Well, it's about that time I give a little update on how things are rolling along on my training life. It;s been a fun tome over the past couple weeks since the Mid Atlantic Hopper, and until yesterday, I feel like I've had some great progress. Let's work backwards. My back is basically destroyed. I thought I had a little tightness going on that I'd be able to work through, but after the past few sessions, I ended up having to take a day off because my back was so crushed I just couldn't do the work. I woke up this morning and went for a jog, and added some pull overs after, but that did nothing to loosen it up. I am hoping a bit of mobility work and some rolling tomorrow will get be back into it. I don't want to lose the progress!
After the Hopper I got right in the swing of things and was feeling stronger and stronger each day. My strength gains are there, perhaps a little slow, but there. My gymnastics, clearly my weakest link, are coming along nicely as well, especially with the extra work I am adding to my program. And my plan has been to bring my few days a week runs back into the training program as well. I've talked about it before, but it's worth mentioning again, I feel as though basic running (usually trail running for me) adds a whole new level to my gains. I feel trimmer, lighter, fitter, happier and it aids in my recovery time as well. Especially after the wonderful amounts of food i ate over Thanksgiving, I am feeling like I need to cut a few pounds. This actually leads me into my next conversation piece.
All this heavy lifting I've been doing has jacked me up pretty good; and I mean that in a positive way. When I first noticed this was actually about a month and a half ago when I put on my nice 3-piece suit for a wedding. I threw on my vest and realized it completely didn't fit. My brain went into fat-guy mode and I got all bummed out. But then I realized that I my body fat was probably right around where it had been for a while, I just had a TON of extra size on me. And now, a month plus later, I am feeling like I've added yet another inch or so all over. The added size has upped my hunger and Ive been eating more and more each meal (and what doesn't help with this is that I have strayed from my every-3-hours meal plan and because of that I tend to eat a crap-load of food come meal time). Well, my fix for this added size is that I'm not all that worried. I don't want to take away from the strength gains, so, I am gong to let this happen, and keep fueling it accordingly until January I would say. Then I'll up the metcon intensity, along with my additional conditioning and focus on cutting down to my fighting weight with all the new-found strength!
Other additions to my program? I started today with THIS. I will be doing Kelly Starretts Mobility WOD each and every day (perhaps a couple of them depending on time and how I feel). I want to add these because I have not been finding the time to get to yoga on a regular basis and I really feel like I need to get my mobility up. My lack of mobility is what I have found is the main limiting factor for my gains. I know if I work my hips more and low back more I'll have some crazy gains on any movement involving squatting. This will inevitably be the case for the rest of my joints. Eager to see what happens.
What else what else...Oh, right. I have a gym! Yep, starting tomorrow and for only a temporary time, I'll be running Courage performance out of a 6,000 square foot crazy huge facility! Just wait until you see all the crazy equipment that's going to be in there! Given the nature of how I'll be at this space, I'm not going to be doing tons of crazy advertising or anything like that. So, keep an eye on this blog, along with my personal Facebook page and Courage Performance Page to keep up to date with class times and other details. You can expect a few friendly Throwdowns/cook outs in the coming weeks, so be ready!
Hope everyone is training hard through the Holidays!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
As many of you have either tried, or heard through the grape-vine, I have officially come out with the first ever Paleo-friendly protein bar. Inspired by the incredible taste and ingredients of my good friends at Core Foods (bars that I am still constantly consuming, passing out and supporting like mad becuase they are so good and believe tin what they stand for so damn much), I wanted to see if I could make something that would actually be somewhat edible for the Paleo-conscious eater. Hours of trial and error later, the Courage Bar was created.
They are 100% organic, 100% raw, and as the packaging will soon say, 100% awesome! They are totally in the beginning stages of creation, so, if you are not in the general Bethesda area, I am sorry, but you are sort of SOL in getting these things for a while (I am not opposed at all in getting excited emails/calls/comments/texts about how badly you non-DC-area-people want these things and the lengths at which you will go to get some...). Just a heads up to all the Bay Area readers: I will be out there around the weekend of the 17th and will have a LARGE batch for people to enjoy, along with some feedback cards so that I may slowly begin the process of getting these things in your gyms, homes and bellies!
But for now, if you are at all interested in giving these addictive bars a try, please let me know and schedule a time when you can come to the gym and pick them up. And you can expect to see them making the rounds at local events, um, holiday parties..., seminars, and so on. So, here's some of the technical jargon:
Each 2oz bar is about 275 calories
Each bar is 100% organic (yep, even the whey protein in the bar is organic)
Absolutely ZERO added sugar
Completely and totally raw (most people don't believe this one but it's true!)
