I had all kinds of big fitness aspirations this Summer. As happens in life, things didn’t quite go as planned. So now I find myself looking forward to re-establishing a consistent routine with a thought out plan of attack.

Thursday, 8/24
4 Sets for Quality:

10 ea. Single Arm DB Push Press(Heavy, But Unbroken)

12-15 Supinated Bent Over Barbell Row (Mod. Heavy)
14 Alt. DB Step Ups (Mod. Heavy)

Rest ~30 secs between movements
Rest 2:00 B/W Sets

I used 25# dumbells where applicable and a 75# barbell for the Rows.

This was another sneaky sort of workout that we’ve come to expect on Thursdays. I say sneaky, but I use that term with ultimate respect and affection.

Last Thursday we were put through a series of exercises and encouraged to use weights that would allow us to maintain a ‘conversational’ pace. So you did the work, but any given moment you should be able to hold a conversation with the athlete next to you. I was able to do that last week, and finished not feeling overly taxed. Yet I noticed my shirt was as drenched with sweat as any other 20 minute METCON and I certainly wasn’t any LESS stiff the following morning.

Same thing with this workout yesterday. It didn’t seem overly taxing at the time. Yet when the day was over, I could feel the tightness in any number of places. So clearly it was effective.

Friday, Aug 8/25
Segment 1:
Snatch
60%/2
65%/2
70%/2
(75%/1) x 5

Worked snatches up to 125#. They felt pretty smooth today. Felt like I was dropping under the bar quickly and in a fluid motion. Nice to feel that way once in a while. Coach Doug helped me adjust my bar path with some of my earliest reps. After that, all feedback was very positive and encouraging.

Segment 2:
Clean and Jerk
60%/2
65%/2
70%/2
(75%/1) x 5

Worked Clean and Jerks up to 145# – that’s reasonably close to the assigned percentage. Cleans also felt pretty good today. Jerks less so. The combination of work Mon, Tue and Thurs has left my biceps TIRED. I just wasn’t confident going overhead. No big deal.

Segment 3:
3 Rounds:
10 Pullups (Rx: CTB S1: Regular S2: Ring Rows)
10 Front Squats (Rx: 165/110 S1: 125/85 S2: 85/55)
10 Burpees

Coach Doug informed us that even though there was a 10 minute cap on this METCON his expectation was that we should scale to move through all reps of all rounds unbroken and to complete well ahead of that cap. The goal today was to stay in constant motion and move fast.

With that guidance I scaled to Ring Rows and Front Squats at 115#. Finished in 5:37. I was pretty satisfied with that. Front Squats were the most difficult element of this work out. They always are for me when they show up in a METCON. Everything seems to slog down when they show up. Still, I was satisfied with the end result.

Other thoughts

The Plan — With the kids returning to school the consistency of that routine will drive my training schedule going forward. That should help me adhere to the plan which has been a challenge all Summer.

It looks something like this:
Meditation – 10 min daily – with the intent to grow/expand this time as I get more disciplined.
Rehabilitation Work – Daily – Rotating daily between my three major ‘trouble spots:’ knees, shoulders, calves
Crossfit Training – 4x a week
RomWOD – 3x a week at home with Erin; plus Sunday Mobility Warriors at CFD
Skill Work – Pistol Progressions – Dedicated sessions twice a week – may try to up this once things get rolling, if time/energy permit.

We’ll see how this goes. I vascilate as to whether it can work or not. More accurately, if I CAN make it work or not.

This is going to be a real challenge. I’ve been reading Ben Bergeron’s book “Chasing Excellence.” Of all of the character traits he describes that lead to excellence, the one that I lack most is the ability to “Maximize my Minutes” through deliberate practice. I am a very distracted individual in most aspects of my life. I know this about myself. I give in very quickly to whatever whimsy strikes me. I shift interests quickly because things get hard, or I get bored. This is something I want to modify.

That’s why the current plan weights mental and physical maintenance centered on focus ahead of the basic ‘work outs.’ It’s intentional. It’s also why I’m focusing on a single skill until I feel like I’m reasonably competent at it. Then I’ll select another and move on. No bailing on pistols because they’re too hard or something sexier comes along. Need to grind these out and earn them.

