My Thoughts on Re-doing CrossFit Open Workouts

The CrossFit Open means different things to different people. For the top 0.5-1%, it means the chance to progress to Regional competition. For even fewer, it’s the fun first brick in the road to the games. But for most, it’s a chance to put your training (no matter how far into CrossFit you are) to the test, help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and – perhaps most importantly – participate in a worldwide community event.

Depending on your reason for competing, the leader board can become an obsession. After all, the difference between 120 and 121 reps could mean a huge amount in placings, and quite often you’ll see a number of top level athletes re-do workouts to get a better score. But for those of us with zero chance of qualifying for Regionals, what real reason is there for re-doing a workout? Do a few extra reps matter that much that you would potentially take time away from your other training and true progression, or even push your body to the brink of injury?

The Ego Trip

One reason I don’t like re-dos is actually one of the most well-known of the CrossFit box rules of conduct: “leave your ego at the door”. In my opinion, 9/10 re-dos are borne almost entirely out of ego. “So and so got X more reps than me and I know I can beat him/her”, or “I didn’t do as well as I think I could have”. Focus on your own game, or why you didn’t perform to the standard you think you should have, and make actionable plans for progression instead of trying to perfect a workout that ultimately doesn’t matter.

Developing Bad Habits

Another reason I don’t like re-dos is that I genuinely believe it can lead to poor behavioural traits and a potential sense of entitlement. My nutrition coach and friend, Lee from Monday Muscle, once said “good intentions can lead to bad habits”. The action he was referring to? Devouring an entire tub of low calorie ice-cream. But I think the same can be applied to redoing workouts. How will you ever learn to give your 100% in the first attempt if you get in the habit of redoing? After all, if you go to live competitions there are no re-dos! Second chances are rare, so I’m all for learning to leave it all on the table the first time around.

 

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Cost Vs Benefit Analysis

The deadlifts in 18.4 were heavy, especially for the men. I know a number of people who struggled with back pain and started to sacrifice technique during their first attempt, so why bother risking back injury for potentially just a handful of extra reps? By the same token, if your hands are already calloused up, why have another stab at toes to bar or pull-ups just to risk tearing the fuck out of your hands for the next workout? Sometimes you need to about the risk versus potential benefit and decide is it really worth it?

Looking Forward Not Back

What matters more to me than a few extra reps and moving higher up the leader board just to satisfy my own ego, is learning from my potential disappointment and training to become better. It all boils down to something Ben Bergeron often talks about – sacrificing short term gains (“instant gratification”), in favour of longer term growth/satisfaction. Assessing my performance, identifying what needs to be worked on to improve, and learning to be happy with what I have is something I think will make me a stronger character and better person all round. Instead of dwelling on past performances, I’d rather address the issues that caused me to not do as well as I’d hoped.

 

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When To Re-do

Having said all of that, there may be some entirely valid and justifiable reasons to re-do; like making it to the next level of competition, or achieving a PB or skill that’s within reach. So think about it before you decide to redo:

  1. Are you so close to achieving a certain movement (e.g. muscle-ups) that re-doing could mean the difference between nailing it or not?
  2. Do you feel like there was a fundamental issue in your strategy or technique that you know you can address and will mean a much better score?
  3. Are you just points away from qualifying for Regional level competition, and a few reps could mean moving from outside to inside the threshold?
  4. Was there a substantial issue with your equipment, judging criteria, or strategy that would mean performing significantly better?
  5. Were you well/recovered enough to perform the workout the first time around, and are you honestly well/recovered enough to repeat it?

If the answer to all the above is no, then suck up your “failures” and focus on what you can do in training to improve for your next competition.

My Lessons Learned

Here are my actionable lessons learned from my CrossFit Open 2018 performance:

  • Work on skills… specifically double unders. 18.3 was my only scaled performance, and pretty much only because of my inability to string together enough double unders to give me a score I would have been happy with claiming as RX.
  • Practice better technique. 18.5 was my second lowest percentile ranking – not through a lack of strength for the deadlifts (I could have made a dent in the second weight) but because my HSPUs aren’t up to scratch according to the movement standards.
  • Develop my ability to cope with high intensity workouts. 18.2 was my third lowest performance, and I should be able to cope with the pain of faster burpees. I need to move more efficiently and push my lactate threshold with high intensity interval work.
  • Train gymnastics progressions. Generally speaking, most of the areas I performed worst in involved gymnastics movements – not being able to string together TTB, being inefficient with HSPUs, lacking strength and efficiency for C2B… notice the common theme? And even if I did have double unders for 18.3, I would have been stuck staring at the rings for my lack of muscle ups.

