Monday, December 14, 2009

Establishing a baseline

After a week on the road that saw a day of squats and a day of running, both of which felt more like rehab than training (such is the pain of starting over), I skipped the deep snow up north to visit with the family this weekend and settled for a quick visit to the local hill Monday morning.

Skin up Conifer

950 vertical feet, ~1 mile


(First road cut, 10:45, second 16:30, transition to ski 4:48).

Not bad for out-of-shape, as I used to consider a halfway decent time to be a half-hour. Only did a single lap and it was a balmy 30 degrees, so I didn't have my customary 10 pounds of water and extra gear on my back, although I do carry ~10 pounds of gear on each foot. The transition to ski time was pathetic. That needs practice before I do any rando racing.

Was fogged in at home this morning, so I didn't bring the camera. Too bad, since the sun started to break through and I could see for over 30 miles. Got to the bottom just in time to board the lift for a thoroughly enjoyable victory lap. Funny how quickly skiing comes back into my legs these days. The first day used to be an adventure until I finally got a seasons pass a few years ago. Good thing, because I've got my first downhill clinic Thursday.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Core Training

Thursday, December 3rd workout - Remembering the diagnosis.


Shoulder mobility - stretching, foam rolling, dislocates

When I attended Kelly Starrett's excellent workshop at CF Boston in September, I was held up as an example of someone with bad shoulder mobility. He had me trying doing an overhead squat, and he kept telling me to stop cheating. I quite simply could not hold the bar overhead without arching my back. His prescription 5-10 minutes of shoulder mobility work before doing any overhead work. Sometimes even that is not enough lately. Hopefully, things will improve as I build a routine incorporating kipping pullups, mobility work, OHS, and the like.

5 rounds:

    3 x 25# pullups
    3 MU row-transition
3 sets each:

    10-second tuck L-sit on rings
    3 press to headstand
Even when I'm not getting in a full workout, I've been trying to squeeze in a little gymnastics training. Perhaps it would have been better if I hadn't crammed it between my shoulder mobility work and overhead lifting.

Heavy Stuff
Press 5x3 85-95-105-115-115f

As soon as I finished thee fourth set, I knew I'd commited the classic alignment fault, because I could suddenly feel tenderness in my L1-T12 disc. I know the feeling from injuring it by catching some jerks with a hinge at that L-T joint. (Kelly Starret expands on this here.) This was just enough tenderness that I knew I lost tightness in the core trying to compensate for my limited shoulder mobility.

Half Cindy


    5 pullups
    10 pushups
    15 squats
8 rounds -> 9 pullups; 10:20 for 10 rounds

Pushups failed me, like usual, only quicker this time.

Saturaday, December 5th workout - The Start of the Cure

10 minutes carrying wood
5 minutes jump rope - no more than 6 consecutive DUs
Shoulder mobility work

5 rounds:
    3 HSPU
    10-second frog stand
I do the HSPUs with my belly to the wall, so I'm less likely to hinge my spine. If my back is to the wall, I'll arch to keep my center of gravity against the wall. This way I'm encouraged to hollow myself, although you can see that it's not a perfect system. By my fifth set, my form was starting to suffer:

You can see the two problems working against each other here, limited shoulder mobility putting me at a less-than vertical body angle and a softening of the back to make my torso angle even less vertical. This is the classic upstream-downstream mobility issue that Kelly Starrett harped on in his Chasing Performance seminar - a mobility restriction in one part of the body leads to an even worse form issue elsewhere. (This is an amazingly useful analysis tool for a coach.) The solution is even more dedication to shoulder mobility (daily perhaps), and a corresponding effort to strengthen my core, not by situps and back extensions, rather by doing exercises that force me to work to hold my spine straight.

Heavy Stuff
Deadlift 3x5 - 225-275-310

That was harder than I remember, but my form was halfway decent.

Suitcase DL 3x3 each 95-115-135

KB Complex, 12K

One minute each:
    One-arm swing, right 31
    Figure 8 forward 20
    One-arm swing, left 33
    Figure 8 backwards, 12 (That was silly.)
    Clean and press, right 20
    Halo, cross chop, alternate sides 22
    Clean and press, left 17
Total reps = 175

Some folks like the pump they get after a day of bench press and curls (guess it looks good in the mirror), but I like the pump after a day of deadlifts. Walking around with a tight trunk just makes me feel strong. I won't be doing heavy deads every week, but I'll mix them in with snatch-grip DLs, unilateral DB/KB work, and the like. I've got hips that even after a few months off can move hundreds of pounds, but I spent those months slouched in front of a computer at work, so my spinal erectors got weak much faster. That's an imbalance I won't allow to get the best of me. The same goes for my mobility work. It's time to stretch.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Back to Basics

As I hinted in my last post, I've had some thinking to do - about how I want to approach my workouts and why I want to torture myself workout in the first place. I had some pretty concrete goals at the beginning of the year. I was in full-on CrossFit-for-CrossFit's-sake mode, training for the Games and shooting for some nice round numbers on my lifts. I had 20 - count them - 20 individual performance goals for 2009 (plus an equal number of intermediate goals). Having taken 3 months more-or-less off, it's safe to say that those goals haven't felt threatened much. (I met exactly one - in March, when I was not only in some of the best shape of my life but was well rested on account of getting too busy at work.)

I'm starting this cycle from a very different place. After a summer of playing with the kids, an autumn of Too Much Work, and recently a bout with the H1N1 flu, I'll be building from a conditioning base of not much better than zero. As such, it's too early to worry about how big I can get my squat this winter or how fast I can row 2,000m. First, I need to simply get in the habit of working out regularly and trying to regain lost capacities. It's not as much fun starting over as it is doing something new, when progress comes easily and each workout sparkles with the excitement of new accomplishments. Right now, however, it's time to swallow my pride and put up some sad-looking numbers and let the cold light of objectivity guide my training.

Training for the Qualifiers burned me out on CrossFit for CrossFit sake. It would be one thing if I were training at an affiliate where I had people to push me through each workout, but not being a mainpager, running out to the garage each night and punishing myself to trim a couple seconds or add a couple pounds had lost it's appeal. Still, laying around on the couch at night wasn't exactly the best programming I've come up with either.

In need of a goal, I decided I'd train for the ski season. Skiing is by far my favorite sport, and it was a day of ski touring in the White Mountains that convinced me to take up CrossFit in the first place. Therefore, it seems the perfect object for my current training. To make it more interesting for me, I'm entering a weekly race series (giant slalom) and will enter a couple of randoneering races (climbing and descending a mountain - usually multiple times). I've never ever raced gates before and my alpine ski touring has not been a timed venture, so I don't have a great benchmark for performance, but having quantitative measures of performance will raise the stakes on my training and force me to be objective about my strengths and weaknesses for my chosen sport. Programming objectively for a sport rather than to get better at working out will be a new challenge for me, and I'm looking forward to it.

For downhill racing, squats are king. I became a better skier over the summer when I did Starting Strength, simply by virtue of being stronger in a deep squat. Obviously, then, squats will be a part of the new program, but what else do I include? Backcountry skiing is primarily an endurance sport - cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular stamina. When alpine touring, I have ~9 pounds strapped to each foot and 10-30 pounds on my back. That adds up over the course of day. There are programs out there that cater to backcountry skiers (e.g., Rob Shaull's mountain athlete site), but those are designed for the long, slow haul of mountaineering. I'm not about to load up on hour-long chippers every day to develop improved slogging ability. That would only rob me of explosiveness and pure strength I want for the downhill (and for the All-Important Stupid Human Tricks that make being fit fun).

