I can pinpoint the day things began to fall apart for me. It was a cruise I took on the third week of The Open, in Florida. I had been progressing so damn well, and for some reason, I just let loose a little, had a couple drinks, indulged in dessert, stayed as healthy as I could on the ship, but the food is far from high quality. But I'm not blaming the ship. From there I just never found my way back to the rhythm I had found before. I was blogging regularly, training with passion, eating cleanly and easily and living my life in a general position of happiness. Even as I write this I am opting out of working out because I feel my energy levels depleted and I cannot seem to comprehend the idea of trudging alone out to the garage to workout in the dark. I could go for a run, but then again, I haven't written anything in a while and at least I'm getting one thing in that I should. My goal with this post is not to be depressing; more to write an honest perspective I know many of you think I never have. One where I completely lack motivation to do all the things I pride myself in. I understand what it means to be a healthy, happy person. I coach it every single day. I write about it pretty often here. But I have valleys in my life just like everyone else, and while I do honesty believe I function at a level where my valleys are few and far between, I think that adds to the severity of them when I do find myself in one. I am just not used to feeling so unmotivated.
I have all the time in the world throughout my days, even when I am coaching 6 or more classes a day to workout. I have all the time in the world to cook my own food, prepare for the coming days' schedules with the proper balances and amounts. I have all the time in the world to warm up properly, program for my weaknesses, work mobility, foam roll and stretch. I have all the time in the world to do all this while still getting outside on a regular basis and enjoying the wilderness because it never fails to bring me peace and harmony. But having all the time in the world means almost nothing when you lack motivation.
A major positive in the time I spend in front of books and the computer is that I get to read a ton, soak up more and more knowledge about the world of health and fitness. I watch videos of training, read blogs, read articles, books, and studies. I read opinions and comments, and study pictures on snatch and clean form until my eyes burn. I can visualize myself, as clear as day pulling a bar loaded with 250# from the ground, and snapping under it in the perfect catch position; heavy weight strong over my head. But when I grab a bar to demonstrate for clients, my back is tight, my knees hurt, my shoulder pinches and I feel like a hopeless, fat old man trying to get through the day quickly so he can crash down on the coach for his third nap of the day.
But then there are those moments. No matter how bad I might think I am, I get under the bar and power through something stronger and faster then ever before. I have surges of energy where I remember exactly what it feels like to be on top of my game. In my "research" I have found an underlying theme and commonality between all the top-level performers in their specific fields: a never-ending commitment and passion to getting better. In the end, the ones who come thorough in the clutch, who perform day in and day out at the highest level, and have the least amount of weaknesses, are those who never get distracted by anything. Because my focus these past couple years has been CrossFit, I'll use that as my example (but you will find these statements to hold true with anything out there, sport, business, etc.). Over the past year I improved. I improved a metric shit ton. Every single one of my numbers not only went up, but also went WAY up, and this is despite gaining a crap load of weight. I was lifting more, and lifting it faster, my motor grew, my running was faster, my body weight movements became smoother and better, and everything just got so much better. But the thing that didn't click compared to those that did was that I had pockets of down time. When I was taking a week to just do nothing, others were getting ahead of me, getting better. Mind you, taking a week off is fine, but active recovery is a must. Working mobility, messing around with skills and so on. I would literally do nothing. It was like my brain would shut off. Then I would have "half-ass" weeks. These were when I would get my workouts in, but I would rush through them. I would not take the time to get extra weakness-focus work in. I would not warm up properly and stretch afterwards. My nutrition would slide just a little farther than I would have liked and while I still got tons of great work in, I would know in the back of my head that I wasn’t working as hard as I could have been.
“I will watch others laugh and fool around in the gym all day, while I am leashed to the platform.” – Jon North
This guy works hard. He has been committed to being an Olympic weightlifter and nothing will stand in his way. If he is feeling down one day, it doesn’t stop him. Every single day he is doing exactly what it takes to become BETTER. Every day is a step forward and there is never a step back. If you want something, if you want to be something, you need to commit to it and never falter in that commitment. The best CrossFitters in the world are like this. They workout because it's what they love, what they know, and what they want. They train hard, every single day, they eat well, they rest when they NEED and SHOULD. They are better because they wanted it more and dedicated their lives, inside and out, to being better than you and me. They are better because they function at a level where getting better is the ONLY option they have, the only thing they know how to do. Have you ever worked out, or performed with someone at such a level? I have many times and it is clear that all they want to do is beat you, to out perform you. The cool ones do this without being ass holes about it; the annoying ones make it clear they want to beat you. But when you pay attention to how they approach the workout, you know that they are working at a level that has one purpose: to win.
