Saturday, July 30, 2011

Certifiably Sore

Today's Workout @ CrossFit Markham
Accumulate 3 min of L-sits on rings


20 min AMRAP
20 Box Jumps
100 ft Overhead Barbell Walk (135 lbs - Rx)
20 KB Swings (72 lbs - Rx: 55 lbs)
Walk back (with barbell overhead)
(Rounds: 2 ... kinda - 20 min ended right after my KB swings)
  • Very low score - would normally choose lighter weights, however, strength is a weakness of mine.
  • In much pain from ... everything (Angie, Muscle-Up attempts, etc.)
  • Going to enjoy my rest day tomorrow =) Lots of stretching and protein :D
  • 3 more days to my first muscle-up!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Muscle-Up: 4 More Days!

If you look carefully, you can see the remnants of my first skin tear from muscle-up attempts. The area was quite sensitive, but it is healing well.

My friend (Ben) gets back this Tuesday. Tuesday's 9am CrossFit class is my deadline for executing the muscle-up (on rings - I'll work on the bar muscle-up later).

As another friend (Satwick) used to say: LetzGo!


Today's Workout @ CrossFit Markham
100 Pull-Ups
100 Push-Ups
100 Sit-Ups
100 Squats
(Time: 39:50)
  • Super slow on pull-ups and push-ups. Need to work on upper body strength
  • Arms are jellylike. Body is guaranteed to be in pain.
  • Took ice shower and protein (Vega Sport) to help with recovery

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Own'd by Today's Workout

Today's Workout
1 Round for Time:
50 Box Jumps (24")
50 Jumping Pull-Ups
50 KB Swings (35 lbs)
50 Walking Lunges (25 each leg)
50 Knees to Elbows
50 Push Press (45 lbs)
50 Sit Ups
50 Wall Ball Shots (10 ft target, 20 lbs ball)
50 Burpees
50 Double Unders
(Time: 43:37 ... way past the 40 min cut-off, but I was told I had to finish -_-)

Muscle-Up by this Tuesday!

Recently, at CrossFit Markham ...

Muscle-Up attempts! I made a challenge to a friend yesterday to get a muscle-up by this Tuesday (since he was going to be away on a camping trip). To my amazement, he responded by executing his first muscle-up. I still have a long way to go, but I have been working hard at it - earning my first skin tear on my wrist! Here is a good tutorial from Iron Tribe Fitness on how to do a muscle-up:

A Tribe of CrossFit Athletes

(Taken from ITF's POD - Picture of the Day)
What is a tribe?

First definition from Google:
A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
... having common goals, common dreams, and common values. In short, a tribe is a family.

Iron Tribe Fitness

I recently came across a CrossFit Gym that stood out to me (Iron Tribe Fitness). What struck me about this gym is their emphasis on helping those who cannot help themselves, together. Partnering together to pursue a vision much bigger than themselves. Their website says it best: "Our mission is to teach and support healthy lifestyles, be a leader in results-based fitness, and encourage fellowship within our global community."

This resonates with my own life mission in pursuing 4-D fitness and helping others do the same. How that looks like remains a mystery to me. However, I get excited when I see my vision (or parts of it) lived out in our community. In the meantime, I need to become much more fit - to have the ability to do what I want to do. Empowering fitness in the lives of others will be a parallel journey for me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rediscovering Relationship: Reconnecting with the Father

Recently, I started attending a Mandarin church. For those who do not know me, my Chinese is quite poor. My reasons for learning Chinese are quite simple, but hard to put into words.
Simply put, I have this inexplicable urge to connect with my origin and in (re)discovering who I am. This may sounds weird, but I feel another part of me comes alive when I listen to or speak in Chinese.
As a Christian (and as an individual), my life journey has been a bit rough to say the least. Sometimes I want nothing to do with Christianity or God and have feelings of bitterness, anger, frustration and sorrow. Other times, I simply don't care. But deep down, there is a strong desire to reconnect with my Heavenly Father.

This is why I cannot ignore God as a figment of imagination or cultural conditioning. It is this relationship - and desire for relationship - that prevents me from abandoning my Christian faith, and ultimately, everything I once held dear. And yes, these desires and emotions could be byproducts of chemical reactions and social influences ... or, they could be very real and provide a glimpse of the human condition.

In any event, I cannot dismiss God's existence just as I cannot dismiss the existence of another person. Whether these people are real or not is a subject for the philosophers. To me, I cannot distinguish the emotions I have with "real" people and the emotions I have with God.

