Thursday, December 23, 2010



Last night's workout looked like a good place to try moving from level 2 to level 1. I knew it would be challenging, but I wanted to give it a shot. After a lengthy stretching warm-up, I did 5x5 of front squats at 135 and 145 for the last three sets. Then this was the main workout:

Burpee into a kettlebell swing
Walking lunges with a barbell plate held overhead.

My prescribed numbers were 35 pounds for the kettlebell and 25 for the weight plate. The first weight worked fine, but the second was too much after the front squats and I dropped to 15 partway through the workout. I was the last one done, so I had the entire class cheering for me, and on those last 18 lunges (9 per side, not just 9 steps), the coach was yelling at me to not put down the weight and just keep moving. It was brutal. And exhilarating. And, I'm sore today.

Today starts a few days where I'm just going to relax and enjoy the holidays. I'm going to a little gathering with friends tonight. Tomorrow, I pick up new skis and get to ski with my family for part of the day. Then, my sister arrives and we'll go out for a nice dinner on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day will be with my wife's family. On Sunday, my sister and my wife and I will find something to do. On Monday, I'm taking my son and a friend to see a concert, but I might be able to sneak in a CF workout. On Wednesday, I'm going to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals with my wife, but I can definitely get in a workout that day. Life is good.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I had a mostly great weekend teaching skiing. One thing probably stopped it from being perfect and I'll discuss that below.

There had been a decent amount of snow at the mountain during the week and more trails were open than a week ago. However, the natural snow trails were a little bit thin and the snow was of variable quality. It was nice to have new trails to spread out the crowds, but I knew the skiing conditions would be challenging.

After a couple warm-up runs on Saturday morning, we had a quick meeting. I found out that I'd be getting a new girl in my group, and I was happy about this. I enjoy getting to know the students well and skiing with them for multiple years in a row. But, this had been my first season ever where I'd gotten no new students. I thought that adding a new girl would be a nice change for the entire group.

It turned out that the new girl already knew one of the other girls in my group. All of the girls welcomed the new girl and we had a great morning. Because I had a girl that I'd never met before, we started on very easy terrain. The new girl had less experience than my other skiers, but she was athletic and had a great attitude. By mid-afternoon, I had the entire group on intermediate to low level expert terrain. The new girl was the last one down one particular run, and when she finished, she asked me why she was the slowest skier in the group. I had every other girl talk about how long they'd been skiing. I told the new girl that she was doing amazingly well given that everyone else had been skiing for much longer than her. She seemed happy with that explanation. And, the new girl wasn't a beginner. She is new to a ski school program and a lot of her skiing has been on a smaller mountain, but she has skied a lot.

At the end of the day, I felt it had been a great success. Sunday, I would try to build on that success.

I typically structure our ski day in a way that allows me to teach something and then let the group work with what I've taught. We start skiing at 9:30. We take a warm-up run and then on the second run, I do some teaching. We practice whatever it is that I'm teaching for our second and third runs. From the end of the third run until lunchtime, I use moderate terrain that allows the girls to use whatever I've taught. After lunch, we usually spend some time on more challenging terrain, mostly for the girls to have fun, but also so I can see what happen to their technique on tougher terrain. I give individual guidance to the girls in the second half of the day, but rarely do any formal teaching. A huge amount of skiing is really just practice, and if the girls had to listen to me all day long rather than skiing, I'd have a rebellion on my hands.

Yesterday at lunch, I was trying to think of appropriate challenging terrain for the afternoon. The new girl had handled everything just fine so far. Some of the other girls wanted to ski a double-black diamond bump run, but I knew this was inappropriate terrain for my new student. Safety comes first at all times.

I finally decided to use the easier part of a single-black diamond trail for our challenge. I expected some ice and moguls, but nothing much more difficult than what we'd done already. So, we headed to the summit, headed down an easy intermediate trail, and then took a side trail to the more challenging terrain. As soon as the new girl saw the trail, she expressed her concern that it was too steep. I told her it was no steeper than other terrain we had skied already, but it was a longer trail. My son mentioned to me later that this trail does have a unique feature compared to other trails we had been skiing. It is completely straight and you can look down the steep hill for a long way. I think my son was correct that the view was intimidating to my new student. We started skiing and found the terrain to be challenging. We had soft snow moguls separated by large patches of slick ice. The ice was intimidating to the new girl. It was intimidating to two other students as well, including my own daughter.

