Strength down, Engine up. Happy for Now.

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Update

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

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

Open Water Swimming

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

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Running

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

CrossFit

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

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

Nutrition

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

Total KCal: 2300 + exercise deficit

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

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.