Injury denial – it’s only a twinge.


Lost in the injury wilderness?

I’ve been reading about injuries and talking about injuries quite a lot over the last couple of weeks. I’ve noticed in a number of articles that there is a tendency among many amateur athletes and weekend warriors to ignore and/or deny that the injury exists. We carry on training hoping that it will resolve spontaneously. If not spontaneously, we apply various balms to the affected area and hope this has the desired effect. If we’re feeling especially worried we may resort to massage. We consume copious material online in an effort to self-diagnose and find treatment option. Consulting a medical professional seems to be the last thing on the list.

The reason I’ve been doing the reading is because my elbow hurts. It started when we were doing clean and jerks during a morning WOD not too long ago. I’m not too good on the clean part of the move and I think this is when it happened. During the movement, you are meant to push your elbows forward and up to catch the bar in the front rack position. I was able to do this but I don’t think I execute(d) the move quite right and repeating it incorrectly for however may reps we did that morning probably didn’t help. It wasn’t too bad after the workout but I haven’t stopped training regularly since it happened. I’ve also been attending my regular Kuk Sool Won martial arts classes during this time. We do a number of different techniques and movements which require extension and flexing of the elbow. I’ve felt some pain during the classes but not enough to make me feel I should stop.

As you can tell, I’ve one of those sportspeople who carry on regardless and hope for the spontaneous change which will signal that I’ve trained through the injury and it fixed itself. This morning I skipped my WOD. When I woke up my elbow was too sore. Might be time to take this more seriously. But this post is not meant to be about how I choose to treat/not treat the injury. It’s more about why I avoid admitting I have one at all.

It’s not the first time I respond in this fashion. Any time I have an injury or think I have one, I immediately go into denial mode.

I don’t get injured. It’s a minor ache which will pass by tomorrow. If I keep working out, it will just go back to normal. Once the muscle is warm I won’t feel the pain anymore. Pain is where the growth happens. Etc., etc.

Why do I do this? I think one of the reasons is that most of the time it works. Most of the time it is a minor twinge that I can work through. That passes by that same afternoon. Most of the time. Another big reason – probably the main reason – is that I don’t want to stop training. I don’t like missing a day. Sport is my bliss. Sport is my passion. I feel out of sync with life if I am not participating in some form of sport or exercise on a regular basis. When I’ve been able to maintain consistency in my training schedule for a number of months, the mental anguish I feel at the prospect of missing a day, a week, or more, outweighs the physical pain I’m feeling because of the injury. I know fitness and strength don’t work like this but I imagine both draining from my body drop-by-drop and the only way to stop the leak is to train.

So I train. I make the injury worse. Knowing that I am going to end up with a longer lay-off eventually but hoping against hope that the injury just disappears.

Good grief. I think I need help :-).

Anyway, I took today off from crossfit but I still cycled to work. I’ll see how my elbow feels tomorrow and have a chat with my coach to find out if he has any advice.

How do you deal with injury? How do you deal with the time off training? Any tips on not going bananas? Any studies out there on how long it actually takes to start losing significant fitness and strength gains?





Open Workout 16.1 – and so it begins


Yesterday morning I started my Crossfit Games Open journey with 16.1. (This is how the workouts get named – 16 referring to 2016 and 1 referring to the first workout. Next Thursday we’ll get 16.2).

On Thursday evening, before I left work, I tuned into the live announcement of the workout. It was cool to watch the pros Chyna Cho and Emily Abbott go head-to-head and crank out the reps. Also cool to see the amateur athletes, Joanna Prado-Pacheco and Scott McCoy, complete the workout in the same arena and at the same time as the pros.

At first glance the workout seemed pretty manageable. Not easy. But I felt I could make a go of it. As detailed in an earlier post, I’ve recently managed 95# thrusters so thought I should be able to complete a few reps of 95# overhead walking lunges. Right? I didn’t sleep too well on Thursday – too nervous. I even had a dream about doing the walking lunges.