I stayed with the new girl, but it was clear she was scared. And, the more scared she got, the more her skills regressed. This in turn caused her to have less control. Which scared her more. You get the point. About halfway down the trail, she told me she couldn't do it. She wanted to take off her skis and walk down. Sometimes, this is a good exit strategy, but not with icy trails. Skis are much better than ski boots on icy terrain.

I must admit that I've never had a student have a meltdown like that. I felt terrible. After almost 30 minutes, we finished the trail. On the lower part of the trail, the pitch decreased, and I was glad to see my student relax and make some nice turns. When the group was finally all back together, I apologized to everyone. I had put a student into a scary situation and it had affected the entire group.

We skied a little bit more, took a break for some hot chocolate, and then spent some time just playing in the snow to wrap up the day.

I've continued to think about my decision-making. In hindsight, it's easy to say I made the wrong decision. Yet, in some respects, I think I'd make the same decision again. The snow conditions were worse than I'd expected. And, I hadn't skied that trail in the past week. So, I made a decision based on incomplete information. Yet, the conditions were well within the abilities of the entire group. Most of the group enjoyed the trail and I had numerous requests to ski it again. We didn't do that. Perhaps I should have spent more time with the girl, waiting until I knew her better before I challenged her like that. Perhaps I would have found a clue that she would become mentally unraveled by the terrain. But, the terrain was not that big a jump from other trails we'd skied. The view was certainly different though.

A few years ago, I was coaching the daughter of a good friend who has also been a mentor to me as a ski instructor. My group that day asked to ski a tougher trail than I'd planned. The request was unanimous, and my friend's daughter got hurt. It was a minor injury but a scary situation. Near the end of that season, my friend asked me about my decision-making that day. He asked what I would do if the same thing happened again. I told him that in hindsight, I would, of course, make a different decision. But, I told him that without knowing that hindsight, I'd make the same choice. I felt it had been an appropriate decision. He told me that he was glad I felt I'd made the correct decision.

The first word of the motto of the Professional Ski Instructors of America is "Safety". I take that very seriously. Yet, sometimes, things don't go the way I expect. And every time this happens, I get to think about my decision-making. And hopefully, I learn from these situations and become a better ski instructor. But, sometimes I wonder. If something doesn't go well, and later, I still think my decision was appropriate, there seems to be some sort of cognitive dissonance. Skiing is certainly a sport with risks, but my job is to reduce risk, not increase it.

I guess I'll be replaying yesterday in my mind for a long time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taboo subject

I don't write about politics here very often. My good friends know that I fit in very well in Vermont - a liberal hippie type in a liberal hippie type of state. Despite the fact that I work for a venture funded start-up software company, I have managed to stay employed so far in the economic downturn. And, I make a pretty decent salary as the IT Director of my small company.

I hope I have the right understanding of the bill in my analysis below.

In exchange for an $800 dollar tax credit that is now gone, my wife and I will save even more than that in reduced social security payments. A lot more.

Individuals who are employed but make less than $20K per year will see their total tax liability increase, as they lose the $400 credit and save less than that in reduced social security taxes. The same applies to couples who make less than $800.

I live in one of the poorer counties in VT. The median household income here is about $48K. People who make that much probably struggle to even own a house here. That median household will save about $160 in taxes this coming year. I'll save over ten times that much.

Yes, I'm happy that unemployment benefits will be extended for those that need them. Those benefits are urgently needed by some people who simply can't find work. VT has a much lower unemployment rate than the national rate, and I'm sure that the extended benefits will have a bigger impact in places other than here. But, people without jobs need that lifeline. I'm certainly not one of those people who believes that unemployment benefits are a disincentive to working. They aren't that much money and I think that most people collecting them would truly prefer to be working.

But, how in the world did Congress and the President come up with something that hurts the employed poor (and I assume this hurts people on Social Security as well), and give me an even bigger tax cut.