The other place I struggle is the commitment to the process. I develop these plans and then allow myself to get derailed too easily. I need to maintain a system for an extended period and see where it leads. That leads back to that matter of focus I suppose.

 

 

 

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So, a few weeks back I said I was going to attempt to get back into regular posting about day to day WODs…and then I promptly went on a week long vacation. Smooth, eh? Well, I’m back again now…I think. There’s a whole lot of ‘fitness things’ to catch up on. So settle in and let’s take a little stroll. Shall we?So, a few weeks back I said I was going to attempt to get back into regular posting about day to day WODs…and then I promptly went on a week long vacation. Smooth, eh? Well, I’m back again now…I think. There’s a whole lot of ‘fitness things’ to catch up on. So settle in and let’s take a little stroll. Shall we?

I’m not going to recap EVERY day/WOD since my last post on 8/7. But here’s the past two days. We’ll just agree to go forward from here. Cool? Cool.

Monday, 8/21

Segment 1: Hang Power Snatch(70%/3) x 3
Worked up to the requisite percentage which was 115#. Snatch was feeling good today and I was focusing on dropping fast. I was intentionally dropping deeper than necessary at that weight. But apparently, I was dropping into a full squat snatch. I know this because Coach Doug came by to remind me that these were power snatches and a full squat was not required. Now, if you’ve trained on the snatch for any length of time, how often does a coach tell you that you’re squatting too deep?

It doesn’t happen to me very often. That’s for sure. So even though it was a correction, it made me smile. I adjusted as directed for the remaining reps and sets.

Segment 2: Overhead Squat(70%/3) x 3
I worked these sets at the same 115#. That was short of the prescribed percentage, but it felt appropriate for this day.

Segment 3:

For Time:

21-15-9

Sumo Deadlift High Pull (Rx: 95/65 S1: 65/45 45/33)

Push Press

Lateral Bar Burpees
Coach Doug advised us to scale to a weight where we were confident we could run off big sets of the bar work and target a 10 minute cap. With that in mind, I scaled my weight to 75#.

Sumo Deadlift High Pulls were weird. I need to research, revisit and practice those. Both to be better as an athlete and coach. They felt totally foreign.

Push press at 75# wasn’t a substantial challenge. Don’t misunderstand. I was sweaty and breathing heavy. Still I tried to pace myself here to save energy and not redline before transitioning to burpees.

Burpees actually flowed pretty smooth for a change. I was able to maintain a fairly low to the ground posture and not waste time or energy coming to a full standing position at the top. That was a win for me.

I was pleased to complete all work in a final time of 8:57.

Tuesday, 8/22

Segment 1:

EMOM 8 minutes

3 Power Cleans

3 Front Squats

3 Push Jerks(Rx: 155/105 S1: 115/75 S2: 85/55)
My right shoulder is feeling a bit ‘crunchy’ lately. Resetting the barbell to a rack position from almost any overhead lockout position is, at a minimum, uncomfortable. I think I’ve been overly concerned with knee-hab and lower body mobility for a while. I need to revisit the shoulder mobility work and get it into the flow of my day to day mobility again. But with that crunchy feeling this morning, I elected to do this work at 95#. That was sufficient. Form was consistent and executed well. I was a sweaty mess at the end of eight minutes. So I got an appropriate level of work in.

Segment 2:AMRAP 4 minutes

15-12-9

Wall Balls (Rx: 20/14 S1: 16/10 S2: 12/6)

Pullups (Rx: CtB S1: Regular S2: Banded)

Rest 4 minutes

AMRAP 4 minutes

15-12-9

Wall Balls

Toes to Bar (S1: KTE S2: Knee Raises)

Rest 4 minutes

AMRAP 4 minutes

15-12-9

Wall Balls

Pullups
Segment 2 punished me! My rig work was abominable today. Every time I returned to the bottom position of a pull up, it felt as if I was physically running into a wall. I could not extend past vertical into a good Superman position to maintain a kip for the pull ups. Toe to bar were better, but not by much.

In the first 4 minute segment I did not complete the round of 15. I came up 3 pull ups short.

In the second 4 minutes of work I believe I got into, but did not complete the wall balls in the round of 12.

