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MattiueThe past weekend was one of the most interesting, tough and rewarding weekends I have had in a while. I had been contemplating a few months ago if I should take the Level 1 Crossfit Trainers Certification and finally decided to spend the $$ and do it.
It was a wise decision and luckily the timeframe the course in Toronto was at a perfect time for me to do two things; get away from Saint John for a mini vacation and learn something from people that would provide a different eye to how I move what to imprve or work on to move forward.
Let me say this first, my coaches are top notch as I did not have to worry about being the person in class who had poor form, range of motion, or lack of basic skills. There were some small fixes I had to do, such as move my feet a bit wider and where to position my head on some movements but for the most part my box coaches have taught me well and for that I am extremely grateful. I was worried abut how I would move compared to most of the others, who I thought would be and confirmed when I arrived 25-35 years my junior.
The weekend was a blast, I was surprised to have Austin Malleolo, a top ranked Crossfitter, as one of the trainers. He is solidly put together in a small package and has a great sense of humour as well. We had great instructors for the weekend, Paul MacDonald, Denise Thomas, Mat Dubreucq, Kevin Ailliaud, James Hobart, and Keith Wittenstein who provided everyone with great information and were very good in presenting it without anyone feeling left out. The teaching sessions were well run and as the have done this many times kept it all moving along with military precision.
I found Keith’s tips for myself were most helpful in my moving forward with progression pullups and muscle ups as someone who has been challenged due to shoulder and weight issues. In his 10 years of experience I am sure he has seen enough people like me to provide coaching that resonates with them. Denise was helpful in providing knowledge in nutrition and made me think that I should investigate the Zone Diet which is what CF states in much better for their athletes than the Paleo Diet.
James was the main spokesperson for the group and did a masterful job in doing the intros, greetings before starting the day or after lunch and set the agenda for what to expect. The other intructors rotated for each movement amongst the groups so you had a chance to evaluate each one and they had the same chance to do so on us.
I learned a lot during the two days and would recommend that everyone should consider taking this course if you are wanting to take Crossfit seriously. These two days provided me with a much needed confidence boost as well. During the workouts that were provided I was not the last one done told when I did things correctly.
Crossfit has and is a great community that should be adopted by any other sports to get people interested in thinking about development instead of the dollars that can be made for a child “IF” they make it in their sport. Crossfit does not want the ego to become involved as poor decisions will be made when ego gets in the way of common sense.
I will describe the adventure home another time as that was a WOD in itself

Three years!! That’s right, three years ago I entered my first Crossfit Games Open and every year like most people I have great expectations that I will make it into the top 100 for my age group. Some have loftier expectations however most people after doing workout number one just want to survive and not be the last person on the leaderboard.
There is no shame in being last on the board, you at least entered and finished. If CF has over 1 million members worldwide and only 200K have entered then you have beat 800K other people who just need the confidence that it does not matter where you finish. My reason for entering is to measure myself against people my own age as at my box I am the second oldest person and between John and myself, we have no one to compare against except people who are at least 15 years younger than us. We get smoked when there are speed workouts and most time we use the same weights as them. Don’t get me wrong it makes us both feel good when we beat them.

This years open for me was a baseline for me to measure against as I wanted to improve my range of motion, get body parts healed that needed it and improve my nutrition. I have spent time getting certifications, getting books and journals to better understand how the body works. In the last 3 months I have spent many hours managing my mobility, fixing up muscles that have been injured, and working on different skills. In another few months I should be in good enough shape to start the next step, working on improving strength.

I will have to wait for Wednesday to see what my final placing will be and then I can sit back and watch the pro’s go at it in the coming months. Next month I will be attempting my level one certification to better understand what is required for crossfit movements and then the following month it is the Kettlebell Certification. Should be lots of fun.

BTW – how did any of you do?

The Crossfit Games Open workouts are not even completed and I am looking forward to next years events. The reason is I have goals, not wishes, for improvement at this sport. Goals are what is going to keep me on track with my progress not wishing I could do it.
My plan started late in 2013 was to get more mobility and range of motion. Other than the usual stuff we did at the box for mobility I had nothing else to go with and basically asked lots of questions on what I needed to do. The owners directed me to the Mobility WOD site and I took it from there.
I got the chiro to get the big things fixed and give me a check-up every now and then when all the bugs came back. This all brought positive change to my posture and even with my focus on ROM and mobility I did not lose that much strength, maintaining around 90%-95% without doing too much heavy weights so I could heal. This was when I made a connection that ROM, mobility and technique have a greater influence on my ability than just trying to lift heavy.