Where am I going with this?

In rediscovering relationship with God, I have found deeper intimacy with God in communicating in Chinese (in this case, Mandarin). My approach to learning Chinese has been to learn how to pray / sing in Chinese, read from the Chinese Bible and listen to Chinese sermons.

And as I learn to talk to God in Chinese, I will naturally learn to talk to others in Chinese. Likewise, as I rediscover and renew my relationship with God, I will relearn how to relate to others. In short, I am rediscovering love.

To close, here is a Chinese song, entitled "The Path of Grace", that I have been listening to recently. It has been a tremendous blessing to me. I hope it will serve to encourage you too :)

Lord, You are my guide, the shepherd of my life
Through the hills and valleys, You're always by my side
Calling me by name, You've chosen me with love
Blessing me abundantly, Your promise will never change
Every step we take, You lead us with Your grace
Your love, Your hand will hold us close to you and will guide us through the path of grace

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Learning from the Snatch

The Snatch: an Olympic lifting movement involving bringing weight from a dead hang position to overhead in one swift motion. Above: Liao Hui capturing a gold medal for China, lifting a total of 348 kg (158 kg Snatch, 190 kg Clean and Jerk).

Total Focus

You cannot perform this movement without focus. You cannot muscle your way through this explosive movement. You either have it or you don't. All or nothing.

Some of my own stats

I was working on some lifts this morning before dragonboat practice. The weights I will post are not heavy, but they are recorded to chart my improvement for the future. This morning, I worked up to:
- 95 lbs Push Press
- 115 lbs Front Squat
- 75 lbs Snatch
The emphasis was on perfecting technique and avoiding injury. I would like to get my Snatch to 135 lbs by the end of summer. I am going to work to 95 lbs by the end of this month.

The Snatch Attitude

The Snatch happens in an instant, requiring complete focus. In life, some activities require this kind of focus, and many of these activities last more than an instant. Life is sometimes a marathon, and at other times, a series of sprints. A diverse set of mental faculties is required to take on the various challenges in life.

An Example

In my own life -- in fact, right now -- my "Snatch" is my research thesis. To be efficient, effective, and productive I need to give my full attention to the task at hand (in this case, writing code to simulate individual shopping location choices). Right now, I also have a multitude of windows open (e-mail, Facebook, the Economist, med school / MCAT info). From time to time, my mind (and attention) drift to these and other topics.

When performing the Snatch, your mind cannot wander. Yes, it is only a few seconds of complete concentration, but during those few seconds, I cannot be thinking about medical school, e-mail, friends, relationships, and so on. In the same way, I need to lay aside every weight that hinders, in this case, closing all those windows and just write the code.

I will conclude with one of my favorite verses from the Bible. In this example, the apostle Paul's "Snatch" is eternal life.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance ..." (The opening of the 12th Chapter of the book of Hebrews)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lessons from the 1 Rep Max

"Hey mommy, look at me!" (photo credit)

I went to CrossFit for the 1st time in a while. Part of today's workout involved 1 rep max attempts for the push press. I managed a personal best of 155lbs today so I was quite pleased :)

The Feeling of "Bleh"

I was not planning on going to CrossFit today. Actually, I planned on going, but then I ate 4 cups of instant noodles and tried sleeping. I have been feeling "bleh" recently. The source of the "bleh" is hard to pinpoint. It seems to be a combination of physical exhaustion, emotional burden, mental fatigue, and spiritual depravity. Nevertheless, the point is that my entire being (mind, body, soul, heart) was not ready for a 1-rep max.

Rising to the Challenge

A little after 6pm, I walked into the gym, moping around - not my usual self. I made halfhearted attempts at the exercises. Then it came for 1 rep max attempts. Apathetically, I walked up to the bar and tried to do 95lbs, a weight I can usually do easily. To my surprise I had no energy. It wasn't just physical exhaustion ... but everything exhaustion (probably also likely due to the fact that I left my lab at 6am this morning).

I quickly realized that 1 rep max attempts were one of those exercises that need my full attention... "concentrated power of will". My worries melted ( had to), my fears overcome, my focus sharpened, and my entire being ... fully present.

Presence was lacking the past few days, yet was also essential if I wanted to lift beyond what I normally lift. At times, we are faced with insurmountable challenges. For me, outside of weightlifting, my challenge is my graduate research thesis. With many uncertainties that lie ahead, many thoughts cloud my head and my thinking.