In the final segment, I was a bit stubborn. It would have been a perfectly sound decision to scale back my pull ups. However, I chose to stick with chin over bar. I wanted to prove a point to myself. I have started reading Ben Bergeron’s book, “Chasing Excellence.” More on that further on. But specific to today’s METCON, I tried to implement something I read last night on confidence. He defines confidence as ‘knowing that you control your response to a given event.’ It’s NOT about visualizing and expecting the perfect outcome. It’s about controlling your attitude when the unexpected occurs.

Of course, I was disappointed with my performance in the first round of the WOD. But I wanted to prove to myself that I could stay positive, adjust my attitude and as a result improve on my first round.

To do this, I started joking with some friends about the Feng-Shui of Pull Ups right after the first round. If you’re familiar with my posts/philosophies, I commonly joke about the Feng-Shui of double unders. When I warm them up, I do a set facing each wall of the gym. The set with the longest run is the ‘direction’ from which double unders are flowing that day and the direction I face for the WOD.

I’ve never tinkered with Feng Shui for pull ups. But today, clearly I had selected the wrong bar and direction. So for the second segment of the WOD I relocated to a bar that was facing 90 degrees relative to my first bar. When the toes to bar went smoother on that bar, I returned there for the pull ups in the WOD’s final segment. It paid off.

In segment three, I completed the full round of 15, 12 wall balls and I BELIEVE an additional 3 pull ups. So that was progress. By controlling my response to the disappointment, I was able to relax, stay loose and improve (even if only slightly) over the previous effort.

We’ll call that a win.

Other Fitness-y Thoughts/Notes
– Gonna be BUSY!

-) Taking a Coaching Seminar around coaching adaptive athletes – really looking forward to this. Any class that can help me with adaptations/scaling for the Crossfit crowd AND help with coaching the Special Olympics athletes is welcome.

-) There are a number of special events coming up at CFD in September. Looking forward to those. Not certain I’ll be able to participate as an athlete. Honestly, I think I’m more excited about helping out as a Coach/Judge where ever I can. I think I will have more of an impact and influence there.

-) Triangle Invitational – got to meet the rest of my team mates from Bull City Crossfit and Southpoint Crossfit for our Master’s Squad. Team All of the Above is going to be a lot of fun.

“Chasing Excellence” This is going to be a very interesting read. It will defnitely be one of those books that I read more than once and annotate along the way. Right now, I’m mostly entertained by the insights Coach Bergeron is offering about behind the scenes type information from the 2016 Crossfit Games. Next time through I’ll be reading with a more critical/analytical ‘how can I apply this to myself and my athletes’ type mindset.

I’m going to try and get back into periodic posting about workouts. For awhile there, it seemed like an additional part of the grind, and an unnecessary labor, but I’m starting to think it’s time well spent. So I’ll try to pick it up again. That being said, there are a number of places where I want to invest a bit more time and there are only so many hours in a day. So we will see. It was a pretty good workout this morning.

Segment 1
Work Up to a Max Rep Set of Muscle Ups

Muscle ups are out of my range right now, so I worked pull ups. Ultimately, I hit a set of 7 kipping pull ups with out coming off the bar. Wasn’t truly unbroken as I lost the kip about 4 reps in and had to sort of reset/refind my kip to finish out the set. But I did not drop off the bar. Not a bad effort. Not a glamorous shocking result. I was pleased with the fact that things felt reasonably light on the bar today. Good shoulder mobility meant I had decent front position on the kip. That’s frequently where things fall apart for me. Was nice to feel like I was in reasonable control today.

Segment 2

Back Squat 5 set of 5 reps at 83% of 1RM – This one was weird for me. I’ve lost all sense of what my 1RM might be for this lift. My last 1RM was pre-knee surgery and a couple of other miscellaneous leg injuries ago. That 1RM has literally had birthdays. So when ever we do this lift it becomes, “% of TODAY’s 1RM.” It’s very much a ‘by feel’ thing. So today I worked 5 sets by 5 reps at 205#. I might have been able to push that a bit higher, just to get the reps in. However, at that weight I felt confident in the form and technique. Anything much higher would have gotten very sloppy.