Still, I'll be doing more of the dreaded AMRAP 20 thing. When I'm in the gym, I vastly prefer programs like Greg Everett's Cathletics program that combine olympic lifting and short, sharp metcons. Those kind of workouts still have their place, because downhill skiing places tremendous demands on explosiveness, agility, and anaerobic work capacity. Long metcons are not my favorite for general fitness, but they fit my needs for now. They'll include power endurance workouts, workouts that simultaneously tax core strength and work capacity (think DLs and running), and sport-specific aerobic sufferfests (timed ascents at my local ski area).

More immediately, however, I need to work the basics. I need to get comfortable lifting heavy weights again; I need to rebuild my gymnastics capacities, and I need to diligently improve my mobility, both to recover from recent and old injuries and to fight off the decline of old age. This weekend was dedicated primarily to the first of those. To accomplish the latter, I'm going to have to get creative and be diligent in using my time away from the gym.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Coming off the flu and not wanting a Fran cough to cause a relapse, I started off with a pure strength workout. The weights weren't great, but I have to start somewhere.

3 rounds swinging Cindy:

    5 Chinups
    10 Pushups
    15 squats
    20 KB swings, 12K

RDL 45x5

Heavy Stuff
Deadlift 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 275x3, 300xx, 310x3

Max strict dips 8

November 22, 2009

I just said that I'm not a mainpager, but today's workout was just the ticket - a squat-centric workout with an aerobic component, but long enough and heavy enough that I could pace myself without taking my flu-abused lungs into the sort of deep respiratory distress that a shorter, lighter metcon would produce.

CFCC Mobility drills
Hip mobility

Strict CFWU

    10 DH pullups
    8 strict dips
    6 strict KTE

10 mountain climbers
3 burpees


    25 burpees
    15 Back squat, 173# (BW)
3 rounds + 25 burpees

Felt pretty bad about this performance as I slogged through it. I carefully worked my way through the squats, concentrating on holding a tight core after a sloppy first squat in round two. I sometimes dogged it on the burpees, but I still felt well spent afterwards. For a post flu metcon, simply lasting 20 minutes is a good enough performance for me, and the soreness I feel today seems about right for where I am in the workout cycle.

Now the part that's been the hardest for me lately - keeping it up during the week.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Law of Conservation of Momentum

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to...

Maybe you all are a bunch of CrossFit freaks, who can take a week or two off for work or vacation and jump right back into the daily sufferfest, but I'm a creature of habit. I do best when I'm out there four to five days every week without fail - even if that means interrupting a vacation to cobble together a workout using a rock, a tree stump, and my running shoes one day and then doing some sort of inverted burpee creation in my hotel room the next. If I miss three days in a row, I'm still ready to get after it. Any more than that - missing a week or being inconsistent for a month, and I start gravitating toward the couch instead of the gym, because the truth is effective training hurts. Since my allergy to pain has been acting up, my couch has gotten more of a workout this summer than I have.

I've turned into a weekend warrior, as I either work into the evenings during the week or take some down-time after working too much the previous day. Being a weekend warrior isn't too bad, if the activity you pursue is familiar. It's sort of the opposite of training. You do activities that keep you from losing all physicality, but you don't develop new capacities. At the same time, you don't hurt yourself. Of course, if you do CrossFit as a weekend warrior, where the activity is constantly varied, things don't work out quite so well.

After a summer, where my workouts have more often been days at the beach and looked like this:

3 rounds of 10-15 minutes:
Carry 4-year-old daughter and lift over waves that break from chest to head high;
Rest as needed between rounds.


Bike 11.25 miles with 1,000 vertical feet of climbing


rather than this:

3 rounds Cindy+20 KB swings

Heavy Shit
Deadlift 135x5, 215x3, 265x2, 305x1, 320x3, 330x3, 305x3

Quarter Gone Bad

5 rounds (0:15 on, 0:45 off)

    135# Thruster 4-4-5-5-4
    58# Pullup 3-1-3-2-1
    Burpee 7-5-6-5-7

    = 63,

I found myself nursing a couple of injuries - a groin injury that developed from squatting heavy, on a day I needed extra warmup and didn't take the time for it, and a wrist injury I picked-up trying to jump back into a PMenu cycle after 3 weeks off. The former is manageable. After six weeks, I'm pretty sure the latter will require medical intervention.

I won't be olympic lifting anytime soon, but there's plenty that I can do to keep myself in motion. First, I need to figure out how to get myself in motion. Sure, there's the "Just-do-it" approach, but that doesn't do much for me. I need a program to follow. I've had good luck with my own (at least the sticking with it part, if not always the results), so I'm not shopping around for the latest fad, whether that's CF Football, MaxFit, or OPT. I need to figure out a program that works for my nutty schedule, but more importantly, I need to figure out what the hell I'm training for.

The blog header reflects this ambiguity. I'll tackle this big question next. How about the three or four of you who read these ramblings? What are you training for? I'm sure you've seen this question dozens of times, and I've had good answers in the past. They just don't work for me at the moment.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fitness and the summer party season

It's funny. Summer has always been the season of activity for me. Before I became an avid skier or saw the inside of a gym on a regular basis, I used to waste away in winter and put on muscle and get fit during the summer, just by doing whatever fun activities came up - swimming, biking, running around with some sort of ball. Now that my daylight hours are filled with work and summer weekends usually involve driving-off somewhere for a birthday party, reunion, vacation, holiday get-together, etc., it's actually more of a challenge to fit fitness in. I'd like to be out biking, hiking, and generally playing around, but aside from bringing the kids to the beach a few times, there's been precious little of that sort of activity.

I decided I need to get back to what got me into CrossFit in the first place, the simplicity of squeezing in a short, brutal workout into an otherwise busy schedule. I'll go for the long ride or hike when I get the chance, but this past week I got smart about setting expectations, and as a result, my follow-through was much better. I'm still itching to run up Mt. Monadnock (and might this week), but for now, these sorts of efforts will do quite nicely to get my groove back.


Two days at CF Rochester:

Saturday, 7/25/2009

Fight Gone Bad - 237

One point worse than last summer's effort. I went out strong, gassed and crashed, but that was the plan - shock the system, see what it could do, and fight to hold on. Did my post-workout flop after two rounds, stood-up and staggered through a pathetic third round. Wish I had the numbers to illustrate the severity of the drop-off. Can't wait to do this again, when I've got the conditioning back. Too bad it won't be at CFR, where I've done this twice and wouldn't mind getting a little redemption.

Monday, 7/27/2009

3 rounds:
Row 250m
25 DUs (just enough to start to get it again, but no more than 11 consecutive)

Heavy stuff
OHS 45x5, 75x5, 95x5, 125x5x2, 135x5x2

I ran out of time for the last set and wanted more weight, but I kept redoing weight, because my stability was off. I easily got a new max on these a week prior, but I'd rather pile up some reps at a higher percentage of that than increase my max (on the OHS at least).

Death by Burpee Pullup

One half-second shy of 9 rounds

I've gone soft. I was only too happy to quit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2008

Just the heavy stuff
Clean and jerk 150x1x4
Clean pull 215x3x3
Clean DL 235x3x3
Back squat (high bar) 245x3, 235x3x4

Got a little wobbly at the end of the first set and dropped weight. Wobbly on the last rep, too. Still, it's good to see the base strength holding-up pretty well through extended periods of inactivity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2009

45 minutes of ultimate frisbee - Yay, something fun.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The big test of my commitment. After a family gathering which included a slice of pizza, a beer, and some blueberry pie with ice cream, I shook off the carb lazies and put in a decent effort on something I've been meaning to try (posterior-chain-dominant weightlifting and biking). Can't wait to try a version of this at home with a barbell, my own bike, and a 2-mile loop that includes a steep 200-foot wall. The question, can I crank up the hill, after doing heavy deads?

