Monday, November 29, 2010

Fitness Is...


Slinking, creeping, unraveling doubt.

It’s a burden you know too well. That point halfway through a workout when the voice inside your head starts pounding against your eardrums, telling you you’re too tired, too sick, or too weak to go on. Or out in the world when you convince yourself you’re too fat to wear that dress, too old to play that sport, or too green to do that job. It’s a sensation so overwhelming that you find yourself practically submerged in it, like a liquid skepticism, viscous and disgusting. You rationalize, “Hey, it’s alright… it’s just the way things are. Those dresses are for skinny minnies, those sports are for the young bucks, and that job… well, I’ll bide my time and get there eventually.” But deep down you’re hating yourself, resenting your size, your age, your inexperience, or whatever relative weaknesses you have. You wish you were more fearless, more driven, and more secure, but life has taught you well your incapacities and it’s not your place to argue.

The truth is we’d much rather assume defeat than face our weaknesses head on—far better to avoid the mirror than risk a humiliating sidelong glimpse. In essence, doubt is a mechanism designed to protect our ego from this very confrontation. Years of experience and pain have honed our instincts to sidestep landmines of embarrassment and grief, conditioning us to be chronic under-estimators. On the whole we have grown habitually and pathetically risk-averse.

The problem with this way of living is twofold. First, we forget what it’s like to face a challenge, thus neglecting the skills needed to overcome it. Whichever way you slice it, life is hard and emotionally uncomfortable. It is never quick or easy, and it is harshly unapologetic. In order to truly grow we must be willing to live on the margins and step outside our comfort zone, in many cases risking failure. We need to tap into stores of courage and determination that most days lie collecting dust. If we don’t, they lose their potency and condemn us to chronic intimidation. Then on that day when we no longer have a choice, when we can't avoid the issue or sidestep the mines any longer, we don't have what it takes to survive. You find yourself on an operating table with 3 stints in your heart and no idea how you got there, no idea how to recover. Or you wake up geriatric at 55, unable to pick up your grandkids for fear you might pinch a nerve or slip a disc. Such is not the intended way.

Second, and perhaps more dangerously, we begin to identify more with what we can’t do than with what we can. This is because, in the absence of real confrontation, our doubts become our reality. It doesn’t matter how irrational or ill-conceived the reasoning, the man obsessed with his age looks older by the day; the woman refusing to try on the dress grows less and less likely to ever wear it. If we keep inundating ourselves with notions of inability, we will always struggle to improve. If halfway through every workout you keep telling yourself it can’t be done, chances are it never will be. Soon the mirror knows only negative reflections, having gone so long since showing any other. A productive life cannot be lived in such circumstances.

Granted, fixing this is easier said than done. Behind every sneaking doubt or hesitation there is some truth. But we cannot be defined by these limitations. They are merely yardsticks: Commit yourself to outgrowing them.

When I was a junior in high school I played cornerback for the varsity football team at 5’9, 145 lbs. I wasn’t particularly quick, strong, or tough, and I wasn’t the coach’s son. The only thing I really had going for me was my brain. I always knew where to be and when to be there, and on the not so infrequent occasion when someone else forgot where they were supposed to be, I could get him there too. The problem with being this aware was that I couldn’t fool myself into believing I was something that I wasn’t. Other guys may have convinced their 2nd string bodies they were all-state material, but I knew I was average. I knew I was small and slow and, most of the time, scared. These were facts. They defined my capabilities.

One day in practice our tight end (a 250 lb behemoth) caught an out route and turned upfield towards me. I had made plenty of tackles in my life and knew that going low was the safe play, but for whatever reason I went in high with no regard for life or limb. Somehow I connected just right and my 145 lb frame flipped his 250 lb one like a buttermilk pancake. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t compute. The player I thought I was could never have made that play. Yet there I was, standing over the dragon slain.

