Friday, July 30, 2010

Interval Training

Workout of the Day

5 rounds

With a 2 minute cap, run 400 meters then do as many ground to overhead as possible in the time remaining w/ 135 lb

Rest 2 minutes between rounds

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an interval session like this. SO effective. The time cap forces you to push the pace and the promise of rest makes it okay to do so without burning out. The first round I came around in 1:10 or so expecting to rip through the GTOs but as soon as I picked up the weight my hamstrings practically collapsed. Turns out running hard taxes the posterior chain pretty heavily. Who knew. I got 10 repetitions before the time expired and I got my 2 minutes rest. The last 4 rounds all took between 1:15 and 1:23 and I scored 9, 9, 8, and 8 reps respectively for a total of 44.

The best part about this WOD was the value of the recovery portion. Working at near-maximal levels means you can’t continue without breaking, so the faster your recovery the more efficient you become. I think these types of intervals are the best way to test and improve this capacity. Thinking back on it, I would have loved to see something along these lines during the CrossFit Games. A WOD with built in rest periods to test sprint/recovery would have been really fun to see.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A New Park

Workout of the Day

3 rounds for time

20 pullups

50 walking lunge

50 meter sprint

20 pushups

100 meter sprint

I made it over to a new park today in Roseville that I am now in love with. I had really only hoped for an area with space, some grass, and maybe a soccer goal or two, but this place had so much more. It backs up to a middle school playground with old style monkey bars, tri-level pullup bars, parallel bars, and more. Just about everything you could ever want for gymnastic training is available at this place. I’m pumped to get back there often and use this stuff.

For today though, the plan was simple. I wanted to try some of the ground separation pushups from the Games to see how hard they actually were. They were surprisingly difficult. I think most of us take for granted the flexibility our shoulders should have, but after a few sets the big muscles attaching to the front of the humorus don’t want to let you retract your scapula. Kind of a helpless feeling that. The running was tough as well. I really sprinted these intervals as fast as I could and it jacked up the intensity of the workout in no time. The entire thing took me 11:05.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the track for some 400 meter intervals plus max ground to overheads. Some serious threshold training I expect before heading down to Newport and workouts on the beach. For those of you who know Sven, wish him a happy 30th birthday tomorrow. Poor guy…

Monday, July 26, 2010

Squeeze in some deads

Workout of the Day

Deadlift 5, 5, 5+ @ 65, 75, 85% 1RM

Strict Press 5, 5, 5+ @ 65, 75, 85% 1RM

Good Mornings 10, 10, 10, 10

Split distance chin ups 10, 10, 10, 10

Dips 4 x max

L sit 4 x max

Today’s workout got truncated due to lack of time between lectures today at the Crossfit Endurance Certification so I was only able to get the deadlifts in. I could really feel the lack of midline stability from the heavy GHD situps yesterday so I certainly wasn’t my strongest. I got 395 for 5 reps. Really, I want this to be closer to 7 or 8. My core was the limiting factor, so I’ll be looking forward to next week when I’m more fresh to see if that makes a big difference.

Still, it was good that I got something in rather than nothing. Hoping to make up the rest tomorrow with Johnny down at the fire station. Getting on a plane tonight back to Sacramento and a somewhat normal daily rhythm for a change. Socal life was good while it lasted.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back at it

Workout of the Day

AM - WOD 1: Power Snatch 3, 3, 3 Front Squat 3, 3, 3 + 1 Jerk each

PM – WOD 2: 20 minute AMRAP 2 rope climb (18 ft) 20 GHD situps 40 double unders

First day back on the job after a week off at the beach. I actually had originally planned to wait until Monday back in Sacramento, but as I was interning today with the CrossFit training staff at the Level I cert in Rancho Santa Margarita, the atmosphere demanded an early start. Admittedly, I was still feeling a little undoordinated and lethargic, but things went okay considering. I finished the snatches at 195 lbs and had zero misses. The front squats I topped out at 275 lbs but missed the jerk. Got a little lazy and let it slip forward on my shoulders during the dip.

