Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy week

When did I last post? Maybe last Friday morning.

Work has been crazy busy, working with a consultant on a new product that we are building. I am the consultant's go-to person for any and all questions about the product. I'm also building a lot of reports that will be part of the new product. Plus, those reports are what our customers will see, so attention to detail is very important. And, I'm also building a huge suite of test data for the application once coding is finished. So, work has been very time consuming.

Last Friday, I rowed an easy 5K and then went to watch my daughter play soccer.

Saturday and Sunday, I watched some football, went fly fishing with my son, and did some work around the house. Plus, I worked when I had time.

Monday, I rowed 10K and went to watch my daughter play soccer again. I was very glad to be at this game, their first win of the year.

Tuesday, I worked and went to CrossFit. I got in some easy rowing before a tough workout - as many reps as possible of the following in 30 minutes:

Run 400 meters
30 Kettlebell snatches - my arms and shoulders are still sore from these
20 box jumps
10 pull-ups.

I did four rounds plus part of another 400, finishing the fifth 400 at 31:55. Our "400" is actually closer to 470 meters, but it's close enough.

Wednesday was kind of a rough day. We got some bad news here at work regarding our biggest customer. This had all kinds of immediate financial implications for our small company. I was just about to get my first raise in over 5 years, and it was supposed to be a nice raise. Instead, the raise was put on hold and some other people took temporary salary cuts. Hopefully, we'll close some sales soon and our revenue won't affected too badly. I really believe in the value of the product that we provide, or I wouldn't be taking the chances with an underfunded start-up the way I've been doing for years.

It was a disappointing day though. I made it to CrossFit after work, did some easy rowing, some heavy squats, some fast rowing, a bunch of burpees, and some running. Then, I went home and the day got worse. The Red Sox blew a lead and lost. The Yankees didn't seem to make any effort at all to hold a lead over Tampa Bay, and Tampa won in extra innings, knocking the Sox out of the playoffs - the end of an epic collapse.

Then, my wife and I awoke at 3:00 a.m. this morning to the sound of our dogs fighting. After we got them apart and calmed down, we discovered that one or both of them had emptied a garbage can all over the kitchen and living room. It honestly looked like someone had deliberately poured the contents of the garbage as widely around as possible. We figure that if either or both dogs get sick, we'll know who is guilty.

Today, it's back at work and CrossFit later.

I'm at the midpoint of the rowing challenge in terms of time, and I've rowed 51,000 meters, just about half of what I'm supposed to do in the challenge. So, that is moving along just fine.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Busy workout in humid weather

Last night, when I got to the gym, it was just starting to rain. It had been humid all day.

We work out in a warehouse type of facility, a typical CrossFit "box" that in no way resembles a Globo Gym. There is no air conditioning, and the big back doors are often open, so we essentially train in the same "air" that exists outside.

I got to the gym early yesterday. So, I worked on Double Unders for a while. I'm getting better, but still not ready to incorporate them into a workout.

Then, I rowed 3000 meters towards our month-long challenge. I'm at 30KM after 8 days, easily on pace for my 100KM.

Then came the official warm-up:

Run 100 meters
3 rounds of Cindy (5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 air squats)
Run 100 meters

By now, having only finished the warm-up, the humidity was really affecting me. My shirt was absolutely soaked. Luckily, I had a second shirt in my bag and I switched for the main workout.

Next, we were supposed to work on snatch balances. Regretfully, to do a good snatch balance, you really need to have a good overhead squat, which I'm still working on. So, despite doing OH squats on Monday, I spent the strength portion last night working on them again.

After 20 minutes of OH squats, including one where I lost my balance and had to throw the bar, it was time for the main workout:

12 minutes - as many reps as possible:
Row 2000 meters
Double Unders or Box jumps

The rowing was there simply to take up time, delaying your start of the double unders or box jumps. Your score was the reps for the last exercise, and I was doing box jumps. It took me 8:18 to row 2000 meters, leaving me about 3.5 minutes for box jumps. I got 45 in that time span. Two other people who rowed more slowly than I did also managed 45 box jumps. So, while my rowing had given me an advantage, the others were much more proficient in the box jumps. I guess that gives me a "work your weakness" task the next time we do that workout.