3 rounds:
1 mile bike
50 KB swings, 1.5-pood


Sunday, August 2, 2009

3 rounds:
Run 400m
8 Curtis Ps, 40# DBs
(Hang squat clean, alternating lunges, push press)
8 Fingertip pullups


Redid this one, because I'd done it at my parent's house in May 2008 and wanted a direct comparison. As I gassed during the 2nd set of Curtis Ps, I thought I might not do much better than match my old time, but the runs went better and I pushed through the last set pretty determinedly. I was doing a metcon-free Starting Strength cycle last time around, so it was good to finish well before the old 16:55 mark.

Got off to the beach for a little body surfing and a whole lot of playing with the kids in the surf.


Time for a day off, then some heavy lifting, and if I can keep it up through the week (perhaps get in that run up Monadnock), I'll call myself back in the game. Either way, I'll post pics next time. I promise.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Extremism in the defense of gluttony is no vice. - Fred Goldwater (Barry's fat brother)

I have to face it - I'm an extremist, but I do it in phases. I go to college and party like a mad man, barely graduating on time. I clean up my act, take up biking and log 100s of miles a week for years. I take up serious chess, studying for hours each night, enter tournaments and don't do half-bad. I get back into martial arts in grad school and hardly miss a class in two years. I start a career and go a year before I take two days in a row off. I buy a house and occupy my weekends and evenings fixing it up a little at a time. I take up a healthy paleoish diet and don't eat sugar or grains for two months. I get on a roll with my CrossFit training and get myself into shape for the Games Qualifiers.

Then, I let work take over my life, and I all but stop working out. I could have spent evenings in the motel room getting in some training. I couldn't have continued balls-to-the-wall, but I could have done something. Instead, I was focused on work and I let my metcon and my diet slip. Even as my schedule has eased, I've had a tough time jumping back into a decent workout routine. I'll get in a good week with workouts and diet, and then it slips. Sure, I've had some good excuses to let things slip, a busy week in the office, vacation, minor injuries, but the pattern is clear. I'm not jumping back into the CrossFit routine, quite simply, because the workouts suck. I'm avoiding the pain.

It's not all bad. I've been enjoying myself, and while my metcon suffers and I've lost a little ROM and CF-specific strength, my overall strength is still decent. I don't intend to jump with both feet into Serious Training or Strict Dieting. It's more important for me to learn to balance the competing interests of family, work, fitness, and fun, but, I offer this little what-have-you-done-for-me-lately post as a means of both catching up on things and restarting my blog in hopes of keeping myself honest in that pursuit of balance.

The notion is to do a mix of oly lifting, gymnastics, and outdoor workouts, whether that be hiking and biking, or tire-flipping and sandbag carrying. I'm figuring a 2-on, 1-off approach would be ideal, as far as recovery and schedule go. We'll see.


A few highlight since I last checked in a month ago.

    Figuring out double unders (conceptually at least) - PR of 22 consecutive
    Front squat PR 245# (but I had this one in the bag already)
    Oly lifting and sandbag & tire-flipping metcons with John Barney
That was June. Not a complete washout, but more rest days than work days still. July has featured little in the way of workouts, given two weeks of too much work, bookending the vacation week I spent on the Cape. I brought my rings and dumbbells on vacation, but they never got unpacked. (That was lame. A single workout to get me started would have done me good.) I did get in a demanding 2-hour mountain bike ride and a short, high-speed road ride, but it was mostly about eating, drinking, and family. Lots of playing with the kids in the water and a day of body surfing at Marconi Beach - a fun, little workout that involved getting slammed repeatedly into the stone shoreline, while holding my breath. I repeated this workout yesterday (minus the body slamming) at Second Beach Newport with a solid 1.5 hours in the water, either throwing my kids around or riding the surf. Managed a couple halfway decent handstands and press handstands, too.

Don't get me wrong. I've enjoyed myself and feel good about that. It's the balance I'm seeking. A trail run, some squat cleans, and some muscle-ups would have fit in well with my vacation, if I just got off my ass in the morning.

A few photos:

Marconi Beach

Skaket Beach

whale watching

general vacationing


My July CF workout (the only one thus far) - Saturday July 18, 8:30 a.m.

5:00 Jump rope (double unders not quite there, but they'll be back)
Shoulder mobility
Hip mobility (adductor still not happy with me - even after 3 weeks off)

Heavy stuff
Overhead squat 45x5x2, 95x3, 125x2, 145, 155, 165, 175 (PR)
Muscle snatch 75x3, 95x2, 115x2, 125, 135, 135f (matched PR)
Power snatch 135 x1 x4

I had more in me on the OHS, but I didn't want to risk wobbling about at the bottom and tweaking my slow-to-heal groin injury. Good to know that my solid winter training is still carrying over.

3 rounds:

    100m run
    10 broad jumps
    20 pullups

A bit too many pullups for the first day back in three weeks. Shoulder mobility is way down and I can't straighten my arms fully. Hopefully, the latter will mend itself by tomorow. I won't be doing pullups or going overhead, I suspect, but it would be good to not feel I need to marshall my recovery resources to tend to an injury.


While on the topic of extremism, I stopped off at a Whole Foods on my way back from Rhode Island yesterday and picked up the a nice sampling of the four food groups: beef, lamb, pork, and chicken. The latter three spent the evening on my smoker. (Can't let the diet slip as much as the workouts, or I'll really suffer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Affiliate hopping

One of the advantages of having to travel for work (even if it isn't that far) is that I get to bop about New England visiting different affiliates. The travel really only started recently, and I'm just getting caught on to the possibilities for expanding my garage CF perspective. Meetings in Boston and Hartford on consecutive days got me to Revolution CrossFit in Boston and CrossFit Persevere in Glastonbury. These two affiliates couldn't be more different.

RevFit is a globo gym with the shiniest of fitness machines and a CrossFit room. Some marketing guru named it "The Pit" since I was last there, although it only feels that way if you close the garage door to the room and let the sweat build-up. It's got your full array of CF trappings, bars, bumpers, nice pullup bars, rings, KBs, rowers, Dynamax balls, jump boxes, etc. The one thing missing from RevFit - a CrossFit trainer providing feedback. There's just a group of athletes who mostly follow the mainpage WOD, except on Thursdays when a trainer does lead a workout or during an fundamentals class, when all the regulars get kicked out of the pit and exiled to the land of chrome gym furniture to complete their workouts. Last night was just such a night. It's not the gym's fault. We were strength training and happily shooting the shit while we rested between sets and didn't get to our metcon before they began their fundamentals class. Thus, our metcon was done in an open space amidst the chrome-plated furniture of Globoland. We lined up three barbells and did our burpees right in front of the person DLing behind us (watch those fingers, kids).

Most of the RevFit regulars were languishing on the IR. Laura was still recovering from her marathon and limited to upper-body work; Sharon was visibly pained by a neck ailment; and Chris was suffering a nasty cold. Thankfully, Renee was going strong, and Samantha Aurelio was also visiting from out of town, so we got in a good workout together. They did a modified CrossFit Football WOD, and I did most of it plus some ring work.

Sam showed off her one-armed handstand, which got me inspired to try some gymnastics stuff. My press handstand was working well, although I've still got some work to do to hold that freestanding handstand consistently. Apparently the oly work has helped my flexibility, because I sure as heck haven't been doing passive stretching). My front and back lever progressions were suprisingly good, too, given that all I've been working with any regularity is skin the cats, L-hangs, and MU progressions. (It's always good to have your skilz working when it's time to show-off. ) The most impressive showing-off, however, was Sam's ATG squat. She quietly added 5# to her 5RM, while retaining rock solid form throughout. She easily has another 10# in her.