The afternoon WOD was a different animal entirely. The cert had ended and everyone cleared out, leaving me the space to myself. So Jimmy cranked the music, turned on the clock, and let me loose. The first few rounds flew by as the climbs, GHDs, and double unders all felt easy. During the fourth set, though, things started to catch up, especially on the GHDs. I began breaking them in 2 x 10, then 10, 5, 5. I was also taking more time between climbs to ensure I wouldn´t fail out near the top—which I never did. I ended up finishing 7 rounds plus 2 climbs and 6 GHDs. As I write this I can already feel the impending pain 146 GHD situps is sure to impart...

Overall it felt great to get back on the horse. I feel rested, motivated, and ready for the next step. Having a few beers with Sven tonight and getting back after things in the morning. Post games life is nice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why running is important

Don’t avoid it… it’s good for you.

For such a fundamental thing, the ability to run seems to be an all too popular Achilles heel. And I’m not talking form or speed. Not everyone is going to look like Usain Bolt when they go from A to B, but they need to be able to get there. The limited proficiency in this area for most people, and even most Crossfitters, is piss poor, and it shows up in more than just 5 k runs.

Mostly this is do to lack of experience. Running is not rocket science but it’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s repetitive. People tend to avoid it for one or all of these reasons when they should be seeking it out. Recently I had to endure a period of 3 months without steady running due to ankle injuries: the effect was severely noticeable. I felt more out of breath and less able to concentrate during WODs than I had before. My muscular endurance was still decent, but my comfort threshold had fallen much lower. I realized that running had been a much bigger part of how I trained than I originally thought, and that if I wanted to continue to improve it would have to become an even bigger one in the future.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case. First, philosophically, running is one of the most basic means of human survival. Our ancestors had to cover distance at speed if they were going to successfully hunt, travel, or survive predators and, even though this is less of a necessity now, something about it still rings true. I don’t want to ever find myself in a position where I cannot go from here to there simply because modern technology has failed me and my natural engine isn’t up to snuff.

Second, physiologically, the response is amazing. The different types of “tired” I’ve felt during various runs is staggering. There’s interval sprinting, long distance endurance, hill climbs, running with objects, dragging weight behind, pushing a prowler, running on sand… the list goes on. Going for a run can mean any number of things, none of which involve a treadmill, and all of which challenge the body differently. Stairs feel different than hills, 10 x 100 meters feels different than 1000 meters straight. There is plenty of variety and all of it is beneficial. In fact, I find that when I’ve been doing a lot of heavy running (trails, stairs, and carrying weight especially) I breath better in non-running WODs. This is because running teaches you how to get air when you’re tired. You inevitably find a rhythm between your steps and your breath that you can efficiently maintain while working at near max capacity. This knowledge comes in handy when you hit a metcon where your ability to keep breathing is what slows you down.

Last, psychologically, running teaches you how thin the walls are between optimal and sub-optimal performance. Lifting weights you often reach a point where you literally cannot do another rep, where your muscles have actually failed and there is nothing you can do about it. At this point, your mind gets a break. It’s off the hook... on vacation. This can’t happen in running. You can always take another step therefore your head never gets a rest (incredible ironman Youtube footage notwithstanding). To get better in this discipline you have to improve your toughness. Period. And that flows over into everything else you do. I can remember the things I had to tell myself to keep running when I competed in a series of 5 mile trail races in Virginia. I say the same things now when I’m dying through a workout with deadlifts and double unders. I remember times when things went wrong, like inhaling dust or tripping up along the way. I draw on those kinds of experiences when I am failing miserably under the rings or practically drowning in the pool. Bottom line, going on hard runs in less than optimal circumstances teaches you to find ways not to quit, and that is invaluable.

Sometimes we can get too creative in finding ways to be fit when the most effective means are the most simple.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Games in the Books

So it’s taken me a few days to decompress, but I am back at the computer and ready to recap what proved to be a weekend for the ages.

First, major props to the organizers for pulling things together. Going from Aromas to the Home Depot Center in a years time is like going from chewing grapes to swallowing watermelons. The sheer size of the place was a logistical issue in itself, not to mention moving people, equipment, and competitors around the grounds. There were at least 3 times as many volunteers as last year working hard around the clock, as well as the coverage crew, announcers, and security guards. Not an easy balancing act I assure you.