I can certainly donate the money to people who will get hurt by this change, potentially including some family members. But, I'm tempted to save the money and donate it to the first liberal who announces a primary challenge against Obama. Obama may as well just change parties, because he is certainly a Democrat in name only.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

5-5-5-5-5, 6-6-19-42?

Who comes up with these workouts?

Last night at CrossFit, we started with an expanded version of something called the Burgener warm-up. Instead of using barbells, we use thin pieces of PVC pipe and practice Olympic lifting movements.

Next, we did overhead squats, at what was supposed to be a fairly high weight, 5 sets of 5, or 5-5-5-5-5. When I started doing CrossFit, I couldn't do an overhead squat at all. My attempts on my own in the past resulted in me in awkward position, balancing on the balls of my feet instead of my heels, with the bar too far forward and my squat not very deep. Since starting CrossFit, the coach has worked with me quite a bit on this lift, focusing on shoulder mobility and ankle dorsiflexion. Years of distance running have resulted in a very strong and tight gastroc, which really inhibits the flexion of the ankle. (This lack of flexibility is very noticeable when I'm skiing, so I'm constantly working on it). After lots of mobility work, I can finally do the lift, but not with much weight. I did a few decent sets with just the bar - 45 pounds. I then did two sets with 65 pounds, but my form suffered. I went back to 45 pounds to finish the sets. I was working out last night with a group of very fit Coast Guard members. One of them was doing the lift with perfect form and 175 pounds overhead. I was very impressed. He told me that a year ago, he couldn't do the lift at all, and that he'd come that far in year. So, I need to keep working to make this old body more flexible.

The last portion of the workout was timed, doing as many reps as possible of the following sequence:

6 pull-ups (I'm still doing band-assisted pull-ups, but I'm getting stronger)
6 push-ups
19 air squats
42 reps of jump rope

Who comes up with 6-6-19-42 as a sequence? Anyway, I've been getting much better at pacing myself in these types of workouts. In the beginning, I would start way too fast and burn out quickly. Last night, I nailed the timing. I was just starting to flail as I ran out of time.

I did 5 full rounds, plus 6-6-15 reps. The most encouraging thing was 36 total push-ups with really good form. In some recent workouts, I've resorted to knee push-ups to get through the workout, but not last night.

I will admit that I'm feeling tired from the past two days. Unlike the young kids there, I can't do the full-on workout day after day. I'm getting better, but I'm trying to listen to my body when it tells me not to push too hard. So, tonight remains undecided.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CrossFit Total

On Monday night, we were supposed to do the "CrossFit Total" test in the gym. I was not only beat from skiing all weekend, but I was also extremely busy at work. So, I did the workout last night, on my own.

Basically, the workout is really a test. Excluding warm-up reps, you try for a maximum score in the back squat, strict (or military) press and deadlift. There is no time limit for rest between sets, but it has to be a single workout. You can't do one lift one day, go home, eat and sleep, do the other lift the next day, etc.

This rule is important and it certainly affected my total score.

Coming into this workout, I had worked out really hard last week. Then, I took a rest day on Friday, skied all weekend, and took another rest day on Monday. I still felt some fatigue from my first full weekend on snow, but it wasn't too bad.

I worked from home yesterday, so I did the workout on my own in my local gym.

Last week, I tied my lifetime best in the squat at 285 pounds. A year ago in December, I had a good month and set new PRs for the back squat at 285 and deadlift at 355. I had three attempts, and wanted to start with a weight I knew I'd hit, then try a slightly higher weight, and go from there. So, I started at 275 and it went pretty well. I was leaning towards an attempt at 285, but decided to try to break my PR on the next lift instead at 290. I nailed that one. So, I went for 300 on my third attempt and nailed that one. I was off to a good start.

I had never really done this lift before starting CrossFit recently. I had done push-presses a lot - a lift where you dip a bit and then use momentum from the legs to help drive the weight overhead. But, this kind of movement is forbidden in the strict press. Consequently, this can be a frustrating lift. If you get stuck on the way up, it seems like you're done. In the bench press, it's possible to get stuck, adjust pressure somewhat and resume. But, not in the strict press. I knew I could do 115, so I started there after my warm-up and hit it easily. My goal was to try 125 and if I made that, 135. On the attempt at 125, the movement started OK, but then slowed to a crawl. I could see my face in a mirror in front of me, and my face got all red and I thought my head would explode. But, the bar kept moving very, very slowly. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I completed the lift. There was no reason to try anything higher. I was done here.