It’s no different in society. People aren’t blind or misguided: they look in the mirror and know what they see. If it’s unpleasant they’ll trim it, tuck it, or wrap it in fancy paper, but deep down they know their shortcomings. Many are haunted by them. Some overcompensate—the 5 foot guy drives a Hummer, the incompetent boss screams about everyone else’s incompetence-- but most simply avoid the issue entirely. Precious few address the fact that the doubt in their subconscious is rooted in truth. That guy is 5 feet tall. That boss is incompetent. Until something happens to change those facts no amount of compensation or avoidance will make them feel any better.

The only way to overcome doubt is to welcome it, face it, and test it. We have to invite our weaker sides onstage and see how fragile they truly are. For me it happened by accident, but more deliberate approaches are just as effective. Start by using your doubt as an indicator of where you need work. Rather than silently dreading the day when double unders come up in a WOD, do so many of them that you’d just as soon skip rope across the street as you would walk there. Rather than telling yourself you’re too old to keep up with the fire-breathers, re-define your limits and stop making excuses. Refuse to be intimidated by your weaknesses and you might discover that all this time you were drowning yourself in a 3-foot pool.

Until that hit 10 years ago, I was limited by my own under-estimation. Afterwards I was more aggressive, more decisive, and more effective. I promise that unless you risk your ego from time to time you will never overcome your current limits. They will fester and persist until that pallid reflection becomes real. Remember this the next time that voice starts pounding against your temples. Maybe the outcome isn't so certain.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Workout of the Day

Squat Clean 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

2 Front Squat to Jerk 1, 1, 1, 1, 1

Gymnastic skill work

I trained today at CF East Sac with Justin and Travis. We loaded up the weight and let it fly after a few days rest feeling pretty strong. I did 255 lb pretty smoothly for my top set of cleans and just missed 295 lb for the top set of front squat to jerks. I’m loving the progress I’m making on the major lifts lately, really couldn’t be happier.

Afterwards we played around with front roll muscle ups, handstand pushups on the rings, and L sits. Still have a looong way to go with these skills.

Hoping to get my hands on the video footage from Saturday to show the last event of the Warrior Throwdown. A very exciting finale that I think will be fun to follow. Britney, I’m looking at you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Warrior Throwdown

Workout of the Day

WOD 1:

10 minute AMRAP

100 meter tire drag

10 box jumps (20 inches)

10 pushups

10 switch lunges

WOD 2:

400 meter run

3 rounds of

10 burpees

15 ABMAT situps

20 air squats

25 heavy rope jumps

400 meter run

Today was the Elk Grove Health and Fitness fair, organized and hosted by Charlie Zamora of Warrior Fitness. Despite the rain and wind this was a hell of a day. Members of Sac Valley CrossFit, CrossFit 916, CrossFit East Sac, CrossFit West Sac, and Rocklin CrossFit were all in attendance. There were individual and team competitions, food, drinks, music, and even a Vice Mayor. The WODs were simple, brutal, and all of them outside so I approved. All in all, I can’t say a thing bad about the experience.

The first workout was pretty straightforward: don’t burn yourself out sprinting around with a tire behind you and forget you have 10 full minutes to deal with. I picked and kept a hard pace throughout and finished 8 rounds plus about 30 meters. This outpaced the previous best score of 7 rounds plus 100 meters, 10 jumps, and 5 pushups by Chad Augustine in the earlier heat. Not to be outdone, Chad hopped in the next heat and re-did the WOD, posting a new best score of 8 full rounds plus 70 meters. Unbelievable.

The second WOD was more of a sprint the whole way. I definitely saved some on the first 400, but from then one I didn’t hold back a thing. I couldn’t for that matter because Chad was matching me rep for rep the entire time. I don’t think I had time to take a breath during any part of the 3 rounds of bodyweight exercises. We finished the final jump rope at exactly the same time and took off for the final quarter mile. My legs were like lead and my lungs were on fire but it didn’t matter at that point. I was able to pull away on the run a bit and finished in a total time of 6:30, completely gassed. This was as hard as I’ve pushed myself in a long while and I have the competition to thank. Nothing to get you going and overcoming yourself than a group of guys that don’t quit.