Did you re-do any of the CrossFit Open workouts? If so, why? And did you learn anything from re-doing them? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts!

 

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How I Fared In A Worldwide Competition – The CrossFit Open 2015

The CrossFit Games Open is a five week online competition where athletes from boxes around the world can test their skills, stamina, speed and strength in the largest event of its kind. I’ll probably be heavily criticised for saying this, but I liken it to competing alongside Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah in qualifiers for the Olympics… imagine that! Elite CrossFit athletes train for this, the CrossFit Games, and the Open is our chance to join them in the race to get there, whether we have a hope in hell’s chance of beating them or not.

Last year, I entered the Open, somewhat naively, thinking that I would be able to at least attempt every movement. To sum up last year’s event: I bombed.

This year, however, with the introduction of a “scaled” option for each WOD, I knew I should have been able to submit a score for each of the five workouts. In truth, I did better than I thought I would, submitting a score I was (for the most part) proud of every week.

Here’s a recap of my Open experience

Week 1 we had toes to bar, deadlifts and snatches, followed by a clean and jerk 1RM. This was probably my favourite WOD straight out of the gates… I love toes to bar, and anything with a barbell is a winner for me. I was happy to have RXd (used the prescribed weights/movements). I scored 65 reps, and clean and jerked 57.5kg for a UK position of 977th and 677th for each, respectively.

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Toes to bar

Week 2 was probably my worst nightmare of a combination, with two moves I’ve always struggled with; overhead squats and pull ups. The RX involved chest to bar pull ups, which there was no way I was going to get, so I went in at the scaled option. Surprisingly, despite flexibility being a huge issue for me, the overhead squats were the least of my problems and it was the pull ups, which are still pretty bad, which stopped me from progressing to a higher score. I managed 19 reps in total, for UK 1,932nd place. My lowest score.

Week 3 was set to challenge the masses, opening with muscle ups, followed by wallballs and double unders. The majority of Open entrants scaled this WOD to the combination of just wallballs and single unders. I had two attempts at this WOD, as fluffed my first go up somewhat. I’m pleased I did as I hit 74 more reps second time round for a score of 651 and 1,215th in the UK.

Week 4 came along with another challenging movement for a lot of people, handstand push ups paired with heavy cleans. Again I took two attempts at this WOD, the first scaled (push press and cleans) and the second trying to get handstand push ups from the floor (I’ve only ever done them to a couple of ab mats). Try as I might I just couldn’t get myself up to full extension. This frustrated me more because I knew I could handle the heavy weight of the cleans, but wouldn’t have the opportunity to prove myself on the board if I couldn’t do the handstand push ups first. Feeling a little deflated, I submitted my scaled score of 102 and got 1,126th place in the UK.

Week 5 was another WOD right up my street, rowing and thrusters, Despite my flexibility issues, I do enjoy thrusters, and it’s no secret that rowing is one of my favourite things in WODs (something that people think I’m weird for at the box!). It was a tough workout for sure, but I finished in 13:49, for 707th place in the UK – my best overall score for the entire Open.

Row 2

Lovely rowing

How I’d sum it up

Over the five WODs I came out at 808th in the UK, 2,592nd in Europe and 32,173rd worldwide, which I think puts me roughly in the top 50%*, perhaps even higher in the UK. Something I’m actually very proud of.

* It’s really hard to tell because you can’t see how many people actually completed all five workouts without clicking through every page. If anyone knows a quick and easy way please do let me know!

Last year I said I wanted to finish without a zero score, this year I did just that. Whether I’d have managed that without the scaled options is quite clear to see, but I can still take comfort in that I am a lot further on in my CrossFit skills and ability than I was in February and March 2014. Next year my goal is to RX every workout… if I can.

I’d better get muscle-upping!

Did you enter the CrossFit Open? What was your experience? Did you overcome any hurdles, or achieve any new skills/PBs? I’d love to hear from you!

Credits

Photos by the wonderful Lauren Elizabeth Dodd Photography. Wearing Reebok CrossFit Nano 3, Reebok CrossFit leggings, Sweaty Betty tank and “be strong to be useful” crop, and Jawbone UP.

2015 Training Diary – Week 13

I‘m not a superstitious person. Sure, we all have our slight quirks, like avoiding triple drains, or not opening umbrellas indoors, but I don’t often let superstitions change my behaviour. However, this week (the 13th week of the year…) hasn’t really gone to plan.