So, in one workout, I did some running, easy rowing, hard rowing, pull-ups, push-ups, air squats, overhead squats, rope jumping, and box jumps.

Just another day at CrossFit.

My plan for today is to row an easy 5000 meters after my daughter's soccer game. Tomorrow, I'm planning some running sprints and 10000 meters of rowing before I start watching college football.

Sunday, I might row a bit, but my main priority is getting out for some fly fishing with my son. The season is just about over, and some of our rivers and streams have finally recovered enough from Irene to be worth fishing again.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

And Another PR in the Gym

I am on some kind of a roll recently in the gym.

In recent weeks, I've set new bests for the clean, the clean and jerk, the strict press, the 500 meter row, and tied bests in overhead squats, and the back squat.

Last night, we were working on deadlift sets as follows:

5 reps - 65% of 1 rep max
5 - 70%
3 - 75%
3 - 80%
1 - 85%
max - 90%

But, I hadn't tried a maximal deadlift for a while, so I deviated in the last set. I started at 245 for my first set, and by the fifth, I was at 320 pounds. This went pretty easily, so I skipped the 335 pound max reps set, and tried for a new PR at 385 pounds, vs. my previous best of 375.

It turned out to be a very unusual lift. I got the bar a couple inches off the ground and then I just stalled. After maybe 5 seconds (OK, probably 2, but it felt like a lot more), I was about to give up on the lift, assuming I couldn't make it. My lifting partner said later that I shifted my body position just a little bit, moving back just a bit and allowing my hips to open up a bit more easily. Suddenly, the bar started moving slowly upwards again. I knew as soon as I had movement, I'd finish the lift. When I fail, it's always early in this lift, unlike strict presses, where I often fail at the end of the lift.

And, bit by bit, with the whole gym watching, I nailed the rep. Everyone broke out in applause; it was pretty cool to pull it off with an audience. It wasn't pretty, but it's a new PR for me.

My weight is down to 210 right now, from a high of 236 back in April. One of my deadlifting goals for a while has been to lift twice my body weight. Yesterday, I lifted 183% of my body weight, so I'm getting close. If I can get under 200 pounds and get to 405# on this lift by the end of the year, I'll make that goal.

After my deadlift, the rest of the workout seemed unimportant. The workout was 100 burpee pull-ups, which is a tough one. You do a burpee, but instead of the normal jump at the end, you jump to a pull-up bar and do a pull-up. If you can't do pull-ups, you are supposed to do 10 burpees, 10 pull-ups, etc.

Another option is jumping pull-ups, where you use a lower pull-up bar than prescribed, and really get a jumping start to the pull-up. I chose that option, and scaled the workout to 60 reps. I finished in 11:29, but kind of felt like a cheater because everyone else was still going.

After the workout, the chiropractor worked on my shoulder a bit, and we decided to decrease the frequency of treatments; my shoulder is just about fully healed.

Then, I headed home to watch the CrossFit games on TV.

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Today, I'll do some rowing and the CrossFit workout, and then tomorrow may be a rest day. My legs are a bit tired today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another lifting PR

Last night at CF, we started with 7 x 1 clean and jerks. This is a lift that I don't do very often, except at lower weights in our main workout. The goal last night was to do heavy reps. I looked at my logbook and found that my best C&J was only 135 pounds. Given that I'd cleaned 165 pounds a week or two ago, and that I can push press 135 pounds, it seemed a sure thing that I would, at the very least, tie my best weight.

I warmed up at 95 pounds and then started adding weight, 10 or 20 pounds at a time. At 155 pounds, the lift still went pretty well - a new PR by 20 pounds. Then, I tried 165 a few times. I could handle the clean, but my jerk (I was using a split jerk) just wasn't dynamic enough, and I failed a couple times. Finally, after some coaching, I managed to commit more to the movement and I nailed 165 pounds. So, I tried 175 pounds, which would be a PR for the clean as well as the clean and jerk. Here, I failed on the clean. My pull was good enough, but I just couldn't get under the bar quickly enough. But, I'm getting better.