Some familiar faces were also there: John of course, Justin of CF East Sac, Rick and Brittney from West Sac, and Gary Baron from Rocklin. From the sound of things we'll all be seeing each other again real soon.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Under the Weather

Workout of the Day



Thruster (95 lb)


I could feel a cold coming on yesterday but had hoped a night of rest would stave it off. Unfortunately this was not the case. I woke up today feeling stuffed up and groggy and things have only worsened throughout the day. I managed to stick it out this morning and do my workout as intended, but I think the next few days will be less ambitious. It’s a delicate balance between pressing through obstacles and giving your body the time and space it needs to recover… A balance we all struggle to maintain from time to time.

I did Fran in 3:03 this morning. Honestly, I don’t know how much the sickness held me back. I didn’t break any of the thrusters and only dropped off the pullup bar long enough to re-grip on the 2nd and 3rd sets. Maybe 5 or 6 seconds in there, but not much more. The only way I can see myself going faster is by somehow getting faster with the individual movements—something I’m honestly not that interested in. The biggest value from these benchmark workouts for me is how they gauge my work capacity. If I can continue straight through at near maximal effort without having to stop then I’m performing well. If I can’t, then something somewhere needs to be improved.

Was hoping to squat and press tomorrow, but it’s looking less likely by the minute. Saturday is the Elk Grove Health and Wellness Fair, hosted by my friends at Warrior Fitness and I’m hoping to be feeling better by then.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Death By KB

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – In the morning…

Sumo Deadlift 3, 3, 3+

Good Mornings 10, 10, 10

Inverted ring rows 15, 15, 15

Pushup with hand release 20, 20, 20

DB clean and press (20 kg) 10, 10, 10

Bicycles 50, 50, 50

WOD 2 – In the afternoon…

32 kg kettlebell swing ladder, aka “death by kb swing”

Decided to go with sumo deadlifts today rather than standard in an effort to save my back for the kettlebells later in the day. I figured I might sacrifice a bit in strength but I actually still felt pretty strong. My last set was at 185 kg for 4 reps—not bad for never doing sumos. The good mornings felt heavy at 80 kg but I managed my way through them. The real tester today was the afternoon session.

I threw the kettlebell in the car when I left the house this morning and left my WOD location undetermined. When I got done teaching the weather was phenomenal, literally 75 degrees and sunny, so naturally the only appropriate place to train was down by the river. I made it down to the shadow of Red Bridge in Fair Oaks just in time to catch the last bit of early afternoon sun and away I went. The last time I’d done a ladder like this was in Paris this past March, and that was with a 25 kg fence post anchor. Needless to say, the demand here was a tad different.

It all felt pretty easy until I hit 12 or 13. By then the rest intervals were getting shorter and shorter and I was able to fully recover in between. At 14 I started splitting the reps to try and conserve energy. By 16 I was really starting to hoof it. In the 18th minute I finished with only 5 seconds to spare and was barely able to hold on to the bell. I only managed 14 reps in the 19th minute and that was that.

This was a throwback routine for me, something I used to utilize quite frequently when I trained in DC. It’s a simple format that is always effective and requires little to no equipment or preparation. Pick a multi-joint exercise and start moving. The early sets warms you up, the later ones kick your ass. Rarely does it go much beyond 20 minutes, unless you’ve grossly underestimated the appropriate weight. I’d love to see some other people try this and see how they do. I know there are some kettlebell machines out there that will humble my performance.

