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 Of course, the problem here being that I took my expected average Kcal per hour from an out of date 2000km Row attempt.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

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New Year: Review & Staring Ahead with Excitement

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Welcome back, athletes, bloggers, readers, and wonderful subscribers to this meandering blog. I hope you had a superb New Year and are primed for the greatness that 2018 will undoubtedly bring. 2017 was a bit rubbish for many, although having just read my post from this time last year, apparently not as bad as 2016 was! So it’s all been upwards. And so I expect 2018 to be…upwards yet further.

Sitting here watching Scarlets vs Dragons rugby, in my cousin’s house in South Wales (although I’m an Ospreys fan), I’ve got about an hour to sit and reflect on my CrossFit successes of 2017 and look to what I seek to achieve in 2018.

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So, what were my 2017 Goals?

  1. Achieve a top 25% in CF Open 2017
  2. Look and Feel Healthier
  3. Complete 2 x Obstacle Races
  4. Significantly Improve in Strength / Olympic Lifting

And, how have I done?

  1. CF Open 2017. I smashed this goal with my best ever position – top 17% of individual males and top 14% of Masters Men (35-39), taking in to account all competitors, Rx and Scaled, who recorded all 5 workouts.
  2. Look & Feel Healthier. Yes. For the first time on this CF journey, I feel like a credible CrossFitter. Through good nutrition, and plenty of hard work, I actually believe I look and compete like I belong there. It’s vain, I know, but it’s a motivating factor – we all want to look good for the effort we put in. The biggest difference has been nutrition which must continue in to 2018.
  3. Events. I signed up for 2 events, as planned, but the first was cancelled on the day; the Swim/Run event had to be postponed due to weather. We’ve been promised that we can reattend in 2018 though and so that’ll be on my list. The second event, “Mission: Unbreakable”, a 10km OCR in North Devon was a huge amount of fun and really motivated me to get in another one this year.
  4. Strength. Perhaps my biggest success of this year. As soon as the Open finished, I began on the AMRAP Plus One Advanced Weightlifting programme. Beginning with a 102.5kg Clean & Jerk, and a 72.5kg Snatch, I concluded 2018 with a 112.5kg Clean & Jerk, and an 80kg Snatch. oh, and a destroyed barbell 😉
  5. CF Level 2 Trainer. Not a goal that I set out to achieve at the beginning of the year but an opportunity that was too good to miss. Thank you to CF Watford for giving me the space (and money) to do this; I’ve really grown as a coach over the last few years at CF Plymouth and CF Watford but this course gave me so much more too.

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So, going in to 2018, what do I want to see? Well, more of the same, to be honest. Keeping the same themes, my goals are:

  1. CF Open 2018. Achieve top 15% individual male finish in CF Open 2018. I never thought I’d be in this space, if I’m honest and it’s exciting me.
  2. Look & Feel Healthy. Christmas put a bit of a dent in to the good work but it’ll come back by the end of Jan. Having recently had a DNAFit Fitness Diet Pro test, I also know a few changes that I need to make to achieve greater success with my nutrition. It’s critical that I maintain the good standards that I set in 2017.
  3. Events. More events. I want to compete; I’m looking for some midweek CF events, should they exist. If not, I might sign up for the Battle of Britain Qualifiers or something like that. I’m reattempting the Swim/Run event in Devon, if it comes off, and I would like to run the Cardiff half-marathon with other family members. There’s also a “Stand Up 2 Cancer” CF event in October that I’m determined to compete in.
  4. Strength. I’m going to consolidate on this for a few months while the Open takes place. I want to get to the stage where 100kg Clean & Jerk is ‘comfortable’ and can be done under pressure in a WOD; I’d like 115kg as a new 2RM but that is a longer term, year long goal.

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I think it should be reflected upon too that even though I am that enthusiastic, motivating coach in front of the outstanding athletes in CF Watford, I didn’t find this easy. Especially 2 and 4. There were some pretty dark moments where I just kept thinking, “what’s the point?” When those moments came up, I turned to the likes of Mrs Nomad and my coaches (Charlie, Hat, Tash, Roly – you rock) and took their advice and guidance. I repeatedly referred back to my notebook to see just how far I’d come along the trail. I should note too that while Strength was my goal, my MetCon scores have rapidly and steeply improved too, across shorter power workouts and the longer endurance ones too.

So, what lessons have I learned in 2017?