RevFit Workout - Monday, June 15, 2009

Hip and shoulder mobility
10 C2B pullups
5 L-pullups
10 ring dips

Skill work
5 Skin the cat to hollow hang to L-sit
2 failed MUs
1-arm handstands against wall
2 press handstands (first strict straight-arm press HS in a long time )
pike back lever - 5 seconds x2
one-leg-extended front lever - 5 seconds, 3 seconds

Heavy stuff
Press 45x5, 70x5, 95x3, 115x3, 120x3, 125x2+f, 122.5x3, 122.5x1 (burned out from too much ring work between sets)

125 is my prior 3RM, so this isn't bad. Overhead strength still needs attention, given the low numbers overall, but my loss of strength is not as grim as I thought.

5 rounds:
    5 Deadlift, 275#
    10 burpees

Last time out was 6:26, so this isn't great. I should have checked my log-book before starting, and maybe I could have pushed closer. Metcon probably isn't good enough to take 40 seconds off, but 20 was certainly doable, even though I was thoroughly gassed here.


In contrast to RevFit, CrossFit Persevere is a spartan setup - no showers (yet), no shiny chrome machinery, no internet/juice-bar cafe, no after-work crowds either on this particular day. They do have a sweet, new pullup bar, on which to do flying pullups, however, climbing one bar to the next four times until you've gone from 8 to 15 feet above the ground. (I stuck to the lower two rungs, thankyouverymuch).

Where RevFit had an array of globogoers gawking at the three of us doing DLs for time (I'm sure the 275# thump helped draw attention), CFP had two coaches there to encourage (i.e., yell at) me to fight through the pain and complete my WOD. Kim Malz, aka fitmom, is co-owner of CFP. She has a tremendous energy that is reflected in her athletes and her performance. Kim qualified for the CF Games in Aromas, less than two years after her cancer diagnosis. As inspiring as that story is, you should have seen her work her way from 24th overall at the Qualifiers to 5th, by charging through the brutal final workout. The kind of fighting spirit she showed in the workout clearly goes a long way in life. It's hard to wimp out on a workout with that kind of example cheering you on.


CrossFit Persevere Workout - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hip mobility
2 muscle ups (felt good enough that I put them in a metcon for the first time ever)
Burgener clean warmup

Nasty girls

3 rounds:
    50 squats
    7 muscle ups (switched to jumping MUs after one round plus 2 reps & 5 failed reps)
    10 hang power cleans, 135#

Felt good to finally use muscle ups in a metcon. The 11 MUs are by far the most muscle ups I've done in one session. How it is I go from zero MUs one day to 11 the next escapes me entirely. I'll just keep working these and hope they don't go away again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The new program

Having completed the qualifiers, I've wondered what I should do next. They were motivational, and certainly, a part of me wanted to raise my firebreather quotient and hit more heavy metcons and see what kind of intensity I could generate on a day-to-day basis. However, the reality of the situation is that I'm lacking in some fundamentals that I think will have more long-term benefit to me than enhancing my ability to suffer more and longer. Certainly, long metcons remain a goat, but my olympic lifting technique and gymnastics skills need to be brought to the next level and I think focusing on them for a while will give me a more functional strength than anything else right now. It's summer, though. I can't be spending 4 or 5 days a week inside a gym while it's gorgeous out, so I decided I better program in some good outdoor activties - certainly flipping tires, dragging sleds, throwing tires, etc.; but also some LSD work, like trail runs, hikes with heavy packs, and biking.

The program is thus a compromise. I'll follow the current Catalyst Athletics strength cycle, which started back in April. However, I'll only do two or three workouts a week, so that I end up completing two weeks of the 10-week cycle each month. On my other two or three days per week, I'll play in the mountains, do those outdoor metcons and get in some much-needed gymnastics work.

I'm sure dragging a 10-week cycle out for five months is dreadfully wrong on some fundamental level, and at some point, I'll post the question to the CA forums, so Greg Everett, Steven Low, and company can tell me in excruiating detail exactly how I'm short-changing myself. However, my priority right now is to enjoy my workouts. They'll be hard - sometimes brutally so, but I got into CrossFit because I wanted to have more capacity for my outdoor pursuits, so I best enjoy the great outdoors while I have the luxury of living in a beautiful rural setting. I promise to bring my camera, when I do.

Now that the qualifiers are over, I'm not sure what form this blog will take or how often I'll update it, but for now, I'll post an abridged version of my most recent workouts, which with commentary will still make this an insanely long post, but until I come up with a better idea, this is still a workout blog, so...


June 3, 2009
Back squat 255x5, 265x5, 275x5
Press 115x4+f, 115x3+f, 110x5

Was quite pleased with how readily I got within 5# of my 5RM on the squat, but my press remains anemic. My 5RM is 121, so I'm not off by much. However, it's apparent that I need to continue to emphasize overhead work in my supplemental work.

June 4, 2009
Power clean 145x3, 155x2, 165x2, 175x2, 185, 195, 195f

Redid the 195, because my initial catch wasn't pretty. I had the bar plenty high on both reps, but I didn't drop myself into a proper quarter squat to catch it. Instead, I feebly tucked my tail between my legs to receive the bar. This was a problem at the qualifiers, too. Then, I blamed it on my lack of confidence in my quads, which had been thoroughly thrashed by the heavy thrusters, burpees, and rowing the previous day. However, I'm starting to think that I need to train my body to get accustomed to finishing both power cleans and push jerks in a 1/2 to 1/4 squat without dropping to the bottom of the squat. I could definitely lift a lot more weight, once I get that movement pattern down. Sounds like something to throw in my warmup using PVC.

June 10, 2009
Snatch 115x2x2
Snatch Pull 150x3x3
Snatch DL 150x3x3
Front squat 185x3x5

My first Cathletics WOD. Interesting working a bunch of exercises at submaximal loads. I've done mostly ME work for strength training, and while the individual sets were all done fairly comfortably, I could definitely feel the accumulated volume afterwards and can see how the program would develop strength.

June 11, 2009
Muscle snatch - 2 snatch balance couplet 95, 95, 115, 125, 135f, 135
OHS 140, 115x2x2
Power C&J 155, 155x2, 155

C2B Pullups 15x2

Worked up to a muscle snatch PR, after failing on my first attempt at that weight. This was a shoulder intensive workout and is something that will definitely help with overhead strength, perhaps in ways that diligently working the shoulder press with minimal progress might not (although having some fractional plates would probably help in that regard). Shoulders were too toasted to pull off the 30 TGU I had programmed, so I called it a night.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekends are supposed to be fun

It's summer - time to get my workouts in outdoors; time to throw things around the yard; time to head out to the mountains; time to play with tires and sleds. Sunday, it was the tires, and as much as it hurt, this was decidedly fun, and a good workout, too.

Hip mobility work
Good mornings, 45x10
10 ft2bar

Heavy stuff
Deadlift 135x5x2, 185x3, 225x2, 275x1, 305x1, 315x5

Needed to get used to lifting heavy again. It's been 7 weeks since I picked up over 300#, and I definitely needed that extra warmup set at 135# to get things working right. By the time I got to my work set, however, they felt solid. Looking forward to restarting linear progression on the DL.