Still haven’t done my version of the bystander WOD, but hoping to get something together Thursday. Also, Danish Anywherefit shirts are still available for order until the end of this month in honor of the video submissions from Yasir and Andre. Get ‘em while you can.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Snatch x 3

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning

20 mile bike (to and from work)

WOD 2 – in the afternoon

Snatch 3, 3, 3, 3

OH Squat 3, 3, 3, 3

HSPU @ 3 inch elevation 9, 8, 8, 6

L sits 3 x 30 seconds

I hesitate to count the commuting ride as a workout because it’s really just transportation, but the time and effort cannot be ignored. It is 20 miles roundtrip and it takes about 45 minutes each way, so I have to take it into account. The best part is that my route takes me along the edge of Lake Natoma most of the way. Not bad scenery at 7 in the morning…

The Olympic lifting went really well today. My snatch sets were at 60 kg, 80 kg, 85 kg, and 90 kg, respectively. In all of those I didn’t miss a repetition. I tried to go to 95 kg but was unsuccessful. Instead I went straight into overhead squats with the 95 kg and did 4 sets there. Overall I think the heavy overhead lockouts on Saturday made me feel more stable during the snatch but weak during the overhead squats. Funny how that works.

Also, a programming note. If you want to build speed in your Olympic lifts, do sets of 2-3 at 85-90% of you 1RM. The first repetition will feel easy, giving you confidence. The second lift you will feel your pull isn’t as strong and force you to dive a little faster to make the lift but still manage it fairly comfortably. By the third your pull will be considerably weaker and you will have to drop like hell if you want to make it. This progression allows for almost an expectation of success that your body will want to live up to and make it move with greater speed. Try it and see what I mean.

Big meeting tomorrow with a property owner in Granite Bay to discuss a potential lease. CrossFit Anywhere could be just around the corner… I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Threshold Training

Met a bunch of friends at CrossFit East Sac yesterday to press our limits. The idea was to work at as close to maximal levels for a set amount of time to give the body a taste of what it's like to perform up there. The session included a couple 50 meter truck pulls followed by max time overhead lockouts with 225 lb; and 2 minute bouts of double unders and burpees back to back. The video below captures a little bit of everything.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Front Roll Muscle Ups

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – In the morning…

Back Squat 5, 5, 5+

Floor Press 5, 5, 5+

Strict toes to Bar 10, 10, 10

Fly pushups 10, 10, 10

WOD 2 – In the afternoon…

Front Roll muscle ups in the park

Got back to heavy back squatting today for the first time in a couple weeks and was quickly reminded what a small time off will do to your kinesthetic awareness. It took me a few sets just to get comfortable under the bar again, but overall my strength still felt decent. My top set was at 165 kg for 6 reps with no spotter. The floor presses felt much stronger though, where I was able to get 255 lb for 7 reps. I can tell my nervous system is starting to learn this movement better because I’m more confident on the descent that I won’t smash my elbows into the ground.

In the afternoon I rode my bike down the Cordova side of the American River and found a good spot to hang up the rings for some gymnastic practice. It was a beautiful day and I don’t think the picnickers minded y swinging around too much. All I did was try to string as many muscle ups together as I could while doing a front roll between them. At first this felt awkward, but after a few sets I go the hang of it and was able to set the roll directly into my next kip. By the end I was getting sets of 5 consistently and having a blast doing it. It’s funny how small alterations in technique make an old exercise feel like new. I think we have to keep constantly re-inventing the challenges we give ourselves in order to stimulate that “new shoes” feel we love so much.

Next up is threshold training with some of Sacramento’s best Crossfitters. Hoping to make this a bi-monthly activity that will be open to all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

6:58 Helen

Workout of the Day


3 rounds for time of

400 m run

21 kb swings (24 kg)

12 pullups

Only the second time I’ve ever done this one, and the first time was up a hill in Washington DC. Needless to say it was a challenge I’ve been meaning to tackle.

I rested yesterday and attempted to shake out some of the soreness that was sinking into my legs, but when I awoke this morning it was all still there. The squats with the weight vest really did a number on my quads. Aside from the soreness, however, I felt pretty good. My energy levels were high, I felt like I’d gotten plenty of sleep, and I was pretty excited for the WOD.

Bodie met me at the garage around 6:30 and we warmed up quickly. It was his first go around with this type of workout and I was proud of him for sticking with it after the initial “Oh shit what have I got myself into.” He finished in 14:54 and didn’t leave much on the table.