Second, the events were incredible. Last year I had my reservations about the workload heaped on competitors during day 1. Everyone was destroyed and the emphasis seemed so lower body driven that many upper body skills were not tested. Not so this time around. The coordinators found ways to work almost every conceivable movement into these games, even if it came on the very last event (rope climb). There were so many more gymnastic skills that athletes had to prove competence in that many guys and girls played themselves out of contention early on. There were grumblings about the high level gymnastics from some people, but I couldn’t disagree more. I’d hate for the fittest man or woman to be little more than an engine capable of putting out raw power. This year’s winners were coordinated, athletic, and well-rounded—as they should be. I really can’t say enough about how impressed I was by the level at this year’s competition. Some serious studs.

Unfortunately for me, my best events came later in the day than earlier. The sandbag carry was right up my alley, and the final trifecta would have been perfect. I didn’t have the technical proficiency on the rings to handle either the muscle ups to the handstand pushups well enough to score points, and the pistol squats were too much for my newly recovered ankles. Still, I have no real regrets. 23rd is not where I wanted to be, but I believe that if I had learned how to do muscle ups without a false grip I am fit enough to have been in the top 16 and maybe higher. Going forward this is a huge motivator. I can’t wait to see the results of a year blended between the creative fitness I’ve grown to love and the standard training that can be found in a more regular box.

My only criticism of the event has to be the scoring. If there must be cuts, then the point totals have to be re-calibrated accordingly or else the later events hold less weight. After thinking on this topic for some days I think I have the solution. If you cut by half, then divide the points of the remaining competitors by half as well. This will ensure that the ratio of value for points remains the same even though there are less athletes left. So, if after 4 events you cut from 50 to 25, then everyones point total will go from 10 to 5, 15 to 7.5, 20 to 10, etc. Then continue on with a 1-25 point scoring system until the next cut.

My plan is to start limited training again this weekend at the Level I Cert in Rancho Santa Margarita, where I will be interning with the HQ staff, and more serious stuff the following Monday back in Sacramento. Also, the online store should be set up by middle of next week for those of you who want to get t-shirts, etc. from the site. There will be plenty to choose from and they will be available in both the U.S. and Europe. Hard to believe this thing is over, but it’s also that much more exciting. So much time between now and the next big thing to see how far we can push the limit.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Here we go

In anticipation of the weekend's events I took some time to reflect on how I arrived at this point. The last year has been so unique and rewarding that I can barely believe it actually happened. Below is a video compilation of some of my adventures and the people I met.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Heading to LA early tomorrow morning for the big show. I'm planning on posting video blogs after each day of competition so be on the lookout for those. Hoping for the best and looking forward to Sunday night... Lot's of pain between now and then.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Benchmark Day

Workout of the Day

AM – WOD 1:

Run 5K for time

PM – WOD 2:


30 clean and jerks for time (135 #)

After a hell of a weekend in Lake Tahoe for my friend Dustin’s bachelor party (during which I was the designated driver) I was ready to test myself today. It’s been awhile since I’ve done any benchmark WODs and I was kind of curious to see where I am.

The run was especially important to give my ankles one last test before the weekend. I actually don’t think I’ve ever timed myself on a 5K before, but I figured getting under 20 would be a good goal. Right away I was encouraged by how good my ankles felt. Really there was no major pain at all (so excited!!!). I did the first 400 meters in 1:24 and was hoping to hold that pace. Unfortunately this did not happen. By the end of the first 1600 I had already dropped to 1:30 and by 3200 I was holding steady around 1:33. By far the most difficult part was regulating my breath. I ran on a flat course and there was some cross wind at times, but my legs and back never really wore out. As I hit 4600 meters the clock read 17:36, meaning if I picked things up I could get finished under 19 minutes. It’s amazing how much extra you have left when you know you’re about to be finished. I opened up my stride and kicked the entire final 400, finishing in 18:59. Gotta feel good about that not having run much the past 5 months.

This afternoon I took on Grace for only the second time in my life. I borrowed my boy John’s weights and headed over to a local park where there was a decent size dirt patch for me to use as a lifting platform. The original plan was to incorporate some rope climbing afterwards, but I couldn’t find a tree that would do the job. I started the clock and did 10 repetitions in the first 30 seconds. I dropped the bar, took a few breaths, then did 10 more. The second set was much more difficult but I the clock only read 1:06. From there I did 3 consecutive and the rest singles, stopping the clock at 1:50, :13 better than my previous best. Stoked.