Firstly I was more tired and achy from Reading Half Marathon than I thought I might be, then there was a mix up with our class schedule resulting in a missed class on Wednesday, we had a family emergency mid-week involving trips to hospital and panics about heart health, and then had a weekend with no heating and ended up spending Sunday waiting in for a boiler engineer.

Is it to do with it being week 13? I don’t think so, but you never know…

Week 13: 23rd to 29th March 2015

Monday – Rest day. My calves and quads were aching from the half marathon on Sunday. I don’t know why I hadn’t expected this, it’s pretty obvious that when you put in max effort in a race you’re likely to hurt the next day! I think I’d let Brighton lull me into a false sense of security on that front.

Tuesday – Rest day. Still aching! I had two sports massages to do this evening, so got a bit of active rest from that. One of my clients had run Brentwood half on Sunday so we caught up on races. She did really well with a PB around the 1hr 30 mark.

A little while ago I won a competition on Instagram to win a pair of fantastic Laurie Nouchka leggings, designed with Bishopsgate as inspiration. They arrived today and I am totally in love. I think I’ll wear these for the City of London Mile in June… it seems like a fitting place!

Wednesday – Rest day. I was supposed to go to CrossFit this morning, but unfortunately there was a mix up with the timetable and we were left without a coach. I could have run instead, but a blister I’d developed on the ball of my foot from Sunday kind of put a halt to that.

My brother had to go into hospital in the early hours of this morning with chest pains. They ran tests, including an echo and blood tests, which both showed that there was some damage to the heart, which at first we all feared was a heart attack. Luckily, as the day drew on, the angiogram showed that the arteries were all clear and healthy and they concluded that the damage was actually caused by viral inflammation. They booked an MRI for Friday just to be sure and kept him in so they could monitor his pain levels, despite him feeling mostly well.

Thursday – CrossFit 6am. A replacement class was put on for us today. We started with a warm up on the rowers and then a 250m time trial. I could row all day – I love it. I got to 250m in 51.5 seconds. I’m hoping to get under 50 seconds one day. After the row we moved on to ground to overhead with the bar, so basically a clean and push press. We worked up to a heavy weight with 3 x 5 reps. I worked at 50kg. After that we had a double WOD; the first was a play on the CrossFit benchmark WOD “Karen”, which is usually 150 wall balls. We did it as a partner WOD with 150 sit ups thrown in for good measure:

150 wall balls (7kg)

150 sit ups

I worked with Ricky and we finished in 5:25. After that we had an individual 4 minute AMRAP of:

8 burpees

8 mountain climbers (8 each leg)

8 press ups

This was pretty killer on our arms and I managed 3 rounds and 2 reps.

I went to the hospital in the evening to visit my brother. He seemed fine in himself, even saying he felt silly at having to stay in hospital as the pain had really gone down and he felt fine other than a slight ache, but they wanted to keep him in until they’d done the MRI to confirm what had caused the damage to his heart.

Friday – CrossFit 6am. We worked on some pistol squat progressions. Pistol squats are one of the movements people struggle with the most in CrossFit as they’re a real test of flexibility, balance and strength. I suffer with really tight calves and so unsupported pistols are just not possible for me (at the moment…). I worked holding on to the rings for support. After that we did 6 x 8 reps of bench press at 70% 1 rep max, which for me was 35kg. I tend to be able to work at quite high percentages of my 1RM, The final WOD of the Open… I’m really sad it’s over! 15.5 was 27-21-15-9 of:

Calorie row

Thrusters (29kg minimum)

I worked at 30kg for the thrusters, which is pretty heavy for that movement for me, but I was determined to RX it. The rowing wasn’t a problem for me as I’m tall, but I found the thrusters really hard and had several moments where I had to pause to stop myself from throwing up! I broke the thrusters into sets of 5 from the off and kept that going through the whole 13 minutes and 49 seconds it took me to finish. On the last set of 9 my coach said “come on George, you can do these unbroken” – I can’t remember exactly what I said in reply, but I know I swore!

I’ll know on Tuesday where I finished up on the leaderboard. I posted a sweaty selfie on Instagram in light of Reebok’s #breakyourselfie campaign – part of the “Be More Human” slogan they’ve adopted. It’s aimed at breaking the culture of perfect selfies and showing a real side to fitness; blood, sweat and tears, and all. I think I deserved my breakfast of Total Greek yoghurt, tropical granola and passion fruit.