We had to go separately because I only have one 24 kg kettlebell, so I decided to wait until he was done to start. The runs didn’t feel tough until the last lap and I never had to break the swings or pullups. My final time was 6:58. Definitely my kind of workout—I have to think all the hill running is starting to pay off in the form of work capacity. Running on flat land just didn’t feel that hard.

Tomorrow I’m looking to Squat heavy and practice some gymnastic skills down by the river in the afternoon. Also, the CrossFit Journal published “Fitness is Potential” yesterday as part of an ongoing series based on this blog. Pretty cool. Check it out here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Deadlift Day

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – In the morning

Deadlift 5, 5, 5+

Good Mornings 10, 10, 10

3 rounds with 1 minute rest:

10 chinups

20 hand release pushup

3 rounds no rest:

10 ring dips

AMRAP medball Russian twists

WOD 2 – In the afternoon (wearing 20 lb vest)

3 rounds w/ 2 minute rest for total repetitions:

1 minute rope climbs (18 feet)

1 minute air squats

1 minute rope climb

1 minute air squats

Big workload today. Loved it. In reality yesterday’s WOD and everything today all came in a single 24 hour window, so I have to be happy with how well my body maintained energy levels. I will be resting tomorrow—massage time baby.

The deadlifts I topped out at 385 for 7 and the good mornings I did all three sets at 176 lb (new high). Felt good all morning and really liked finishing off the workout with the two mini couplets. Local muscle fatigue is something I don’t test enough so this will become a habit from now on.

This afternoon John and I went back behind Del Campo and found a great tree to tie the rope. We alternated between each exercise while letting the clock run… I finished with 11 rope climbs (3, 2, 2, 1, 2, 1) and he got 9 ½; and I managed 260 squats but have no idea the splits for each set. Every one was somewhere in the 45 neighborhood. It’s easy to forget that weight vest is on you, boy. Then you look up and realize that’s a big part of the reason things feel so damn hard. But until you do, you expect your body to perform to it’s unweighted level and thus don’t allow it any excuses for not doing so. Interesting dynamic.

Day off tomorrow then hoping to take on a Bystander WOD Thursday for the November challenge.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

7 weeks til 2011

Workout of the Day

Clean and Jerk 3, 2, 1, 1, 1

4 sets of 3 Front Squats to 1 Jerk

30 minutes various gymnastic skills

So, first day officially back on the program and I feel great! I was strong, technical, and motivated all the way through. My top set of C&J was at 125 kg and it didn’t feel heavy. I decided not to go up beyond it simply because I wanted to work the front squats to jerk before getting too fatigued. My top set there was also at 125 kg, the jerk at the end being the limiting factor. Just a long time to bear the heavy weight and still be prepared to get it overhead. Overall though, things are feeling real good.

I think these next 6-8 weeks are going to be incredible… here’s how I see it shaping up:

Monday – Olympic lifts and gymnastic skills… more of a skill day than anything, but will definitely push the packet on the O lifts and the supplemental stuff (front squats, snatch balances, etc).

Tuesday – morning: deadlift 5/3/1 + assistance. Afternoon: outdoor metcon

Wednesday – rest.

Thursday – morning: indoor metcon, focusing on shorter efforts. Afternoon: monostructural/longer effort metcon

Friday – Squat/Press 5/3/1 + assistance, gymnastic skills

Saturday – outdoor metcon, looking to re-introduce most effective methods to challenge work capacity, ie hills, sleds, vests, etc.

Sunday – rest.

Believe it or not I’m looking forward to a little bit of foul weather to change up my training environment. It’s easy to tap out when it’s raining but I think this winter in Sacramento will add something beneficial.

Also, details are coming for the August 2011 Anywherefit Iceland tour so be ready for when those drop. We have confirmed a white water rafting adventure and two days of WODs on the central glacier… and that’s barely scratching the surface so stay tuned.

Monday, November 8, 2010

October Winner Is...