I dropped back to 165 and nailed another rep there and then called it a day on the C&Js - with a 30 pound PR.

Next was the main workout - 4 x 500m of rowing. I had planned to take yesterday as a rest day from rowing after rowing for 3 straight days, but it wasn't to be. The pointers that I got at the gym recently from a Concept2 employee have really helped me, and I'm rowing faster than ever.

In a time trial at 500 meters a few weeks ago, I got 147.6. Yesterday, my first rep, with less effort than the time trial a few weeks ago, was a 1:46.4. I did fade a bit, with one rep at 1:50, but I averaged 1:48.1 for the four reps. And, I got a 500 meter PR out of the workout.

Work has been crazy for a few days, but our release seems to be stabilizing, so I can get back to my normal software development work for now. I hope. Nothing seems to be broken at the moment anyway.

Tonight at CF, I know we are starting with heavy deadlifts, but who knows what we'll do after that.

Sometime this week, I need to do some running as well. I've got a marathon in six weeks or so.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Row, row, row your (fake) boat...

The last few days, including the weekend, have been pretty intense at work. We put a major new release out yesterday, and it's required a lot of planning and baby-sitting - making sure that nothing is misbehaving in the software.

I've managed to keep working out, but things have been pretty boring the past few days.

Friday was a rest day.

Saturday was the farmers market, an 8K row, and I watched college football the rest of the day.

On Sunday, I worked, did a lot of work around the house, rowed 5K pretty easily, and tried to get to bed early.

Yesterday, I rowed and did CrossFit. I had a really good workout yesterday, feeling really strong. Some lifting, some bodyweight stuff, some running - same old, same old.

Then, home for dinner with the family, a couple innings of the Red Sox game, up at 5:00 today, took my son to work, and got to the office before 7:00.

I think I need a vacation.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Owww! - Beat up today

Last night's CF workout was very different than normal.

First, I arrived early and rowed 5K, the start of my 100K in 30 days challenge. That was a more substantial warm-up than I normally do, but I kept the effort fairly moderate.

Then we worked on squat snatches. I'm getting better at this lift, but I still have some mobility and speed and technique issues. We did 3x3 at heavier weights and then 3x10 at lighter weights.

And then, we went outside for sled pulls - 8 reps of about 30 seconds each with 90 seconds rest. These were brutally hard, and my entire body hurts today.

I was planning to row some more today, but with a CrossFit fundraiser/workout tomorrow morning, I think it's a rest day today.

Tomorrow morning, we have an open gym, doing a workout called Fight Gone Bad. It's 17 minutes of torture. It's also a major CF fundraiser, so we'll have a big crowd.

After that, I'm likely to come home and take a nap while attempting to watch college football. Hopefully, I'll be up for some rowing on Sunday.

Autumn is rapidly approaching here in VT and we are going to have cool temps all weekend, with the chance of frost. Hopefully, the farmers markets will continue to have good produce for a few more weeks, but as October approaches, the volume definitely decreases. I haven't really been in a regular supermarket all summer, living off food from the farmers markets and the side of beef in my freezer. It will be disappointing to return to the supermarket in October, even though we belong to a high quality co-op. It's just not the same as buying from the farmers directly.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Strict Press PR

A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that my blog is, um, somewhat boring. Now, she doesn't really exercise much - yoga and a she's a hasher. I can easily see that this could be boring. The title of the blog suggests that it's about ultrarunning. I haven't finished an ultra in a couple years right now, although I did a marathon this summer and I'll do another this autumn.

It's not ski season, so there's not much to say about skiing.

And, I do talk about nutrition, and I'm making good progress with a Paleo/Primal diet, but I don't spend a whole lot of time talking about that. My doctor thinks it's a fad. My boss, a doctor, also seems to think the same thing. I see what is happening with my fitness and physique, and I think the diet and CrossFit should get the credit. However, while my weight is down and my strength is up, I'm far from being a cover model for Mens Health or some other such magazine. Even if I ever did have the lean, ripped body, there's still the rest of me that would need airbrushing, I suppose.

