Yesterdays trip down to San Jose to hang with Neal Maddox and crew was the first time I didn't do the workout. Having scored a respectable score on the Sectionals Workout, I was satisfied enough and had no intention of trying it again. Plus, with Lindsey and me leaving late tomorrow night for our adventure, I wanted to hit the 6th and final workout tomorrow (totally need to rest up the shoulders and legs as it will be BRUTAL!).
It was fun to judge and watch all these beasts get after it. I have been around "fire-breather" CrossFit for a while now and I only yesterday realized that watching while also being a competitor is totally different than watching for the sake of watching. As a competitor I tend to analyze what is going on. I watch for things athletes are doing to make the movements more efficient. I watch how they react to transitions, where they take breaks and how they feel and approach the beginning, middle, and end of the workout. I feed off the energy as adrenaline for my own effort but am always a bit introverted, focusing on my personal routine. More on this in a sec.
As a non-competitor, things become WAY more exciting. You can just sit back and soak in the absolute impressiveness of human beings challenging every aspect of their make up. They push themselves physically and mentally, they sometimes burst through barriers, and sometimes get crushed. But no matter what happens, it is more suspenseful, motivating, emotional and powerful then almost any other watchable event I have been to. For those of you out there who have yet to see a bunch of CrossFitters getting after it, go online, find an event, and go check it out. Your life will change (even if it's just a little, it will change).
So here's how it changed for me! It made me sit back and think about my approach to CrossFit and training in general. I personally like CrossFit less for the actual workouts (believe me, I LOVE the workouts), but more for the need to better understand oneslef. Let's take this last Sectionals Workout as an example. The thing was 20 minutes of three tough exercises, and what happens when these show up on the board is either a bunch of groaning about how tough this will be, and/or a whole slew of strategizing. CrossFit workouts have allowed the ability for people to figure out the best way for themSELVES to get through a workout the most efficiently and effectively. As an example, Neal Maddox broke this one down like crazy, and ultimately made the mistake of over-transitioning. He went in with the goal of taking his time and mis-judged how much time to take between exercises. Normally his strategy to to go balls to the wall from the start, but he chose to change it up here and it came back to bite him in the butt a little (just as a side: Neal is sitting around 4th or 6th in the world right now. The guy get's it done about 99% of the time, and when he hits that 100%, it's going to be scary). I picked my strategy: to rest mostly between the cleans and the toes to bar (to allow my grip a break), then try to keep the transition time down between all others. I also focused on NOT breaking the cleans and the wall balls as I knew it would devastate me to have to pick the bar and ball back up once it fell. For me, this style of workout is one that I excel in. I think my marathoning a few years back helps me understand how to pace longer workouts. But with workouts in the 5-10 minute domains, I am still pretty rusty as to what works best for me. It's all about knowing what you as an individual can and can't do, and then basing how you approach the workout accordingly. If you are a strong finisher but struggle to get warm, why would you go 100% at the start? If you function better in on-and-off bursts of energy, why would you plan to do things unbroken? In training it would be smart to work on this stuff as well. It's not just about training physical weaknesses, but when you move up in the CrossFit world, it's about figuring out so much more, and training it all!
This next workout is one I feel I should do well with, but I have to spend some time figuring out how to approach it. It's a 7 minute all-out effort, and I struggle with the mental side of that. Upon a bit of thought, I think my best bet is to Neal Maddox it, or Prefontane it: when I hear go, I GO! All out, rest only when I need to and as quickly as possible. You can do anything for 7 minutes...
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Last night Lindsey and I drove to the city to meet up with my client and buddy Jon and his girl for dinner. We had an awesome time! I must say, good company and good food really do make for a happier life! But I am sure all of you know that, so I'll fill in a bit about what it is that we ate. We met at House Of Prime Rib, and super old-school meat joint, something out the the show "Mad Men". The decor was rustic and old, the place was packed and loud, there was a divers mixture of old business types and young hipsters (as San Francisco tends to have!) and then there was the food.
Basically, your meal was paced for you. You ordered off a small menu, telling them what type of cut you'd like (thin, medium and thick) and how you wanted your meat cooked. Yup, there was one thing on the menu: prime rib! Then you could modify your sides, but you generally, everyone got the same thing to eat:
Bread and corn bread
Prime rib (and a CRAP-LOAD of it!) with
Creamed spinach, potato, some bread-type thing (honestly not sure what it was, but it was good!)
It was the first time in a very long time that I walked away from a meal feeling like I needed to unbutton my pants a tad! Sometimes there's nothing like feeling that primal excitement of gorging a ton of red meat. And interestingly enough, I was overcome by a very strong desire to lift heavy weights! I had a good feeling about the deadlifts scheduled for Friday.