Andre from Copenhagen!!
Congratulations to the fast becoming video production powerhouse in the Danish Capital. It was a cool monument, a great workout, and it had a great view. I'll be sending Andre a shirt for the victory.
Also, great submissions all around this month. Really enjoyed watching them and getting some new ideas as I'm sure everyone else did.
For the month of November, the challenge will be to incorporate an innocent bystander. That's right, take your inspiration from Andre's bonus clip on the back end of his video if you need to. but any use of a person in any location will suffice. Remember, the more creative the better and this theme has all kinds of potential. Looking forward to seeing what lays in store...
I'm back on schedule starting Monday, trying to continue gaining strength while incorporating a little more muscle endurance on the back end of workouts. Need to finish this year strong.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Still time to Vote

My week of rest is coming to a close tomorrow. Feeling tan fit and ready to start getting better. Still 3 more days to vote for your favorite video from October's Monument WOD. Right now Andre from Copenhagen is in the lead but more votes are coming in lately for the boys from Salem and Darwin. Remember, email me at or post your vote to comments here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Keep Voting!

This is a rest week for me training wise. Trying to stretch and foam roll as much as possible to heal any micro tears and soreness I may have acquired the last 6 weeks. So far I'm enjoying the rest but I know I will get antsy soon. Below is a video from Sarah and Jason, two of my best friends abroad, doing a workout at the Danish Royal Life Guard facility outside Copenhagen. Thanks for submitting this guys, hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monument WOD Finalists

The above picture is of the special edition Danish T shirt that Yasir won for September's challenge. Anyone who wants one of these, they will be on sale until the end of November. As for this month, below are the finalists... and it's a hell of a group. Narrowing down the top 3 was really tough: Our panel of judges ended up giving weight to the more unique monuments and the most creative use of them. Voting will stay open until next Monday so reply to comments or email your vote to Thanks to everyone for contributing!!!
Andre in Copenhagen
Aaron in Darwin
Henry in Salem
And an honorable mention to Josh in San Francisco for finding the most remote monument. Well done in the fog...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Last Day for Submissions!!!

Weaverville Weekend

If you’ve never heard of Weaverville don’t worry, you’re not the only one. It isn’t exactly one of California’s more household names. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Shasta, the town is small—a few baby baskets short of 4000 citizens—but appropriately so. The social temperature is mild and familiar, and everyone everywhere seems to know each other’s names. Most days the place is wrapped in a soft fog that rolls off the mountains like a smoke-white avalanche, suspending the mountain’s taller trees on waves of opaque clouds and giving their images a ghostly likeness to a back alley silhouette. Below the fog line Weaverville is a kaleidoscope of natural color. Everywhere are splatter paints of green pine, yellow aspen, and fire red maple, the artistic blend of which I caught myself admiring more than once. If October is autumn’s last breath then these mountains are surely among the best places to capture it.

Luckily for me, my high school friend and teammate Tom Johnson has lived here the past 5 years. He operates the local golf course with his brother Will and was a more than hospitable host this weekend. While around I soaked up as much of the small town experience as I could. It featured costume parties, breakfast cafes, and televised college football. We ate greasy burgers, drank local beers, and danced the grange hall into submission.

And, of course, I trained.

On Saturday afternoon Tom agreed to show me around the course and help find some tools to work with. After driving around a bit we decided on the following WOD:

1.5 mile trail run

5 rounds of 20 lunges & 20 shoulder to overhead (w/50 lb railroad tie)

1.5 mile trail run

I completed the entire sequence in 22 minutes and think I would do some version of this workout at least once a week if I lived here permanently. A golf course has to be among the most serene settings in the “civilized” world. And this course probably more so than most. I was literally dodging deer while running across the fairway. The railroad tie was awkwardly heavy, making the 100 repetitions of overhead presses very rough by the end. I included a video link below.

Although I had to leave Weaverville behind on Sunday, I did so with the fullest intent to return. I’m told the summer months are incredible, full of clean rivers and lakes, and some unreal hiking. The plan is to be back in May to take advantage.