I've been frustrated by my deadlift recently. As I mentioned above, I did 355 last winter, but I haven't been close to that since March or so. I hit 325 last week and that was on the edge. It's been interesting that my squat is improving while my deadlift has regressed. The difference between my best in each lift was 70 pounds a year ago, but only 25 pounds now. After my warm-up reps (limited after the previous hard work), I decided to start at 315. I knew I could lift that much and I did. Then, I got greedy. Rather than trying to tie my best for the season, I was thinking about my high-end goal of more than 750 pounds for my total, so I jumped to 335. I failed miserably. I barely got the bar off the ground and I just stalled. That frustrated me, but I felt like there was still a silver lining. I would drop to 325, nail that one, and get exactly 750.

But, the attempt at 335 plus the other lifts had taken too much out of me, and I stalled out again, although I came close on this one.

So, my total was 740.

There is a formula called the Wilks formula that uses age, sex, and bodyweight to adjust lifts so they can be normalized. My Wilks total was 220. I don't know if the coach calculated the Wilks total for anyone else. My primary interest is that it takes my age into account in a gym where 3/4 of the people are half my age.

I've been lifting for less than four full years right now, and only doing CrossFit for a couple months. Overall, I'm pretty happy with these lifts, but I need to keep working on them.

My eating yesterday was dead-on - bacon and eggs for breakfast, a veggie based soup with some protein for lunch, and a salad and grilled beef for dinner.

My pants are fitting better than they were a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Busy Day

Yesterday was a pretty busy work day, which happened to coincide with a planned rest day.

I had a late meeting with our CEO and some others in the company and I didn't leave the office until after 7:00. Then, due to snow and ice, it took me almost two hours to get home. I had a quick dinner, read for a bit, and got to sleep before 10:00. I am working from home today, so I got a good night of sleep last night.

Tonight, I'm going to do the planned workout from CrossFit yesterday. It's really a strength test called the "CrossFit Total", and after I get my score, I'll probably add some sort of interval work.

The CrossFit Total is the sum of your best weight in three different lifts: back squat, strict press and deadlift.

My recent bests for these lifts have been 285, 125, and 325. I think I can go higher in all three tonight, but I'm a bit confused why my back squat is currently at my "best ever" level, but my deadlift is 30 pounds from my max lift from a year ago. I have been doing max effort deadlifts at the end of tough workouts, so maybe doing fewer lifts tonight will let me lift more weight.

I was very happy with my skiing over the weekend. I can already feel how some of the CrossFit workouts have helped with mobility and dynamic balance, and all of my workouts are helping with strength. Despite weighing too much at present, I was very happy with how I skied this past weekend. I did have one technical issue that was bugging me a bit, but it was more a matter of being lazy at times. I noticed that any time my weight drifted back, even a bit, when I exited a turn, I would pressure my outside heel a bit just based on my weight distribution. This would cause me to exit the turn by smearing the skis rather than drawing a nice line in the snow.

I have to focus on my fore-aft balance more assiduously, and not let this lazy habit get worse.

We got a bunch of rain Sunday night and into Monday, but it snowed again last night. Hopefully, the mountain will have time to recover from the rain by next weekend.

Monday, December 13, 2010


On Friday, I ended up taking a rest day instead of doing upper body lifting. I was just plain tired from workouts the previous five days. Even on Saturday morning, as I walked from the employee parking lot at the mountain to the instructors' locker room, I still felt tired. I got out for three quick ski runs before a meeting, and then we were off to pick up our students for our first day of teaching.

Last year, I had a group of ten girls. This year, 8 of them have returned to the group, although one is injured right now. The other seven girls showed up and we headed out to ski. I spent most of the day just lightly reviewing a few core concepts and letting the girls get used to new ski equipment and just re-adjusting to skiing. The ski terrain we had was limited, a lot of it was icy, and the mountain was crowded. It was a dangerous situation at times and I spent most of the day doing everything I could to keep the girls safe.