Ingredients consist of only nuts, coconut, cacao nibs, whey protein, spices and a little banana. That's it!
Keep your eyes peeled for the website coming up soon, and how to pick them up. Also, if you are a CrossFit affiliate owner, be prepared for a wonderful discount on bulk orders!
Ok, so, the other news now. Courage Performance is officially opening it's doors in a temporary location that is the dream location for all athletic and CrossFit training gyms! A 6,000 square foot, 30 foot ceiling behemoth space, right in North Bethesda! It'll have all the gear yo have come to love of a typical Courage Performance workout adventure, along with a breath-taking collection of baseball;l gear for all you DC area ball players wondering why the hell there are no indoor baseball facilities anywhere near DC! All fitness training begins next week, so if you are interested in getting involved, let me know asap. Info on class times will be posted up in the coming days, as well as times for all other uses and prices. So, spread the word, Courage Performance just went BOOM!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This past weekend was a great learning experience for me. First and foremost it showed that I am improving as a CrossFitter. To be able to head into such a well-respected CrossFit competition as The Hopper, and do so well says a good bit about my level of fitness. Ok, cool. Now that the positive comments are out of the way, it's time to get on to the critique!
I found out two major things over the weekend that are the primary sources holding me back from being the competitor I truly want to be. But before I go into them, I want to be sure to let you, the reader, know that the goal with this post is two-fold: to articulate an analysis of myself so that I can help myself get better; and, to inspire you all to do the same with yourself in the process of making YOU better. I am willing to bet that the two issues I detail here are two EXTRAORDINARILY common issues with most people as they drive towards their goals. Next point to be made is what my goals actually are. Well, when I moved back to the East coast I decided that I would make an attempt to calm my absolutely out of control mind by focusing on only a few things for a while. I've written about this a bit before, and if you know me, you know that I come up with a new idea to "change the world" pretty much every few hours. I have literally hundreds of pages of notes, drawings, scribbles, phrases and more, collected over the years, it's crazy. I am very aware that to actually get anything done, I need to pick a few of them and just focus. So, when I moved back I picked two: open a gym, and, make it to the CrossFit Games.
So, back to this weekend. Well, it wasn't really the weekend that showed these issues to me, it really was just the straw that broke the camels back if you will. I know that I am a very good CrossFitter. But, I also know that I am not at the level of those at the very top. If you take the top numbers of all those elite CrossFitters, I would be on the bottom of the charts for pretty much everything. But that's not what I am concerned about. I have faith in my training program and my determination that my numbers will creep up there come Games season and I'll be able to hang with any of those guys. It's my weaknesses. Just like anyone, I have a collection of weaknesses. Except mine are VERY weak. I can not do more than 3 strict handstand push ups. I can not walk on my hands for more than 6 meters. I can not do more than 5 muscle ups. While an elite CrossFitter will show strengths and weaknesses, the differential of ability is nowhere near as great as mine. That is why I placed 1st, 1st, 3rd, 19th, and 3rd on this past weekends events. Clearly I need to "kill my goats". So, upping the body weight work and incorporating that intelligently into my programming is an absolute must.
The second thing I found was that I don't have as strong a fire as the top level competitors. Perhaps it's my baseball background (that's a reference to the fact that baseball by nature is a much more passive game than most sports, and I have learned to approach my athletic endeavors a bit more "chilled" out than others), perhaps it's the marathoning (10 in a year will slow you down a bit). Or, it could be that I legitimately LOVE CrossFitting. I enjoy the struggle of getting through a workout so much, that sometimes I feel as though I just lose myself in the middle of it just to ride the wave. All those top beasts I have met have this intensity before, during, and even after a workout that I just do not share. I don't really compete with the person next to me, or to someone elses' time, I just feed off their energy and then spend what attention I put into each workout seeing what I am personally capable of. Now don't get me wrong, I am still a highly competitive person; just not at the level of most other elite CrossFitters. I feel like those guys want to seek and destroy at all times!
Now here's where the fun begins. From this weekend on I have committed myself 100% to the effort of being a "Serious CrossFitter". This means that everything I do is going to be based around achieving my goals. I will not miss workouts. I will not go on a binge week with food, or sacrifice a portion of my program to go hang with friends. I am lighting that fire as bright as it can be lit and going all out. I am making CrossFit "My Sport", and doing what it takes to get to the next level.