Today has me feeling really confident about my level at the moment. Combined with the 225 lb snatch I did last Friday at CrossFit East Sac, I’m riding a series of PR’s that could not come at a better time. The next few days will be very light, possibly some rowing or swimming to stay loose but nothing too intense. Mostly just tying up loose ends for the big trip and screen-printing the next batch of Anywherefit t-shirts.

Below is a link to the pre-Games interview with me and 2 other competitors on the CrossFit Journal.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Partner WOD

Workout of the Day

Partner WOD:

1 mile run together

200 yd sled row (200 lb)

200 yd tire flip (350 lb)

200 yd overhead ladder carry (40 lb)

800 meter weighted run together

This workout took place on the grounds of the Sacramento Fire Academy down at the old McClellan Air Field. What a facility. Seemingly endless space filled with crazy toys to play with. It’s open all hours to firefighters who want to train, sporting a huge hanger-like weight facility, a full size outdoor track, all kinds of tires, hoses, and ladders, and a seriously motivating atmosphere.

Since both of us were feeling a little beat down after the heavy squats and river WOD from the day before, a partner effort was the right fit. We walked around and put together the necessary materials and got after it. The mile run felt great. Easily the best my ankles have felt during a run since I hurt them back in April. Major confidence boost here. We stayed together the whole time and cruised in at 6:40 without any real problems and got right into the sled rows. Using a standard sled stacked with 180 lbs of weight, we alternated doing 10 full squat and rows until we reached the end of the football field. Then we went back. The grass was a surprisingly friction-filled surface on this. No slide whatsoever, making this a lot harder than expected.

The tire flips were much easier for me, but harder for John. We alternated every 5 flips, going 100 yards before turning around and heading back. I felt like I was back in DC flipping the monster tire at Balance with the guys from the US Rugby team. Could have done it all day. Then came the ladder carry—two aluminum straight ladders stacked on top of one another balanced between John and my outstretched arms. This was strong the first 100, but a little shaky on the way back. But, overall we were cruising and had spent just over 22 minutes by the time we were ready to pick up the hoses and run the last ½ mile.

I’m not sure exactly how much a fire hose weighs, but I’d estimate between 20-30 lbs. We each picked one up and slung it over our shoulders and took off. Much more comfortable than the sandbags I was used to, I must say. Still, just having extra weight on your body while running is always a bitch. We finished in 26:22.

Awesome day and great shake-up doing the partner routine. Completely different mindset when teamwork is involved and that shouldn’t be ignored in programming. Rest day tomorrow then the last weekend of training before Carson. Hum-yee.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

River WOD

Workout of the Day

AM – WOD 1:

Back Squat 3, 3, 3+ @ 70, 80, 90% 1RM

Glute Ham Raise 10, 10, 10, 10

Plyo Pushup 15, 15, 15, 15

PM – WOD 2:

3 rounds for time

150 meter run

100 meter river swim

30 ring dips

50 air squats

I visited my friend Justin today at CrossFit East Sacramento excited to catch up on things since last summer. John and I headed over there in between classes at 11 and, I have to say, the place looked great. Justin has made some improvements, not the least cool of which were the eye bolts drilled into a couple of tractor tires. The guys run rope through them and run sprints dragging the tires plus extra weight behind. AMAZING idea. Can’t wait to try it out.

The strength work went okay, but not great. Was hoping to get 5 repetitions @ 375 for my top set of squats but was only able to get 4. Only one more squat session before I taper for the games so I’m looking forward to bouncing back then.