After the ski day was over, we had a party with the parents and the children, welcoming them back to the mountain for another season. I had a couple drinks at the party - the first time I had any alcohol in two weeks.

On Sunday, we were expecting rain, but the storm was supposed to start as light snow. Instead, we had a few hours of heavy snow and probably got 4" of new snow. It was very windy, and we had to abandon one ski run where we were skiing down a double-black diamond run into the wind and blowing snow. It was cold, visibility was very poor, and at our first opportunity, we left this trail and traversed slightly uphill to a much easier trail. By early afternoon, the snow changed to sleet and then rain, but the girls weren't willing to stop. All of their parents had already abandoned skiing for the day, but the girls weren't going to quit. All in all, despite the rain and wind, we had a really fun day, and on better snow than we had skied on Saturday.

Last night, we decorated the Christmas tree at home and I had some sparkling wine while we did that.

So, in the past week, I have continued to eat the way I wanted, I worked out or skied 6 days, and I'm feeling really good. Despite following the Primal Blueprint for the past two weeks, a grain and sugar free diet, I have not had energy issues with the lower carbohydrate diet. I did have some alcohol this week, which should be an infrequent part of primal eating, but I chose lower carbohydrate beverages (wine rather than beer or sweet cocktails).

I will have to weigh myself soon to see if my weight is changing. One of my co-workers mentioned yesterday that I looked like I'd lost some weight, and he's noticed me avoiding the pub at the mountain.

My legs are tired from the weekend and I have a lot of meetings today, so today will be a rest day. Tomorrow, I'll be back to working hard in the gym.

Oh yeah, my legs felt great while skiing this past weekend. I felt more flexible and stronger than I have on skis for the past few years. Despite the fact that I've never skied at a higher weight, it's clear that my CrossFit work and other workouts are helping with the skiing. Even though I felt tired from training hard during the week, once I got going, my legs felt really good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More CrossFit

I ate as planned yesterday and it's getting easier mentally to come up with food ideas that are grain and sugar free. Up until last Sunday or so, I think I was dealing with effects from reduced carbohydrates, but I'm feeling a lot better now. My workouts this week have been better than last week, from an energy perspective.

Last night at CF, we warmed up with some rope jumping. Then we spent 15 minutes on form work for a lift called the snatch balance. I had never done these before, and the timing is a bit awkward. On some reps, I'd extend fully after the dip and then jump a bit as I pushed the bar overhead. On other reps, I'd fail to extend fully, which would be an issue if I was trying to push more weight. This one seems to be all about form and speed, and I've got some work to do.

For the main workout, we alternated sets of 10 overhead squats and 10 push-ups. The goal was to do as many sets as possible in 10 minutes. Until recently, I couldn't even do overhead squats due to mobility issues. But, the CF coach has been helping, and my form is much better now. But, I'm still doing light weights. Some people did 95 or more pounds. I stuck to 35 pounds last night. I got through 8 full rounds plus 9 more OH squats. That was a good number, but done at a low level. My shoulders are a bit sore this morning, so I think I chose the right level.

I read something recently, perhaps on the ultramarathon listserv or Mark's Daily Apple about how CrossFit seems to be great for people under 30, who can handle the intesity. However, the argument was made that it's too demanding for older athletes and people tend to get hurt or drift away. I'm trying to take a prudent approach right now, letting the young studs do the prescribed workouts while I do the easier version. I'm hopeful that a slow ramp-up to the tougher versions of the workouts will keep me healthy and that I'll continue to improve, rather than getting burned out.

Tonight, I'll lift on my own - upper body only - and try to save my legs for my first two days of ski instruction this weekend. I'm excited to be teaching skiing again, but disappointed by a really bad weather forecast for Sunday (lots or rain and freezing rain and wind). Maybe the forecasters will turn out to be wrong.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Almost made the wrong decision

Yesterday was a tough work day. My job is at a computer terminal, but it was one of those mentally draining days - death by a thousand details. By the time I left the office, I'd decided to head home and get a goo night's sleep rather than going to CrossFit. But first, I stopped at the cell phone store to get a new cable for my iPhone. I left the other cable in PA a couple months ago. When I left the store, I realized the fastest way home would take me right past the CrossFit gym. And, I still had five minutes to get there.