I can see a lot of my friends rolling their eyes at me right now. And to that I respond: everyone knows me as someone who likes a challenge and is willing to experiment with pretty much anything in the activity/fitness/sports/nutrition fields. So, I am experimenting with the idea that if I actually commit myself 100% to something, I could actually be really freaking good at it. This does not mean I am going to spend the rest of my life walking around with a cooler of steamed broccoli, grilled chicken and protein powder. This does not mean I will never again indulge in a brownie or 15, or have a drink or two, or three. It just means that from now until the Games I am going to be "that guy" I am going to be a little more one-track-minded about my priorities in life and I am going to see what I am TRULY capable of doing.
This is going to be a really fun and interesting adventure.
The fire has been lit.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This past weekend I headed on up to Glen Burnie, MD to take part in the 4th annual Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge. Two days of workouts that nobody, not even the organizers knew what they would be! I was super excited to be a part of this one as last year I missed out going there with all my friends because Lindsey and I were freshly moved out West. I wanted to be a part of it so much that I actually followed them along on Facebook throughout the weekend, doing the workouts along with everyone, just Lindsey and me alone at my gym out West. Check out the fun HERE. After day 1 last year, I was actually standing in 1st place!
Anyway, this year was different: I was here! And, I was about 3 months into my much more serious training program thanks to Rudy Nielson at Outlaw CrossFit. So, on to the fun! The first workout was drawn out of the hopper on Friday night and it was a doozy:
7 min. AMRAP of:
7 hang squat snatch 95#
7 full squat cleans 95#
75 ft. walking OH lunge 45#
I was in a middle heat somewhere and I watched as the heats of guys and girls just tore it up! Some serious competitors were there such as Games vets Christy Phillips, Gretchen Kittelberger, Jeff Tincher (and I’m sure a few more…), so I began to get my game face on! Headed in to my heat it looked like the score to beat was Jeff Tincher from CrossFit Fairfax with 4 full rounds, 7 snatches and 1 clean. So, I just got after it. I was feeling pretty smooth with everything, just super winded! Got through 4 rounds with some good time, then came back in ready to go. Up to this point I had done everything completely unbroken. I got 6 snatches, then, being too eager to get to my cleans I lost my grip on the 7th snatch and it slipped out of my hand! I recovered quickly and got the rep, but had to dumb the bar before hitting the cleans. With about 5 seconds left I attacked the bar and got 2 reps in. Enough to get 1st for the event my 1 rep!
Workout two was pulled: 3 min. AMRAP of: atlas stone ground to shoulder at 145#. Sweet! Now I haven’t done tons of stone work, but I’d like to think that spending the amount of time in the wilderness throwing around strange things would have me good and prepared for this sort of thing. After a good 20 minutes of brainstorming ways to lift the thing, I resorted to the age old “just pick the damn thing up as fast as I can until they tell me to stop” mentality. I saw some guy pull it off the ground 27 times, so I set my sights high at 30. I was feeling pretty strong, but heard the announcer yell 1 minute down as I hoisted up my 10th rep. At two minutes down I was at 19. I had to turn it on! That’s when I found the animal in me (something I plan on writing about later this week, and something I actually have a very difficult time harnessing) and just took off! In the last minute I was able to pull out 9 more reps finishing with 28 reps. Again, 1st pace overall by 1 rep!
The final workout of the day was announced as 21-15-9 deadifts with 225# and box jumps at 20”. I got super excited about this one! Heavy deads and box jumps are generally my sort of thing! My goal was sub-2:30 and as I started I felt like I’d have a good shot at that time. I banged out the first 21 deads with relative ease and then just FLEW through the jumps! But then those second deadlifts really got me. I got them unbroken but they were slow. Again, got the box jumps super fast and then went all out for the final deadlifts. I got 5 unbroken before dumping the bar, then 2, then 1 and finally 1. Blasted through he jumps for a final time of 2:47, enough for a 3rd place finish overall. With that finish, I was headed into day 2 in 1st by an 11 –point margin!
Spent a few too many hours making Courage Bars and food before hitting the sack for some wonderful slumber! On the way up to day 2 I read about the 4th workout: 3 minute AMRAP of strict pull ups. Well, I was actually super excited about this as well. From my experience, I have always thought I was really good at pull ups. Well, turns out I was a bit off in my knowledge of myself. I wanted to get 35+. I followed the strategy I workout with Rudy to get 15, 15 and then all out at the end, but after a perfect 45 second rest, I got about 5 before all of a sudden I had literally NO ability to get myself even close to a pull up! I was able to get 8 on that second round (with 3 failed attempts). Now I was a bit worried. After another good long rest I just gave it everything I had. My grip was completely fine to just hang there and try to get whatever recovery I could, but time ran out and I only had 27 reps. I still don’t know exactly, but I think that got me 19th overall! Holy shi..