3 rounds:

    6 tire flip and jump through
    200m run
    20 wall ball, 25# to 10 feet

Tire-flipping fun from Patrick Haskell on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The pressure is off

Seeing the final qualifier workout come up today for the last chance qualifiers gave me a nice feeling of "I'm glad it's not me." I actually am looking forward to tackling this workout again, but first I need to practice the oly lifting technique I learned at Greg Everett's seminar a few weeks back. I want that technique so engrained that some approximation of it remains my default mode of liting, even when I'm so far gassed that I can't count reps (like last Sunday).

So today, rather than trying to start rebuilding the metcon that I lost over the last couple of months, I decided nothing would be better than spending some serious time working on my snatch. I invited John Barney over, both to share what I learned and in hopes that the act of teaching would reinforce some of the lessons for myself. (I had planned to do this immediately after Greg's seminar, but my schedule screwed this idea up until I'd had time to forget much of what I had learned.) The drills, positions, and movement patterns, actually came back pretty quickly and the bar was moving well, even though I never loaded it up heavy.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shoulder mobility drills
Air squats
Lunges & sampson/psoas stretch
Boz OHS drill

Skill work
Burgener warmup elements, 15# - many times through
OHSs and snatch balance sequence, several times through at 15 & 45#
tall snatch 45x3
3-position hang snatch, 45x3x2

Snatch 75x3, 95x1x2, 125x1x2

Good speed on that last rep, but I wasn't feeling the heavy stuff today, so I moved on.

This workout has been sitting on my to-do list, ever since Byers posted it at CrossFit 603 - and not just because I'm a math geek or because BW-normalized squat workouts are in my wheelhouse and I just wanted to feel good about the first metcon in my new program. I think it's an interesting approach to build scaling explicitly into a WOD. It was also high time I had a good core-stability workout, since in my limited prep for the Qualifiers, I was mostly focusing on strength and power-endurance work.

OHS for a total of 20xBW - choose your weight

I did 74# x 47 @ BW 173


A similar CF603 WOD, 40xBW C&J made it's way into the Rocky Mountain Qualifiers (at the Qualifiers, it was done with fixed volumes of 7000#/5000#). For the Qualifiers, this sort of choose-your-weight workout is especially interesting, because to do well, you need to know your personal power curve (those weights at which you can most efficiently move weight with a movement). By choosing the optimal weight, you maximize your power output and thus the intensity of your workout (in the strict CrossFit definition of Intensity = Power).

This was rough. With the OHS, the focus is on core (and shoulder) stability, so maximizing the power output doesn't have the same cachet. I think I ended up picking a weight that maximized my speed on the workout, and the effort left me with a nice post-WOD headache. My right shoulder was starting to take a walk around the joint capsule on those last couple of reps. I was definitely at my limit finishing this workout in a single set, but next time I'll try it at 95# and maybe heavier again after that to see how well I can keep the overall intensity going when the intensity of each rep goes up. I expect it will be an entirely different workout that way.

Ring work
1:00 in a mature support
MU progressions
1 MU
4 STC to hollow hang & quit

My post-WOD headache came back with a vengeance when I was inverted, and I called it a day.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The perfect storm

It's hard to imagine worse prep for the qualifiers. Sometimes it felt like I was maintaining a decent level of conditioning with the workouts I was able to squeeze in around work, but the dramatic drop-off in workouts in May, while I fought to meet my May 22 deadline at work, led to a humbling performance at the Qualifiers. I suffer no illusion that I would have climbed up the leaderboards significantly. Those were some brutally hard workouts, but it would have been nice to go in at my best and see what I could do. Still, I learned a ton about my training, but more to the point, the entire weekend was an amazing experience. Did I mention that I got crushed out there?

I was super nervous when I arrived Saturday morning. I watched the women complete the thruster-burpee workout and was suprpised to see almost none of them trying to jerk the weight, despite a number of them struggling with the 95# thrusters. I went to the warmup area and practiced my thruster-jerk and was happy with how natural it felt and how comfortable the Rx'd 135# weight felt. As I said on Saturday, it felt pretty damn heavy after a while.

I was in the men's first heat, so while I had a chance to say hello to a couple of familiar faces, I hadn't caught up with half the people I knew there. It was therefore a pleasant surpise to hear folks cheering for me from the sidelines. It's funny how this sort of support works. In a pure metcon, like the row, I'd hear somebody yell, "Dig deep, Patrick. It's gonna hurt, but you can do it," and I'd dig deep and soldier on; but when I heard a coach shout "Get on the bar, Patrick," I could squat clean it fine, but if my shoulder muscles weren't ready to lock it out, all the encouragement in the world wouldn't help - at least not in terms of objective performance. It definitely helped me push through the pain and put aside the frustration of yet another failed rep. The funny part about this is that aside from the judges whose athletes didn't show who in front of me cheering me on and Sean Manseau ("Dammit" owner of Pioneer Valley CF), whose voice I recognized and focused on for cues, I had no idea who was cheering me on until I collapsed on my back in the shade by the edge of the cordoned-off workout area and looked up and saw Samantha Aurelio waving and the rest of the CF Tribe tribe standing there cheering me on. It was very cool to have such a supportive crew of virtual friends materialize to offer support when most needed.

After recovering from the pain, I spent the rest of that first workout cheering on people I knew - most often yelling as they stared at the ground before hitting their next burpee, "Rest on the bar," or "Lie down and stand up." I didn't need to shout this to Joe Celso, who upon finishing his last thruster would dump the bar, turn 90 degrees and just drop into his first burpee. His 7 rounds + 5 thrusters and 5 burpees won his heat. Particularly impressive was how he dug down for the last two thrusters as time was running down, after having been doing singles for several rounds, because he knew that if he dumped the bar, he'd never get in any burpees. That one double rep was good for 6 reps on his final score. It was also neat to watch a verteran of two CF Games, Dale Saran (CFHQ and formerly of CF Veritas in RI), pace himself - checking his watch after every round and patiently waiting to start-in again. Needless to say, he put up some solid numbers over the weekend.

The row was intense. It turned the competition on it's head. Some folks who were beasts of the barbells were humbled by those C2 contraptions. It was only 7 minute or so, but it was an every-placing counts format. With times clustering together as they inevitably did on such a simple workout, a loss of a second on the clock could mean a loss of five places in the standings. As a result, everybody had to dig for all they had. The format with the judges holding up color-coded cards as their athlete passed the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, and 1750m mark made the event a spectator favorite. Plus, because there was no heavy equipment flying about, everybody was able to crowd in and really make the competition rock.

I already described my experience in the row. I gave it everything, as the post-workout picture on yesterday's post will attest. (Thanks for catching me at my best, Samantha.) Maybe it's a case of Stockholm Syndrome, but after she mercilessly coached me through row, Erin Davidson is one of my favorite CF Trainers.
Inspired by her contribution to my suffering, I lent the same support to a few folks I'd met in my CF travels, usually emphasizing the long stroke when the suffering really kicked in during the 3rd 500, and positively screaming a stroke countdown for the last 200m. (It was quite odd being so enthusiastically thanked for screaming in someone's ear, but that's the kind of energy required to finish an erg test strong.) My voice is almost as thrashed as my quads, back, traps, and triceps right now.

After the row, there was a barbecue, which created a stunning contrast to the noise of competition. I walked into the Court Club lounge where maybe 50 folks had gone to eat and stay out of the rain (which thankfully lasted for all of 5 minutes), and people were so intent on stuffing their faces that you could have heard a pin drop. There was a live band that played off and on through the rowing workout and barbecue, which made for a fun atmosphere, although when they busted out Eye of the Tiger for the third or fourth time, I decided that the band didn't quite get CrossFitters. I'm just glad they didn't play Superstition when I was on the rowers, or I might have shimmied my ass right off the slider. Talk about messing with a sensible stroke rate.