So, am I just talking to hear myself talk? Is this just a diary that I allow the whole world to see? I don't think that's really true, because there's a lot I'd write in a private diary that I'd never even consider writing here.

Perhaps it's just a glorified workout log. I do wonder if someday, my currently teenage children will stumble upon this and read it, and find out more about the dad that they ignore on a regular basis. After all, Project Runway or video games are way more interesting than a dad, at least right now.

Well, enough of that rambling. Time to write about what I always write about - a workout.

We started with strict press work at CrossFit yesterday. The rep pattern was 5-5-3-3-1-max, starting at 70% of max and going up by 5% each round. Yesterday was 9/14/2011. My best ever strict press is 125, first achieved on 12/14/2010 - nine months prior. I've done 125 a few times since, but I've failed at every attempt higher than 125. The shoulder injury that I suffered in March of this year has been part of the issue, but it's a frustrating lift. Just like the bench press, an increase in this lift comes with lots of workouts doing the lift in question, and with the addition of muscle mass in the upper body.

So yesterday, after finding that my single rep at 90% (112.5 pounds) went pretty well, I decided to skip the 95% set and try for a PR at 127.5. That would be a 2% improvement in 9 months - not very significant at all. But, I did nail the rep, and then did 3 additional push presses at the same weight. So, at age 49, there's something in my life where I'm still improving.

After that lift, the rest of the workout seemed pretty easy:

12 minutes, as many reps as possible:
12 push-ups
12 sit-ups
12 box jumps

I came within four box jumps of completing 6 rounds. If my arms weren't still feeling the effects of 200 push-ups on Monday, even if they were knee push-ups, I would have done more reps.

When I got home last night, I spent two hours watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN2. I've officially crossed into CF-nerdom now, I suppose. It was nice to see a lady from our gym doing so well in one of the workouts. And, my wife really enjoyed watching it and she will be doing her first ever CF workout this coming Saturday. My daughter, on the other hand, had a completely different viewpoint. She seemed a bit weirded out that I get home late every night because I'm doing something that ridiculous. Then, I told her about CrossFit kids, and she is now interested in trying a workout with one of her friends.

Because I stayed up late, I overslept this morning and never got to the gym to row before work. I'll definitely row tomorrow after work, and maybe I'll get in a few thousand meters after CF tonight.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yesterday's workout

It was pretty basic yesterday. After our mobility work, we spent 10 minutes working on rope jumping. I was getting frustrated with my double unders, because I can do one, and then I speed up my jumping to correspond to the faster rope speed. The coach suggested doing one double and then go back to singles for a while, and then another double, repeat, etc.

This turned out to be easier than I expected and it might be the key to me gradually being able to do multiple double-unders in a row. I will continue to practice.

The main workout was as follows:

3 rounds, as many reps as possible:
row for 3 minutes (count calories as reps)
hang cleans for 2 minutes, 75 pounds
pull-ups for 1 minute (band-assisted for me)
Rest for 2 minutes

I was consistent, albeit unimpressive, on the rower, getting 44 calories each time. My hang cleans really degraded, starting at 27 and falling to 22 and 20. My pull-ups were consistent, at 11, 11, and 10. I was still tired from 100 pull-ups the day before, and even the first set was tough.

It looks like autumn is on its way to Vermont. We have the potential for frost Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. I'm hoping to do some bike riding this coming weekend, if the daytime temperatures are warm enough.

Saturday morning, we are doing a fundraiser at CrossFit, using a workout called "Fight Gone Bad". It's an annual CF event, and I'll donate some money to the cause and show up for a rare Saturday workout.