Friday dawned all too soon. The day of reckoning. When I arrived at the I Will Crossfit box I went over to the rack and tried a chest-to-bar pull-up. I managed one but it felt tough. We completed a comprehensive warm-up, then gathered at the white board for instructions from our coach. We signed our workout score sheets/tracking sheets and headed to the bars. I added the 25# plates and walked over to the measured off 25ft area. I raised the bar to front rack position and realized it wasn’t going any higher. I would be able to lift it overhead but I wouldn’t be able to maintain it in that position while performing walking lunges. I made the decision to go for scaled rather than Rx’d. I didn’t want to start out the Games Open not being able to complete at least one round.


The first round went well. I felt strong and I kept a measured pace rather than going too fast. That became my focus throughout – keeping a good rhythm going and not moving too quickly. It was tough going from about the middle of the 3rd round. The walking lunges and, surprisingly, the burpees were going well. The jump chin-over-bar pull-ups were more challenging, though. After starting the first two rounds with 8 in a row, I was having to break them up into sets of 3-3-2. This slowed my overall pace quite a bit but I was able to maintain the pace for the lunges and burpees. In the final 3 minutes I was had made it to round 6. I managed to finish that up and got 10 reps into round 7 for a total of 166.

I was happy with my start. Psyched about the next round and hoping I can improve as the competition progresses. Currently I’m in 83rd place in Northern California for Masters Men (40-44) in the Scaled Section. I’m in 2440th place worldwide  :-).

How did 16.1 go for you – anything you learnt it would do differently? Did you go Rx or scaled?

A tribute to Donovan Fortuin

joy and donny

Donovan and Joy Fortuin.

Today my dear Uncle Donny was laid to rest. My Aunty Aldyth paid tribute to him at the funeral. In his honour and memory I want to share that tribute:

I am paying this tribute to Donny on behalf of Joy’s sisters. He was a very special brother-in-law to us and we all loved him dearly. Our children all had great respect for him, they regarded him as a friend and uncle. I’d like to share a few tributes from a few of them.

Sharon’s tribute

Uncle Donny has a special place in my heart from the days when he and Aunty Joy were courting and they would take me and Robin for drives in the Beetle. It always felt like a big adventure.

I remember trips to the beach in their Mazda and one day it rained like crazy and Uncle Donny had to keep jumping out of the car to clean the windscreen as the wipers didn’t work but he made it seem like fun. He didn’t opt to turn around and go home. He just kept doing it with a smile. His specs got wet, he got wet, but he just got out of the car every time to dry the windscreen.

He was a quiet sort of guy but great fun to be with. I think of him as this cool as a cucumber man who didn’t lose his temper.  He was the best uncle ever and I could always see how much he loved Aunty Joy whom he met when he came to take photos of me and Robin.

There’s a hollow in my heart today. Aunty Joy, Craig, Alison, Lisa and Hannah-Joy; Estelle, William, Colleen and Joan – I can’t imagine the heartbreaking grief you must be feeling. Uncle Donny is at peace after having endured so much and I hope you can find peace too. I love you Uncle Donny and will miss you.

Andre’s tribute

A husband, a father, a brother, a grandfather, our uncle, but to me, Donny (as he asked to be called so that his age did not show). Someone who helped shape the person I am today, whether it was in the sports arena or trying our hand at selling computers, or when I needed a deal on a new camera. We shared many special moments. Donny gave me many things, my first cricket bat and a table tennis board to name a couple, but it is the guidance and coaching that came with those things that I will always treasure. Your innings may have come to an end but, like all the greats of the game, you will always be remembered.



Robin’s tribute

Writing a tribute to Uncle Donny is both easy and difficult. Difficult because of the sadness we feel at his passing away. It is easy because he was such a wonderful man who meant so much to us.

Firstly, Donny was a great sportsman in every way – gracious in victory and defeat, respectful and polite to both team mates and opponents and a fierce competitor who was always fair and honest. This characterized him both on and off the field. He was an example to us all, of how to conduct ourselves. An example I certainly strove to follow. Some of my favourite memories are times spent playing cricket, table tennis and golf with Uncle Donny.

