Monday, March 17, 2014

Thinking Long Term During CrossFit Training

Last month, I was in Cornwall for Family Day and dropped into one of my favorite gyms, Caveman Strong (post). While I was there, Coach Tyler said something that struck me, "Think long term". It sounds simple, but it made an impression on me.

Case in point: My current back squat is 305 lb. I want to keep improving and one day hit 400 lbs! But, will I still be squatting 400 lbs when I'm 70? How much is too much? If you have a 400 lb squat with good mechanics and structural integrity, great! But if you don't have the proper mechanics and the anatomical foundation, strength your weaknesses.
Stretch more. Improve mobility. Develop gymnastic skills. Learn how to breathe. Move in unfamiliar environments.
Recently, I came across Canadian Sports for Life's LTAD Training Model (Long Term Athletic Development). The basic idea is that long term health and wellness is key, whether you are a recreational athlete or elite competitor.

Long term athletic development is important in all areas of training. And this brings me to my personal experience with CrossFit.

When I do CrossFit, it's easy to focus on the immediate goals / PRs (squat, 5 K run, snatch, Fran, etc.). This is especially true for the CrossFit Open.

Before going in, I told myself I would be "one and done", like many other CrossFit athletes, including elite athletes. Then, I redid the first workout (14.1) twice. I did the second workout (14.2) three times. I looked at my score and compared it to my friends. I was so focused on those extra reps.
Maybe my friends or coaches will think I'm fitter or cooler or ____ if I get those extra reps in.
After 14.2, I didn't really workout until Saturday, when we did 14.3. My shoulders were fatigued to the point where my whole body was tired and sore. When I redid 14.2 on Monday, I also missed a squat session (improving my squat is also another goal of mine that I neglected recently).

My goal isn't to make it to the Regionals. We each have our own goals, and the way we attack Open workouts or any other endeavor in life depends on our individual goals and abilities.

This past Saturday, I did 14.3. My goal going in was to pull 315 lb once. It didn't happen. I finished with 17 reps at 275 lb. Was I satisfied with the number? Not initially. Did I give my best? Yes. More importantly, is my back okay? Asides from a bit of soreness, I'm still able to move :)

This morning, I thought about redoing 14.3. That thought didn't last long! Sure, maybe my scores aren't as competitive relative to some friends (especially my little bro), but these scores are amazing because I gave my best for each of those workouts.

Long term, what do I need to do? I need to do today's WOD, not do 14.3 ... again. So, I did the 5 sets of front squats. I did the 12 min AMRAP. I showered, downed a recovery shake, then headed to work.
My performance in workouts do not define me. Who I am defines how I approach my workouts and other endeavors.
I will need to remind myself of this each day as I know I will often fail and forget.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 3:13-14 

Mon March 17 @ RCFEW

Front squats
5x135#, 5x185#, 5x5x205#

- then -

12 min AMRAP
15 wall ball shots (30 lb)
15 toes-to-bar
15 burpees
(3 rounds + 7 reps)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting a job at Google

First, I do not work for Google :)

I recently came across an article from the New York Times on How to Get a Job at Google. While working for Google may seem beyond the grasp of many (including myself), there are several lessons I found that I can apply to my work and life today.

1. Your ability to learn (general cognitive ability) is more important than what you already know.

2. Leadership is not defined by a title but by your capacity to respond to various situations, and knowing when to step up and when to step back.

3. You don't have to be an entrepreneur to take ownership for your work.

4. Remain humble. You need a big ego and a small ego.

5. "Expertise" can be taught. Talent is not enough.

6. Don't rest on your laurels, including your education or past experiences. Keep educating yourself and creating new experiences.
Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WOD 2014.03.11

7 p.m. @ CrossFit Ark

Front Squat
5 x 135 lb, 3 x 185 lb, 1 x 235 lb, 1 x 255 lb (PR!), 0 x 265 lb (2 attempts)

- then -

10 min AMRAP
5 strict pull-ups
10 burpees
15 air squats
(217 reps)

- then -

Ankle mobility seminar with Dr. Keith Tse! If you're in the Aurora area, check him out at Meridian Wellness!