And tomorrow, the 100,000 meter rowing challenge starts. I've committed to rowing 100KM on the rower in a 30 day period. This will be in addition to any running or CF workouts I do. It should be a busy month.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Solo CF Workout

Since I worked at home yesterday, I had time for a longer than usual workout. I decided to do a CrossFit workout on my own. I chose Murph, a classic workout from the series of Hero workouts:

Run 1 mile
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 bodyweight squats
Run 1 mile

The runs must come at the start and end of the workout, but the middle part can be broken up however you want. I did pull-up sets of 15-10-15-10-10-10-10-10, and then simply doubled and tripled the pull-up total each time through for the other movements.

I used assistance bands for the pull-ups, and I did knee push-ups. I can do 80-100 total push-ups in sets, but with 200, there was no way I could do them all that way.

My total time was 54:11, which is easily the longest CF workout I've done. If I'd tried to do it without assistance bands and the easier push-ups, I might not be done yet.

Today, I feel tired but not sore. I'll have to see how CF goes after work today. It's a warm day and it's going to be warm in the gym.

On Facebook, someone has recently proposed a workout called "4000 ways to F**k up a 10 mile run". This is scheduled to occur the first weekend of October, but I have to admit that I simply don't know if I can do it:

40 rounds, for time:
Run 400 meters
25 push-ups
25 sit-ups
25 bodyweight squats
25 burpees

If I think back to workouts over the last six months, I've done up to 200 knee push-ups in a day, I've done 140 sit-ups in one workout, I've done 300 air squats, and I've done at most 100 burpees. Add in ten miles of running while trying 1000 reps of each of those movements? I don't know if I can possibly finish this workout, and if I can, it will take me more than 8 hours. I may give it a go, but be reasonable when I start to hit the wall on burpees or some other limiting factor.

By the end of the week, it sounds like our local weather is going to take a turn towards autumn. We are likely to have scattered frost in New England by the weekend, and high temperatures in the 50s for a few days. I may need to pull out some of my cold weather cycling gear if I'm going to ride this coming weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Annual physical, a sprint workout, and some college football

On Friday afternoon, I had my annual physical. It was kind of odd, in some respects. My previously borderline high BP was normal. I've dropped one medication and cut another in half. I had lost 23 pounds since my last visit to my doctor, just a few months ago. He noted that my mood or disposition or whatever you want to call it was better than the last time he'd seen me. All in all, things went really well. Then, my doctor asked how I'd accomplished the improvements. I gave credit to training at CrossFit and my Paleo Diet. He stopped for a second, and said he wasn't familiar with CrossFit. But, Paleo was just a "fad diet", implying by the way he said it that he didn't think it was a good idea. I felt like asking him if I'd merely shown "fad" improvements in my health, but I just dropped it. I'd like to lose another 20-25 pounds right now, and see where I am at that point. I am feeling more and more fit all the time, I'm definitely getting smaller, but I am still 30 pounds heavier than when I got to Western States in 2008 - the year the race was cancelled by fires. I have more muscle mass now than I had then, but I also have more fat mass, and I need to keep working on that.

Given my family history of diabetes, the doc did order a Hemoglobin A1C test. I deal with this test all the time in my work, but I've never had one before. Hopefully, I won't be surprised by a bad result.

Friday after work, my wife and I did a quick sprint workout. We warmed up for half a mile, ran a quarter very hard, walked back to the starting point, and did three more quarters. I averaged 1:36, which is the best I've done in a long time. On the other hand, about 20 years ago, I did a dozen quarters averaging 1:16, with only 1:45 or so of recovery. I'll never see that again, but what I did on Friday is much better than when I did the same workout a couple months ago.

My wife entered a 5K XC race on Saturday morning, only 14 hours or so after this workout. She took second in her age group. I've been too polite to ask how many runners were in her AG.

Saturday, while my wife was racing, I went shopping at the farmers market, took my daughter and one of her friends out for breakfast, got some new tire tubes for my bike, and then came home to cook and watch football. I'd hoped to ride my bike, but time got away from me and it never happened.

