Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are well aware that today is the ominous “black friday.” Thousands of people are lined up outside in hopes of scoring the ultimate deals. Is this what the holiday season has come to? Christmas decorations put up in October, Thanksgiving dinner being pushed to lunch so people can get to work in the evenings? We live in such a fast paced society, even our holidays are being swallowed up by the retail industry. How do we reclaim this wonderful season?
Just as CrossFit set a new pace for the fitness community, we can take the principles of our beloved sport and apply them to everyday life (inspired by Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Whole 9 Life).
A CrossFit Black Friday:
Sleep in. Just like a workout, you are not going to be productive today if you don’t get at least 8 hours of sleep. You are most likely on vacation from work so take advantage of the time off. Sleep for 9 or 10 hours! Who cares?
Move around a lot at a slow pace. Grab your family and get outside. Go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride. I don’t care what it is, just get moving. CrossFit must include LONG endurance activities if we are to be GOOD at EVERYTHING. That is the goal right? Is it snowing where you live? This maybe the one and only time in this entire blog post that I recommend heading for the mall. Make your life stress-free: valet your car, give your kids $10 each to “spend” on something of their choice to avoid meltdowns, and walk around the mall. Back and forth several times. Or find a fun trampoline place or bowling alley in your area the whole family can enjoy.
Lift heavy things. Get creative around your house. Lift the couch, tabata style. Head for the gym for a quick WOD (less than 10 mins) but go hard and go heavy. No matter what it is. Make sure you exert as much energy as you can as fast as possible. Heck, pick up your kids and carry them up and down the stairs a few times… a nifty lil farmers carry!
Run really fast every once in a while. Whether you are couped up inside or free to roam, your dog/kids need to be active. A simple came of tag throughout the house or getting the dog to chase after you with a bribe are simple ways to get the heart rate up.
Eat animals, plants, and good fats. Yea… that’s all I got for this one. Pretty straight forward right?
Life is about living, not waiting yet our society has perpetuated the waiting game. In September we anticipate Thanksgiving, October we anticipate Christmas. Instead of living life in the present moment, we are constantly looking for the next thing to get wrapped up in. Does anyone remember when stores were closed on Sunday? Yes, inconvenient but not if you are enjoying life. Now we have big box retailers open 24 hours a day and more and more are transitioning to being open during the holidays. Where has our culture gone?
I hope you take the opportunity to enjoy the moment. Enjoy life. It’s worth living if you do it right.
Last week at Hyperwear, Inc., I hosted a twitter party focused around Obstacle Course training.
Hyperwear Obstacle Course Twitter Party Flyer
As a competitive CrossFit athlete, my idea of fitness stems from functional movements coupled with a constantly varied regime. I love challenging myself daily in the gym and find great pride is accomplishing goals I set for myself. Nothing is better than achieving a new personal record! My latest interest has been group races. My first challenge was the Atomic Athlete Night Ops
The idea behind Night Ops is to put athletes in real world situations and conditions. Combine the necessity to think critically under physical stress but also work in a team environment and you have a mentally, physically, and psychologically demanding challenge. We ran through the streets of Austin with 10 to 20 lbs packs, carried supplies such as rope, flashlights, and hammers, and problem solved our way through word problems to move through check points. Grueling, strenuous, and tiring sum up the event! But it was also empowering, community building, and exposed my strengths as a leader. I thoroughly enjoyed every ounce of the challenge and now I am feigning for more!
As I moderated the Twitter party chat, I realized how exciting, challenging, and rewarding participating in a Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, or Warrior Dash can be! I want in! So what did I do? I reached out to Hybrid Athlete to help me develope a four week training manual for obstacle course training.
Overtraining. Guilty. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to take recovery days. But why? Why is it so hard for me…you… athletes in general… to take a recovery day? The answer lies in the unfortunately lie we’ve been told in the mass media.
“Calories in equals calories out.” - so what you’re saying is that if I eat normal, and don’t work out, I’m going to gain 15 pounds? I better get to my WOD…
Not only is this completely far fetched and untrue (the law of thermodynamics does NOT prove this statement), it has, unfortunately, guilts us into pushing out more time at the gym when our bodies don’t need it. We fear our strength will disappear overnight and our bodies will expand like a balloon.
But I’m not here to play the blame game, as I used to be one of them. When I first started CrossFit, I knew my coaches advised taking plenty of rest between hard intensity days, but it was difficult to get out of the mindset that six days at the gym was perfectly acceptable. I would hit WOD after WOD after WOD with no scheduled rest day. The only time I would rest is when my body would literally be crying out for the couch. But to be perfectly honest… even those days I would go to the “globo gym” I still had a membership at and do “light” cardio on the elliptical.