Saturday – CrossFit 9am. I haven’t been to a weekend CrossFit class in ages because of training for the half marathon. The weekends usually have quite a different dynamic as there’s more of a mix of people – most people get stuck in a rut during the week as to what classes they go to because of work, childcare or other commitments, but at the weekends you’ll get people who normally come to 6am sessions, or evening sessions, etc. Because it’s also usually a bigger class, we also do a team WOD, with 2-3 or more people. We did some core strength work with an EMOM (every minute on the minute) of hollow rock holds. The hollow rock is a gymnastic drill where you lie on your back with your arms extended overhead and your legs out straight but with your shoulders and legs off the ground. It really challenges the core muscles. We did 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off for 6 minutes, I had to alternate legs for the working time as I’m not strong enough yet to hold both legs out. Then we moved on to the team WOD, which was 3 rounds of:

30 overhead squats (20kg)

30 overhead lunges (20kg)

30 snatch grip push behind the neck (20kg)

30 box jumps (20″)

30 10m shuttles

I worked with Kara and Adam and we finished in 19:56. After the WOD I played around on the rig to see if I could get a strict pullup… usually I can’t move from the dead hang position unless I’ve got a thin red band but today I actually managed to move on my own accord! I got all the way up to nose height but just couldn’t get that last little pull. I tried three times but each time that last little bit was lacking. Hopefully not long now until I get my first strict pullup!

My brother got discharged today. He had hoped to come out yesterday but the results of his MRI hadn’t come back to the doctor until today. The consultant explained that he can tell from the type of scarring what caused it, and he was confident it was caused by viral inflammation and not a heart attack (a relief as my brother is only 31!). There is still a fair amount of damage, and his heart currently isn’t functioning as well as it should, but the good news is that it should repair itself over the next 8-16 weeks (he has follow-up appointments for both these periods) and everything else about his heart is healthy. It’s still quite scary though, as myocarditis can be quite nasty in its own right, and up until this week I hadn’t realised that viruses can affect your heart.

Sunday – Rest day. I had intended to run today, especially as I hadn’t gotten out to run during the week, but I took the easy excuse of tropical-storm style weather and boiler problems which meant we returned home from a day out yesterday to find we had no heating. We did housework as we waited in for the boiler engineer to arrive, and I braved the torrential rain and heavy winds to do some food shopping. The engineer managed to make a temporary fix to our heating so we didn’t have to freeze until they could come back with a new part. I know… a run would have warmed me up, but I’ll run next week!

I took advantage of the spare time today though with a giant protein pancake… one of my favourite breakfasts.

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Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 0 miles (whoops!)

Running Total: 129 miles

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week 10 out of 13 weeks
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Can hold unsupported (for a second or two!) once up
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) Allllllmost one strict (nose height!)
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) 60/72.5kg… slowly getting there!
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

2015 Training Diary – Week 12

It’s finally here… race week. This is my third race of the year so far, and my second half marathon (though the first one was a bit of a last minute decision!), but it’s the race I’ve been training for. The last 10-11 weeks have been focused towards getting some mileage back in my legs, which haven’t been doing much distance over the last couple of years since pulling out of training for the Milton Keynes marathon in 2013.

This week is also the fourth CrossFit Games Open WOD, and I was nervous to find out what Mr Castro had in store for us all after the split from RX to scale with last week’s WOD.

I’ve had a couple of negative mind-frame moments this week, around giving myself a target, achieving it, but then being hard on myself for not exceeding it. Stupid eh? If a friend told me that I’d say “stop being so hard on yourself”, but funny how when it’s me I’m unable to say that…

Week 12: 16th to 22nd March 2015

Monday – CrossFit 6am. We started off the morning with some clean technique work, then worked up to a heavy complex of 1 power clean, 1 hang clean, 2 front squats, adding weight each time. I got up to 55kg, which is pretty close to my 1RM clean and jerk (60kg) so I was pleased with that. I tried 57.5kg but couldn’t get the hang clean. I really love working with heavy weights (even if it does scare me sometimes!). The WOD was 10-1 lunges and down ups, but I’d decided I wanted to have another go at the scaled CrossFit Games Open WOD 15.3 (wall balls and skipping) as I wasn’t happy with my score. I’m pleased I gave it another shot as I got 74 more reps than my attempt on Friday, with a final score of 651.