  1. Surround yourself with Talent. I’ve made it a point to learn from success in every aspect of my life this (last) year. This has hopefully paid off in my professional life (find out in March) but it definitely paid off in CrossFit. Watching the higher levels athletes in our box, learned from those with injuries, chatting to everyone about their motivations…it’s all benefited me immensely and I have to thank them all. I’m sure it’s been infuriating having to put up with some of my inane WhatsApp messages but thank you all.
  2. Recovery. I’m getting (a little) older and am definitely not the 18 year old that could play a rugby match on a Saturday, get smashed in the evening, and do a 5 mile run on the Sunday. Alcohol definitely affects me more than it ever has although I’m not much of a drinker anyway. I also need the odd day off 😉 While I’ve trained twice a day for 3 days a week for quite a bit of this period, and have seen immense changes, I have also taken weekends off, by and large. Without intending it, it’s been just the right amount of rest and recovery.
  3. Write Shit Down! I can’t express this enough to athletes. WRITE DOWN YOUR SCORES! I’ve written about this one before but here’s another angle to it: there are days when you don’t feel like you can lift heavy, or run fast, or jump high. It’s so easy to let your body match your mental state. But, if you look at your notebook and see that just the previous week you put in a 115kg Jerk, then you know that you can do it and that you probably will today too. So many times this year, especially at 0600hrs, I could have just knocked 5kg off the bar because I wasn’t feeling it. Each time, I reviewed my previous lifts and set the targets accordingly.
  4. Have a Laugh. You know what? It’s only exercise. Sure, we have goals and we want to succeed. But not every day is a PR day. Not every day needs that steely-eyed focus. Enjoy it for what it is – it’s time with friends doing something you enjoy that isn’t work.

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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?)

When you don’t have a, “why”.

The location that this photo was taken was a powerful motivator for me.

I’ve been planning this post for a while, based on where I find myself at this moment in time. Having completing my annual fitness test this week though, I decided to just sit down and write it. It was my worst ever fitness test performance and while I destroyed the basic times and scores set for my age group (and of those literally half my age), it was still my worst. I felt no motivation to push myself, and no drive to do more than “just enough”. My fitness hasn’t really degraded, and I ‘could’ have done better but I didn’t.

You see, right now I don’t have a, “Why”.

I’m too comfortable.

There is nothing positive to focus my training and pull me forward, nor any threat or fear to push me from behind. There is no challenge to prepare for, no competition to win, and no team relying on my best performance.

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Coaches often talk of the, “why”. It’s our challenge to assist a coachee with drilling right down in to that intrinsic spark deep inside that them that truly motivates them. Rarely is a stated goal the true intent. In the military, we call it the, “in order to”. As in, “I want to beat my lose weight…in order to fit in to my favourite dress.” Even then, it might be, “I want to fit in to my favourite dress…in order to look amazing at the Christmas ball.” And THEN there will be a deep-rooted reason behind wanting to look amazing at the Christmas Ball.

You get my drift.

Right now, I have no, “why”. Sure, I tell everyone that I want to be the fittest 50-60 year old that I can be in order to be able to do absolutely anything that my kids throw at me, including when they have kids of their own (*scary times*). And yes, that is a long-term driver which keeps me going to CrossFit, keeps me attending Obstacle Course Races, and keeps me generally fit. But after that, there is nothing. Although I was a competitive athlete in my teenage years, and I enjoyed playing rugby, I’ve never been a natural. I am not what you’d consider to be talented. I will never win OCRs, nor achieve anything of significance in CrossFit, even locally. It’s not that I don’t want to, but because it’s just fact.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t make me a bad person and I know that.

So why do I bother then? Why do I haul my sorry ass out of bed at 6am or drum up some motivation at the end of a long, draining day?

Without a goal, or a short-term challenge, I firmly believe in doing some things…just because.

Why? Because.

Taking pleasure, and seeing success, from the daily routine can be just enough to maintain stability and maintenance fitness. It won’t get you too much further forward but it’s enough.

Seeing the WOD on the spreadsheet (because I see it before the athletes) and not cherry-picking which ones I attend, or setting mini targets (such as going unbroken in pull ups or adding 2 extra wall balls to the previous max effort best) can be all it takes to achieve enough success to maintain the overall motivation to keep going.

Taking pleasure from the shared challenge of the workout is an area that CrossFit excels and something that coaches should capitalise on.