Stress helps, but too much and you can quickly lack focus and presence. Working out provided one avenue of stress relief, leading to a clearer mind. Time with Carol tonight also helped ... a lot! Her smile brightened my day today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Forging Elite Fitness

Boarding in 1 hour :)

I am sitting in Toronto Pearson Airport waiting for my flight to Calgary. I am attending a conference in Lake Louise and staying at the Fairmont! I am the above image emblazoned in my memory. I am looking forward to the nice hotel, the breathtaking scenery, and the opportunity to .... run :)

What happened to the workout posts?

No, I did not stop working out! I still go to CrossFit regularly and have been keeping an active lifestyle. I did yesterday's workout in 16:26 (4 Rounds for Time: 10 SDHP, 15 Ring Dips, 20 Burpees) and worked on my overhead squat this morning in Hart House before leaving for the airport. If you find it helpful for me to post my workouts, I would be delighted to keep doing so. Many of my workouts are taken from CrossFit Markham.

Forging Elite Fitness

Forging Elite Fitness is CrossFit's slogan and captures the heart of CrossFit rather well. As you know, I have been on a journey "forge elite fitness", working to increase my endurance, strength, speed, stamina, etc. However, my journey is not limited to physical fitness alone - my pursuit is in forging 4-D fitness.

Mental Fitness

Fitness can refer to many things. I like to divide it into 4 areas: body (physical), mind (mental), heart (emotional), spirit (spiritual). What matters is not the categories themselves, but rather, the idea that fitness is not limited to just one area (i.e. physical) and each dimension connects with the other dimensions.

Recently I picked up a fun mental workout. I had a childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor - whether this dream is ever realized is still to be determined. Regardless, I started studying for the MCATs, spending a small, but consistent amount of time each day devoted to this test. I have found the material exciting and challenging (like CrossFit workouts!) and find they help keep my mental faculties sharp for other activities (i.e. research).

How about you?

What kind of "workouts" do you do (or would like to do)? This can be for any dimension of fitness :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Creemore Vertical Challenge 2011

I am an Ultra-Marathoner!

I ran my first ultra marathon this past weekend! Yes, it is "only" 50km, 8km longer than a marathon (an "ultra marathon" is defined as any distance longer than a marathon - 42.2km).

But hey! It was a tough course! Two 25km loops, 870m of vertical ascent per loop, 1/2 trails and 1/2 country roads, 60% uphill, 30% downhill.

It's called the Vertical Challenge for a reason =)


You learn a lot about the limits of your own body when you run an ultra - or any race, for that matter, especially when it pushes you beyond the limits of your imagination. Many of us fail to see the extent of our God-given potential. Our vision is often clouded by reality. Rather, we should pursue greatness (to be who we were meant to be) in the context of our reality.

Running 50k also teaches you a lot about yourself. You wrestle with a plethora of emotions (joy, pain, anxiety, despair, discouragement, excitement, adventure, and more). And you are forced to dig deep within yourself to find out what kind of person you are.

This is akin to any other kind of race, be it a 5k, 10k, studying for an exam, developing a relationship, mastering a skill. Each individual runs their own race with unique challenges. And each difficult moment presents choice - a point of decision. A person is shaped by the choices they consistently make.

Now without further ado, here are some photos from the race along with some reflections.

Beer and Pizza!

"Come enjoy beer and pizza post-race in a refreshing creek!"

While this may not be enough to motivate some to come out for this insanity, a few men did come, and for that I am grateful.

You will find your motivation to run evolves over time ... as you run.

So, why run, you ask?

Just run.


"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
--Proverbs 27:17

It's hard to run a race on your own. I had the privilege of having a running buddy for the first half the 50k (Henry, the guy right beside me). Having others fight alongside me motivates me, empowers me, encourages me, and helps align my heart.

The spiritual race is a much harder race to run. And while possible to run alone, it is much easier to run with others. It's as if we were made for human connection.

Jars of Clay

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God not from us."
--2 Corinthians 4:7

Clay is fragile. I know - I accidentally dropped my medal after the race and it broke (I got it replaced).

Clay can be shaped into virtually any shape envisioned by the maker. I won this pot by random draw during the race. Carol has it now :)

We are like clay. Shaped by our Maker. Designed for a purpose. Yet fragile and weak. In His love, complete.

Your Stories :)

I am a Christian runner and this was my experience with my first ultra-marathon. I would love to hear your running stories, whether it's your experience on the run, or your life adventures :)

Post a comment or send me an e-mail joshuahy[dot]wang[at]gmail[dot]com