Sunday's workout was the bomb. It blew up the competition and was an obvious test of work capacity. Heavy cleans and C2B is a lethal combination. I had thought they'd go better with running than KB swings, but as it was, it was brutal enough and I was thankful not to have to shuffle about the parking lot between trips to the barbell and pullup bar. For the first six heats, hardly any of the men finished, and I'm pretty sure that only 6 women finished at all. As a result, one woman jumped from 23rd overall to qualifying for Aromas. No worries about an inappropriately difficult workout, however. There's little question that the women who finished this workout were the fittest of the lot. The demands were incredibly high, but the workout was composed of fundamental CrossFit skills and those who got through this brutality will represent the Northeast well.

The men's heats started to get really exciting with three heats to go. In fact, by then, enough folks were finishing that it actually looked like a race, rather than a contest of survival, and that's when I knew the organizers had developed a winning workout. In Jason "Rhabdo" Kapan's heat, we witnessed another amazing display of pacing. Just about everybody hit the pullup bars at the same time in the round of 10, but Jason was still working his cleans patiently - clean, dump, set, clean, dump, reset. By the round of 8, he was in the lead - his beautifully efficient butterfly kip gaining him tons of time. However, even he couldn't maintain a butterfly kip throughout the workout, and he wasn't exactly enthusiastically running to get to the pullup bars at the end. (Of the ~180 competitors, only Lauren Erwin from CF Milford, who won this workout for the women and finished 2nd overall, managed to keep running from station to station at the end. The rest of us would move extra slow to whatever exercise it was that we most dreaded.) Jason set the time to beat, being the first to go under 12 minutes for this workout, and he was appropriately fired-up afterwards. His Guerilla Fitness crew was staying at my hotel and said that he was extremely but quietly disappointed in having what was for him a bad day Saturday. His comment after the workout was that he realized before going out there that all the pressure was off. He could just walk in there and do his workout, and he put in an awesome performance. (I think it was the third best time overall in the end.)

The finals of this event were insane. Judges were given cards to hold up as their athlete got to the rounds of 7, 5, 3, 2, and 1. As before, the fastest out of the gate in the rounds of 10 and 9 didn't take the day for either the women or the men.

As an aside, that first round was of the workout was crazy. They had constructed this pullup bar contraption, which when laden with 16 competitors agressively kipping at the same time, shook like crazy. There were a couple reps where my chest didn't hit the bar, not because I hadn't pulled high enough or hard enough, but because the bar I was pulling on had moved a couple of inches during my kip. My judge either had mercy on me or I came close enough that my shirt made contact. (He wasn't so merciful when I truly missed a rep.) I actually sped up my second round, so I could get on the pullup bars at a less popular time relative to the folks on my end of the contraption. (That strategy may have backfired a little.)

Sorry, back to the finals. The women's heat was neck-and-neck all the way among the top three overall finishers. By the time they were at the round of 7, Heather Keenan (CF New England) was in the lead, then Stacy Kroon (CF Boston) passed her, then Lauren came on in the later rounds. They all finished within ~30 seconds of one another and the emotion of the moment as they all completed the workout was truly inspiring. They were the top three going into the finals, and they each knew that their finish would send them to the Games.

The men's heat was harder to follow - only becase there were so many more guys who kept going strong into the middle rounds. Of the 15 in the final heat, only one didn't finish. The rest of them handled the weight and the C2Bs most capably. It was obvious that the earlier workouts had already selected an elite crew. As the round of 3 came around, it was clear that it was a race between James Hobart (CF Boston) and Brad Posnanski (displaced, I assume, from CF Invictus). They were within seconds of one another, but James's light weight on the pullups was the difference. His form never wavered on the cleans, so he was able to keep pace moving the heavy bar and stay just ahead of Brad. Brad, incidentally, is a complete beast. I watched him during the first workout, and he was doing strict burpees with a proper pushup, and still put up better than 9 rounds. He was tied for 1st going into the last round and ended up tied for points with James Hobart, who won on the tiebreaker, which was based on the final workout time. I was also thoroughly impressed with Dave Lipsom (CF Gotham), who came into the final workout in 1st place but was clearly suffering on the c2B pullups as the workout wore on. He fought through, however, finishing after most men in the final heat but finishing well enough to earn himself 4th place overall and a trip to Aromas.

The intensity these athletes mustered both in the arena and out-of-view doing their training was amazing. The effort put out by all the competitors, from those who tossed a 155# barbell around like it was a plaything to the woman who didn't have a kip and grinded-out deadhang C2B pullups in the final workout - literally spending minutes in isometric contraction trying to finish the last few inches of each rep, was truly inspiring. I made a bunch of new friends, connected with old ones, and have about a dozen affiliates that I now absolutely must visit. As poorly as my training ended up going leading into the event, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The truth hurts

A brutal Sunday workout. Going into my heat, only one guy had finished the WOD (Joe Celso - CF Rochester) and he was 12th overall going in and had to get his workout in early to attend a friend's wedding. (As an aside, Joe is a great trainer and his place is well worth a visit should you find yourself wondering what to do with your free time in Rochester.)

I went in pacing myself to finish the WOD within the 15-minute time-limit and things were going well. The C2B pullups were flowing (which doesn't always happen) and the cleans were heavy, but manageable. However, I started gassing late in the 8th round. I didn't slow down too much. I'm pretty sure I was leading my heat when I was in the 7th round, but I couldn't hold my pace. That itself wasn't so bad, but as I tired, my form went to shit on the cleans. I started muscling them and catching them with my ass tucked under, rather than dropping down into a deeper squat. My legs were still toasted from yesterday, and I didn't trust them to lift the weight or catch it. (BTW, my 20-minute foam-rolling session this morning was every bit the equal of the workouts for depth of pain.) Before long, my back was smoked, and in the round of 5 (which I reached with 2.5 minutes left), I just started failing miserably on the cleans. I must have pulled 9, but only 4 of them were good. I was cooked through.

I knew that my training wasn't up-to-snuff. I just didn't expect to be let down so suddenly and harshly - being simply unable to move the bar sufficiently to keep trudging on. I wasn't so suprised by it yesterday, since I've always been weak overhead, but today's Epic Failure blindsided me (in the way it happened - it was no secret that I haven't been training properly lately).

It's a truism. You can't expect to bring it all on game-day, if you don't bring it every day in practice, and I sure as hell haven't practiced much lately. Looking back on my log, I worked out only 4 days in May leading up to the Qualifiers and in all have had more off-days than on-days in 2009. Training was decent in January and especially in early February, averaging 2 days on for 1 day off (a schedule that was probably close to ideal when I was managing the CFSB volume). Work changed that. At least it the final presentation was the day before the Qualifiers - ideal timing to use my Qualifiers experience as motivation for my training.

I'm quite excited about starting up again - not because I've seen my weaknesses and need to attack them. I knew my goats (metcons greater than 10 minutes and overhead lifting, for example) but simply stopped training enought to tame them. I'm excited because now I can train for Nothing in Particular. I can focus on the fun stuff - oly lifting; gymnastics; backyard tire-flipping, object-throwing, crawling, jumping, rsled-dragging craziness; and even some LSD on the mountain bike or the hiking trails around here.

I swear I'll write-up the qualifiers properly tomorrow.


Oh yeah, the workout.


    155# power clean
    C2B pullups
    1.5-pood KB swings
Completed rounds of 10 through 6 and got 4 out of 5 cleans within 15 minute time limit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The moment of truth

I may not have trained the hardest this past month, but I came to the Qualifiers fresh. Being in the first men's heat, I got a quick reintroduction to what CrossFit is all about.