Then I injured myself. I remember it distinctively because it was the 1776 WOD on Fourth of July last year. Doing thrusters. They kill me every time. But this time in particular, I didn’t listen to my shoulder which was already telling me
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Then some craziness in my own life ensued from August to December. I joined a regular gym (because I didn’t like any of the CF boxes in my area) and programmed my own WODs for a while. I’ll save you from the boring details and fast forward to my current life in Salt Lake City, UT where I have an AMAZING coaching staff, friends and programming guru’s (Damon Stewart & Dave Chiu) to reach out to for support. One of the first things my new coach said to me is,
I like my games athletes to take two rest days minimum a week. Wednesday & Sunday.
CrossFit Overtraining Syndrome
Yes sir…And with that I was forced to learn to appreciate rest days. And boy do I ever! But WHY are rest days so important you might be thinking?Physiologically: muscles need time to repair, rebuild and strengthen. Without adequate rest periods, muscles can begin to breakdown and athletes can experience overtraining syndrome.Psychologically: Mental preparation for the next day. If you waste your energy kicking yourself in the butt for not hitting the gym, you are wasting the precious time you have off.
CrossFit does not prescribe a one size model but allows for variation & scaling. This needs to apply to your WOD scheduling as well. Where is the variation in a program that has six days of heavy WODs and one off? The answer is, there isn’t any variation. Play with your schedule. Maybe you are a two days on, one day off time of CrossFitter. Perhaps you can push through three and rest. Anyway you set it up, it’s important to schedule in your rest days.
Listen: I’m not advocating sitting on the couch all day and being a lazy sack of potatoes. But I am saying, enjoy your time to do something else.
Image of Chris Spealler courtesy of Mary Pantier Photography.
Cramping fingers. Sweaty palms. Heart racing. Ringing in my ears. These sentences can only best describe the longest 15 minutes of my life.
For those that live under a rock, Sunday’s final event represented the most intense CrossFit Games Regional in history. Entering the final heat, six men battled for the chance to be crowned Fittest Man of the Southwest Region. And it was up to me and my little fingers to inform the world who won.
Many of you may be wondering, “Why was this event such a big deal? After all, it’s just exercise.” Yes, true but the event encompassed so much more. It represented the heart of a CrossFit athlete. Chris Spealler, the man who ultimately took third place, did the unthinkable. He overcame what seemed impossible. He gave hope and instilled motivation in men and women around the world, each holding their breathe as the action unfolded. Sitting comfortably in the number five spot, Spealler knew he had to leave it all out on the floor if he was to overcome his five point deficit, a necessary feat if he had any hopes of making it to the Games.
Why do I tell you this story? Because his performance was in my hands. Literally. I received word from HQ that because the CrossFit WOD would not be televised, I needed to provide a play by play of the action on Twitter. No pressure. With roughly 100,000 fans from California to Dubai watching the Southwest handle, I needed to step up my game. I designated my partner in crime, Chad, to be my right hand man as I stayed focused on tweeting. As the action unfolded, my eyes never left the computer screen and my fingers never stopped typing. Chad would yell out what was happened and I would type frantically.
Here are a few highlights from the pandemonium:
@CFGSouthWestReg: 3,2,1, GO!
@CFGSouthWestReg: The men are flying through the MUs.
@CFGSouthWestReg: First back to deadlifts #spealler
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Spealler #Chan #Burke #Forrest all MUs #CrossFit
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Spealler 4th to toes to bars. Intense!
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Burke & #Chan & #Forrest back to wall balls
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Spealler & #Forrest neck and neck for 3rd
@CFGSouthWestReg: 10 minutes in. This heat is HOT
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Speal & #Chan battling for 2nd
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Forrest back on Farmer Carry. 14:11 as of now
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Chan takes off on farmer carry 2nd place!
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Forrest WIN 14:57!!!!!
@CFGSouthWestReg: #Chan & #Speal unofficially tie second. We will update ASAP
@CFGSouthWestReg: Too close to call right now who gets the official third place. Finding out the results from the reps now…
@CFGSouthWestReg: The judges are looking at the numbers. Suspense! #Chan #Spealler
@CFGSouthWestReg: Official Results #Chan, #Burke, #Spealler, #Forrest, & #Hathcock
The tweets were flying out and they were also flying in. Fans were going nuts, using hashtags to root for their favorite athlete.
We even accomplished getting #Spealler to trend worldwide on Twitter.
@Abbs1122: @CFGSouthWestReg The suspense is killing me!!!!!! #chan #speller #Burke
@tarynrom: This is crazy intense watching the @CFGSouthWestReg updates, yelling at my computer for #Spealler! #CrossFit
@bretjacobsen: @CFGSouthWestReg why can’t there e a live feed of this?!?! I’m freaking out over here!!! Go #GOSPEALLER !!!!
@ReDefineFit: @CFGSouthWestReg O.M.G. #CannotStopChewingMyNails
@JonathanMcAlees: @CFGSouthWestReg I didn’t used twitter till this weekend! Let’s go Speal!! Here we go Speal to @CrossFitGames!!”