- golf ball / lacross ball along arch (which connects to your calves too!)
- barbell to smash / roll Achilles' tendon and calves
- massage tibialis posterior (thumb pressure down and up), and flex/extend or rotating ankle
- open ankle joint capsule (manual stretch and distraction using strength band)
- stretch gastrocnemius and soleus

Disconnecting to Connect

So today, I forgot my cell phone at home. I found out only after boarding the GO train. I started to worry.

After taking a step back to think, I calmed down. When I got downtown, I went to a payphone to let Carmelina know I don't have a phone for the day. I sent an e-mail later to my supervisor. Then I started to get to work.

And wow, I just dialed in. There were several moments where I wanted to grab my phone to pass time. But then I took a breath, and just enjoyed the surroundings or explored my thoughts.

It is so easy to get distracted. Removing that distraction was freeing. I was disconnected. And for that temporary time, I felt connected. More connected to people around me. More connected to my work. And most importantly, more connected to my purpose and who I am.

Monday, March 10, 2014

WOD Updates 2014.03.10

Today was the first day I dropped into Reebok CrossFit East Woodbridge with Carmelina! We made it out for the 7 a.m. class and WOW! So much fun! I've included the workouts I did this morning, along with workouts from Friday and Saturday.
Monday March 10

Open WOD 14.2
Attempt 3: 79
Unfortunately, my progress on this workout was nonlinear :P My shoulders and hands were definitely taxed from the weekend. Oh well :) I gave my best. 79 reps was my best this morning.
10 min AMRAP
5 squat cleans (135 lb)
12 burpee over bar
(5 Rounds)
With about a minute left in my last round, Coach Ben came by to watch the last few minutes. That unlocked beastmode! haha! Definitely a pace I can't maintain yet for the full 10 minutes.
Sunday March 9

Rest Day

Saturday March 8

Open WOD 14.2

For as long as possible:
From 0:00-3:00
  2 rounds of:
  10 overhead squats, 95 / 65 lb.
  10 chest-to-bar pull-ups
From 3:00-6:00
  2 rounds of:
  12 overhead squats, 95 / 65 lb.
  12 chest-to-bar pull-ups << this is where I died :)
From 6:00-9:00
  2 rounds of:
  14 overhead squats, 95 / 65 lb.
  14 chest-to-bar pull-ups

Attempt 1: 39
Attempt 2: 78
I missed the time cap by 1 rep on my first attempt!! After a significant improvement in my second attempt, someone came over and said with a look of disappointment, "That's because you don't push yourself", referring to my first attempt. I felt like I gave it my all, and that my hands were sore, and blah blah blah. But after a bit of honest reflection, it's true. I don't push myself (as much as I could). I don't like being uncomfortable. 
Mobility (shoulder, back)

Snatch work (snatch + a few OHS)
@ 75 lb, 95 lb, 115 lb, 135 lb

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WOD updates

The March 6

Rest Day.
"No rest, no recovery. No recovery, no intensity." Chris Spealler

Wed March 5

8 p.m. @ CrossFit Markham
2x: 10 man makers, 10 box step ups, 2 laps
Squat cleans: 5x95#, 5x115#, 5x145#, 5x165#
5 min AMRAP
500 m airdyne
10 burpee over box (24")
20 KB swings (24 kg)
30 hand release push ups
40 double understand
(Got to 25 DUs)
2 min rest
7 min AMRAP
500 m airdyne
10 burpee over box (24")
20 KB swings (24 kg)
30 hand release push ups
40 double understand
(Got to 70 m on airdyne)

Weakness: push-ups

Tue March 4

8 p.m. @ CrossFit Markham
Warm-up 6 min alt tabata: mermaid rocks, hollow body rocks, kipping swings
6 min AMRAP
10 T2B
10 burpee to target
1 min rest
50 thrusters for time (135 lb)
(Rounds: 4, Time incl AMRAP: 15:40)

Mon March 3 

6 a.m. @ CrossFit Markham
Open WOD 14.1
10 min AMRAP
30 double unders
10 snatches at 75 lb
(Score: 258)

8 p.m. @ CrossFit Markham
Front squats: 4 x 10 @ 145 lb
- then -
For time:
50 wall balls (30#, 10' target)
21-15-9 C&J (135 lb) and C2B pull-ups
(Time: ~24 min ...)