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Those fist bumps and back slaps at the end demonstrates shared achievement in adversity and is powerful enough to deliver a sense of belonging, driving you to come back for more until a powerful motivator unmasks itself.

Of course, having an underlying , “Why” is powerful and always to be harnessed where it exists; without it, you’re unlikely to see real change and success. But not having one doesn’t mean you need to regress.

I’m also a believer in the next, “Why” being right around the corner, just a few moments, hours, or days away. And you want to be in the very best shape to dominate it when it arrives!

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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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I LOVE Coaching! (and PRs) – Thurs 12 Oct

It hasn’t quite been the case for a while but this morning I leapt out of bed and in to my gear, buoyed by the impending class at CrossFit Watford. After last night’s awesome power play (92.5kg Overhead Squat 1RM, followed by 5 RFT: 20 x Med Ball Cleans, 10 x Push Press @ 50kg, 5 x Chest-to-Bar Pull Ups – 11:19 Rx), you’d think I’d be a little wary of firing my way in to another huge WOD so soon after. But I wasn’t in the WOD, I was taking it. Tuesday and Thursday 6AM classes are my chance to give something to the CrossFit Watford Dawn Patrol. On Tuesday, I wrote a small dit on the board as they walked in, “If 6am is the only time of the day to Workout, it’s the Best time of the day to Workout!”. I’ve said it many times before but if someone can motivate themself to push themself through a brutal S&C session at 6am then they deserve my respect; the least I can do is be positive, enthusiastic and on top of my game for them.

And so, it was down the hatch with the Costa Americano, stuffing a few jaffa oranges in to my mouth, and a sprint down to the car. The drive in is always the same, a little Radio 4 to catch the news and then a switch to Absolute Radio to wake me up. Getting in to the box before the athletes, I get to pick the music; (nearly) always some kind of power ballad / rock anthems – I grew up in the late 80s guy, what can I say?

There was a look of horror on the faces of the stars as they saw the board. 2 MetCons, a 21-minuter and a short sprint to the finish.

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  • Row 12/10 Kcal
  • 50 x Double Unders
  • 10 x Burpees
  • 15 x Kettlebell Swings
  • 20 x Sit Ups
  • 25 x Air Squats
  • 10 x Squat Tuck Jumps

 

Depending on ability, there was enough time after each movement to get the breath back and really go for it in the next one. Having a workout like this is excellent for a coach because it gives us the chance to get around a lot of people with cues, tips, and (today none) no-reps 😉 Working the far end of the Anaerobic/Glycolytic pathway, and just about in to the Aerobic/Oxidative pathway, it also meant that there was enough in the tank for MetCon 2:

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  • Wall Balls @ 9/6kg
  • Push Ups
  • Empty Bar Thrusters @ 20/15kg

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there would have been little appetite or intent to complete this after the first one. But you’d be wrong. They went for it. There is a quiet, brooding sense of sense of competition in the morning class but it is there nonetheless. Julie R knows it and you can see it on her face; when she knows she’s within sight of someone close to her, she really digs in and finds another gear. But this morning, it was Hannah vs Jessie that really made my morning. This morning Jessie was going for it. Powerful and strong, (and, as I’ve just found, a spinning instructor) Jessie took the lead from the outset. Hannah’s normal position is out in front so I knew she was not going to let this lie. Just one or two reps ahead at all times, Jessie hit the 9 Push Ups while Hannah still had about 5 Wall Balls remaining. Hannah clawed back 2 reps and Jessie started the Thrusters 3 ahead. Hannah put her foot on the gas and they completed their 9 Thrusters at exactly the same time! Boom! Fist Bumps all round! I love the morning class!

And, then it was my turn.

After last night’s was complete, Charlie said to me, “you’re gonna love tomorrow’s – get yourself a weight vest – it’s a Hero WOD – “RILEY””

We typically do weekday Hero WODs with a partner; this is because getting something like this in to a single session is often unworkable. With the late nights and darkness drawing in, you also don’t want people running around the streets en masse. So, for tonight, we amended it slightly to “Almost RILEY“:

  • 1 mile Run (800m each)
  • 150 x Burpees, between partners
  • 1 mile Run (full distance together)

 

Of course, I still did this with a 10kg weight vest. Teaming up with a Royal Navy Diver, called Tom, we completed the Split Jerk work first. My previous best for this was 115kg, and I have a video of it somewhere, which I was really pleased with. Tom is a big guy, and deadly strong. It was clear he was going to destroy whatever I put up; and so it proved. While I hit a new PR of 117.5kg (SMASH!), he went up to 150kg. The guy is STRONG. And then, on to “Almost RILEY”.