So, I went and had a fun workout - a slightly different kind of workout than we normally do. I've mentioned before that I rarely do the workout exactly as prescribed, but instead pick a lower level. We have the Rx'd workout, then Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Normally, I do Level 2, unless a workout hits my strengths, and then I'll do Level 1. Late last week, when I was feeling wiped out, I did Level 3 twice. So, last night I did Level 2, and it turned out I should have done level 1.

Here is the workout:

Clean and press - two minutes, as many reps as possible. Level 2 was 65 pounds and level 1 was 95 pounds. I should have picked level 1. The coach said that if we picked the right weight, we'd get 15-25 reps. I got 29, the most in the group, so I clearly had a weight that was too light for me.

Then, a five minute rest. Then, a 5-4-3-2-1 with the following exercises:

Box jump

You do 5 reps of each, then 4 of each, then 3, etc., as quickly as possible. It took me 3:06 to do this segment - fastest in the group, but everyone else was doing a harder variation.

Then, five minutes rest. And then the killer, Tabata air squats (aka bodyweight squats). T he Tabata protocol is 20 seconds of all out work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, done 8 times. When I do Tabata running workouts, I do 10 sets, rather than 8. But, with 8, a 4 minute workout segment can seem like an eternity. Then, just to make it more fun, the coach decided that our ten second rest intervals would be done in the down position - squatting, which was a quad burner. In the first 20 seconds, I got 19 squats. But, I slowed down, of course, and had 74 after six segments. I picked it up a bit the last two and got to 99.

Our score for the workout was our time in seconds in the middle segment minus our rep totals from the other two segments. So, I had 186 - 29 - 99 = 58. That was a good score, but I'd only done level 2, so the people with higher scores but with the Rx's workout did a much better job than I did.

For the day, I ate as planned - eggs and chicken sausage for breakfast, chicken thighs in a coconut curry sauce for lunch, two burgers on lettuce, without cheese but with avocado and other veggies for dinner.

I'm only stepping on the scale once per week right now. After my first week of eating better, I had dropped 3 pounds, from a weight that was the highest I've ever been. I'm hoping to see that number continue to go down, but I can already feel that my clothes are fitting better.

I'm on a listserv group related to ultrarunning. Some people there have been talking recently about putting down the heavy weights, giving up CrossFit, giving up the gym and other forms of cross-training, and focusing more on pure running workouts to improve their running. I'm guessing that's the right decision for them. But, improving my running seems to be a very distant goal right now, and a very low priority. I need to reduce my bodyfat percentage significantly right now before I even consider running longer distances again.

Plus, it's ski season!

Tonight will be CrossFit. Tomorrow might be a rest day, or at the very least, a light workout before two full days of ski instruction this weekend.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Keeping my priorities in order

Yesterday was one of those days where it would have been easy to skip my workout. Due to bad roads (snow and ice), I worked from home most of the day. (Given the roads today, I should have stayed home again, I think.) I started work by 7:00 a.m because I had a 4:00 dental appointment. Then, my wife reminded me that the refrigerator was empty. We hadn't been grocery shopping since just before Thanksgiving, and all of the Thanksgiving leftovers were finally gone. So, after my dental appointment, we needed to get groceries. I needed to come up with a fast but worthwhile workout.

Recently, when I've been in the gym for solo workouts (not CrossFit), I've been doing heavier weights, with low reps and longer rest periods. So last night, I reversed that, for a very fast and efficient workout:

Back squat: 3x10 @ 185
Strict press: 3x10 @ 85
Deadlift: 3x10 @ 205

I took no more than a minute between sets. Including warm-ups, the workout took me about half an hour.

After that, we had time to get my daughter some new basketball shoes, get some groceries, and go out for dinner, where I had a steak and a salad.

So, my workouts are staying on track, my eating is on track, and tonight, I'm going to CrossFit.

With a lot of new snow this week, I'm really looking forward to skiing this coming weekend.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CrossFit influence

Even though I worked at home yesterday and didn't make it to the CrossFit gym, my workout was definitely influenced by what I've been doing in CrossFit.