My steps back toward to finding my motivation, my drive, and my dedication look a little something like this: reestablish what it is I am working towards. Bring back to the front of my mind what I want out of life, then remove the things that do not support that. Lately I have found myself surrounded by things that assist in my not living my life the way I have always wanted. I need to put on my table (both literally and metaphorically) the things that I know make me who I want to be. Once those things are directly in front of me, and the "bad" things are removed from the table, my choices will be limited and clear. And once I have begun changing the way I live each day, I can then begin to look into the more detailed goals I might have for the next month, few months, and year. Do I want to pursue the CrossFit Games again? Do I want to get into something else? Whatever it is, I must make that choice with a clear, happy, excited, and eager mind. Then I will know that I can do anything I want. Then I will be able to clearly see how to be completely committed to something GOOD.
(I promise my next couple posts won’t be as depressing!)
Never Stop, GET FIT
It's been a few days now and the excitement of Regionals has passed. Now I am sitting around each day, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do next with all my training. Wondering why the hell I was so close with so many different things over the years, yet just not good enough to really shine. Well folks, it's time for a really self-analytical post here. It may come across as a little negative, a little bitter, maybe a little whinny at times (we'll see how it goes...); but, I need to do this every now and again to gain a better view on what I am doing in life. I have talked very often about taking time here and there to take a serious look at yourself so that you can make the necessary changes in becoming a better person each and every day. And when you feel like you might be in a rut, or in a place you just don’t want to be, in any way, then it's time to take that moment. So, here are some of the thoughts I've had over the past week.
Damn it! CrossFit season is over for me! Just like that. All that hard work, all those extra hours of foam rolling, training, thinking and stressing about how far I could go and in three simple days it's over. At first I was a little relieved. I think that the mental stress got to me just a little as we got closer to Regionals and I was just happy to put my worries away for a while. What I mean by that is I was teetering on the edge of being burnt out. It's tough to be so one-track-minded about something for so long, especially if you're like me and have a mind that wanders off so easily. But that relief turned very quickly into restless confusion and frustration over what my next steps will be in training. I can now look back on everything I did and so clearly see where I went wrong. I got strong as hell, I put on a TON of weight, I somehow got a good deal better with my conditioning, and my body-weight and Olympic movements only slightly improved. My nutrition was streaky, as was my life in general which led to varying levels of motivation throughout the whole process. From a physical standpoint it's pretty obvious what I need to do to get to the level I hope to be with this Crossfit thing. I need to stop being such a wimp with my nutrition and just stop letting food consumption be so closely connected with my emotional state (yep, I am a stereotypical girl and eat sweets when I'm sad. Oh, and by the way, I'm a dude. Just in case any of you were confused by that sentence). When I lose control of the food, I lose control of my stress levels, my sleeping patterns and my overall positive outlook that I pride myself in having on a regular basis. Food does so much for me in terms of how I am as a person (it does for everyone, but this post is about me!), and when I eat like crap, I feel and act like crap. Simple really. Easier said than done of course. I'm also sure that eating better would have helped me stay around 220#, rather then the 230# I ended up getting to right before Regionals. And while I did get better at things like muscle ups, handstand push ups and running, I’m sure I would have gotten WAY better if I didn’t have to move such a massive amount of weight! I am not disappointed with my weight gain at all, hell, I put 40# on my squat, 30# on my deadlift, 35# on my clean and 25# on my snatch, not bad! I just know I could have controlled it a little more and that would have been that much more helpful.
I am not at all worried about where I am headed with my training. I have all the faith in the world with my coach, Rudy Nielsen for programming. I know that for the summer months my focus will be getting even stronger (I already have my weight goals on the board in my gym, and will post a summer goals post in the near future), but the main thing will be getting outside and doing my metcons in the woods and the great outdoors like I enjoy doing so much. I will probably either skip out on The Outlaw Way's conditioning sessions and do my own in the woods, or, find a modification of theirs to use in the woods. I will continue to train at Outlaw on a pretty regular basis so that I can get good coaching points from Rudy and the other athletes, especially on my Olympic lifts. I will also head into the city for a few sessions here and there with a couple different USAW lifting classes. I have high expectations for my Olympic lifts over the next six months. So, from a physical training standpoint, I am right on track with what I need to focus on.
