2015 Training Diary – Week 1

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m training for the Reading Half Marathon this year. I’ve been a bit of a stranger to running of late, the commitment just hasn’t been there and I find it hard sometimes just to drag myself out the door, but I’ve wanted to run Reading for a few years now so snapped up the chance. I figure it would be enough of a challenge to make me train, but not too much that I’d feel overwhelmed.

Naturally, I want to blog about my progress (blogging’s what I do!), but with my training schedule being made up half from running and half from CrossFit and weightlifting, I didn’t want to just do a countdown to the race and leave everything else out. And with my New Year’s Resolutions and 2015 Fitness Goals to track I thought that a general training log would fit the bill.

So, here goes.

Because I’m a bit of a perfectionist – and it would really unnerve me to have a training diary starting at “Week 3” (yes, I know… just a little obsessive-compulsive) – I thought I’d go back to the start of the year and re-cap my training from there.

Week 1: 1st – 4th January 2015

Thursday – I kicked off the New Year in style with a session to try out my new inov8 Fastlift weightlifting shoes. Open Gym sessions at the box are a great opportunity to work on weaknesses outside of CrossFit classes, and having not been to Weightlifting Club since September last year I thought I’d give the programme a go. I worked on snatches and split jerks, finished off with some front squats. The new shoes worked a treat and the session got me excited about picking up my weightlifting again.

I’d pulled a muscle coughing while I was ill over Christmas and had some treatment on my back called “gua sha“. The below photo shows the immediate after-effects… I’m pretty sure everyone at the box thought I’d been beaten, but they were all too polite to mention it. After a couple of days the pulled muscle was fine, but I’m not sure if I’d have the treatment again as it is slightly hard to explain the markings when you’re out and about!

Gua sha

Friday – Rest day.

Saturday – CrossFit. We did a snatch 1RM run-up. My current PB is 40kg, but I wasn’t expecting to hit that with not being at weightlifting training for a few months. I got 35kg pretty cleanly, but missed my first attempt at 37.5kg. Second time around I got it up there, but it was a bit of a messy lift so I definitely need to work on my technique to get back up to the weights I’d like to be hitting.

The WOD was a partner WOD with 4 rounds of:

30 hang cleans

30 push press

30 front squat

10 burpees

I love working with a bar so this was great fun for me. Jo and I worked together and finished in 16:48.

Barbell WOD

Sunday – A tough off-road run with some of my running club friends. We hit Epping Forest in the cold and the plan was to do around 7-8 miles. I was already a little concerned the run would be too much for me as I hadn’t done that distance for a little while, and off-road running is notoriously more difficult than road running. I started to struggle up the steep hills after around 4-5 miles (I blame all the squats!) and a few of us took a slightly shorter route part-way through to cut the distance back by about half a mile. I didn’t have a fully accurate distance covered as I forgot to take my watch off of pause for a little bit, but it was around 7 miles in total.

Forest Run

Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 7 miles (ish)

Running Total: 7 miles (ish)

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week On track
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Both against a wall
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) 55/70kg
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/45kg

CrossFit – One Year On

It was around this time last year that I started doing CrossFit regularly. After trying it in the summer I knew it was something I’d want to keep up but all the other boxes seemed to be a bit of a drive away. I was lucky to have a box open within a few miles of my home in November 2013.

“If  you want to do something often, make it easy for yourself.”

Baptism of Fire

My first WOD at CrossFit Raeda was definitely one to remember… the 12 Days of Christmas. There were 12 exercises, and you had to perform them like you would sing the song. So 1 burpee, 2 deadlifts 1 burpee, 3 toes to bar 2 deadlifts 1 burpee, and so on.


My First Raeda WOD Photo Credit, CrossFit Raeda


I don’t remember the scores, but there was a time cap and I remember not finishing. I think I was on the 10th round. Now, if I’d ever not finished a race I would have been so upset. In fact, I think in my entire running life I’ve only ever pulled out of one race once I’d started and I berated myself for it. But this is where CrossFit is different. I can never quite put my finger on that feeling to describe it to someone, but whenever I’m asked what CrossFit is like all I can think of is the community. Some call it a “cult”, and maybe in a way they’re right. But all I know is that one year on, this is one cult I never want to stop being a part of.

How Far I’ve Come

So much about me has changed since I started CrossFit, there’s no way I’ll be able to explain it all. I’ve achieved things I never thought I’d be able (or even want!) to do. I’ve made so many new friends. I’ve fallen in love with a bar and plates. I’ve taken part in competitions. I’ve developed new skills. I’ve switched focus for the first time in my life from what my body looks like to what my body can do. All of this, and more, thanks to CrossFit.