Tuesday – CrossFit 6am. Our mobility work included some wheelbarrow walks and wall walks. Wall walks always scare me as I don’t trust myself to get close to the wall without falling backwards, but I’m getting closer and closer each time. We then moved on to bench press, with 6 x 6 at 70% 1RM, 35kg for me. The WOD was a Tabata style workout with 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest 6 times through for each of the following exercises:

Kettlebell swings (16kg)

Sit ups

Wall balls (7kg)

Ground to overhead (15kg)

The score was total reps and I got 239 which I was pleased with. Mostly though, because my reps were fairly even for each 20 second effort.

Wednesday – Rest day. I had a few sports massages to do this week, which although not exercise, takes quite a bit of effort and time. I do love to do them though, and talking to my clients about their upcoming races motivates me. One of my clients was running Brentwood Half Marathon on Sunday so we chatted half marathon tactics!

I was lucky enough to win a competition through Coco Pro for a month’s supply of their lovely protein coconut water drinks, which arrived today. If you haven’t tried them yet, make sure you get some. I love how refreshing they are, but still giving a good 20g of protein.

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Thursday – I got up for yoga but unfortunately hadn’t realised it had been cancelled. I got home and did a little 10 minute flow, but I find it quite hard to motivate myself at home with yoga. It did give me an opportunity to work on my biggest weakness though – squat depth.

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Friday – CrossFit 6am. The fourth WOD of the Open… 15.4 was an 8 minute AMRAP progressive ladder of handstand pushups and cleans. The clean was heavy, at minimum 56kg, which because of the plates we have available would have meant 57.5kg rather than 55kg. But, the stopping point for me really was the handstand pushups – I’ve never done them from ground level before, only ever with two ab mats under my head.

I took the decision from the off to do the scaled version, which was an 8 minute AMRAP of:

10 push presses (30kg)

10 cleans (35kg)

I pushed through 5 full rounds and 2 reps for a score I was pretty proud of – 102 reps.

Saturday – Rest day.

Sunday – Race day! Reading Half Marathon, the race I’d planned as my goal race for the year… and it’s only March! I was very lucky to get a press place for the race, so had the luxury of hanging out in one of the suites overlooking the stadium. It was a hot, sunny day and I think quite a few people suffered for that, perhaps myself included – though I won’t make excuses. I didn’t stick very well to the plan that Kevin from Honest Fitness had given me; my speedwork sessions were few and far between and it showed.

I knew from the first few miles I wasn’t going to PB, but I wasn’t actually a million miles off on my pace, averaging 8:34 min/mile for a finish time of 1:52:35 and quite possibly my favourite medal of all time! A full race report will follow on Wednesday… keep an eye out.

Despite being proud of my scaled CrossFit Open score, and for only being 3 minutes off of a PB half marathon time with slightly half-arsed training, I somehow still came away feeling slightly disappointed this week. Why? Because I always want to feel like I’m progressing. The scaled workout was something that I would easily see programmed in my every-day training, so doing it as a competition WOD didn’t seem enough for me – and being so close to getting handstand pushups but not getting them seemed like a failure.

And the half marathon? If I’d just run 15-20 seconds faster per mile I would have gotten a PB. 15-20 seconds? Could I not have pushed just that little bid harder? I don’t know, but being close… it’s not quite enough for me.

Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 13 miles

Running Total: 129 miles

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week On track (two jokers used…)
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Can hold unsupported (for a second or two!) once up
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) 2 underhand grip
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) 60/72.5kg… slowly getting there!
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

2015 Training Diary – Week 10

So after a run-free week I had a bit of a slow re-introduction to it this week. I only managed to get out for one and a half of my runs (partly due to locking myself out of the house, but more about that later!). I’m a bit all over the place with my workout schedule at the moment – I can only fit all of my sessions in if everything is just right… and that’s no way to be – it’s too stressful. If one plan moves out, pretty much my whole schedule is thrown out.

I wish I was more chilled out about it, but I’m not. I do sometimes get in a bit of an “all or nothing” frame of mind, and it’s a bit of a downward spiral then. In truth, exercise is one of the only things that keeps me almost confident. If I can’t do it, I start feeling a little down about myself, and then I don’t want to exercise and just want to slob around instead. Not fun.

But I try to snap myself out of it, and most of the time it works. Then I wonder what all the negativity was about. Does this happen to anyone else?