The second is, Donny the chronicler of our family history. He took photos at just about every significant family event since he came into our lives. For me this is an incredible gift we have all received from him. We have those memories in our photo albums and our hearts, thanks to him. Donny will always be missed but his presence will always be felt.

With love to Joy, Craig, Alison, Lisa and Hannah-Joy and all other family and friends.

From Robin, Vanessa, Andrew and Jessica.

Clint’s tribute

Dear Donny

Your soft, gentle, quiet and caring manner touched so many of us, including me. You were a guiding presence in my life and it contributed to my feeling safe, loved and nurtured. You were like a father to me. I shall always carry you in my heart and soul. This week I have felt you and also for you. I also felt for and with Joy, Alison, Craig, Lisa and Hannah-Joy, also Estelle, William, Colleen and Joan. I shall miss you and I leave you with these words, a Vedic peace prayer, that I feel will touch wherever you may be.  I trust these words will also touch the hearts of your family and all those who loved you. They capture a wonderful part of your essence which I am grateful to have experienced.

May all the beings in all the worlds be happy.

With love, peace and gratitude, Clint (with the support and caring of my partner, Erik).


Besides the children, David, too, had a special bond with Donny which strengthened during Donny’s illness and they often phoned one another to discuss what was happening on the sports channels. Donny had kindly given David a Walka on which to watch DsTV.

I, personally, admired Donny’s great faith in God and this was very evident during his illness. He was always positive when I visited him. During his periods of remission, he walked for long distances, went to work from time to time and played golf. His positivity didn’t waver. He never lost his sense of humour and always brought a smile to our faces. Even during his last week at the hospice he cracked a joke with Charles. That is just how Donny was.

As St Francis de Sales said: Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

He could have been talking about Donny.

We, Joy’s sisters and our families, will remember him as a gentleman, always humble, principled and a man of integrity. We will all miss him very much, especially at our family braais.

He has left us with beautiful memories.

Joy, Craig, Alison, Lisa and Hannah-Joy, also Estelle, William, Colleen and Joan, you have lost someone very dear to you. To each of you he was something different and you all loved him and cherished him in your own way. We offer you all our ongoing support and love and will keep you in our prayers

The Hot Gates (of hell)

Team WOD at I Will Crossfit on Saturday was dubbed ‘The Hot Gates.’ When the coach wasn’t looking, someone added ‘of hell’ to the title. The workout was tough as always.

WOD 16.2.20

We were divided into teams of 4. I worked with Tom, Sandy and Marylene. We decided to start with the tire flips. I always enjoy these and having a strong guy like Tom on the team helped a lot as 700 pounds is not easy to lift and flip. From there we moved on to toes-to-bar. We each did 10 at a time for what seemed like forever. I started out with strict toes-to-bar but my pace was a bit slow so I switched to knees-to-chest. My memory becomes a bit hazy from this point – probably induced by exhaustion and blocking the pain. I think we moved on to the burpees. Again we did 10 at a time. Sandy and I did this together and we pushed each other to keep a good pace going. She was quicker to the floor and I was quicker back up so we were always chasing each other. That may have been my best set of burpees ever. My technique must be improving. Yay, burpees! Improved burpee technique ahead of the Open start today can only be a good thing.

The rope climbs were cool. In the past, I’ve done the modified climb which involves lying on your back and pulling yourself upright, then lowering yourself back down. Three of these counts as 1 rep. On Saturday I decided to try the proper climb to the top. I managed to do it for the 8 reps which made up my share of the team’s 30. Another positive step forward in my crossfit journey We finished with push-ups. Twenty at a time to begin with and then down to 10 as we tired. Again, Sandy helped me keep pace. Time ran out before we could finish the sit-ups. I think this was a blessing in disguise because the teams that chose to do the sit-ups earlier in their rotation said that was the toughest round.

All-in-all, a challenging but fun work-out. Highly recommended as a team WOD. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. What are some of your favourite team or partner WODs?