So, today rolled around and I was able to get some solid work in. I worked up in sets of 3 on the deadlifts through 225, 315 and 405, then moved to singles or 455 and 485. So a quick run-down before I go into my last attempt. I pulled 485 about 2 yeas ago, and my max between then and the DC's Most Primal CrossFit Competition a few months ago where I PR'd at 500. But that PR came with a lifting belt and a TON of people screaming motivation at me. Today's 500 had no belt, and nobody paying any attention to me. Very, very, very happy about that pull! I then attempted 515 and...it didn't budge. Oh well!
I then hit a sneaky-brutal workout thought by Lindsey:
200 meter run
30 power snatch 95#
30 tire jumps (just like a box jump but onto a tire)
200 meter run
20 power snatch
30 tire jumps
200 meter run
10 power snatch
30 tire jumps
200 meter run
ROUGH! I was very surprised at how this one crushed me. I think the fact that my grip was still a bit tender from the Open Sectionals Workout made the snatches harder, and my ankles (Achilles and calves as well) are still messed up from Open Sectionals Workout 2 (the one with tons of box jumps...). But I'm not gonna lie, the feeling of exhaustion was really nice today!
Finally, tonight I whipped up a great meal for Lindsey and myself: broiled bison with brussel sprouts and steamed sweet potatoes. That followed by client/friend Lena's awesome gluten-free pumpkin bread and some almond milk and I am feeling all sorts of good! Now I can look forward to a chill and potentially adventure-filled weekend!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Old Wall Ball Pic
Today's slightly improperly fueled attempt at Open Sectionals Workout #5 went WAY better then I could have imagined. First off, here's a bit about my inability to fuel properly. The mornings are a breeze, I get everything I could possibly imagine. But once that ends, I pretty much just wing it. I have come to the conclusion that for at least a month, I need to to break it down like I'm a 2-year-old and have my meals written out for me, times to eat and all! Shout-out to Michael Donovan baby! You gotta save me my man (Donovan is a legit nutritionist and all around great guy in the DC area)!
Alright, so back to the workout. After talking with Lindsey and the Lalanne crew a bit I realized that an absolutely AWESOME score would be 15 rounds. Then, after watching the first heat of three go at Lalanne Fitness I decided 12 rounds would be the ultimate goal. If could pull that out I would be so happy!
Do as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
5 power cleans 145#
10 toes to bar
15 wall ball
The goal was to find a comfortable pace and then stick to that as much as possible. This went pretty well, and I was able to get 5 rounds completely unbroken at a pace of over 13 rounds. Then, right around round 7 I hit a major wall. I can;t really describe how this felt, just like I was literally falling apart. I was doing the toes to bar in 3 sets, the cleans and wall balls went all unbroken. And interestingly enough, the wall balls were what got me. That 7th round left me feeling surprisingly nauseous and it was everything in my power to battle through. When I looked over and saw time was running down fast, I went all out to try to complete what I thought was my 10th round. I remember feeling a little bummed about not getting to my goal, but at that point I just turned on everything I had to get that round in. And ready for this? Time ran out just ONE REP SHY of completing that round! Man!
Well, it was about 3 minute later, after I mopped myself off the floor and immediately realized I was about as depleted of anything and everything the body needs to function, that I had actually got one rep shy of 12 rounds! Yoohoo! To think you got a crappy score and have it turn out you just suck at counting is such a huge pick-me-up!
So, I am good with that score, and now I have to figure out my training program to get that last workout of these damn Sectionals in. In a week I'll be turning 29, and Lindsey and I are headed out to do a bunch of crazy adventuring. So that means I have to get that final workout in before we head out to the crazy wilderness!
OK, time for bed; I am so beyond crushed right now it is actually worrying me a bit. I'll be good to go tomorrow!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Today I was able to get a pretty good workout in that left me feeling very satisfied. Come to think of it, I really haven't felt like my training has been all that great as of late. I just feel like I haven't been making any real gains in the past month and a half or so; pretty crappy. Well, either way, back to the workout! I put together a pretty interesting one for Lindsey early in the morning, and when I got to my workout time around mid day, I thought it would fit perfectly. So, I did the following:
10, 10, 10 strict toes to bar
10, 10, 10 forward rolls to smooth stand
8, 8, 8 pistol squats
5, 5, 3, 3, 3 front box squats
5, 5, 5 power clean with 1, 1, 1 wall walk to negative HSPU
250 meter row between rounds of:
The gymnastics work before hand felt great, especially the toes to bar. I felt my adductors taking over towards the later reps and I was able to make necessary adjustments to engage the proper muscles. The front squats were pretty good all around, a 275# set of three was solid and I felt real strong. The metcon was a fun one! My goal was purely to get the whole thing unbroken and I was able to do so. It was brutal, both muscularly and cardiovascularly, but once I got through the 21 deadlifts I knew I'd be able to get it. I finished up with a score of 6:52, not too bad.