All right, so, that was a bit of a bummer. But to be totally honest, it never really hit me until way after the competition was over. Again that fire I am searching for was just far enough away that I just kept on enjoying the whole event and relaxing before the final event.
For time do:
7 hang power snatches 135#
25 pull ups
20 back squats 135# (from the ground)
25 hand-release push ups
15 squat cleans 135#
25 GHD sit ups
10/20/30 meter prowler suicide w/ 90# taken from your bar
Holy hips and quads Batman! Well, I was ready to go. I had no idea where I stood, but I figured I’d just go all out and see what happened. I found out I was actually in 2nd place (this actually threw me off quite a bit, I was so far in first that I was shocked at how bad that 4th workout was!). Either way, I started this last one off with everything I had. I got everything unbroken except for one break on the squat cleans. I peeled off the plates and was first out to the prowler. I got the 10 meters out and back before Jeff Tincher inched past. At that point, with the knowledge that I know had two guys in front of me, I put every single ounce of energy into the damn prowler and just went. And guess what: it wasn’t enough to overtake them. I keeled over at the end in 3rd place. I have no clue what my final time was. I couldn’t recover at all! I even tried to just sit up after what seemed like 5 minutes and I couldn’t get myself to do that! I was done. I gave that everything!!
So, with a 1st, 1st, 3rd, 19th (ugh) and 3rd, I ended up with a second place finish overall. Pretty cool!
I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to everyone at CrossFit BWI for putting on such an awesome event. It was a weekend with incredible energy, fun workouts, and great people. This sort of thing was exactly what I like about CrossFit! All the volunteers and judges, thank you guys so damn much! To all the athletes: I met so many awesome new people, and reconnected with so many awesome old friends it made me so happy! I LOVE hanging around with like-minded people and I cannot talk more highly of a well-planned fitness event and how positive it is.
And of course, thanks such to Rudy and everyone at Outlaw CrossFit. Even though I met most of them for the first time this weekend, and all my workouts are pretty much alone in my garage, I felt so confident headed onto the event, and even more confident with where I will be going from here in the hands of my coach! And of course, the passion all the athletes have at Outlaw is otherworldly; it’s incredibly motivating to be apart of that family!
All in all a great time, I am sore, but was back at it today, gearing up for Sectionals; only 3 months away! I know exactly what I have to do!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Stop making excuses. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop over-analyzing your day, your food, your workout program, your sleep and if you're hurt or not. Stop watching TV. Stop eating crap food. Stop looking at yourself negatively.
What would happen if you just woke up one morning, turned your brain off, and just did all the things that deep down, you really, really wanted to do? You think you'd fall way behind at work? You think you'd all of a sudden get fat? You think you'd ruin your friendships and your relationship and the world would just explode all of a sudden?
You have so much time. You have an amazing mind, creative, open, interested and ready. The only thing stopping you from doing all the incredible things you want out of your life is YOU. If you think anyone else is in your way, YOU ARE WRONG. Do what you want, what you deep down are meant to do, and you will become surrounded by the support, love, and happiness your deserve and need. All the negativity will go away.
What did you do today to make your life better? What did you do today make yourself happy?
What did you do today to waste time, become unhealthy and unhappy? Will you make the change tomorrow? Or maybe next week...?
Every second is yours to take. Every moment you exist on this planet is yours to control if you just TAKE control. If you are unhappy, do the things that will make you happy. You know what will probably happen?
You'll become happy.
Damn Nike for claiming the best phrase in the history of phrases: Just Do It.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
There's nothing like watching 47,000 people run by you as they push to complete the insane challenge of running 26.2 miles to motivate you to do something active! This past weekend Lindsey and I took the train up to NYC to support my big bro as he ran the New York City Marathon. Now me, my marathoning days are more or less over, I have ruin 12 in total, 10 of those over the course of a year, along with a 50-miler mixed in for good measure. While it was an incredible year and beyond for me, my activity goals have shifted from running for countless hours. The feeling of crossing the finish line on one of these things in indescribable, and I applaud with cheerful passion anyone and everyone who prepares properly and achieves the impressive goal of crossing the finish line, 26.2 painful miles under their feet! It's one of those things I think everyone should take 6-12 months out of their life and do!
Watching all these runners, and especially my brother run this race, lit a little fire beneath me to get back out and train like there's no tomorrow. Knowing the challenge of setting your sights on an end goal, preparing you training schedule, "putting in the miles", changing your life so that it fits with your end goals, and in the end, getting out there and doing everything you trained for, well, there's something wonderfully motivating about that whole process. I have spent too long just "winging" different events. Signing up for something, heading out the day of, and hoping for the best. I respect the process of training for something too much to insult it by not doing it myself. So, my message to all those things out there in the next year that i want to achieve:
Watch out, I'm training seriously, and I'm coming for you!