My main interest was the Penn State vs. Alabama game. I have to admit that I didn't like anything that I saw from Penn State. After Penn State took an early 3-0 lead, Alabama tried a fake punt on their next possession. In my opinion, the spot of the ball was terrible, Alabama just barely got the first down and they went on to score a touchdown. However, even if the call was wrong, it ultimately didn't matter. Penn State simply didn't have the talent to play with Alabama. There is a world of difference in their talent levels right now. For years, I know that many people have been suggesting that Joe Paterno should retire. I've often argued that he's earned the right to retire when he wants. Penn State is only a few years removed from an 12-1 season and a BCS bowl win over Florida State. But suddenly, they seem to be, at best, a second tier team. I hate to say it, but perhaps at age 84, Joe really needs to consider retiring. I'm just a fan, a nobody in this issue. Yes, I've gone to lots of Penn State games over the years, seeing them play in CA, PA, MD, UT, LA and MA. In PA, I've seen a lot of games. Right now, I'm not even sure if I want to watch them on TV any more. I don't donate a lot of money to the university. I'm not a coach, a sportswriter, and I don't even have a degree from PSU. But, I'm guessing that there are donors and potential recruits out there who are seeing and thinking the same things as me. Oh well, it's just a sporting event played by other people that I don't know. I don't know why I let it occupy so much space in my life at times.

After training hard during the week, I ended up doing very little over the weekend. I mowed the lawn, bu that's far from a workout. I'm working from home today, so I'll probably do a CrossFit style workout on my own tonight before heading back to the actual CF gym tomorrow.

The 100 kilometer rowing challenge starts later this week as well.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My shoulders are trashed

On Tuesday, we did cleans for a one rep max.

On Wednesday, Sumo deadlift high pulls plus knee-ups hanging from the bar.

And then yesterday, we did snatches and deadlifts.

The really good thing is that my shoulder injury from earlier this year is much improved. I am not holding back as much in my workouts, although I limited my snatches to 95 pounds yesterday. So, while my shoulders are sore (cleans and snatches should make your shoulders/traps sore if you do them correctly), I'm not feeling injured.

The "hot spot" I had at the top of my right hamstring felt better as the day went on yesterday, and our workout included some running, which felt OK.

Yesterday's workout:

5x5 Snatches (power snatches for me - I suck at squat snatches).

Then, 15 minutes, as many reps as possible:
10 deadlifts at 185#
10 pull-ups (band assisted)
run 250 meters

I completed five rounds plus 10 deadlifts.

Today, I'll do a running interval workout after work.

Tomorrow, I'll do a bike ride before settling in to watch the Penn State vs. Alabama game. Penn State is a 10 point underdog at home, and will have to face a tough defense and a tailback who torched them at Alabama last year. But, I think this Penn State team is better than last year's team. Both teams are unsettled at QB and at least 4 different QBs should take snaps during the game. Penn State will probably have to play nearly flawless football to win, especially in the red zone. They'll have to stay away from penalties, turnovers, and poor decisions by young QBs. But, playing at Beaver Stadium is a big benefit. I've seen some very good visiting teams lose there over the years.

Oh yeah, I have a physical today. After seeing my weight drop and my fitness improve with a Paleo diet and CrossFit, I'm hoping that my bloodwork today also shows improvement from a year ago.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Weather, and of course, more CrossFit

September is one of our rainiest months in Vermont. I like the rain in September, because I know it's filling the ponds used to make snow in the winter at the ski resorts. If we had to wait for natural snow, there are some years that we wouldn't be skiing yet at Christmas or New Years Day. Instead, we are normally skiing by Thanksgiving, which is now only about 10 or 11 weeks away. So, the September rains are important.

But, after Hurricane Irene and the devastation it caused here in Vermont, we just don't need any more rain right now. But, it rained most of last weekend and it's been raining all week. We've had a lot of rain and rivers are very high right now. My son and I haven't even been able to consider any fly fishing recently, given the depth and color of the rivers. Of course, considering the damage done to property all over the state, not being able to go fishing is truly a trivial consideration.