METCON
Nasty Girls
3 Rounds
50 Air Squats
7 Muscle Up
10 Hang Power Cleans (135#)
13 Min Cap

I subbed in pull ups and bar dip at a 1:1 ratio for the muscle ups. I got caught by surprise today in that the Hang Power Cleans at the Rx weight were far more challenging than I anticipated.

I had every expectation that I would power through the HPC unbroken in the first round and then perhaps do 7 and 3 in the last two rounds. I ended up going 5, 3, 2 the first time through and then 4, 3, 3 the second time around. Not certain why they were hard today. They just were. No big deal. Hit the time cap so I never completed the first round.

Pull ups still felt light on the bar. I am grateful for that. Bar dips also felt good. I appreciate that as well. Taking 10# off your midsection (more on that in a bit) definitely makes a differences on those bodyweight moves.

In the end, I completed 2 round + 56 reps within the time cap. Not too shabby.

Coach Doug was chuckling at me mid-WOD. Naturally with the Crossfit Games going on all weekend, that was a common topic of discussion at the box today. But after I completed the first round, I stepped over my bar took a few steps forward and began my air squats. Doug was nearby and commented, “doing it Games style, eh? You had to move up the floor before starting the next round?” I honestly wasn’t aware that I had done so. But when he pointed it out I chuckled and answered, “Yeah, looks that way.”

Random Fitness/Lifestyle Observations

-) Thoroughly enjoyed the CF Games this weekend. It was streaming pretty much non-stop all weekend long in our home. I particularly enjoyed the diversity of the events and the less traditional events (Obstacle Course, Cyclocross, Hay Bale/Sand Bag Burpees). I frequently challenge myself and the athletes I coach to remember and train for the fact that life doesn’t always move in straight lines as Crossfit tends to. I really enjoyed seeing the athletes adapt to that challenge.

-) Just finished a 28 Day nutrition/lifestyle challenge through our gym. The lifestyle aspect was the most impactful to me. I have begun some meditation and am working hard at turning off all the screens by 9pm. That’s been pretty cool. Planning a bit of an on-line hiatus soon. We’ll see how that goes.

From a nutrition standpoint, this challenge was a great way to break the cycle of lousy habits that I had picked up since April. As I mentioned earlier, I dropped 10 pounds. I have a few more I would like to shed; but I feel like this challenge has helped me reboot the healthier habits which will get me there. Along those lines….

-) New Challenges/Goals – I’m taking part in a few fitness events in the coming months. This should help me keep my eating habits in check. I’ll be taking part in a 6-person co-ed team event in October. More on that as we get closer. Additionally, the dates for the War of the WODs have been released in mid-January. Looks like I should be able to take part in that one. So I’m planning on registering soon. I’m contemplating taking part in our in-house powerlifting total event in mid-September. Logistically, that one’s a bit of a challenge as I have coaching responsibilities that day; but we can probably work around those.

So that’s where things are right now. I’ll try to get more disciplined about writing and we’ll see where that takes us.

When I travel I love visiting local CF gyms. I love meeting new people and working out in new spaces. As an athlete (6+ years) and a coach (2+ years), I’m always curious about how other coaches manage a class. I’m always looking for new tricks, tools or techniques that I can adapt into my coaching to make my classes better. Yesterday, I ran into the absolute worst coached class I have ever experienced.

For those who know me, I’m a pretty positive person. Definitely a glass half full type and generally very slow to criticize. With that in mind, after sleeping on the experience and reviewing it in my head repeatedly, I can say this: “The coach got exactly one thing right. The class started on time. We completed all the assigned work and the class ended on time.” So check the block for successful time management. Everything else that went on in that class was broke. It was like living one of the satirical videos on ‘how NOT to run a Crossfit class.’ It was kind of surreal.

If you go to a gym as an athlete, there are some core common sense things you expect a coach to do to run an effective safe class. Here’s a basic check list:

Introductions – you would expect a coach to want to know the names of everyone in their class, right? Didn’t happen. The coach came by, shook my hand and told me their name with about 10 minutes remaining in the class!

Workout Review – you would expect a conversation about the work out of the day, the movements involved, injuries/pre-existing conditions among athletes, scaling options….none of this happened. It was “5:15 class – give me 20 cal on the rower, then line up for across the floor.”