Anyway, onto this week’s workouts…

Week 10: 2nd to 8th March 2015

Monday – Rest day

Tuesday – CrossFit 6am. Our skill element was some handstand practice; there are two main up-side-down moves in CrossFit, one is handstand push-up, and the other (coincidentally one of the big moves that always comes up at some point in competitions) is the handstand walk. For the latter, you need to be able to do a handstand away from the wall, so that’s what we were building up to. Coach Phem got me trying to move my hands further away from the wall, keeping it just as a safety net, and I managed to hold a free-standing handstand for a couple of seconds after trusting myself to come away from the wall – super happy! After that we did 6 x 8 front squats at 70% 1RM. I worked at 52.5kg. The WOD was a 7 min AMRAP of:

1 burpee

1 box jump (20″)

1 sit up

What can I say? This was pretty horrible. You can’t really get into a rhythm with any of the movements when there’s just 1 rep of each – it certainly makes you learn quicker ways of transitioning between the moves. The hardest part for me was getting down and up from sit-ups to standing… 29 times! Good flexibility would definitely help here.

I finished up with a white chocolate shake from MyProtein mixed up in my Promixx blender (god I love this thing!). I’ve been wondering if the delay between finishing a workout and having my breakfast might be affecting my recovery, so I’m going to trial having a protein shake after each workout and see how I get on.

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Wednesday – CrossFit 6am. We got straight in with the strength element after our warm up and mobility today; good old bench press. We don’t usually have a specifically set out warm up protocol, but today it was set out for us to do 10 reps with an empty bar, 8 reps at 50%, 6 reps at 60%, then 6 x 8 at 70% 1RM. I worked at 35kg. The WOD was a pretty brutal chipper of:

400m row

50 wall balls (7kg)

40 american KB swings (24kg)

30 burpees

20 pull-ups

10 HSPU

There was a 15 minute time-cap, which I was really close to finishing within… until it came to the handstand push-ups (HSPU). The 24kg kettlebell swings were really tough – we usually work with 16kg, and I’d scaled the pull-ups to supine rows (because I’m rubbish at pull-ups). I’d managed to get to the wall with a couple of minutes to spare, but then the wheels fell off. I managed four kipping HSPU in about a minute, but then it took me ages to the get the next two out, and I kept failing to get my hip drive to get me up there. I got so frustrated with myself and ended up swearing and groaning! With only four left to do the time ran out. Boo!

Run 6:30pm. I was lucky to be invited to take part in the Race For Life this year. The Cancer Research UK Race For Life 5k was my very first race back in 2008, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. At the time I was fortunate enough not to have had much experience of cancer, but in the last few years I’ve had a few people close to me be diagnosed, including my dad – twice. Because of that, the cancer charities are more dear to me now and I am pleased to be able to support them when I can.

Race For Life and their sponsors very kindly sent me a lovely parcel with a RFL kit and some snacks and treats to keep me going in training (thank you RFL team!). I took the kit for a spin today and clocked up a nice and pink 5 miles.

Race For Life have also given me a code which will give 20 lucky users £2 off entry to a Race For Life race. This code can only be used 20 times, so act quickly if you want to take advantage! I’m racing the Epping 10k on Wednesday 15th July, so feel free to join me there or find your local race. Sign up here and use RFLFit for discounted entry.

Thursday – Rest day

Friday – CrossFit 6am. Today was the second WOD of the CrossFit Games Open – 15.2, which was a repeat of 14.2 last year… but before that, we started with some muscle up progressions. We did assisted kipping by starting with a band underneath us, almost like sitting in a swing, and then using our hips to help us drive up to the bottom of a dip. Much harder work than it sounds. After that we had some time to warm up ready for the WOD. It went like this:

3 minutes to perform 2 rounds of:

10 x overhead squats (43/30kg)

10 x chest to bar pull-ups

If you completed the required work, you rested for the remaining time and then had another 3 minutes to perform 2 rounds of:

12 x overhead squats (43/30kg)

12 x chest to bar pull-ups

etc.

This was the RX (prescribed) WOD. But as I’ve already mentioned my pull-ups are rubbish, so chest to bar was never going to happen. Not only that, but my limited mobility means overhead squats are also a bit rubbish. So I chose to do the scaled version, which replaced chest to bar pull-ups with ordinary chin over bar pull-ups, a lower weight of 30/20kg, and also started with 6 reps, then 10, then 12, etc.

I practised a few of each movement, and to my surprise my squats were getting below parallel with comfort. I was still leaning forwards slightly, but not to a point of stress. And I was actually getting my chin clearly over the bar with single pull-ups! The clock started and I knew it would be a struggle to get the first 3 minutes’ work done. Sure enough my 3 minutes was up and I hadn’t made it through the two rounds, in fact I’d only done 19 reps. But for me, a small victory. My first WOD with proper kipping pull-ups, and I wasn’t getting no-repped for my squats! YAY!