Got some conditioning planned out for tomorrow and then the rest of the week will depend on the Sectionals workout. Man will it be great to not have to worry about these damn random workouts (that are all about the same in terms of demand on the body...)!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Today I drove on down to Neal Maddox's place with Lindsey and her mom to get another try at Open Workout #4. I rolled in with certain ease because I was pretty happy with my score of 115 from Wednesday. But, I figured since it wasn't the most demanding workout in the world, I would go ahead and work it into my programming. Plus, it's always a good time to workout next to Neal, the dude is an absolute BEAST!
My goal for today was to hit everything a little faster because I felt like I took too much time leading up to and doing the muscle ups (I did so on purpose because I was really focused on getting those damn muscle ups without a miss!). I felt pretty good when the time began and I found a perfect rhythm on the burpees, finishing these about 20 seconds faster than the first go-round. I shook out the arms and legs and threw the barbell overhead to start my overhead squats. Felt SO much better with these and was able to 19 unbroken. Then of 6 and 5. All of a sudden I was going into my muscle ups with just about 1:40 extra time! But that's about all the excitement I had for the day because I went for my first effort and missed, ugh. This has been exactly how muscle ups go for me over the past couple years, I either have them, and have them real comfortable, or, I can't get them at all.
I was able to squeeze out a brutally ugly 5 reps here, then I just hit my wall. I missed about 7 straight and just like that I saw I have about 30 seconds left. Oy. So, I recalled that I got 115 a few days before, I saw my boy Neal slowing down in the upper area of his second round of burpees, so, I decided to call it quits and give the remainder f my energy to Neal so he could get a few more reps in. All in all, it was a nice little workout and and I just didn't have those muscle ups today!
Now it's time for a little rant, not organized, not thought out at all, just thought I'd express myself. Upon a quick review of the mid-Atlantic region leaderboard on the CrossFit Games website, I am totally in the wrong spot. As of right now I am placed like 28th with a score that should have me either 19th or 20th. They have yet to adjust for my better score on workout #3, and they have me in the wrong spot overall. So here's the thing: I am pretty confident that they have all the correct info somewhere in there, but it's all the "glitches" they are experiencing that is causing the mistakes we all see. But even though I have confidence in them, it is freaking nerve-raking to not be placed in the correct spot. It'd just be nice to see my name where it belongs is all.
Ok, I'm done. I have a nice rest of the weekend planned out with Lindsey's family and I am excited for my programming next week! I'll fill you all in on that soon.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Last night, fueled and energized, I drove up to the City to Lalanne Fitness to get after Sectionals Workout #4. My legs were sore as hell thanks to the Storyline Workout and the air squats at the track, but I felt very confident that I should get a respectable score. For me, it was all about getting those muscle ups finished up!10 minutes, as many rounds/reps as possible of:60 burpees with a jump over your barbell30 overhead squats at 120#10 muscle upsMy plan was to find a comfortable pace with the burpees, get through the OH squats with as few drops as possible, then go one at a time with the muscle ups. And that is what I did. I finished up the burpees with some decent energy at just over 4 minutes. I then hit the squats and was able to bang out 12 before dumping the bar. I then got to 19 (my right arm failed me and I just wasn't able to recover). I then got to 25, then finished off. Here's where I focused in like crazy. I got my first one very smoothly, and I could feel myself bubble over in confidence. I proceeded to take my time and get all 10 without any misses. I had a minute to go and I just went all-out sprint for extra reps on the burpees; and, was able to get 15. With a fnal score of 115 I feel pretty good about that.Will I do it again? Well, I don't really feel the need to get a better score at this point, but on the other hand I don't feel like it is the most demanding workout in the world. I feel as though I took too much time on both the overhead squats and the muscle ups. If I paced myself better I probably would have gained another 45-60 seconds and I'd be able to squeeze another 15-20 burpees in. But, the next month and a half are dedicated to training for Regionals so, I'll play this one by ear based on tomorrows workout! Today was a rest day and my legs are freaking sore...Never Stop, GET FIT.Josh Courage
After a bit of tumbling and stretching out yesterday I decided to hit the wilderness for a little fun today. I packed a couple sandbags (52# each), a couple kettlebells (70# and 62#), a sledge hammer (10#) and a weight vest (20#). I didn't really know what I was going to do, or where I was even going for that matter, i just hit the road. I headed out into the mountain between the Bay and the Pacific and right at the ridge a hung a left, headed South and into the ever-thickening wild. About 15 miles in, I hung a right and disappeared down a super narrow, very winding road. Another 8 miles or so and I spotting a tiny tail head, so I pulled in.I got out, walked around a little and found the perfect spot! Just to the side of the trail head there was a bit of a clearing that led to a ledge that just dropped off into the woods. I had about a 30 meter, insanely steep hill to another clearing amongst the redwoods, I had a huge fallen tree about face height, I had a massive redwood stump and tons of awesome scenery! So I began brainstorming a workout. [video below!]All of a sudden I remembered that my good buddy Blair Morrison of AnywhereFit had challenged all his readers to design a storyline workout. Basically a workout that could replicate a real-life scenario. And just like that my imagination began to run wild! Here is my story!I am a farmer (slash master warrior!) in the 17th century living in my humble home with my two small children (the two sandbags). All of a sudden in the distance I see the evil villain of the area and his army of bandits charging my land prepared to steal all my food and goods and take my children away for slavery. I act quickly (being the battle-master that I am) and transition my children and weapons to my hidden safe-house. I throw on my body armor (the 20# vest) and high-tail it!