Weight vest on, he ran first, getting his 800m in around 4.5 mins. I headed off next, realising the weight vest wasn’t tightened properly and securing it en route. 3 mins 44secs – not bad. We did the burpees in 5s, non-stop, rapid. And then the 1 mile run (together). Despite him being immensely strong, I had the edge in the running. I got around the loop 2 mins ahead, waited for him on the line and we got back in to the box dead on 25 mins!

Teamwork. An immense day, inspired by the athletes in the morning class, and finishing with a new PR, meeting a new athlete, and feel pretty awesome. Boom.

 

 

 

 

 

Gains, Losses, Goodbye Instagram

Wow. Well, what a few weeks it has been. Utterly maniacal at work, I’ve been unable to blog since my Jiminis Insect Protein bar review. Even then, it was a few weeks before that too. I promise to get back on track as of now. In that time, there have been gains to the Snatch (oh yes!), the Thruster (vom!), and I’ve said goodbye to Instagram. I’ve reviewed my own outlook and perspective on my fitness, nutrition and goals. It’s been a busy time, that’s for sure.

Starting in reverse order:

Outlook. I’ve written about it before; I am competitive by nature. I always was while growing up and used to play a lot of rugby, sprint a lot of races, and jump in a lot of sandpits. My aptitude my have been somewhat debatable but I competed. I am motivated by competition. It’s what got me through the Commando Course, and it motivated me to leave the Army for the Royal Marines (competition against myself). As I’ve grown older (😢) so I’ve moved away from rugby and ahletics, no longer spend time yomping around the hills and sleeping in bushes, and instead found CrossFit. At the same time, I’ve hit a point in my career where I’ve taken on a lot more, and where family situations mean I simply don’t have the time to compete at weekends. That may change in the future but not yet (standfast the 10km OCR I have coming up this Sunday). But I still work best under the pressure of competition. So what? So I’ll be using my time in CrossFit Watford more wisely to identify specific individuals and compete against them. It’s what CrossFit should be about anyway but we tend to be a little ‘British’ about it over here…very polite. I’ve also begun revisiting those things that motivated me to push myself to great lengths before and will regularly refer back to a few ‘totems’ such as the Commando Dagger and Dartmoor Map above.

Nutrition. I’ve not been eating enough to build mass and strength. Simple. I have been carefully managing my intake to not appear flabby and soft. Appearance-first. Well, you can’t put on muscle mass and stay trim easily. I’ll now be upping my intake, still monitored, to at least 2500Kcal per day, and to 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat. Close to Christmas, I’ll reevaluate and begin to focus on conditioning once more.

Instagram. Instagram made me sad. I’ve concluded that unless you are happy to take your top off (which noone wants to see of me!), make awesome food, or take amazing photos, then Instagram just isn’t going to work (oh, and post at least 5 times a day). After a year, I have the total of 240 followers, even though over 1500 have followed/unfollowed (highly irritating). I only joined to try and build an audience for this blog but the time taken to fight for followers in a congested domain (fitness) wasn’t worth it. I found instead that I was rearranging coffee pots, contriving situations, and staring at my phone during workouts. I noticed a horrible narcissism developing and I got upset every time I saw someone in better shape than me (perceptively, everyone). So, I’m taking that time back. Goodbye Instagram. I’ll still be on Twitter @nomadiccrossfit though!

THE GAINS

Now, the successes.

3 weeks ago, CrossFit Watford, “15mins to a heavy Thruster”. Previous best of 90kg. New Personal Record of 100kg!

2 weeks ago, at home in the garage, @amrapplusone programming to work up to a heavy Snatch. Previous best of 77.5kg (achieved only about a month or so ago). I fought and fought for this, failing 3 times on the way up. 80kg. Boom. I have chased and chased this for 2 years or more when I finally took 75kg after years of trying. I was ecstatic all day after this. Done at home, with a York Beefy Bar (no spin) and 1″ hole mixed plates, this went up easier than I was expecting. It took a lot of working up to, granted. I couldn’t have achieved this on a 6am session, for example. However, I’ve reset my numbers on the Amrapplusone programme and will continue to push onwards.

There we have it, all caught up. Well, the main events anyway.

As I endeavour to write more often again, what would YOU like to see on here?

Let me know.