to yourself. Noone about, noone to help.

Know the Beach

The sea is just water. It’s the solid bits all around and in it that cause the problems, coupled with tides. While we can see the surrounding topography, the danger lurks beneath. We have no way of seeing or understanding what’s under the waves, nor how it affects the activity of the water, there are ways to find out.

The Beach Guide is a good place to start for research if you’ve not been to the site yet. Weather,  tides,  parking areas, shops local knowledge, and some updated commentary. 

Google. As is so often the case these days,  Google It. You can find a great deal about the detail of a new place with a simple search. Find a local outdoor swimming group on social media and ask them directly. 

Beach Information Boards and Flags. Every public UK beach has an information board showing the critical information about the hazards and dangers unique to that particular spot. IT MUST BE READ! Likewise the beach Flags. Understand what they are indicating before you set foot in the water; conditions can change suddenly and the flags are the update. Learn more about the flags on the RNLI website.

Know Yourself. 

If you cannot swim 500m in a pool, you certainly cannot swim 500m in open water. The water temperature alone will sap your strength. Tide, currents and hazards will sap your strength. Know your own limits,  then ramp them back further, especially on your first few forays in to open water. Judging open water distance is difficult for the uninitiated; Google Maps is good to get a strong approximation of a planned swim. Instead of going out for a single long distance, consider breaking up your swim in to short laps so that you’re never far from the shore or your start point.  

Report your Location 

Ideally, you’ll have someone on the shore while you swim at all times, especially in new areas. Once in trouble you can be overwhelmed far too quickly.

At the very least, let someone know where you will be swimming exactly, how far and how long you intend being out. With smartphones and built-in GPS, giving precise locations on land has never been easier.

I always make a point of chatting to any locals I happen to see on the shore too, just so someone keeps an eye on me.  



Equipment

Speedos and goggles.
I’m kidding…kind of. 

Wetsuit. At the basic level, swimming should require nothing more than a swimming costume of whichever gender. However, the water temperature will entirely dictate this. A simple 3mm shortie wetsuit can suffice in all but the coldest UK waters but a specific swimming wetsuit or triathlon suit should be considered for comfort of warmth and ergonomics. 

Hat. You might look like a bit of a title but I recommend a bright (not blue or black) neoprene or rubber swim hat. You will lose an incredible amount of heat from your head, necessitating the hat, and a bright colour allows you to be seen on dull days.

Ear Plugs. After recently suffering with blocked ears, I recommend ear plugs if you’re prone to the same. Cheap and effective, they block water but not sound.

Nose  Clips. I don’t respond well to these but I know others who swear by them. Even a minor ‘chop’ will result in water entering through the nose, inhibiting good breathing, causing nausea and worse. 

Decathlon is a great amateur sports shop these days and it offers a wide range of swimming options at a good price.
So, know your location, know yourself, know your equipment. Open Water Swimming is a great option for superb genetal fitness levels but there are hazards that have to be understood and prepared for.  

Have a great swim!