Consider that a moment. This coach ran a class with a completely unknown athlete with a WOD that involved power cleans ranging from 135#-185# with absolutely no understanding of my ability/competency. No guidance on scaling options for those weights. That’s a huge failure and safety concern.

During the across the floor, the coach got distracted by some prospective new clients. I get it. That happens to every coach. But while the coach was caught up in that a couple of the locals athletes called out words to the effect of: “OK, gang. Grab your bars. Take 5 minutes and finish doing what you need to do to prep for the WOD.” Remember, we hadn’t actually talked over the work out. So unless you had taken the initiative and reviwed the digital whiteboard yourself, you wouldn’t even know WHY you needed a barbell. I inferred from the tone that this was not an uncommon thing.

During the METCON the coach DID work the room stopping by each athlete shouting some thing to each one. I say ‘some thing’ because both times the coach came by me, I can’t tell you whether the coach offered encouragement or cues on form. The music was cranked so loud I was unable to hear the words the coach was saying from roughly 8ft away. For all I know they were telling me my shorts were falling off. No clue.

Like I said, I’m a pretty positive guy. So I choose to extend the coach the benefit of the doubt and I choose to presume that they were a) very inexperienced and b) having a particularly off day. I would tell you the experience was comical, but it really disturbed me. This was one of those experiences where you can understand why some folks think Crossfit is dangerous and scary. If I was new to the Crossfit experience I’d never go back to that box again.

I will say that the athletes were very welcoming and pleasant. Many of them came by, shook my hand, introduced themselves, helped me find gear, etc. Very cool.

In the end, I guess I can take away a few things. As a coach, the experience was a stark reminder to not take my own coaching experience for granted. I don’t ever want to fall into bad habits. Take every class seriously, give it some thought. Have a plan in place on how to approach it and don’t ever lose sight of the basics! As an athlete, it was a great reminder to appreciate the coaches under whom I train. They are professionals who care about the athletes they train and it shows in every class they conduct.

As for the remainder of the week, I’ll be calling up the CFD travel WOD PDF later today and picking out a few WODs to get me by until I get back to Durham.

It is remarkable, and a touch alarming, how quickly nasty habits can reseat and take control of our lives.

The gym is starting a new fitness/lifestyle/nutrition challenge tomorrow and it could not come at a better time.

I have been wrestling with my nutrition for months watching the needle on the scale creep up week by week. I have, over the years that I’ve been involved with Crossfit Durham, come to understand that the number on the scale should not be the defining element of my life and I embrace that…within limits. I have slid well beyond those limits.

I know that when everything is in alignment, then I’m living my life weighing in around 220#. I consider that my ‘ideal fighting weight.’ Right now, I am a long way from there, but that’s ok.

I sincerely am not overly concerned about the number on the scale. I can accept that when our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in April everything sort of spun out of orbit for a while. I’m not upset with that.

What concerns me most is that once he was stable, and clearly at that point diet/nutrition became a central topic in our home, I slipped back into the ‘phantom calorie’ habits that used to plague me when I was at my all-time heaviest.

Back when I was closing in on 300#, I used to hit drive through windows commuting home from work  and then sit down to dinner with Erin when I got in. I’d do it multiple times a week. Most week days I’d hit the same drive throughs on the way to work. I’m still a fiend for a Burger King Sausage Egg and Cheese Croissant. I figured, ‘what the hell? The calories don’t count, if no one sees me eat them, right?!”

This time the excuse was different, but the pattern was the same. Since mid-April I have had a RAGING insatiable sweet tooth. The justification has been, “well, I’ll just have this now in the car, because my son shouldn’t have this and I don’t want him to feel bad.”

I’ve been hitting the local doughnut shop twice a week after working out at the gym in the morning. Stopping at the local milk shake shack, or just grabbing candy at the check out counter at the grocery store any time I went shopping unaccompanied. Each time, I kept telling myself, ‘tomorrow, I’ll clean this up.’

Well, tomorrow has arrived.

 

 

Today, for the first time in a long time, we got to test 1 rep max lifts for the deadlift and the overhead squat. I was VERY excited to be testing these. My all time PR’s for these lifts haven’t simply had birthdays…at this stage, they’re both old enough for preschool!