Sun March 2 

2:30 p.m. @ Markville Fitness
Playtime (double unders, a few dips, etc.)

9:30 p.m. @ home
Then at home, some 3 x (15 dips, 15 bicep curls at 30#)

Sat March 1

11 a.m. @ CrossFit Markham
Open WOD 14.1
10 min AMRAP
30 double unders
10 snatches at 75 lb
(Score: 215)
some judging for the Open :)

Fri March 28


Thu March 27


Wed March 26

6 a.m. @ CrossFit Markham
CFM Diet Challenge Day 2
1 min at each station
Row calories
Box jumps
Power cleans 135/95lbs
1 min break
(Score: 168, I think; last time, 150)
Weight: 187.6 lb
Body fat: 17.5%

8 p.m. @ Bridle Trail Baptist Church
5 min AMRAP
1 Burpee tuck jump
6 alt jumping lunges
10 mountain climbers
- then -
Partner WOD
(5 x 1:00, EMOM 5 burpees)
C&J 95 lb
KB swings
Wall climbs
- then -
5x10 wall ball shots (20 lb) target 10'+
(alt with partner until each finishes 50 reps)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Keeping only what is useful

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. --Bruce Lee

I saw this quote yesterday and it got me thinking about what works and what doesn't work in my life. I often wonder why I still do things that "don't work" and don't keep doing things that "do work".

Today, I was thinking about what is useful in terms if food/drink consumption. I am trying to be consistent with paleo/zone and then add extra things as needed and see the effects of each variable. Being a coffee lover, I'm also trying to discover how my body best takes coffee and when it truly needs it.

- paleo/zone - this is a good base to start, but only keep what is useful to YOU (measurable, repeatable, precise) - when do I feel amazing eating protein / carbs / fat? when does my body best respond to fruit / sugar?

- coffee - does it promote energy or am I just drinking it when I'm stressed or need energy?

Food log + energy levels 

[the night before]

food prep! last night I bought some groceries and prepared a pretty solid meal the next few days. I plan to keep each day pretty much the same, with only small variations. here's what I have today. 
- fruit: 1 apple, 1 orange
- vegetables: Chinese broccoli
- meat: chicken drumsticks
- nuts and seeds (Brazil nuts)
- some starch: sweet potatoes

this is definitely a refreshing alternative to the fast food / high carb meals I have been eating after the diet challenge (gaining 10 pounds in less than a week). It wasn't useful and the enjoyment didn't last past the last bite. 


7:30 a.m. Wake up 
- slept through 2 earlier alarms; seeing what a "good day of sleep" looks like

8:00 a.m. Protein shake + PB, then a cup of coffee
- feeling great so far :)

10:00 a.m. Coffee
- still feeling amazing! need to beware of drinking copious amounts of coffee

11:30 a.m. Apple, small handful of Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds
- feel good still, just starting to get hungry now (even after!)

1:30 p.m. ... feeling hungry :p ... wait for it ...

2:00 p.m. Lunch time! Sweet potatoes, Chinese broccoli, chicken drumsticks
- delayed gratification :) while I'm hungry, energy levels are still good

5:30 p.m. Snack (Orange + Brazil nuts / pumpkin seeds) + Stretches at my desk

7:30 p.m. protein shake + PB, leftover noodles
- felt good after the shake; told my body I needed the extra carbs... Didn't feel so good after

8 p.m. WOD @ CrossFit Markham

9:30 p.m. protein shake + PB

10:30 p.m. Soup :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

CF Open WOD 14.1

This morning, I redid 14.1 as part of the CrossFit Open.

Some say you should only do the workout once. In general, I agree. This time, both Carm and I decided to do it a second time.

Here is a record of my scores for 14.1 (10 min of 30 double unders and 15 snatches @ 75 lb)

Last year, Feb 4, 2013: 180 reps

Last Saturday, Mar 1, 2014: 215 reps

This morning, Mar 3, 2014: 258 reps

I was pretty happy with my improvement from last year (180 to 215). I was still doing CrossFit regularly when I hit 180, which tells me I'm steadily improving my fitness, becoming a stronger version of me :)

Now ... the big improvement from Saturday to this morning?