It sounds like the rain will finally wind down today and we should have a decent weekend. Hopefully, my lawn will dry out and I'll be able to get it mowed. I'm hoping to ride my bike this weekend as well, although I have to fix two flat tires before I can do that.

Last night, at CrossFit, we did 6 sets of progressively heavier squats, with a rep pattern on 5-5-3-3-1-max. I started at 195 and ended up at 310. My two reps at 310 weren't very high in quality; my depth wasn't good enough.

Then, we did 21-15-9 of these three exercises for time:
Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (I used 85#)
Toes to Bar (I did an easier variation called knee-ups)

My time was 9:59.

More CrossFit tonight, although I've got one really sore spot at the top of my right hamstring, so I might need to take it easy tonight. If my leg feels OK, tomorrow will be running speedwork.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paleo Challenge Benchmarks

Yesterday was the start of our 30 day Paleo challenge at CrossFit. We needed to get weighed, photographed, and do some benchmark tests to compare at the end of the month. The contest has four scoring categories - Paleo Diet compliance, weight loss, performance improvement and a subjective "physique change" based on photos.

My weight was 213.6 - down about 22 pounds from late April, but that still puts me only halfway from where I was to where I'd like to be.

There were four performance benchmarks:

1 rep max barbell clean:
I realized after the workout that I had never before attempted a max barbell clean. I'd done reps at lower weight of both power cleans and squat cleans, but no max attempts. My technique was terrible as the weight increased. I really needed to be doing squat cleans as the weight increased, but my technique was a poor power clean. I got to 165 and then failed 3 times at 175. Over the next four weeks, I need to practice this lift. I'm strong enough to lift more if I get the technique down.

Max reps ring push-ups:
I had done these only once before and I did only 11. Compared to a standard push-up, the fact that the rings can move makes things very interesting.

2 minutes - max box jumps:
I was pretty happy with 33 box jumps in two minutes, although I saw some much better results than mine.

500 meter row for time:
This one left everyone on the floor, lightheaded and gasping for breath. My technique has been improving on the rower and my times have been improving somewhat, but going all out for 500m is not something I've done recently. I started out at a 1:35-1:36 pace, but that didn't last too long. Near the end, I'd drifted over a 2:00 pace, and I didn't even hit my goal of 1:45, instead rowing 1:46.7.

So, I now have five numbers to improve upon in the next month. Losing weight will help with the four benchmarks, and sticking with my Paleo diet will help me to lose weight. It all starts with how I eat. Some people might be able to do it, but I simply cannot out-train a bad diet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Long weekend, more workouts

After CrossFit on Thursday night, I spent Friday working from home.  I was planning to go to the gym after work, but the weather forecast for the weekend made me change my mind.  We had nice weather on Friday, with lots of rain and electricity expected for the rest of the weekend.

So, after work, I did a simple workout that I've been doing a lot recently - a short warm-up, and then 10 by one minute hard, with a one minute walk between each hard rep.  I did a total of 2.5 miles in under half an hour and I was done.

Saturday, I went to the farmers market in the morning and I wanted to watch some college football, including Penn State's noon game.  So, I went to the gym for a quick workout:

Deadlift pyramid - 5 reps at 135 ending up with one rep at 335.  I tried a heavier rep but it wasn't there on Saturday.  Then, on my own, I did the CrossFit workout known as "Cindy":

20 minutes, as many reps as possible:
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 air squats

I used assistance bands for the pull-ups and after the first few sets, switched to knee push-ups, so I could keep moving quickly.  I ended up with 14 rounds plus 5 pull-ups.  Today, I can still feel the 210 air squats in my legs.  I keep having this fear that I'll get to the gym tonight and the workout will be "Cindy".

After the workout, I got pretty lazy for the rest of the weekend.  I did some cooking.  I watched college football.  I went for a swim.  I slept in on Sunday.  It rained so much that I couldn't mow the lawn.  And then, it was time to come back to work.