@UteCrossFit: Men’s finish was as exciting as any sporting event I’ve been a part of. #Speal”
“Absolutely everyone was rooting for Spealler and it showed. The sixth event performance was watched so closely that variants of his name: Speall-er, SPEAL, and Spealler were being mentioned on Twitter at a rate of 17x/sec at the excitement’s peak.”
The pandemonium and hysteria around this event made for an action-packed 15 minutes.
As I shut down the computer to begin packing up, I thought to myself, “Sure, the Twitter numbers are cool and the fact that we, CrossFit athletes, made a topic trend WORLDWIDE is amazing, the most impressive part of the weekend is that an athlete, burdened by an unclear future and fueled by faith, managed to overshadow the top two athletes in the event.” Isn’t Spealler’s story our story? Each of us enter a WOD with the deck stacked against us and the clock flashing numbers as our time runs out. Yet we do it anyway. We summon the courage and determination to never quit. We fight against ourselves for new personal records and cheer on our competitors every moment we can because our community is unlike any other.
The next time you enter the box or your garage gym, remember Spealler’s story.
“There are Three Keys to Success 1 ) Hard Work. 2) Hard Work. 3) Hard Work”
“Ensure progression is appropriate. Get rid of the ego at the door and do what is appropriate for you and your body without injury. Proper progression and technique before intensity.” - Kevin Hughes (Owner/Coach Crossfit FTF)
“Back home in Russia we train bears to ride unicycles. You can train to do anything.” -Oleg Kechko (1996 Olympic Games, Olympic Lifter, Coach)
“To know and not to do is not yet to know.” - Tom Corrigan (Blue Collar Fitness/Kettlebell Instructor)
“Hydrate, Eat, Rest, Recover.” - Matt Overton (UFL,NFL, Pros2Youth)
“Progress quickly patiently. Technique over time. Power = speed x strength. Therefore, the point of Olympic lifting is to move a heavy weight one time and to do it safely, quickly, properly, and efficiently”. - Kate Chasey (Coach/RXBOUND)
Who would have thought a sunny, Sunday morning in March of 2011 would have set my life on a course I never would have expected. March was full of new things: a new job, new friends, and a new workout. I have been an athlete since I can remember. My life evolved from doing flips off of the couch as a four year old to winning my first gymnastics competition to being asked to training for the Olympics (and for the record, my mom wouldn’t let me do it). I participated in four Varsity sports in high school: gymnastics, cheerleading, track, and lacrosse (much to my coaches displeasure). What can I say, I love being active!
Like most girls my age, my idea of in shape and being active was what I read in magazines or saw on TV. In college my workout routine looked something like this: 30 minutes on the ellipitcal (twice a day) followed by some sort of handheld weight lifting (8- 15 lbs barbells baby!). I did kickboxing classes, hour long spin and a “30 minute Butts & Guts Xpress” lunch time workout. Yes, I was toned. I didn’t jiggle in awkward spots and most girls that lived in my dorm or sorority house wanted to know my secrets to success. Success? Let’s see… waste lots and lots of time and energy in the gym and barely have time for school, friends, or a life. Awesome combination right?
Wrong. It wasn’t until after graduation that I really hit a rut. I was utterly BORED by ellipticals and cardio classes were cheesy (yes, I realize the cheerleader just called cardio classes cheese.. ironic right?). I switched it up and tried Yoga, Pilates, and Bar Method, all while avoiding the inevitable. My long time friend and mentor had been workout CrossFit for a few years and LOVED it. All I could see was really, really large barbells and an intense fear my 5 ft 1in body would explode and resemble a ‘roided-up body builder . No, thanks. Not for me.
Wrong yet again. I finally talked myself into attending the open workout at Diablo CrossFit and was nearly moved to tears. Not because the CrossFit WOD was difficult but because I felt reborn. I was hooked. I made my way through the elements classes as fast as I could because I was eager to join in on the fun (I think I even participated in a regular WOD before they were completed… shhh don’t tell).
I committed to a strict paleo dietary plan and the fat (which I didn’t even realize was there) melted away and was quickly replaced by lean muscle. I was lifting things heavier than me (who would have thunk!) and running faster than I ever had before (remember I was a varsity track athlete…). Honestly, I have never been at the fitness level as I am today – but I am looking to take it a step further.
Recently I have noticed that I am not getting stronger. I’m not getting weaker by any means but I am not progressing. As the two year anniversary of my CrossFitting adventure lingers in the future I have decided to take on a new challenge: introducing more recovery into my fitness. It is going to be a 30 day trial period complete with before and after photos. My training schedule will not change as I already around five CrossFit WOD (example here) a week, plus incorporate Olympic weightlifting as well. The only difference will be the addition of intensional recovery and sticking to my paleo diet.
I hope you follow along with me on this adventure (both here on the blog, on Facebook and on twitter). As the season changes from fall to winter, pick a challenge for yourself.