12 minutes of:
    5 Thrusters, 135#
    10 Burpees
I don't know if it was not being ready for this or the combination of burpees and thrusters, but I only manged 5 rounds. I must have missed a half-dozen reps - not fouls, simply being unable to lock it out, starting in the third round. Every rep was a push jerk, and every pull was a squat clean. I was as efficient as I knew how to be and kept moving on the burpees, in no small part because I was so well rested after standing around staring at the bar for so long. I thought for sure I'd be DFL in my heat. I simply could not get those thrusters going. Most heats were won in 8 to 9 rounds. Top score was 10 plus a thruster, better than twice my output (unless you count those last three almost thrusters).

After the expectation the first ugly workout, having the row, a comfortably known workout (if not a strength) was actually a relief. After screaming some friends through the thruster-burpee workout, I settled down and took a 5-minute nap, which really helped me reset.

The atmosphere of this workout was amazing. The rowers all had coxswain/coaches urging them on, and the judge's job was simply to hold up a color-coded card when each rower got to 1500k, 1000, 500, and 250m to go. Jason Ackerman was running around with a microphone calling out the leaders distance in even finer detail. The spectators kept creeping closer and closer, shouting encouragement, and despite the open-air arena, it felt like a crowded stadium.

After watching Melissa Mulligan, whom I met at my cert, win the first heat with her boyfriend cheering her on, I decided maybe it would be best if I found a coxswain of my own. I recruited Erin Davidson of CF Tribe & Center City, who had just finished telling me about this rowing class they've been going to down there. She got me on the rower quickly, glad to see my form had improved since I posted a video to the Digital Coaching forum on the Message Boards. She also had me try the strategy that they'd been working, start hard for 10 pulls, settle in, and go hard (long, fast pulls) every 500m for 10 pulls. I figured, what the hell, it sounds better thought out than setting a pace and seeing what I had in the tank at the end.

First, I have to say that Erin is an awesome coach. It was obvious from the Message Boards that she knows her shit, but she also had the sharp eyes and toughness to not let me get away with a single short pull or loss of form by letting my chest cave and back soften. The hard (fast, long) pull worked like a charm after the first 500m, but the one at 1000m cost me pace afterwards. It wasn't until after the hard pull at 1500, where the end was in sight that I was able to get my pace back properly, and then I bombed the last 200m. I was really glad to be able to dig down and crank the pace for those last 20 pulls. Despite the morning thrusters and burpees, I managed a good time. (I thought it was a PR, but apparently I was in pretty good shape in February and pulled an even better post-workout time.)

2000K Row 7:25.5

Much more to talk about. It's a spectacular experience, but it's time to crash. Tomorrow:


    155# power clean
    C2B pullups
    1.5-pood KB swings
The kicker: there's a 15-minute cap. If I finish that puppy, I'll be beside-myself thrilled.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Overtraining and under-recovery, Part 4 - A little physiology

This post will be the last and was by far the hardest of the series. I starting it in late March, after missing a full week of training because I'd been working too hard. I had the kids to myself for a long weekend, worked until late in the evening several days, and spent 3 days out-of-town. I had my travel kit of adjustable dumbbells, rings, and a jump rope, but the thought of squeezing a 30-minute workout in around my work commitments never quite gained traction. As I watched my carefully planned programming fall to pieces, I kept berating myself for falling off the fitness wagon, but the two times I came close to motivating myself to get in a workout, I realized that I was severely under-recovered, short on both sleep and good food. Whether my decisions that resulted in me missing an entire week of training were the right choices in each case, I don't know. However, I decided at the time that getting enough rest was more important to my fitness than getting in a workout.

I previously discussed
the difference between overtraining and underrecovery, but physiologically they are often identical phenomena. Training produces an adrenal response, where our bodies enter flight-or-fight mode in response to the release of hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol (hydrocortisone), and norpinephrine. In the short term, this has lots of helpful effects, like increased alertness, improved glucose and fat metabolism, reduced inflammatory response and pain sensitivity, even improved memory. In stress situations, our bodies respond hormonally to boost our metabolism to enable us to adapt to the stressor. This response is similar whether we're dealing with mental stress from moving, loss of a job, or our wedding or with a physical stress, like a 10K run, short-intense workout, or an olympic lifting meet. The stress response is good. It improves performance in the face of the stressor. However, when the stress levels remain elevated, the body's response to the stress changes. We can't remain in a heightened metabolic state all the time. The effects of overtaining and chronic stress begin to appear: fatigue, increased inflammation, lowered metabolism, and a weakened immune system. (Note how these effects are the opposite of those produced by adrenal homones in the short-term. It's almost like a low-level adrenal fatigue, or more likely a reduced sensitivity to the hormones (because elevated cortisol and ephinephrine levels are associated with overtraining). I'm also craving carbs more than usual - probably because my body gets used to the elevated glucose levels that correspond to states of stress.

As I balance training and my insane project at work, I've been hyperconscious of the potential for being underrecovered from one or the other. I simply can't afford a few days off to illness, and I have no desire to injure myself in advance of the Qualifiers. When I got his project I knew the two events, this project and Qualifiers would be adding stress to my life in parallel. There's a beautiful symmetry to them - the final presentation for my project is the day before the Qualifiers. (For my next trick, I will attempt to avoid a letdown after these two events.)

In coping with this fine conjunction of events, I'm pretty sure I'm erring on the side of undertraining. I've dialed back the intensity, not in the gym so much as the way in which I drive myself to workout. If I feel fatigued, I don't push it. Instead, I make an effort to eat well and plenty and get my sleep. To date, my performance hasn't suffered much. I may not be peaking for the Games, but I won't be a mess either (at least not until halfway through the first workout).


I've been skipping out on the posting of workouts lately. I haven't been working out much, but I figure time spent doing that is better than typing away at the computer. (Remember, I started this post in March.) It two Saturday's ago that I ran a 5K. I got a mediocre time.

May 2, 2009

Run 5K - 25:12

The noteworthy thing in this was how messed up my legs felt during and afterwards. Since I have colitis, my immune system can get me jacked up when under stress. Aside from the ordinary symptoms of blood loss, I can get an awful athritic response. This run was one of those days. I pushed through OK, but my left knee hurt like hell afterwards. Some of it was IT-band related, so foam rolling helped. I'll just have to hope we don't hit a long run at the Qualifiers. I'm no good at them anyways.


May 6, 2009

10 C2B pullups
10 ring dips
Burgener warmup and snatch skill transfer exercises
Shoulder triplet
Boz OHS drill

Skill work
3 position: hang snatch-OHS couplet 45x3
Snatch 75x3x2, 95x3, 115x1x2

Snatching Fran - Mid-Atlantic Qualifier WOD

    95# (squat) snatch
    C2B pullups

Didn't push this, as my shoulder was unhappy during warmup, but it felt better as I went along and I sped this up in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.


May 9 & 10, 2009

Attended Greg Everett's Olympic seminar. This will get it's own detailed write-up, because it's more deserving than anything else I've thrown up here. Saturday we worked the snatch, and Sunday we worked the clean & jerk. Set PRs in the snatch and clean, but was too spent to try to set a jerk PR.