Ok, enough about the physical, I am sure I'll get more into that soon enough, especially the food! On to the important stuff, the mental!
I feel like I’ve written before about the idea that one might hold oneself back by being scared of success. And while I definitely relate a little to that idea, I think that I am probably a little more scared of focusing only one thing. Sure sure, the beauty of CrossFit is that there is no specialty and you get to focus on a ton of different thing. But the fact is, you still are only focusing on CrossFit, and not all the other amazing things life has to offer. I love baseball, trail running, climbing, well, I could just go on a rant here, but you get the idea. I have some strange mental block from allowing me to commit, like, SERIOUSLY commit to any one thing. And this is where I begin to confuse myself. I say this because from an outside perspective I’m pretty sure I appear to be an over-committer. And if I were to compare myself to “the majority”, I’m sure that would be an accurate description of my personality. But the truth of the matter is, I will always find a way to mentally check out, even if it’s just a tiny little bit. I find something else that excites me and that little bit of distraction takes away from gains and successes I feel I really should have.
Sweet, Courage, you get distracted and you should be better. Well, what are you going to do about it? And at what point do you look at your life and say, well, maybe I can’t be better? Honestly, that’s a great question, one I have asked myself in many situations and take pride in being able to answer at almost any given moment. I stopped playing baseball because I lost the drive to play at the level I was at. I put everything I had into the game and got as far as my physical and mental self would allow. Now, with CrossFit, I am not yet there. I keep getting stronger, faster, better. I know that I could reach numbers that are far beyond what I have now. And I know that I can get even more mentally tough and competitive. Well, the question is pretty easy to answer in the end. I know I want to compete again next year at Regionals. And, I want to compete at a high level, as in, I want to give the other athletes a run for their money in getting to the Games. So, I need to take the next couple weeks, look over my training, and assess the best path to get there. I need to light a fire a little deeper in me that will never burn out. I can write here that I want it, and I can tell people I talk to that I want it. But in the end, I have to believe, with every ounce of my soul, that I truly want it. If I come up with that as a conclusion in the next couple weeks, then it’s going to happen. I’ll let you all know.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
The Whole Crew!
Herded Together Before Workout 6
Registering For Workout 2
Tony Carrying a Crap-Load Of Weight!
In The Heat Of Workout 6
The Athletes Breifing
This Is Where We Lined Up Before A Workout
The Competition Floor
Taking in the day
What a weekend! It's taken me a little bit to wrap my head around everything, but through it all I have to say it was an damn awesome three days. I'll get to the details in a second, but I'll throw out the highlights right now! Oh, and I'll also post up a string of pics and links after this post as well do you all can get a taste of the enormity of what CrossFit has become. So, on to the highlights!
I met CrossFit founder Gerg Glassman. I spent time catching up with friends and CrossFit greats such as Christy Phillips, Gretchen Kittleberger, Jen Jones, Ben Smith and so many others. I connected with an absolutely AWESOME group of bad asses: The Outlaws (Reebok head honcho and ex-NFL stud Don Hasselbeck told me we were like the Raiders of CrossFit, now that is pretty damn cool). We proved that we are right there, all of us on the team, right there with the to competitors in the world. We could taste it all weekend. Man, writing about it now is getting my heart rate up again, so I'll get to the details now.
We showed up Friday morning to the massive venue next to FedEx field where the Redskins play. Checked in, found ourselves a spot in the "Athletes Village" (where all the athletes hung out, ate food, recovered and so on), and pretty quickly had our four teammates getting warmed up for workout 1. My teammates were: Laura Nielsen (Coach Rudy's wife and one time Games competitor), Courtney Modecki, Lindsey Adkins, Tyler Degenhardt, and Tony Mayo (our two backups were Colleen Sullivan and Thomas Hansen). The first workout was a ton of heavy deadlift with handstand push ups and Tony, Tyler, Courtney and Lindsey were up for that one. They did very well, running about as smoothly as we hoped and gave us a 6th place finish to start off the weekend. The next workout called for myself, Tony, Courtney and Laura, and was all about the order we went in. It involved a 1000 meter row, 25 pistol squats and 15 hang cleans with a crazy heavy weight. I started off with a fast row, then it was all about just getting through the rest of the exercises without causing any sort of bottle-necking (the second I got off the row, the next person jumped in and began their row, then they could move on to the pistols only if I was already done with them). We went exactly as planned and while we would have liked to finish in the top 3 on this one, we ended up with a respectable 8th place. We were in 6th place overall after day one.