I have no real goals for this year’s open other than to have a score for all the workouts that are posted and have them as my benchmark for 2015. I have incorporated running and pool work to give a change of pace to constantly being at the box. Included in these are now scheduled rest/mobility days a much overlooked part of a workout. If you have to ask why, you have not got it yet.
The next part of this plan was the diet I have and how that needed to change to facilitate my goal. I need to lose 25-30 pounds for this plan to work. I am too heavy for the bodyweight workouts, I get a good sweat going but I move like a walrus on land. I have bought a freezer and have started prepping and measuring food quantities while reducing the amount of bad carbs I take in. Bread is my weakness and I must find a Paleo/Low carb version to have on hand for those weak moments and finally the last and key part of any loss of weight attempt is the drinking of water. I have failed miserably at this for the simple fact I do not like water in bottles. The water at my house is fantastically clear and clean as it is from a well and I could drink that all day unfortunately I have to work and city water sucks.
I will give the tale fo the tape as of March 24th – weight 219, BP 128/81, resting HR at 56 and sitting in 806th place out of 1016 competitors in the Mens Masters 55-59 dvision and while writing this I have managed to sip almost 500ml of water. It’s a start!
Have fun, enjoy life and good luck to all the competitors who are excellent, good and normal.

It’s always nice to revisit the past and while most people pull out old pictures and the like, most Crossfitters do workouts from the past.
Today was one of those days and as per the usual ritual at our box before the official Open workouts we have one day per week that we do last years workouts. This year it is every Friday for the next 5 weeks, last year it was on a Wednesday.
13.1 for those who don’t know, don’t remember or care to remember was a 17 minute couplet of burpees and snatches.
40 burpees to a 6″ target above your hands when your arms are over head, then 30 snatches(75/45/45), 30 burpees, 30 snatches(135/75/75), 20 burpees, 30 snatches(165/100/75), 10 burpees and finally as many reps as possible of snatches(210/120/120) – the numbers in brackets indicating the weights for men, women and masters men divisions(which is my division) and your score is the total number of reps you complete. Last year my score was 139.
I did not know how I would do this time around. I had slept in, 2 hours longer than usual, and almost was late for work, did not have my usual breakfast, thank goodness for the magic bullet I have in my desk at work and was able to whip up something healthy to scarf down before 10am. Thinking about the workout I thought of how I did last year and where I could have possibly made up some reps and had a plan.

The plan – “Don’t go out fast as I suck at burpees and that will kill me and don’t waste time on the light weight snatches.”

It worked! I may have been the last finishing the burpees but I finished the snatches second(another member beat me by a few reps). I did the first round of snatches in set of 15, 10, and 5, then back at the burpees. By the time it was over I had completed the 20 burpees and was changing the weights to 100lb when the 17 minute cap was reached. Total score was 150 beating my last one by 11 reps.

Maybe I am finally realizing what I have to do to improve, which is mobilize, and take “REAL” active rest days that focus on skills and technique. I have had a number of setbacks in 2013, have not worked on any real aerobic type stuff and I still beat my score from last year. I have changed only 2 things, diet and mobilization, nothing else and yet I beat my score from last year. Can you tell I am ecstatic with this improvement! This bodes well for me in the future and now I have to stick to the plan. Next week will be 13.2 and that one was a triplet of shoulder to overhead, deadlifts and box jumps.

Let see how that blast from the past works out.
Now I have to figure out this weight loss part maybe the diet part will start working in a few more weeks.

Remember to stick to the plan.