Saturday – Rest day. I had a busy day at my dad’s college’s U18s semi-final rugby match for the Natwest Schools’ Cup, held at Allianz Park. The boys won with a slow first half but really impressive second half and are now through to the finals, being held at Twickenham in a couple of weeks – good luck guys! It was so inspiring it almost made me want to try rugby, then I remembered I’m a wimp.

Saturday night I went out for dinner with some friends from Mike Samuels’ Free Fat Loss with Healthy Living Heavy Lifting group on Saturday night. We went to Four Two Eight in Covent Garden and I had the most delicious lamb with caponata, followed by sweet potato ice cream (yes really!). The restaurant was beautiful and the food was amazing!

Sunday – Run 8:30am. I ran with my lovely friend Zanna, who’s running her very first obstacle race in April. We did a nice 4 mile run along the Flitch Way, which used to be a train line – it even still has one of the old station houses and a platform! I was supposed to do another 5-6 miles once I got home, so dropped my stuff off and left the house… only the door wouldn’t lock. I’d managed to turn the key in the barrel halfway and couldn’t turn it back to open it, or turn it forward to lock it. So there I was, stuck outside the house with no phone to call my fiancé, and no way I could leave the house unlocked. I did an extra mile of strides outside my house, but then got fed up (it’s that all or nothing thing again!) so stretched in the sun until Darren got home.

When he got home we headed out to the Wimpole Estate National Trust centre. We both love walking and the National Trust centres are fantastic ways to see the country. We visited the farm, and then took a walk around the gardens. We’re both now members so can go to any National Trust centre in the country for free (or discounted). I’d thoroughly recommend joining; membership helps the NT look after and run the centres for us all to enjoy.

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Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 10 miles

Running Total: 105 miles… finally over that 100 miles mark!

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week On track (one joker used!)
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Can hold unsupported (for a second or two!) once up
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) 2 underhand grip
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) 60/72.5kg… slowly creeping up!
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

2015 Training Diary – Week 9

I haven’t run this week… at all. Since Brighton Half Marathon on Sunday I’ve just not felt like it, and I’ve had a small niggle in my achilles (which has given me grief before) so I wanted to give it a good rest.

I signed up for Jantastic this year, after first doing it a few years ago, and they have “joker cards” which you can use to make up for a lack of running for one week of each month (Jan-Mar), say for example if you catch flu, or if you have an enforced rest through a niggle. So if I can use a joker card for Jantastic, why can’t I use one for my New Year’s Resolutions?

Week 9: 23rd February to 1st March 2015

Monday – Weightlifting Club 6pm. Wanting to keep the momentum after the comp a couple of weeks ago I booked in for weightlifting club to continue the programme. It’s a real toughy; Lee has us working at relatively low percentages as a sort of de-load after the comp, but the reps are strung together like you wouldn’t believe in complexes. We cycle between two days of training in the programme, one more snatch oriented day, and the other focusing more on the clean and jerk movements. I was on the clean and jerk day today.

{5 x stiff leg deadlift, 5 x hang clean, 5 x front lunge, 5 x power jerk, 5 x push press, 5 x good mornings, 5 x back squat} x 2 at 40% 1RM clean and jerk. I worked at 25kg and this was really hard. I’m talking sweat-dripping, panting hard.

3 position clean (1 x above knee, 1 x below knee, 1 x from floor) then single split jerk x 5 at 70% 1Rm. Working weight for me was 42.5kg. This really challenges you to “finish your pull” and “get under the bar”; both things that you’ll hear coaches (like Giles Greenwood!) shout all the time.

Double power jerk, single split jerk, 4 x 3 at 75% 1RM. My working weight was 45kg but after the second time through in the first set I dropped the bar and knew this would be a struggle. Power jerk is a tricky one for me with my ankle mobility, and my split jerk technique was looking a little off. Annie came over and gave me some pointers and I dropped the weight to 35kg to finish the set with technique work. This is where good coaching comes in and really makes the difference.

Front squat 3 x 8 at 65-70% 1RM. I worked at 50kg. Annie told me she was surprised to see me squatting, but my legs felt surprisingly ok!