I was successful at 185# for the Overhead Squat with misses at 205# and 200# in that order. The 205# was never going to happen. It was a wreck from the moment I tried to press it out off my shoulders. On a PERFECT day, I might pull off that 200#….maybe. The most I have ever successfully pulled off is 195#.

Deadlift – I pulled 365# with good form and returned it to the floor gently. I got greedy and went after 390# in the hopes of setting a 5# PR and besting a record that’s stood since 2013. It BARELY left the floor.

I’ve been mulling those results over all day with mixed feelings.

Of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve any new PR’s. We train to get better. That’s the goal.

When I take a step back and frame it up a bit, then perspective shifts.

-) I got within right around 5% of my all time best on BOTH lifts today. I only missed when I chose to challenge myself and go beyond my known boundaries.

-) While I’m 3 or more years older than when these PR’s were set, I’m clearly not any weaker. Does that mean all this exercise is holding Father Time at bay and I’m getting better/stronger because my strength is not deteriorating over time? Don’t know about that. It’s comforting to think so. Is it an appreciable amount of time? Crossfit age brackets are built in 5 year increments. While it hasn’t been more than 5 years between these PR’s I have ‘advanced’ an age bracket.

-) My training, as it always has been, remains very broad and diverse. I’m doing main room programming mostly, while still dabbling in MovNat and tinkering with a bit of Gymnastics. So dedicated ‘lifting’ hasn’t been part of my focus for any length of time.

Am I rationalizing, trying to justify a let down? Maybe. I don’t know. At the end of the day, I know this. I’m satisfied with the effort; pleased with (and grateful for) the time spent with friends even if I’m not thrilled with the results. So it was a good day. Now we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

 

So Monday is Memorial Day. A number of Crossfit boxes around the world will be performing the traditional hero WOD Murph over the weekend or on Monday itself.

For the unfamiliar, the workout consists of:

Run 1-Mile
100 Pull ups
200 Push Ups
300 Air Squats
Run 1-Mile
*Wear a 20# vest, if you have it.

Murph is a curious thing. There are lots of benchmark WODs. There are dozens of hero WODs which commemorate the lives of service members, LEO’s and first-responders who have given their lives in their service. Murph is different. It’s more than a WOD in the Crossfit community. It’s a phenomenon.

Maybe because its bodyweight this is one of the Hero WODs that lots of us attempt  solo (with or without a weight vest), way before we’re really ready. That’s what I want to talk to you about. I want to make the case for finding yourself a battle buddy.

As a 6 year Crossfit and retired Army vet, let me offer a few thoughts from each perspective.

In Crossfit, we talk all the time about the community. Here’s a great chance to exercise that community. Grab your favorite lifting buddy and split this joker up. Or better yet! Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know and partner up for this beast! 2 miles and 50, 100, 150 reps of each exercise is PLENTY of work for us average Joes and Janes. It’s also plenty of time in which you and your partner can forge a bond.

I promise, if you grind through this one together, you may not be fast-friends when it’s over; but you will be comrades. You will endure a physical and mental battle together. When it’s done you will feel like brother(s)/sister(s)-in-arms. I have completed Murph once as an individual two years ago. I can’t tell you my time. I do however have very clear memories of each person and the WOD all the years I partnered with someone.

Here’s another consideration – remember to check your ego and don’t allow one work out to derail the rest of your goals! Unless you’re the type of athlete that’s crushing WODs as prescribed every day, Murph solo will punish you….for days. Don’t lose a week of training because you shred your hands on the pull ups and demolish your quads and glutes on the air squats. Share the load and play smart. Train to train again another day soon.

In the military, you don’t do anything alone. Just keep that in mind as you grind through this WOD and coax your battle-buddy along. Just as they are going to do for you somewhere around Round 7 of 10 and you’re both 25 minutes into this thing and you’re still not sure you’re going to make it to the finish line. You’ll get there…if you stay together and pull each other through to the other side.

Oh, and in that spirit of working together – on the run – especially that second mile….stay together. I mean really together. Unless your partner threatens you with bodily harm and demands you charge on without them, don’t put on an all out sprint and dust your battle buddy on that last 100M. Poor form. Stay together and cross that finish line side by side. It means something. Trust me.

So there it is. My take on the monster Murph. What are your thoughts?