I found this out the hard way. It was not until I started to think on how I got to where I am today. I did the small things to improve, it was not like all of a sudden I was able to deadlift 300+ pounds. I did it through small incremental steps working on the small details, foot position, grip, body position, back straight, lift shoulders first, etc. I was barely able to lift 140lbs without my back bending when I started three years back.
Thinking back to those days I also started to think on how to improve myself by the time I turn 60. I want to be able to, no need to do toes to bar, pullups, thrusters, burpees, and all the basic movements required to do well in the Crossfit Games Open competition.
I found out today that I still suck at thrusters and have not attempted toes to bar in over 6 months because I feared what it would do to my healing shoulder. That does not bode well for me at this years Open events, however I am not concerned as I have written off doing well this year. I am now focused on small things to improve my abilities. I have started mobility work and figured out I must include some volume work on mobility days.
This means I need to do more reps at moderate weight and build up the speed of the reps as that is what counts when one competes during the Open phase of the Crossfit Games. More reps equates to higher placement in the standings. You can be the strongest person in the world but if you cannot do lots of reps, literally you are fucked as this is to fnd the fittest not the strongest – they have a competition for those individuals.
Now it looks like 75 and 95 pounds are going to be my friends for the next little while and once they get comfortable, add some weight and do it all over again.
Yuppers it is going to be a fun year.

Last year I wanted to do many things with my health. Some things I accomplished others I did not. Was I successful, well that depends.

The year threw some interesting curves at me and I believe I adapted to them quite well. This year will be different! I have set no goals for the year and have set more long term plans. While I am striving to get better each time I go to workout. I will be going to incremently improve instead of trying for the big gain. I know I have the ability to “lift big” however this does me no good if I am constantly getting injured and .have to start the process all over again.

I needed to be more intelligent on my programming. Why was I getting injured? Why was I sore more often then when I started? I had to review what I did when I started and that was more basic training and work on my mobility. When I started I could not squat to proper depth, lift anything with weight without having my back bent and list went on. Improve came when I did those simple things, so why was I complicating things?

Lately I have focused mobility and the changes in how I feel have been great. Shoulder and knees pain have decreased to managable levels and somehow the PRs have started to increase.

The plan for this year is for a gradual increase and to work some skills that I lack to move up in the standings in the Crossfit Open. I have not finished in the top half of the my age group since the first Open and that was due to the small field. I expect this year that there will be close to 2000 competitors just in my age group (55-59). This years Open will start February 27 and run the usual 5 weeks.

Should be fun and good luck to all the people who enter and compete!

Starting with a plan

Last post I said I was starting over and I really meant it. To do that I had to come up with a plan, timeline, goal chart, whatever you want to call it but there had t be some sort of regimen that I needed to follow.
First part was to change the food intake. This is going to be the hardest part of the regimen as I love to cook and I love food, not that I am a glutton or anything like that but I enjoy various types of food; French, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Burmese, Latin American, and can cook them as well.
to change this I needed to incorporate more veggies into the diet and cut down the portions of meat and fish. my solution to this was a Vitamix Blender. This thing pulverizes anything that you place in it and makes getting the veggies easy as I just have a veggie smoothie. No peeling, no seeding, just cut into chunks and feed the thing add some flavourings such as honey, ginger lemon or herbs and presto it tastes pretty damn good. I do this now for 4 breakfasts and for all my lunches then have a regular dinner add two snacks during the day of some fruit and fiber and it has made me lose a couple of pounds a week. This is a much more controlled weight loss and fits right in with the timeline I set of 3 years.
The second part of the plan is to increase the mobility and ROM. I mentioned this last time and have stayed to it. Results are starting to show as my right shoulder is not hurting as much and when I raise my arm, it is actually getting almost equal to where my ear is pain free. Knees, hip flexors, hamstrings and ankles re going to take more time as I feel like a rust bucket when I do anything involving them.
The third part is going to be the challenge as I need to find a way to get in an increase in the volume of work needed to improve my work capacity. Right now it is not a big issue as working on the first two is the priority. Then with progress in those two areas I can really start looking at how to make changes in my work and personal schedule to make that happen.