I started my workout with bench presses - a lift we don't do at CF, and one that I haven't done much recently. At CrossFit, we do a lot of strict presses - a different range of motion than the bench press, so I've been doing bench presses when I don't go to CF.

After my warm-up, I did sets of two, adding 5 pounds each set until I maxed out. I can really tell that I'm not doing this lift very much, because I maxed out 15 pounds below my best weight at this lift.

Then, I headed to the treadmill - a place I haven't been for a while. After a five minute warm-up, I did one minute hard, one minute easy for ten reps. That was it. Some strength work, some interval work, and then go home.

My eating was dead-on yesterday. I had eggs for breakfast, a Cobb salad for lunch, and then braised pork tenderloin with a salad and guacamole for dinner.

By 9:00, I was in bed and by 5:15 this morning, I was awake without my alarm clock.

Because of snow on the roads and a dental appointment, I'm working from home again today. So, I won't get to CrossFit today either. I'm planning on a quick and simple workout tonight. I'll do 3x10 each of squats, strict presses, and deadlifts. I've been doing these exercises at very low reps and higher weights recently. Tonight, I'll reverse things - more reps, less rest, less weight, and more sweat. I'll probably be sore tomorrow from the change in set/rep patterns.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Great weekend

The highlight of the weekend was skiing with my son yesterday. We warmed up on a black-diamond run and then did laps on a double-black until our legs were crying for mercy. Luckily, my legs feel pretty good today.

I continued my primal eating all through the weekend, including dinner out on Friday night with co-workers. While everyone else had burgers, fries, beer and dessert, I had a salad with a burger patty, club soda, and no dessert. And, I still had fun.

Saturday morning, we had ski instructor training, but due to a rainstorm mid-week, we did indoor training rather than out on the snow. But, our second-year boss really has things under control, and it was probably the best day of indoor ski-training that I can remember. After training was over, I never did make it to the gym, but came home and watched college football instead. I went to bed early on Saturday night and woke up early on Sunday. I let my son sleep in before we headed to the mountain for some skiing.

After skiing, we had a simple dinner and I fell asleep on the couch before 8:00 p.m. I was in bed by 8:00 and got a good 10 hours of sleep before waking up without an alarm this morning.

After work today, I'll go to the gym for bench presses and then do some running intervals on the treadmill. Tomorrow, I'll most likely go to CrossFit.

So, I made it one week eating the way I'd planned and working out hard. I feel pretty good right now. So, the obvious decision is another week just like last week.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Feeling my age and then some

In just over four weeks, I'll turn 49. But, for some reason, I feel like I'm about 79 right now.

I haven't been sleeping well this week. I've been working hard in the gym, but I feel like it's beating me up rather than making me stronger.

My last two workouts (last night and this morning) didn't go well at all. I expected to struggle in some workouts as I made some changes to my diet. It certainly takes the body a while to adapt to a change in diet. And, I know I'm not in great shape right now. It is amazing to me to watch the fit younger guys and ladies at CrossFit as they hammer through some of the workouts. It's easy to forget that they are half my age.

Last night's workout started with some strength work - front squats and strict presses. I am strong enough to hold my own with some of the youngsters on this part of the workout. Then, came burpee box jumps - doing a fixed number as quickly as possible. Burpees are hard. But then, when you have to jump onto a box as you finish the burpee rather than just doing a half-hearted little jump, it's a whole new game. Different levels of the workout had people doing anywhere from 40 to 100. I was shooting for 60, but by the time I finished 40, I was toast. Some of the younger guys had already done 100 by the time I did 40. And, they'd used a higher box.

This morning, to be honest, I was just glad I made it to the gym. After a tough workout last night, and not sleeping well, I was afraid I wouldn't even get there. Once again, I struggled with the workout. We started with some mobility work and some rope jumping. Then 5x5 weighted pull-ups, but I used a band and "unweighted" instead. Then, in 12 minutes, as many rounds as possible of 10 knee-ups, 10 wall balls (squat and toss a medicine ball against a wall) and 40 jump-rope reps. I felt sick to my stomach through the workout and only managed 4 rounds, which was disappointing.