Once I'm in my safe-house I must load up my cannon and fire at the oncoming enemy!
- Run each piece of equipment up the steep hill one at a time (sandbags, kettlebells, hammer, or, children, cannonballs, sword!)
After I fire away, I then must navigate over to the alternate tower for a flank counter-attack.
- 60 kettlebell swings with the 70#
Now that I get over to this even more hidden tower, I fload and fire my second cannon.
- 10 climb overs and back under the fallen tree
Finally, realizing the enemy is too strong and determined to be fended off by my cannons, I must stand against them steel vs. steel. I draw my sword and attack for a final epic battle!
- 30 kettlebell snatches each arm with the 62#
Alrighty, so, anyone who has spent a decent amount of time with me probably knows that doing this sort of thing, alone, out in the woods, is pretty much what defines me. So, I got into character pretty seriously and just went after it! And in the end, was I able to save myself and my children from those crazy attacking scoundrels? Honestly, the way I felt after that workout, I either did so, JUST barely, or, I got crushed miserably! The kettlebell swings destroyed my back (I am assuming the run up the hill with the vest and the awkward weights tightened it up a bit to start) and I struggled through the entire thing. Finished in 25:18 (with a handful of camera moves throughout). Was an absolute blast and I look forward to seeing what other people come up with for this challenge! Later on in the day I headed to the track with a handful CrossFit San Mateo athletes and did this little challenge:100 air squats, 400 meter run, 75 air squats, 400 meter run, 50 air squats, 400 meter run, 25 air squats, 400 meter run.I came in around 13:20 but I also was in the bathroom when the rest of the group started (Brednon said it was about 1.5 minutes or so before I actually got my start). Either way, it was a tough one but I feel as through it got my blood pumping perfectly. Now I plan plan to roll out and stretch a bit before ed and tomorrow it's time to hit Open Sectionals Workout #4 at Lalanne Fitness!
- 60 hammer strikes into the stump
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well, I drove on down to San Jose Saturday morning to hit the Open Sectionals 3rd workout. I felt very ready to go and was excited to see what I could do. Not to make excuses, but I realized in retrospect why I did not score as many as I really expected. I finished with 28.5 rounds (that 28 squat clean and jerks and one squat clean) and to be honest, I was rally expecting to get in the 35 range. What happened was that we we ended up taking a TON of time between the two heats and I found myself just pacing back and forth for a good 30 minutes. Then all of a sudden, I was standing in front of my bar and my biddy Neal Maddox (who got 45 freaking rounds by the way, beast!!) was violently getting my attention. When I looked up I had 2 seconds and boom, the buzzer sounded to go. It took me about 4 or 4 reps to actually realize that we were doing the workout! My technique was thrown off like crazy and I ended up dropping the bar twice. Let me tell you, in a workout like this, dropping the bar is about the most demoralizing thing that could happen. I was just NOT there mentally for this one.
Still, in the end I was happy enough that I was keeping my placement high enough to make Regionals in the end; after all, that's all that really matters right now! So, Lindsey and I hit the gym and I got a few rounds of heavy pause squats and a crap lad of body weight reps to work on control of the body. But my mind kept on drifting back to how I wasn't mentally prepared and I really, really wanted to try it again. So, even though I was a little sore, I decided to just go for it!