What can I say, nothing has been going well this year. Injuries, therapy, job changes, etc., I am sure that most people who exercise and have a normal 9-5 job have times when they go through a period of crap. 2013 has not been very lucky for me, except that I am still moving and have a paycheck.
Something needs to change before it gets crazy and since I like what I do at work, maybe I need to refresh my goals at the gym.
I need to get back to what I did that got me to where I am today. Much healthier, better focus mentally, stronger and generally feeling much better even if I did say I had injuries and have to go to get massages and physio.
When I started Crossfitting I could not do a proper squat or most other movements for that matter. Over time I have gotten better and even if I can do something well I try to raise the bar, no pun intended. The way I did that was going through all the fundamentals slowly and properly while taking days off to improve my Range of Motion(ROM) or find a way to mobilize long unused muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
It seems that as I progressed I forgot (or really talked myself into thinking I did not need to anymore) to continue that and lo and behold injuries starting popping up more frequently setting me back or getting me down mentally.
A couple of weeks ago I started thinking about how I got to be where I am, it was due to me not losing sight of the goal I started with, to get in shape. Being the oldest at the gym and trying to keep up with the young guns and gals and sometime doing so made me think I was better than I really was. I pushed and was not as attentive to technique as I should have been and as they say went outside my pay grade. This lead to injuries and set backs.
I have now cut back on the trying to max out what I can do and start at the beginning, lift light and work on my technique until I get it correct then add to it. I also need to make sure I take days off and work on mobility and ROM, November 18th I started the change, it has seen results as I seem to have lessened the pain in the shoulder and I now move a bit quicker.
The plan originally when I started writing this blog was to get to Masters Division of the Crossfit Games. Now I have change to a more realistic and attainable goal of being in the top 100 by the time I am 60. If all goes well who knows as more and more people sign up each year being it the top 100 will be quite a feat.
What’s next? Who knows but the diet has to change. Being 222 pounds is not good for Crossfit as bulk means slow and too light means less strength. Next steps will be to check progress on January 1.

Maritime Mayhem

The previous posting stated I needed to go back the basics. I did not exlain why exactly I came to that conclusion or the reason why I need to. This revelation came when I entered a small competition on Saturday Nov 2nd held out our box called “Maritime Mayhem”.

There were three divisions that one could enter, Rx’d(prescribed), Scaled/Recreational, or Masters. I entered the Masters division and soon found out that I was the oldest competitor in the entire field of 127 athletes, plus I was judging eight different heats during the day.

I had not entered any competition involving weights in over a year other than the Tough Mudder, Mud Hero race and two Five Mile runs so I knew that it would be a rather rough day but one that I could handle,  or so I thought.

First event of the day and I was in the first heat. A lovely triplet 10 minute AMRAP of 10 Hand Release Pushups, 10 Kettlebell Swings 55lbs, and 10 Goblet Backward Lunges with same 55lbs. With my shoulder issues of the past 8 eight weeks and knees just getting over the Tough Mudder I figured that I would die on the back lunges and that was pretty much the case. My swelling knees took two days to recover, while the shoulder took only a day. The second event was 24 Burpees, followed by 10 Deadlifts, 10 Hang Cleans, and finally 10 Shoulder to Overhead all at 115 pounds. This brought me to the hurried and correct conclusion that I need to rethink what I needed to do to improve when the Crossfit Games Open arrives in February-March. 

I did okay in the first Games Open that I entered and slightly bettered myself the next year before an injury took me out of the gym for almost three months. I have slowly come back and relunctantly decided to enter this competition as it was at our location and I needed to know how I would hold up when there was competition. The answer was clear at this point, “I sucked” I know I could do better and truth be told I did better than some as I, at least, entered. Others did not because they did not train, had nagging injuries, ect., but that is not the point of entering for me. It is the fact that I get to judge where I am in my training, where my weak points are, and how my mental attitude is when I reached that point of pain/exhaustion. I got lots of answers and with my chiropractor looking on as an observer he noticed some things that said we are working on the wrong part of my body. The problem is not your shoulder it is your core being weak and making your shoulder work incorrectly.

So it is back to the basics and start working the core every second day at the gym while working with light weights to start and build back the strength that I had late last year. Patience is the key along with sticking to a plan instead of bouncing around like a bee searching for nectar. 

This is not going to be easy…     

Time to get back to basics

Unbelievable, last post was in August. A lot has happened since then. Completed a Tough Mudder lost some toenails in the process and got pretty banged up. Shoulder issues have continued but I have continued with going to the gym. This past Saturday competed in an event at our gym and realized how much I have gone backwards with all these nagging injuries.
With all this I have decided I need to go back to basics, work on the core, stamina and lower the weights to concentrate on form. It is 5-6 months until the Crossfit Games Open competition and if done correctly I should be on track to make some improvement from last year.
Stay tuned.

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