Today, we start our 3rd Paleo Challenge of the year at the gym.  In the first challenge, which lasted 45 days, I just kind of gave up about halfway through.  I caught a cold that wouldn't go away, I wasn't getting to the gym enough, and I just let it go.  In May, we did a 30 day challenge.  In that one, I stuck with it pretty well and finished 3rd.  As of now, I'm down over 20 pounds since late April, and another month of strict eating and hard training should help me to improve that.  As long as I stick with it this time around.

Friday, September 2, 2011


The photo above is one that our CrossFit coach took last week in a "Work Your Weakness" workout. The caption that he put on the photo was "Damon hitting some of those awful bulgarian split squats". While it certainly looks like I was working, I actually like this lift, and I have done them a lot in the past. They are a mainstay of workouts in the New Rules of Lifting books, and I've used them for years. But, it had been a while since I'd done them.

Last night was an interesting workout named Nicole. The goal was to do as many pull-ups as possible in 20 minutes. However, it wasn't that simple. We started with a 400 meter run, although our 400 meter loop is closer to 470 meters according to my GPS device. Then, we could do as many pull-ups as possible without coming off the bar or resting on the floor. As soon as you came off the bar, you had to run another 400 meters. Repeat until out of time.

This workout is different than many workouts in that it has some strategy. Also, every time you run, you are losing time to the clock while accumulating no "points". Do you run as fast as possible to do as many rounds of pull-ups as possible? If you do that, will the hard running compromise your pull-up total. Also, when you get to the point in pull-ups where you aren't cranking them out anymore, should you do a hanging rest for a while and then try to do a few more? Or, should you abandon the pull-ups, run and resume the pull-ups?

The people who scored highest tended to use the run hard, do pull-ups quickly, quit when you stall, and run again strategy. I used the run a bit easier, hang for a bit and eke out a few more pull-ups strategy. I managed five rounds, and my pull-up totals were between 11 and 14, for a total of 61. The best score yesterday was a 155 by a new guy to our gym - a very lean and fit college student who weighs only 140 pounds but can deadlift 375 pounds.

The coach picked the workout because it was the one year anniversary of the gym being open and Nicole was the workout on opening day.

Today, I'm working from home, so I'll work out on my own tonight, but I'll do a CrossFit style workout. Tomorrow, I'll do some short interval work before I settle in for the first full day of the new college football season.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More CrossFit

Yesterday was my 15th CrossFit workout of August - the most I've done in one month since joining the gym. For the year, I've done 92 CF workouts in 8 months, an average of 11.5 per month. I would like to average 3-4 workouts per week in general, although the coach is now telling us that he is going to change the programming a bit to make it more physically feasible for people to do 5 straight workouts during the work week. We have enough people who work near the gym but live far away, and those people, including me, don't make the Saturday workouts, which tend to be long. So, it sounds like we'll do fewer long workouts during the workweek for a while.

I've gotten some good comments this week about my weight. Two friends that I hadn't seen for a couple months mentioned that I'd definitely lost weight. And, in a more typical CrossFit fashion, someone at the gym mentioned that it was clear I'd been dropping some "tonnage".

Starting next week, we are doing another 30 day Paleo challenge at CrossFit, so I may have to give up dairy for a month again. I don't seem to have any real issues with dairy and I tend to eat some high quality cheese on a regular basis, plus cream in my coffee and I cook with cream as well.

So, last night's workout:

5x5 push presses - I used 125 pounds, which is close to my max for a single strict press

Then, 15 minutes, as many reps as possible:
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
20 Abmat sit-ups

This is one of those workouts that most people could do at home, as long as you have a bar to do pull-ups. It was pure simplicity and plenty difficult.

I used an assistance band for the pull-ups, but should have used a lighter band. For the push-ups, I was very happy with how my shoulder felt, and I didn't do any knee push-ups. This was the first time I've done a high volume workout with push-ups without needing to back off to protect my shoulder.

I did 7 rounds plus 15 reps - 40 pull-ups, 80 push-ups, and 140 sit-ups. That's an average of one rep every 3.5 seconds for the 15 minutes. The fastest guys in the class did up to 13 rounds. When you can do kipping pull-ups with no assistance, things can move a lot faster.