Got some good food and sleep and we were back bright and early for another day of beatdowns! Tyler and Laura took on the 3rd workout, dumbbell snatches and sprints, and they gave us a 7th place finish, bringing us down to 4th place, and only 8 points out of a qualifying spot to the Games (the top 3 teams would go). A couple hours later we were warming up for the 4th workout and the final workout of the day: 75 squats, 50 pull ups, 25 shoulder to overheads (then same reps with front squats, then overhead squats. Oh, and that is just the girls. Then the guys would go do the same thing. It was a lot of reps to say the least!). Myself, Tyler, Courtney and Lindsey took on this one, and again, we were hoping for a top finish with our abilities. We went pretty damn smooth all though this one and only had 1 or 2 slip ups. But those were enough to push us down to a 6th pace finish, still damn good though. We moved back to 5th place, but we had advanced 2 points closer to a qualifying spot. So, we had the Games in our reach going in to the final day and final 2 workouts.
I had an awesome dinner with Lindsey, my brother and his girlfriend, then hit the sac to rest up for our big push. I can't lie, the energy in the arena that final day was freaking insane. You could feel the tension of the team battle going on for 3rd, and you could feel that same tension going on with the individual competition as well. It was crazy exciting! The snatch ladder to start the day would prove to be one of the most exciting events to watch. Team Outlaw again had a respectable 6th place finish (with Tony Mayo hitting a huge PR to help bring our score up) but it was some other teams that just put on a clinic. Some girl from CrossFit Wilmington hit the 185# snatch and is the only girl in any Regional to even come close to that weight, let alone hit it. It was so inspiring to watch. And of course, watching a little dude like Ben Smith drop under 265# like it's a PVC pipe just puts so much into perspective.
Anyway, we had a good bit if ground to make up in our final workout, and me, Tony, Courtney and Laura were fired up to get the job done. The workout was just a mess of exercises, muscle ups. barbell holds, wall balls, chin over bar holds, buddy carries along with a heavy dumbbell, partner box jumps, man it was crazy. Tony and I had a plan, and it was to to kick ass. Well, it didn't really turn out to go that way once we got to the wall ball and chin over bar holds. I suck at holding that position, and Tony was just spent at that point. We wasted so much time and energy trying to finish off all 60 wall balls that once we got back to the final SINGLE muscle up at the end of the workout, we both failed about 6 times before finally getting them with some crazy contortionist-like moves. We finally finished off and made way for the ladies, who just flat out took over. They cruised through the workout, finishing about 12 seconds before the cut-off and giving us a 7th place finish for the workout. Man! While we were just about the most consistent team in terms of placement, we needed to be consistent about one spot better each workout to have made it to the Games. In the end, there was a 3-way tie at 2nd place leaving us about 8 points behind those three teams. So close!!!
In the end, the teams who went clearly deserved to be there. It was an awesome experience to be there, and even better to be right there in the running for the top spot. I am so incredibly honored to have had such an awesome team and support crew to train with and workout with for this entire crazy journey and I would not have given all that up for anything. I generally feel like I tend to be a loner when it comes to training and competing, but I must admit, I am so very proud to call myself an Outlaw. And I know, for all my followers out there, I'm sure it looks strange to see me decked out in gear that doesn't have my name on it! Ha, it felt weird. But in all seriousness, I have nothing but thanks and pride in being one of the original 15 or so Outlaw Way exercisers, and while I wish I could have helped get the Team represent all us at the Games, I know we did an incredible job, and I could not be happier with the weekend. It was so cool to look up after that final workout and have a crowd of Outlaws cheering, offering high fives and hugs right there. it felt like I was part of a massive, bad ass family. And to make things that bunch great, Lindsey and my bro were there with their support. God what a great weekend!