In the afternoon John and I headed back up to Lake Natoma for a major outdoor challenge. The water up there is flowing out of the bottom of the Folsom Dam, making it extremely cold and fairly fast moving. Estimate water temperature was hovering around the mid 50’s—NOT your childhood bathtub. Anyways, I loved this WOD because it really simulated something that you might have to be able to someday and I learned a lot. The first round I was amped up after the 30 foot cliff jump into the river that I barely felt the icey water. I freestyled through the current and made sizeable headway upstream before hitting the opposite bank and climbing up to the ring station. The second time around was a different story entirely. Now considerably more out of breath, freestyle was out of the question and breaststroke just wasn’t getting it done. My lungs refused to expand in the cold water and my arms were getting heavier and heavier. I decided to ride the current down to a nearby rock and take a break. From there I side-stroked the rest of the way—much better plan. This enabled me to lengthen my body and get air to my lungs without going so slow as to be carried away by the river. I used this method on the final round as well to much success.

The dips, squats, running portion of the WOD were as expected, but the river proved much more difficult than anticipated. Huge learning experience that I’m grateful to have had. And… looking forward to doing it again soon, hopefully in warmer water. I attached a video of John and I doing this WOD below.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 4th

Workout of the Day

4 rounds for time:

15 shoulder to overhead (50 kg)

15 box jumps (36 inch)

50 meter cement bag carry (90 lb)

As today is the 234th birthday of my homeland, most of its hours were spent celebrating rather than training. I was, however, able to squeeze the above metcon in before things got too out of hand. The jumps were by far the most difficult part. Using John’s backyard as our gym, we moved around quite a bit and used his 3 foot retaining wall as our box for the jumps. I finished the routine in 6:20. John wrapped it in 8:17. Total sprint the whole way—felt good to keep my body under control during a short duration effort.

Afterwards we headed over to a buddy’s house for beers, barbeque, and lawn games. Awesome day, including some pool basketball (pictured above). Felt good to get athletic over some water. This is such a fun holiday every year and I am so grateful for everything that it represents. Tomorrow I'm going on a hike with the family through Salmon Falls up near Folsom Lake. Hoping not to run into any rattlesnakes and to enjoy a stretch of wilderness. Pictures to come.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fitness is…


It is recognizable not just in an individual’s stature or beauty, but in his/her attitude and behavior as well. Take the person who gets winded on the walk from his house to his car or has to brace himself every time he sits down on the couch. He does not lead a confident life, I promise you. He will avoid activities that expose his physical limitations and withdraw from interaction with people who engage in them. Psychologically he is stunted because his mentality is always governed by what he cannot do.

Instead, observe the individual who actively trains and reaches physical goals. He is buttressed by a history of overcoming obstacles, a past filled with things he once could not do but now can. This person is far more willing to take risks. He entertains ideas that push his limits and remains open to experiences a fearful person may never have considered possible.

This type of confidence infects people. The first time someone does Fran, they walk a little taller. When they PR their deadlift by 20 lbs, they’re made of steel all week. If they’ve just run 5 kilometers faster than they ever have, meeting a deadline for a worrisome client isn’t so insurmountable. Everything gets easier when you believe in yourself, and that’s what fitness does. It re-shapes your identity into one of confidence and self-belief.

This can easily be observed in people who go from being de-conditioned to physically active. If you’ve ever had a relative or friend that has lost a lot of weight, you’ll know what I mean. They suddenly become more outgoing, more fun, and more self-assured. They dress different, walk different, and, really, are different. It’s like they’ve become a new person. But such transformations have very little to do with gravity’s reduced strain on a person’s bones. Rather, they are the result of tangible physical successes and the psychological reinforcement such successes solicit from the outside world. Clothes fitting different, less fatigue during the course of the day, more attention from co-workers… These things add up quickly and contribute to the shaping of a new, confident identity.

Now, I’m not claiming this is foolproof, or that by simply running a few miles each day every person will suddenly feel invincible. I wish it were that easy. But even doing just that is a step in the right direction. Taking control of your body gives you a foothold with which to tackle the rest, and believe me, the process is accelerative. I had a client who looked at me crooked when I told her she would have to lie down and get up 10 times in a row. Now she’s writing me emails about doing burpees and double unders on a city street corner because she was waiting for a tow truck and needed to get a workout in. My mother has gone from walking the treadmill for 45 minutes 2 days a week to doing kettlebell progressions and overhead squats without difficulty. The conversations we have now are just as often about what new ways she can challenge herself in the gym as they are about anything else.