After the workout today, I talked to the trainer for a while. I told her that I'm finding CrossFit to be very humbling. I know that things will improve and that it's still new to me (fewer than 20 total workouts so far), but I'm not used to being the last guy in the class. I think of things I've accomplished in the past in running shoes that I'm proud of - sub-3 marathon, sub-18 5K, 82 minute half-marathon, a top-100 finish at the Wasatch 100 and a finish at Hardrock. And now, I'm the fat kid who would get picked last for dodgeball, it seems.

So, I'll keep working. Keep focusing on eating well. Stay away from the beer. And, I'll find that 49 really isn't that old. I hope.

There is an article titled "What is Fitness?" that was written by the founder of CrossFit. I've been a decent runner at times in my life. But, at no point have I come close to being fit by CrossFit standards. So, I just have a lot of work to do, I suppose.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Not quite as planned, but a good day anyway

My triceps are still trashed from Monday's workout. And, my legs are tired from Tuesday. Late yesterday, I found out I had to be in my office rather than working from home today, as I'd planned. This means I can go to CrossFit today. Because of that option, taking a rest day yesterday became a more acceptable option, knowing I'd work hard today instead.

So, no workout yesterday. But, I ate absolutely according to plan. I had coffee for breakfast, a big salad for lunch with some leftover Thanksgiving turkey for protein. For dinner, I had a local grass-fed rib-eye steak with another salad. I had a some 3-year old Cheddar cheese for a snack after dinner.

Tomorrow will be a challenge for me. I have a social engagement after work, and it will be at a bar whose food specialties are burgers and fries. So, my first challenge is to work out in the morning. I either need to lift at home at 6:00 and then shower and drive to work, or I need to get up early and drive to the CrossFit gym for a 5:45 class. Either way, I'll need to be up early to make sure I get a workout. And then, after work, I need to find some healthy food choices and avoid the bad drink choices.

On Saturday, I'll be leading a training group of young ski instructors as we get ready to start teaching children for the ski season. So, I need to be at my best on Saturday morning to make the training day worthwhile for the young instructors who will be spending the day with me.

We start teaching customers a week from Saturday, so this weekend is our last chance to get prepared for the season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Good lifting workout

Another day of sticking with the primal diet. I had a salad for lunch with steak and cilantro and edamame (which I did not eat - a legume). And, I had 3 hard boiled eggs.

For dinner, I had broiled frogs' legs (my daughter hated them, my son thought I should have deep-fried them, but my wife and I like them), asparagus with hollandaise sauce and a salad. I had some walnuts for a snack.

My wife's car needed some exhaust work yesterday, plus a new windshield (Two recent visits to the dealer for service and I'm out over $2K, but the car is running well, especially for 164K miles!). So, my evening schedule got messed up a bit. Rather than going to CrossFit, it made more sense to go to the local gym. The workout on Monday left my triceps and shoulders sore, so I decided to do a low-rep, high weight leg workout. My triceps are actually sore to the touch - something that happens to my quads after mountain runs, but rarely my arms.

So, I went to the squat rack and started to warm up. I started with no bar, then a 45# bar, 95#, 135#, 185#, and then two big wheels - 225#. This is where my workout started. I just added weight ten pounds at a time, trying to do three reps if I could, two if I couldn't make three, and finally one. I eventually tied my squat PR from last December with a 285# lift. However, my depth was a bit questionable a year ago and this was a much better lift.

Next, I moved to deadlifts. I started at 135, and build to 275 in my warm-up. Then, I started adding ten pounds at a time, doing doubles at first and then singles. I got to 325# for the progression and realized I had no more. A year ago, I deadlifted 355#, but I'm 30# from there right now. Given that I've gained weight in the past year, I'm surprised that my squat is better than a year ago (or at least as good) and my deadlift is not as good. But, it will come back.

Tonight is CrossFit. Hopefully, we won't use our triceps at all. Hah! Coach Jade is a sadist.

I was disappointed to see that I missed doing Turkish get-ups at CrossFit last night.

Hopefully, the rain will turn to snow early in the mountains tonight. A major storm and warm air have been messing with our mountain snowpack. I'm looking forward to skiing on snow this weekend, and not ice or mud.