Enjoy Star Wars Day. I am one with the force. The force is with me.
Enjoy Star Wars Day. I am one with the force. The force is with me.
The old saying warns, “be careful what you wish for.” In numerous Open WOD discussions and chats and predictions, I’ve been saying that it would be great to have a repeat of 16.4. As the announcement drew closer it seemed like a good guess given the movements which had not yet appeared in the Open. Deadlifts. Wall balls. Handstand push-ups. Of course thrusters and double under have yet to appear as well. But this week we had 16.4 again.
Last year, 6 months into CrossFit, I didn’t have high expectations of this workout. I attempted it Rx despite having a 3 rep max deadlift of 255 lb. Dangerously close to the prescribed 225 lb this workout called for. As you might guess, I got stuck at the deadlifts. It took me forever to finish them. I wasn’t much better on the wall balls. I ended up getting onto the rower with precious little time left and managed 1 single calorie. I didn’t even worry about the fact that I could not perform handstand push-ups since I knew I wouldn’t make it that far.
I have a higher deadlift 3 rep max now (315 lb) and I’ve been known to string together a few wall ball shots unbroken. I can also do handstand push-ups now and my rowing speed is adequate. I made my first run on Friday morning. My hope was to beat last year’s score and at least get further on the rower.
I tried to pace myself on the deadlifts. I didn’t want to run out of steam too early on. I did 5 reps unbroken but then followed those up with 50 slow and steady singles. Off to the wall balls. These went well for me. I kept up quite a good pace and my coach kept my breaks short and consistent. I got on the rower with a little over 2.5 minutes to go. I strapped in. Closed my eyes. And just started pulling. As hard as I could. I finished 40 calories! A nice 39 cal improvement on last year.
I was rather chuffed. Later that evening I returned to the box to watch the other athletes make their attempts at the workout. Man! Those guys were amazing. It was inspirational to see them go all out. Their pace on the deadlifts was incredible. They flew through the wall balls. Then pulled like Olympic rowers. One guy even made it as far as the handstand push-ups. The next morning two more athletes made their runs. Another two awesome performances. Wow! Watching them made me start to rethink my strategy. Could I push harder on the deadlifts – the only place I felt I could improve my time? I spent most of the weekend wondering about this and eventually decided I’d repeat the workout today.
I was quite nervous. I wasn’t at all sure I could go at a faster pace and maintain it for 55 reps. I decided to just go for it. 3-2-1-Go! And I was off. I started off doing singles immediately. But this time, the pauses were a lot shorter. As soon as I dropped the barbell I picked it up again. I managed to keep up a pretty good pace for 15 reps and still felt good. Each deadlift gave me more confidence. At 30 reps, I was felt strong and kept going. I finished the reps 2 minutes faster than my Friday time. Wall ball time. Good pace again. Almost the same time as Friday. This meant I was still 2 minutes ahead of that pace. Yay.
Next up, row, row, row your boat. Again, same tactic. Strap in. Close eyes. Pull. And pull. And pull. Repeat until 55 calories reached. I managed to finish! Just over a minute to get in as many handstand push-ups as possible. My whole body felt wobbly and unsteady. I took a few seconds break and then coach told me to just get up on the wall. I listened. First attempt. No rep! Dammit! Reset. Try again. 1 rep!! Woohoo. And then…5 more reps.
I was over the moon. As happy as when I managed my first muscle-up. 171 reps in total. 60 more than 2016. I’ve been smiling all day. What a great feeling. Coach Matt is the man. His programming, patience and persistence saw me to a big improvement over last year. Amazing what you can achieve with consistent training with a great coach. Incredible what you can push yourself to do when inspired by a great bunch of athletes.
One more to go. Thrusters and double unders are my prediction. 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 for time. Can’t believe the 5 weeks are drawing to a close. It’s been great so far. How has it gone for you?
Thanks for reading.
During our warm up this morning we caught a sneak peek at the WOD. The first set was going to be double unders and burpees. I’ve been working on my double unders and they’ve been improving. However, just last week I couldn’t get any kind of rhythm going and couldn’t string more than 2 reps together. I am pretty sure that the Open is going have a workout that includes double unders, so I was keen to give them another go.
First was the agony:
I covered my arm in whip marks in the first two rounds. I was doing one rep then hitting my arms. Then another then hitting my arms. I couldn’t even get the single under followed by double under rhythm going. All this agony also meant that the total time it took me to finish 30 reps was ridiculous. I was determined to do the workout as prescribed though.
Round 3. Let’s make this happen. I started out a bit slower. Worked on 2 singles followed by a double. That was working nicely. Around 15 reps, I tried to string together more than one double under. I made 5 in a row. Yay! Progress. I managed to finish the last 5 reps of the round with sets of 5.
Round 4. After the burpees were done from round 3 I started the next round wanting to nail the double unders. I managed 2!!! Damn it!! Then something clicked. I started using slower hand movements. My timing for the jump was better. I did 20 unbroken! And unwhipped.