Reverse Crunches and Supermans


Taking flight towards stronger abdominals

Last night I was looking at the progress I’ve made on my abs in the last 6 months. I thought to myself, I need to work on my lower abs a bit more. Be careful what you wish for…

This morning’s WOD included, among other painful things, reverse crunches. I’d never heard of these before and soon discovered that they targeted the lower abs. We did the crunches as part of a 3 round workout which consisted of 200 single-unders (I couldn’t get double-unders working today), followed by 75 reverse crunches and then 50 Supermans.WOD 16.2.23

Here’s a link demonstrating how to perform one.

The first 20 reverse crunches seemed ok. Then the coach came over and said we should lift our shoulders off the floor a bit and also let our toes touch the ground on the way down. OMG!!! Those adjustments took it to another level…of pain! Then, just to ensure that our core was being fully trained, we had to do 50 Supermans. Phew! Pain City.

So if you’re looking for an exercise that targets your lower abs to give you that V-shape, reverse crunches should definitely be on the list.

What’s your favourite ab exercise? Why?

Kuk Sool Won Promotion

Today I’m dedicating my blog post to my children and my wife. My children were promoted to brown belt and my wife received her red striped blue belt in Kuk Sool Won. The promotion took place at our school in Dublin, CA school which is run by Master Saidi. 

I am an extremely proud father and husband .  I continually marvel at their ability in the art. They are all so dedicated to their training and the main topic of conversation in our home is Kuk Sool. 

Well done you 3! 

Just keep swimming…


Bexhill Triathlon 28th August 2011

Delighted to be alive after a horrible swim (taken in Bexhill in Sussex, England)

As you can see from the caption and the goofy expression on my face in the photo above, I was delighted to have survived the swim leg of the Bexhill Triathlon in 2011. I’ve had rough relationship with the swim in the events I’ve entered and since I’m planning to start my swim training in March, I thought I’d share some of my experiences.

A tip which completely revolutionized swimming for me is rather simple: “Drop your head to raise your legs and have the sensation of swimming downhill.” Before I read this and put it into practice, I struggled to swim at a steady, smooth pace. No matter how much I trained, I couldn’t get into a rhythm which allowed me to swim lap after lap like all the other guys at the gym pool. It frustrated me. If I slowed down, my legs started dropping so I had to kick and stroke harder to keep from sinking. Kicking and stroking harder meant using up all my energy, which meant I had to take numerous breaks between laps. Then I read the tip and everything changed.

Suddenly it felt as if I was floating more. I felt as though I could move my arms as slowly as I wanted to and that I didn’t need to kick that hard to stay above the water. No more sinking feeling. No more energy wasted on kicking more than a dojo full of black belts. The first day I tried it I swam 1000m non-stop. I just kept going and I recall a sense of disbelief that I was managing to continue. The day before I’d struggled to finish half that distance even with regular breaks.

Expect the swim start to be a crazy washing machine of arms and legs. Even the occasional fist (I was once punched in the jaw by a guy swimming next to me. After hitting me, he swam towards another triathlete and repeated the process. It seems he took the opportunity during the confusion of the swim start to get some free punches in on unsuspecting people). In my first triathlon I was concerned about the swim distance and if I would make it. I plotted the shortest course which meant that I ended up in the thick of things at the course buoys. Ever since, I’ve made a point of swimming on the outside of the pack. Even though this means that I probably swim slightly further, it is worth it if you’d prefer to avoid the traffic jams near any obstacles or turns. So far this has worked out well for me.

There have been at least 3 triathlon events I’ve entered where I truly believed I was going to drown or, less dramatically, grab onto the canoe or kayak of the life savers to disqualify myself from the race. For all 3, I had trained and could easily manage the distance. What I didn’t manage well was the adrenaline at the start of the race nor the shock of the cold water. Now I make sure I get into the water early so I can get used to the temperature and, as mentioned above, I keep to the outskirts of the pack. I try and start at my own pace and don’t race to keep up with anyone. The other thought I have is that, if I am in serious trouble, the life savers are right there to pull me up. This gives me a sense of security and allows me to focus on my Dory thought, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just swimming…”

Good luck out there in the upcoming season. Any tips or experiences you’d like to share?