Sure, I watched a few videos and got some good tips. Yes, I did more muscle snatches in the beginning and focused on getting my double unders unbroken. But you want to know the real secret?

Okay, here it is. Instead of loading a 45 lb bar with two 15 lb plates, I loaded a 35 lb bar with two 15 lb plates and two 5 lb plates. The smaller grip on the 35 lb was definitely a big factor.

While I'm happy with the improvement, this identified/confirmed a big weakness of mine: grip strength. This is something I will continue working on. Also, while I was pretty happy with that, I still didn't beat my brother's score of 261 (first attempt, with shin splints ....).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

CrossFit - Coming Full Circle

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar with my brother, Jireh. We had a great time learning from excellent trainers and came away feeling better equipped to coach and excited to dig deeper into the world of fitness, both in and out of the CrossFit realm.

My Introduction to CrossFit

I was first introduced to CrossFit 6 years ago by Jordan (Xplore CrossFit). I remember I was doing something that resembled a clean/press with dumbbells, probably sets of 10, trying to get my heart rate up. In between sets, Jordan came up to me, introduced himself, and asked if I wanted to try out CrossFit.

I remember my first session with him learning how to squat. This was my first exposure to squat therapy (developing form / range of motion by facing a wall). I remembered I kept falling over and would practice at home. I would use this same approach to introduce some of the dragonboat athletes I helped coach couple years later!

A couple days after my first intro, Jordan invited me out to my first session. We warmed up with some handstand holds with our chest facing the wall. Being my first time in that position, I was a bit wary and uncomfortable. It's only recently that I realize the importance of the hollow body in the handstand from coaches at Caveman Strong.

After the warm-up, we got ready for the WOD (Workout of the Day): the Spartan 300. We had to accumulate 300 reps of various different movements, most of which I had to modify. Here's the blog post from nearly 6 years ago. Maybe I'll do it again for old time's sake. Anyone interested in joining?

During my one-year stint in Seattle, I dropped into the gym when I could, mixing the CrossFit workouts with my own.

Highlights of the Journey

Since then, I've had the opportunity to ...

... help coach the Iron Dragons for a couple years, where I got live test subjects to try different movements and fitness regimens

... make a lot of cool friends who share similar interests in gymnastics, endurance running, powerlifting, olympic weightlifting and more!

... train a few friends here and there, both individually and on a group level

... join my first ever CrossFit gym (and my current home gym): CrossFit Markham (the first place will always feel like home)

... workout with my family and seeing my mom laugh as she repped out banded pull-ups for the first time!

... visit other great training facilities, including Caveman Strong (my favorite!), Outlaw North, CrossFit Wallaceburg, CrossFit Sarnia, CrossFit Cordis, CrossFit Ark, Reebok CrossFit Firepower, and many more to come!

Why the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar?

All the information from the seminar is free and publicly available. There are cheaper alternatives to get involved in fitness coaching. Some are arguably even better. So why drop the money to take the course?

Simply put, I want to coach. As I was telling a friend earlier, I have a lot of enthusiasm but not much knowledge. I've been helping my friends with fitness, but there is only so much a guy can do if all he has is excitement.

Does this mean I'm qualified to coach now? (By the way, I just found out this morning I passed!)

No. At least, not anymore than I was before the course. The course definitely provided some good pointers and laid a solid foundation. But becoming a good coach is going to be a journey. The CF-L1 designation allows me to start gaining coaching experience, helping others ... making mistakes along the way, ... and if I'm lucky enough, ... change a few lives.

This is just the beginning of my journey. There is still so much to learn, both in and out of CrossFit. My goal is to develop competency over time in a variety of methods that will best serve the people I work with. Off the top of my head, I want to dig deeper into: gymnastics (, weightlifting (NCCP), personal training, poliquin, mobility (Ido Portal and Kelly Starrett), nutrition (Precision Nutrition), self study (anatomy and physiology sound fun!).

In the meantime, I welcome any tips / advice on developing as a coach and trainer.

Smile =)