Round 5 wasn’t as good but I strung together 7-8 reps at a time. But I was so excited. Finally. Double unders. I was ecstatic.
So my keys were slower rotation and higher jumps. What are your keys and tips to double unders? What doesn’t work?
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.
Well done you 3!
The Force has not been strong with this blog but I believe it was strong with my training in 2015.
It’s been a long time since I last posted anything on this blog (March 2015!!!). I just had a look at the stats and was surprised to discover that I’ve still had a few views despite the lack of activity. Thank you! I plan to blog more regularly this year and I also plan to focus the blog more on running, triathlons, fitness and martial arts and less on just general ‘remarkable’ topics. That’s a nice big clue as to what I’ve been up to in 2015 and what my plans are for 2016. 🙂
In 2015 I changed the way I approach my training. It started in 2014 already when I used my commute to-and-from work for my training runs and cycles. Instead of just having one workout or training session a day, I was now doing two on many days. It was tough to begin with and I struggled most evenings. However, as I stuck with it, things did improve. Then I started thinking about the training regimens that pro-athletes and elite age-groupers follow. These fit folks spend 6-8 hours a day training. Even with two sessions, I was still only doing 1-1.5 hours a day with longer runs on weekends. I reckoned that it was conceivable that I could up the daily sessions to 3 or 4. So towards the end of May 2015, I started doing 3 or 4 workouts on 3 or 4 days of the week. Again, it was tough to start with but it was manageable.
At that point, the training mix consisted of running, biking and martial arts. I started doing Kuk Sool Won twice a week for an hour. More on this martial arts system in a future post but you can find some insight into the practice from the point of view of another student (my lovely wife) in the posts on Junbi. The running was still mainly my commute and weekend long runs. I started cycling more often – substituting some of my runs with a bike to work and also going on weekly lunchtime rides with a couple of colleagues. As my body adapted to this increased regimen, I started seeing a general improvement in my endurance in particular. In June and July, I added 9Round training to my workout mix. This is a 30 min workout based on kickboxing where you move from one station to the next every 3 min. There are nine stations or rounds. It’s a high intensity workout and definitely boosted my fitness level. I feel that it took me through a plateau. I had bought a two month membership on a deal website and didn’t renew afterwards.
In September I started crossfit of all things. There is a fantastic crossfit gym close to my home and they have a 5:30 am class – perfect for someone with a busy schedule trying to squeeze in a workout. I Will Crossfit has definitely taken my results to another level. I’ll write more about the classes but the workouts I’ve been doing there have benefited my running through heightened strength and endurance.
Event-wise, I took part in my first triathlon in the USA – the 29th Annual Tri For Real event held in Pleasanton. This was a shorter triathlon consisting of 700 yard swim, 19 -mile bike, 4-mile run. I also completed the Berkeley Trail Adventure half marathon course (the toughest half marathon I’ve ever done). Just look at the course profile!
The California International Marathon held in Sacramento was my final event of the year and my first marathon since 2013. This, for me, was the true test of all the training I’d put in over the year. I had three goals depending on how the race progressed.
I managed 1 and 2 – I finished in 4h11. My training came through – I managed to run the full distance (no walking) and I recovered faster than expected (I had a 1.5 hour drive home following the race but was nowhere near as stiff and sore as I expected to be). I definitely felt stronger.
So all-in-all, 2015 has given me hope for further improvements in 2016. I have entered the San Francisco Marathon which promises to be incredibly scenic and incredibly grueling. I have plans to try a Spartan Race and/or a Tough Mudder and I’m eyeing the Ironman 70.3 in Santa Cruz. In crossfit this week we started with our baseline check. We were doing 1 rep maximum testing. It’ll be interesting to see our improvements in 12 weeks time. I’ll keep you posted. If I’m feeling brave, I may post some before and after photos.
I look forward to sharing my training journey with you.
What are you goals and events for 2016?
One of my friends, Glenn Driver, is a super-fast runner (and as the link will show, a brilliant landscape photographer). Last time I asked, his half marathon time PB was around 1h17 and his marathon time PB was around 2h48. He’s been speeding up, though, so these might be out-of-date. He runs at a blistering pace and I always joke that I want to be like him when I grow up. The first time I spoke to him about improving my race times, he had the sage advice: ‘To run faster, you have to run faster.’
I laughed initially but then I realised that he was serious. I stopped and thought about it a bit more and had to admit that he was right. Often, I find myself settling into a rhythm and a steady pace for my runs. Particularly if I have a route I’m running regularly. I am so used to the scenery, the terrain, the changes in gradient that I don’t focus too hard on my pace. I just run to reach the end. When I think about it more I include some intervals or some fartleks but that’s rare. Then, a month later, I look at my average times for the route or my average pace for long vs short runs and I begin to wonder why I’m not any faster. I feel fitter and stronger but I don’t seem to have made any gains in pace. Recently I’ve been lamenting this slowness. The short answer is that I didn’t remember to run faster.
If I want to run faster, I need to run faster. Simple but great advice. It works. Go try it.