Today's effort went a little better, 30 rounds, but it was the process that made it just so much more exciting! Apparently the clock decided to count all randomly and confused Brendon and Lindsey (my support/count/judge group). Because of this I ended up getting an additional 40ish seconds of work in and I banged out 33 reps. Going back to video and counting it next to a stop watch was quite a downer, having done 33 and having to take 3 away! Oh well, a better score is a better score. And to be honest, being able to up the score after doing the workout AND heavy back squats makes me feel pretty good (even though I expected more...).
On to other news: I have decided to push my move back east forward a few weeks. This came about because Lindsey and I are headed out to Utah for some adventure on that last week of April (for my Birthday) and I figured if we are headed out then, I may as well hang out here until then! So, to all my East Coasters waiting for me, it'll be just a little longer! And to all my West Coasters, let's live it up for a little longer!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Today marked three days straight without a workout and boy am I ever restless and ready to work! My stomach is sore, but the pain has subsided. I am fully aware that I'm not healed, but I am put together enough to get after this workout, I know that much. All I can hope for is that the workout doesn't break me down any more and I have to take a full week off. Plenty of recovery planned for the rest of Sturday and all of Sunday, I just want to be good enough to get back on a program next week.
With my inability to workout over the last couple days, I took the time to stretch, roll, relax and eat well as to be as prepared as possible. And as of right now, I feel ready to go!
5 minutes As Many Reps As Possible of:
Clean and Jerk 165#
I'll give a write-up to let everyone know how I do.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well after my wonderful outing with tons of toes to bars and rowing, I was met with a mild strain in my abdomen. Now it turns out this is the third time something like this has happened (the first time being really bad) and I am now officially aware that I need to make a certain number of changes in my programming to address the situation. First off, I need to snap out of the frustrating funk of needing to take three full days off in the middle of a very serious training schedule, crap happens and I need to just roll with it!
Ok, now that that;s over with, let's move on to how to fix the problem. I have very weak hips. SO weak n fact, that I rarely even use them while doing most movements. I overcompensate with my adductors (the inside of my legs, or my groin muscles) when flexing my hip (bringing my knee towards my chest) and I also tend to overuse my glutes when training or functioning where my lower body is involved. So, when I need to perform in a manner that acutely utilizes my hips, I tend to break down pretty quickly. And here is where my CrossFitting ends up biting me in the ass. If i were asked to do 10 strict toes to bar (hanging from a bar and bringing my feet up to touch the bar) I would probably not be able to do so. But is I was able to do kipping toes to bar, I could probably get 40 or so unbroken. How is this possible? Well, the strict movement calls for my hip flexors to be the primary movers; and, since they are damn weak, I am left failing the exercise. Kipping allows other muscle groups to engage and take over the movement, along with momentum. So what ends up happening is that i have an improper firing sequence of muscle and am left with imbalances in my gains. This also leads to a greater risk of injury because I have muscles NOT being used, along with muscles being used TOO MUCH. And there you have it, the over-strain on my stomach because of my lack of strength in my hips on this movement have led to a mild injury. I am just thankful it is not worse.
This leads to a huge discussion on the dangs of improper CrossFit training. While I could go into this forever (and LOVE doing so), I will through out one argument and leave the rest for another, longer, more detailed post on all this. I know of SO many CrossFit affiliates who teach the kipping pull up early and often. This is a pull up where you use all kinds of momentum to get your chin over the bar. While I utilize this move, and the crazier version of it, the Butterfly Kip, on a regular basis in my training, I am more and more hesitant to get people doing this. I say this because I know that if you can't do like 10 or more strict pull ups, under complete control, you'll do nothing but exacerbate existing imbalances and create new ones by kipping all the time. You are basically completely neglecting all the ACTUAL pull ups muscles when kipping. Proof of this is that i know a great deal of people who can bang out 10+ kipping pull ups but can't actually do a single strict one! This is insanity to me! Kipping is cool, i know, it looks cool, it feels cool and it makes you blast through "Fran" like nobodies business. But, to be brutally honest, if you are not a competitive CrossFitter, it's a pretty stupid move to do on a regular basis.
Don't get me wrong, kipping is a hugely important skill to understand in terms of over-all athleticism and health; but so is building all your muscles to fire, engage, activate and de-activate properly. So if you're like me (and I would comfortably assume that well over 90% of the world out there has some pretty serious imbalances), take it easy with going "balls to the wall" all the time. Remember to stabilize and CONTROL your body. If you can't use a portion of your body correctly, don't use it incorrectly.
Now all I can do, as a competitive CrossFitter, is work on healing enough to get after Open Sectionals Workout #3. Here's to a recovery-filled Friday!
Never Stop, GET FIT.