Heavy stuff
Snatch 165#
Clean 225#
Clean & Jerk 185#


May 13, 2009

25 DB swings, 35#
10 C2B pullups
10 ring dips
Hip mobility drills
Deadlift up to 250#

3 rounds:
    10 Deadlift, 250#
    15 C2B pullups
    30 squats

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's called training

There's a tendency in CrossFit to make everything about competition. I'm not talking about the Games. That is a competition. I'm talking about the WOD, whether it's MainPage, an affiliate WOD, or your own programming you're following. People follow the MainPage to compete against everyone else on the same day. On the message boards, challenges go up to compare times in a metcon taken from someone's log. In our own training, we break out our favorite workouts and try to bust them out in a few seconds less than the last time we did them; we chase new 1RMs more often than we should; or we tackle some obscene workout from a MainPage video or the Qualifiers to see where we stack up. There's nothing wrong with this by itself. As Coach says, "Men will die for points," and so the competition provides valuable motivation to push through the pain that accompanies most CF workouts - to generate the intensity needed to get the most out of our training.

The problem comes when the daily competition takes the place of intelligent training. Last fall, I took this to the Stupid Zone. Last fall, I got in a contest with some folks on the message boards to see who could first get 10 consecutive muscle ups. I got stuck at three before my efforts to Grease the Groove led to some unpleasant elbow problems. Somebody else developed their own arm problem. We called the contest off, and as far as I know, none of us has made it to 10 still.

Lately, I've been doing workouts from the Games and Qualifiers, to train the kinds of heavy metcons I'm likely to face, but also to see how prepared I am - how I stack up against top competition. When I stepped into CF Central CT tonight and saw that they had max deadlifts programmed, I had a notion to try the brutal Sunday WOD from the Great Basin Qualifiers. However, after warming up with 155# cleans, common sense got the best of me. It didn't make sense to tackle another workout that would leave me staring at the bar wondering when I'd be able to complete my next rep. I needed an intense metcon, so I decided to cut the workout in half.

The decision paid off. I pushed to my limit. I had a couple failed reps on the cleans and C2Bs; I fought off room spins for a moment during each round; and I ended up lying on the ground for a couple minutes waiting for the pain to stop. Post-WOD bliss wouldn't come for a while, but I felt great about this (even if I wouldn't have been competitive).


Shoulder triplet
Dynamic mobility drills
Mountain climber burpees, 5x5
Burgener w/u
15 C2B pullups

Power clean/clean couplets 95, 135, 155x4


1,000m row
3 rounds:
    5 cleans, 155#
    10 C2B pullups
    15 box jumps, 30"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday felt so lousy that I figured I should hit a day reminiscent of the CFSB program and see if I didn't fall back in the working mode, instead of the whining mode. I did declare "CF Sucks" again after round 1 of the metcon, but I kept after it. It wasn't a goat fest, but aside from the short time domain, I wasn't exactly playing to my strengths. Felt good to go hard and heavy. Now, to do it again tomorrow.


Wind sprints
Air squats
Sampson stretches
Shoulder mobility drills

Heavy stuff
Bench press 45x5, 95x5, 135x3, 165x2, 185x3, 195x3, 205x3, 210x2

Got a new 3RM and 2RM in there despite not working bench since Fall. Gotta love how strength transfers from one movement to another.

Box jumps for height

Got 37 inches pretty readily, but the next jump was to 47 inches, and there's no way that was happening. Did a few horizontal tire-to-tire jumps too. Good fun, but not exactly a workout. Here's photo sequence of John hitting the 37-inch jump.

Deadlift 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 265x2, 275x1

5 rounds:
    5 Deadlift, 275#
    10 Burpees

Nice cycling of burpees. I have a lousy habit of landing from the jump and then dropping into the bottom of the squat. Today that only happened two or three times, and that made for a halfway decent time on this WOD - despite me stopping to valsava with every DL rep.

Here's hoping I can get in a workout tomorrow and build on this momentum.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I've lost my edge

It was only a matter of time before my 2-on, 2-off, 1-on, 2-off schedule caught up to me. Today, I lacked not only the strength and endurance but the mental strength to push through. I had a workout that aside from the usual suffering would have been good fun, but not today. Today I couldn't muster the intensity, and I spent far too much time looking at the weights. It was all I could do to hobble down the road without walking. Today, I was hating CrossFit, and CrossFit was hating on me. I'll have to give this one a go some other time. It's a good combination of movements. It deserves a shot on a day that I actually feel like moving.


Hip mobility drills
Burgener warmup
Bear complex 45x3, 95x2, 115x1


3 rounds:
    400m run
    Dimishing reps (9-6-3) of:
    • 115# bear complex
    • Tire flip and jump through

That was ugly. It hurt plenty, but that may just be indicative of bad tire-flipping form. I'm guessing I never bore down and flattened my back, given my lack of focus. That only served to slow the runs down, too. Feh.

At least tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exposing my own weaknesses

Took a little detour on the way home from CT yesterday to catch up with Sean Manseau at Pioneer Valley CrossFit. He had already done Jason (a total of 50 muscle ups and 250 squats) in the morning, but he was still ready for a late-night workout. Sean is a great coach and a really interesting guy - a former graphic artist, writer, and now affiliate owner. We were on the same page regarding tackling a qualifier WOD. He had in mind the Great Basin Sunday workout but I had no interest in box jumps because my calves have been locked up tight since skiing Sunday, so instead, we tackled the second European qualifier workout.


Shoulder mobility work
Kipping pullups and 5 bar muscle-ups

(Sean's sweet pullup bars gave me a chance to try these for the first time. Way easier than ring muscle ups if you've got a big kip. Take home message: I need more deadhangs.)

Burgener warmup
Tall cleans
C&Js up to 135#


    C&J, 135#
DNF - got through the last set of cleans in 19:50

So simple on paper, but this was awful. Even concentrating on form on the jerks (to the extent I'm able to execute well), the HSPUs were brutal - way, way harder than the 21-15-9 in Diane. They took Forever. By the end of the second set, I was teaching myself how to kip them and got pretty decent with it - a skill I'll put to use at the Qualifiers, if necessary, but not something I ever intended to learn. It's kind of stupid, really. Talk about non-functional. At the end, I was perfectly happy to accept a DNF rather than wasting time doing 9 more kipping HSPUs.

I don't relish the idea of doing HSPUs at the Qualifiers. Therefore, once I recover from this effort (my traps are killing me), I'll be greasing the groove on HPSUs - sets of 5 or less whenever I get the chance. (I wonder if there's somewhere at work I can do this without them deciding that I need to be laid-off for my mental health?)

Sean finished this workout ahead of me, having the sense to scale and do strict form using bands - what I tried to do in the last round with Zero success. (I couldn't budge myself). As a result, I got some helpful coaching in my last round. The highlight of the workout was when Sean told me to think of the Third Law of Newtonian Mechanics right as I was about to attempt my last rep. I decided I better stick with the previous cue about pushing myself under the bar. We had a good laugh over that one later, but he did bring up a good point. I had spent so much time working my form on the simpler push press that I've gotten out of practice with the jerk. No worries there, really. It's already at the top of my list for exercises to incorporate into my workouts over the next few weeks, and it's a skill that I know I've got in the bag of tricks somewhere.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Snow day

With the family out of town for the week, I decided to get in a ski day before it was too late. Drove up to Stowe to enjoy their closing day. It was an absolutely perfect day in the mountains. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and temperature hovered in the 40s all day - enough to soften the snow, but not so much to turn everything to slush. Mixing runs through the soft bumps, with high-speed cruisers, and adventure runs through the trees (where the late-season conditions left a few more rocks, stumps, and streams kept things interesting), I got in a little of everything out there. The quads started to go, but I figured I was skipping a CF WOD for this, so I kept pushing through to the end of the day. Finished up with a nice tailgate party until the sun went behind the mountain. A fine day. I owe you all some pictures on this blog, but the camera went with the kids for the week. (They're a lot cuter than me.)

16,000 vertical feet in 5 hours
3 beers and one t-bone steak in the parking lot