And such stories are the rule, not the exception!!! Really, this is a very logical progression. When people see themselves succeed they feel good. Naturally they want more. Slowly, they grow less inhibited and more daring in pursuit of this success. As they push their limits farther and farther they are able to accomplish more and more, thus, inevitably, they become more successful. Because this train of improvement is so rewarding, it re-molds their self image from one of limitation and self-doubt into one of confidence and potential. This, to varying degrees, colors their new identity with curiosity and determination, powerful drugs in combination.

Knowing this progression to work as it does, I find it incredibly painful, almost nauseating, when I hear people say, "I'm not a gym person... it's not in my DNA... I'm not that disciplined... I'm too busy..." Really? It's not in your DNA to move properly or to feel good about yourself? Too busy to grab hold of one thing in your life so that you'll become better at all the rest? I'd hate to be so presumptuous as to conclude that you are not the only person in the world dealing with such problems. NEWSFLASH: No one is naturally a "gym person." No one is inherently disciplined. Some have simply been conditioned to become so because they have seen success and decided they want more. Get on board and find a foothold.

A positive self-image is one of the most powerful effects of training, yet it is far too often misunderstood as a cause. Effort, motivation, and dedication are all learned capacities we pick up through the course of our lives in response to positive or negative outcomes. This means that everyone's past is necessarily different and has shaped their identity to this point in a decidedly unique way. This is unavoidable, but too many use it as a justification to fail, to continue to see themselves as unfit, obese, or physically unable. It's as if God had given them low self-esteem and massive insecurity and its their duty to accept it. No identity is etched in stone. No one is fundamentally anything except what they do.

Remember that.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Workout of the Day

5 rounds for time:

6 Muscle Ups

20 GHD situps

80 meter Prowler push (180 lb)

I was back down at Midtown Strength today with Camillo and Chad looking for a high heart rate effort. No better way to get that done than the prowler. I haven’t done much of this stuff, so today was hard. It really just gasses the lungs and burns the posterior chain like few other things. Since Camillo is competing in an event this weekend, it was just Chad and I getting after it today. He’s a fire captain for Sacramento City Fire and a serious stud. By round 3 of this routine I was eating dust and struggling to keep up. It wasn’t until the final round of muscle ups that I was able to close the gap. We wound up finishing 2 seconds apart at 16:42 & 16:44, respectively.

Pretty toasted afterwards. I was definitely feeling psychologically exhausted as well after the long day yesterday. Hoping to rest up tomorrow and go big on the 4th. Only 2 weeks left.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Climb Something

Workout of the Day

AM – WOD 1:

Deadlift 3, 3, 3+ @ 70, 80, 90% 1RM

Strict Press 3, 3, 3+ @ 70, 80, 90% 1RM

Good Morning 10, 10, 10

Square bar chinups 10, 10, 10

Dips 15, 15, 15

Hanging L sit holds 3 x max

PM – WOD 2:

Go Climbing

Only 2 weeks and change until the games and information continues to leak out slowly. Apparently there will be no WOD announcements until 1 hr before each respective event. I love this. No planning. No strategy. No sweating it out. Just get out and go.

This morning I met my boy John at his gym for the beginning of week 6 in my run at the 5/3/1 strength program. I can’t say enough about the results that seem to be coming from this outwardly simple program. Today I finished the deadlift set with 6 repetitions at 395 lbs, 20 lbs more than I lifted for the same reps last week. The overhead presses I only managed 4 reps at 170 lbs, but felt strong enough to get 5. Afterwards John and I supersetted the good mornings and chinups, then moved to dips and L-sits. All of this assistance work went well and I expect to feel the effects tomorrow.

In the afternoon we headed over to Negro Bar on Lake Natoma in search of some outdoor bodyweight challenges. On the Folsom side of the water we found a steel gazebo that was perfect for climbing. We did spider climbs, ninja warrior-style lateral scaling, and a whole host of other stuff. We also strung up the rings and practiced handstand pushups on them. Definitely glad I did this because it’s a lot trickier than I thought.

Overall today’s training was hard work in the morning and loose fun in the afternoon. Nice balance in combination. Additionally, the location was beautiful and will set up perfect for a future WOD including a river swim. Really looking forward to that one.

Thursday, July 1, 2010