Thanks for the motivation Hermano!
To all those people out there wanting to take a new step in your fit life, to all those of you who want new and exciting challenges: Find an event or two you really think looks cool and exciting, register for it/them, and respect the hell out of it by taking your training seriously. I have seen way too many times people sign up for things and then arrogantly expect that they will probably be fine to just go and do the thing. This leads to all sorts of excuses for either not doing well or not finishing, like me in last years Regionals for the CrossFit Games. I didn't take my training seriously, I used moving back East as an excuse to skip training days and let my nutrition slide. And in the end, I finished 24th out of 30. yes, this is respectable from an objective standpoint, but I insulted all those athletes who trained their butts off by not taking my training more seriously I did not deserve to me there and I will NOT make that mistake again. Others may look up to you or respect you for just showing up, but myself, and all those people out there who worked their asses off to compete have zero sympathy for your inability to perform well becuase you didn't respect the challenge.
Good job to all the runners who trained and finished yesterdays race, I hope it changed your life for the better and motivated you to do even more crazy fitness challenges in your life. And good luck to all you people in the midst of training for some crazy fitness challenge. I hope your training is changing your life and that you enjoy the struggle of pushing your psychical and mental self to new levels!!
Never Stop GET FIT.
Yesterday I remembered a lesson we had back in high school that really changed the way I view things. Interestingly enough, the more I learn each day, the more I realize just how much I learned at my crunchy Waldorf school! The crazy details of the lesson I do not remember, but the main aspect of it really stuck with me. The story was about a medical student who was learning how to understand his craft. His professor brought in a freshly caught fish and threw it on the table in front of the student. He then asked the simple question: “what do you see?”
Here’s where it got fun. As one could assume, the students response was: “a fish”, and then probably thought about how stupid this project was and when can I cut this thing open! But to that, the teacher just smiled and asked again: “what do you see?” Rather then sit around and wait for the inevitable non-response, the professor told him that they would not proceed until he had written five pages of notes on what he saw. He then left. What occurred then was a lot of sitting around and staring at dead fish, but not much else. When the student returned the next day, the professor asked the same question, then promptly left the room. This kept going on and on, day in and day out. The students’ clothes began to smell annoyingly of fish, everything he saw seemed to look like fish, everything he ate tasted like fish, and the fish itself slowly began to rot away. The student would sit and stare at this thing, jotting down notes like: grey, smells stronger each day, has scales, eyes are glazed and slightly brown, and other basic bullet points. The one day it happened. One day the student walked in, sat down, opened his note pad, looked at the fish and just like that, 5 pages were filled. So what did he see?
He saw shades, rough spaces, and smooth spaces, light regions and how the muscles must have worked. He saw imbalances in the shape, one tale scale large than the other. He saw hints of red, and even a little green mark around the base of its mouth. He saw similarities between the skin on the stomach and the skin on his own hands. And what’s crazier is that he began to connect with the fish. The more time he was able to experience sitting alone with that thing, the more he was able to use it as inspiration to begin learning a bit more about himself. It may sound strange, but if you ever spend a bunch of time alone in a room with only one thing with any form of detail to it, you will inevitably see some crazy detail in the thing, and you’ll become a good bit more introspective. If the only person you can spend time with is yourself, you will eventually learn a TON about yourself. It may take some people a month to get there, other a couple weeks, still others a day or two. But when you get there, you’ll learn a ton!
I tell this story because while this guy was forced to stare at a fish until he “saw the light”, perhaps you can do something similar. Here’s my challenge to all of you:
Grab a bottle of water, a notepad and pen, a chair and head into the bathroom. Close the door and set yourself right on front of the mirror. Take a deep breath, look at yourself; what do you see?
I know that some of you out there will immediately think this is stupid and just stop doing it. Others may do it for a couple minutes, feel embarrasses ad just sit there without actually looking in the mirror. But you’ve nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain! If you’ve never sat and stared at yourself for an extended period of time, you are missing out on a very unique way to get insight in to who you are and how others perceive you.
Look at your eyes, look at the color, at their different sizes, at your eyebrows, at your wrinkles, at the way your mouths is different heights on ether side, how you breath, how you smile, how you talk and the faces you feel most comfortable making. It’ll be an eye-opening experience (no pun intended) if you actually give yourself the opportunity and time to really see what’s going on there. You know how sometimes you feel like someone can see right through you? Well, allow yourself to do that to yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, look at yourself until you can look into your own soul.
Ok. I guess I can be a little intense sometime, huh?
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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