Tuesday – CrossFit 6am. This morning was pretty hard, we had a mini WOD, then some OH squat practice and the proper WOD. First up we warmed up to a 75% snatch for the skill WOD, which was 5 rounds of 3 x snatches at 75%, followed by max burpees over the bar. For some weird reason I prefer burpees over bar to ordinary burpees, but that doesn’t make them any less painful – in fact, the hardest part is the jump over the bar each time. I managed 53 burpees in total.

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Next, we worked up to a solid overhead squat for the WOD. Because of my limited mobility I knew I wouldn’t be able to RX, so I stuck with 20kg for the WOD, with a wallball resting on plates behind me so I could check my depth each time. The WOD was 21-15-9 of:

Overhead squat

Pullups

I still haven’t quite got unassisted pullups consistently so I stuck with supine ring rows for the first two rounds, and then jumped on the rig to try and finish off my round of 9 with pullups. My chin doesn’t always get over the bar, so in a comp I’d be no-repped, but if I don’t put the effort in to practice then I’ll never get there. I finished in 7:40.

Wednesday – Rest day. I had booked in for CrossFit, but woke up feeling really tired and had a headache so cancelled and took the day to rest.

Thursday – Rest day. Today Darren and I were off to meet with our wedding venue events team, and to look at honeymoons for the first time. The venue meeting was really productive and I think we both felt a lot better about everything and that we’ve finally got some of the main details organised. The honeymoon part of the day was a bit more scary… I don’t think we’d quite appreciated just how much it costs to go to the parts of the world we were looking at. This will need some thought for sure! We went to see Cats in the evening with Darren’s parents, it was Darren’s mum’s birthday so she’d kindly treated us to the tickets. I’ve always wanted to see it and you’ve got to be in awe of how the cast move about the stage. It definitely inspired me to work more on my mobility!

Friday – Rest day. Another busy day; Darren’s parents had booked a surprise day out in London for us all to continue the celebrations for his mum’s big birthday.

Saturday – CrossFit Open WOD 10:30am. I had planned to do the first CrossFit Games Open WOD on Friday morning, but with such a late night on Thursday I decided to do it today instead. Before I started, Laura and Tina and I had decided to try another acro pose, after recreating the headstand star last week. This one was perhaps a little more ambitious, and we needed an extra hand to get in and out of it, but it came out really well! Let me know if you recreate it (tag me on Instagram @fitcetera).

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So, in case you don’t already know, 15.1 was a 9 minute AMRAP of:

15 toes to bar

10 deadlifts (35kg)

5 snatches (35kg)

Followed by 15.1a, which was 6 minutes to establish:

1RM clean and jerk

I was worried about the snatches, because my 1RM is 40kg so 35kg for reps is quite heavy for me, but it was actually the toes to bar that gave me the most grief. I kept having to jump down from the bar after the first round as my grip started to weaken and I got more and more out of breath. Eventually I managed to get 2 full rounds and 5 reps out.

Then it was on to the clean and jerk. I started at 45kg, knowing I could quite comfortably get that overhead. Then 50kg, then 55kg. I went up to 57.5kg, which was 2.5kg underneath my 1RM and managed to get it up onto front rack and then overhead. But I still had a minute to go… I said it would be a miracle if I got 60kg (an equal PB), but I gave it a go anyway. I got the bar up to my shoulders but didn’t quite get my elbows under quickly enough and dropped it. That was it. But I was super happy with 57.5, I’d secretly hoped for somewhere around 55kg so I’d exceeded my expectations, and in all honesty, I was just happy to RX the first part!

I think I burned off my protein packed breakfast… though I could have easily eaten it all over again!

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Sunday – British Military Fitness 10:30am. I was invited to join in a taster class at the original home to British Military Fitness, Hyde Park. I’ve never really done military style training, but it was great fun. The instructors (a mixture of marine, navy and army) got us working together as a team without even realising it, and really put us to the test crawling through mud, doing pushups off of benches, and isometric exercises while a partner did repetitions. Look out for my full write up of the experience soon, including a core strength sequence you can do at home to really develop a strong midsection.

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Yoga 5pm. I haven’t been able to get to yoga this week so decided to pull the mat out at home and use my yoga deck*, now that I’m more confident to transition between moves and know roughly what I’m doing! After a 30 minute sequence I did some TRX pikes and practiced my pike into headstand. Check out my Instagram or Facebook pages for videos!

Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 0 miles… yup, zero.

Running Total: 95 miles

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week On track (one joker used!)
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Both against a wall; can hold headstand unsupported once up there!
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) 2 underhand grip
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) 60/72.5kg… slowly creeping up!
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

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