And now, it's time to get back in the gym and keep getting better. Oh, and to cheer on the rest of the Outlaws already headed to the Games, and the ones who have yet to compete! No matter what happens out there with this new and insanely fast-growing sport, it is dam cool, and I am happy to be right in the thick of it.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Tomorrow is the big day! Below I'll post up some info on the event, like where the hell it is, when heats are going, and of course, when I'll be going!The CrossFit Games Mid-Atlantic Regionals - May 4th, 5th, 6th8001 Sheriff RoadLandover, MD 20785(Apparently it's right next to the Redskins stadium, so, should be pretty easy to find. Just look for the CrossFit signs that'll be all over the place!)Team Workout Start Times (in case any of you missed it, I am competing as part of Team Outlaw!):Friday - 10am and 1:20pm (I'll be doing the second workout, at 1:20pm)Saturday - 9am and 11:50am (Again I'll be on the second one)Sunday - 10am and 1pm (I'll be doing both)This is going to be n absolute blast all weekend people. If you plan to come out to show your support for yours truly, make sure to hang out there a few extra hours and just soak up the intensity and constant inspiration going on at all times. There is nothing like three days straight of elite exercisers doing their thing. It's so much fun!Hope to see you all out there! And of course, if you DO come, wear your Courage Performance shirt!!Never Stop, GET FIT.Josh Courage
So, last Friday was my 30th birthday, and it was a damn good one. There wasn't really a plan to do anything leading up to the big day, probably a little frolic through the woods and then out to grab a boat-load of meat to consume! But, one of my long-time clients and good friends asked if her and her husband could put together a party for me. I hesitatingly accepted her offer (I just feel guilty when someone does stuff for me, something myself and all of us should learn to get over if you have that problem!) and she went about organizing what would turn out to be one of the most wonderful gifts I've ever received. There were some 50+ people who rolled through this wonderful house, great food, plenty to drink, and the coolest cake I have ever seen in my life! It was great to hang out with so many of my friends and I must make one quick point to a new group of friends I am excited to have, the Outlaws! Only having met the crew from Outlaw CrossFit a few months ago really, I feel like I have connected with an awesome group of people. And I'm proud to rep the team this coming weekend!This is my natural transition to my next topic, The CrossFit Games Regionals! Tomorrow marks the first of three days of competition and I'll be headed to the PG County Athletic Complex with Team Outlaw to battle for a spot at this years CrossFit Games! I am feeling so confident in our chances of making the top three teams to win a spot to the Games. Rudy (our coach and owner at CrossFit Outlaw) has done a damn good job of programming so that all of us are more than prepared. And as the first time ever competing as part of a team, I am looking forward to the group dynamic and added energy of each event!It's been a crazy couple weeks for sure. Training has been really focused, birthday was awesome, Lindsey surprised me with a GoPro camera which is AWESOME and all you guys will get to check out my experiences this weekend from the view of this bad ass camera! And the next couple months look to be just as exciting. I have a trip down to South Carolina to celebrate my host-sister's (from my host family when I played baseball in FLA) graduation/birthday. I have a long trip out to CA to hang with the old crew, workout and do a little training camp at CrossFit San Mateo (and probably go surfing and eat the best BBQ in the world!). I have Courage Bars to attend to and am planning some huge things for them this summer. And I expect to see a record breaking number of athletes come though the nations largest gym, The Garage (all of 200 square feet) through the summer months!I also promise (as I have done many times before) to write a little more regularly on this thing! I definitely go through phases with being motivated to write. As many of you know, writing doesn't really come naturally to me (as you can tell with all the grammatical errors on this site, something I plan to change, in fact, read note on this below!) so I struggle here and there with the idea of just sitting and writing anything. Either way, I am scheduling out a time on a regular basis to write, and edit video over the summer. Should be one filed with plenty of good info and ideas!As for grammatical errors, if you find one of my idiotic misspellings, or a major error in my writing (overuse of commas, run-on sentences and the like do NOT count!), let me know and I will do something "entertaining" as self-punishment for writing like a loser! Sound good?Finally, I'll be posting all sorts of updates from Regionals on Facebook and Twitter (@jcourage), so make sure to follow along!Never Stop, GET FIT.Josh Courage