Then… Photo Credit, CrossFit Raeda



Now Photo credit, Lauren Elizabeth Dodd Photography

One Year On

And now, one year on, we returned to a 12 Days of Christmas WOD. The exercises were different, but the concept the same. One year ago I took a scaled-down option and did easier versions of each exercise, this time around I did the RX for everything except the kettlebell exercises (I’d just returned after two weeks with a hacking cough) and I did so much better. I still didn’t finish within the time cap, but then no-one did. But I did make it all the way to round 12 this time! And as they say:

“it doesn’t get easier, you just get better”

I plan to continue getting better with my CrossFit family, and look forward to seeing how much further I am along in another year’s time.

Thank you to all the coaches and my friends at CrossFit Raeda for making this year such an amazing one.

Happy Christmas!

I love this bunch of nutters!

I love this bunch of nutters! Photo credit, CrossFit Raeda

You Know You're A CrossFitter When…

CrossFit. You either love it or hate it (as explored by my article in PT Magazine). Some quirks are unique to the sport of fitness, others are crossovers from other fitness endeavours. But the combination on this list… well, I think you’ll relate if you’re a true CrossFitter.

You probably started out thinking, “this looks fun, I’ll try it out” and now I bet you can’t think of doing much else other than WOD or lift.

But just how do you know when you’re a fully fledged CrossFitter?


You have bruises on your thighs and collar bones, and grazes on your shins.

CrossFit Bruises

You consume more protein than you ever thought possible.

Lauren Fisher Meal Plan

Lauren Fisher’s Meal Plan @ltfisher12 on Instagram

You own at least one pair of Nanos or inov8s.

CrossFit Shoes

Credit: Chris McNamara

Your new favourite pastime is picking bits of skin off your hands.

Camille's Hands

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet’s hands after 14.2 @camillelbaz on Instagram

The only high heels you wear are lifters.

Lifting Shoes


You start conversations with “this one time, at crossfit…”


You hear “Roxanne” and instantly drop to the floor.


You’re image of “fitspiration” has changed to “strongspiration”.

Christmas Abbott


Anyone called Fran, Grace or Isabel is met with a slight dislike.


You look at something heavy and think “I could clean/deadlift/snatch that”.

I could deadlift you


Your favourites bar is filled with articles like “5 reasons why CrossFit is the best”

CrossFit iNternet

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to fit your derriere into those skinny jeans.



You are, or have considered going, Paleo.


Your wardrobe is at least two thirds Reebok or Rogue.



Rich Froning and Sam Briggs are now household names in your gaff.


CrossFit Games

You say “beast” a lot.

beast mode

You talk in abbreviations… “We did this SOB AMRAP of DU, SDHP, KBS and WB. FFS.”



The word “burpee” instils a feeling of dread, but secretly you love them.


You suddenly have a much bigger family than you ever thought you’d have.

Crossfit family

CrossFit Raeda


Healthy Ready Meals from Paleo Now

I know, I know… it sounds a little like an oxymoron, but now there really is such a thing as a healthy ready meal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. But a busy lifestyle sometimes means that cooking has to take a back seat. And with the only usual options being a miserable looking supermarket microwave meal for one or a takeaway it can get a little counter-intuitive… eat junk and you feel like junk.

This is where the brains behind new independent venture Paleo Now has come to save us!

About Paleo Now

A mother of three young children and six hens, the founder of Paleo Now, Phem Senar, is also a CrossFit enthusiast with a background in body building and figure competitions. Eating healthily and for performance is something she has down to an art.

But, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t face time pressures too. “Something I struggled with was the ability to find a healthy, cooked meal while out and about that didn’t contain a long list of ingredients” says Phem, “there was a strong need for meals that are simple, nutritious and containing REAL food”.

So she decided to make them herself… and launched Paleo Now.

Paleo Now meals follow the Paleo diet template, meaning they are high in protein and contain no wheat, dairy or gluten. Each meal comes with a protein source (such as chicken, beef or fish), side order (cauliflower rice, courgette spaghetti, sweet potato mash) and vegetable portion (stir fry, greens or ratatouille).

Paleo Now Meatballs

Meatballs with courgette “spaghetti” and steamed greens

“Whenever possible we use organic produce, locally sourced meat, free range poultry and line caught fish”.

Meals are made to order weekly, and delivered to CrossFit Raeda in Harlow, Essex, for collection.

Meals On Trial

Paleo Now kindly provided me with a sample bundle of 3 meals to try. I chose to swap two of my usual lunches for a meal, and also had one as a Friday night “takeaway”, a welcome break from cooking!

The meals are easy to prepare, with just a few minutes’ blast in the microwave. Each dish packed a flavour punch, and not a soggy vegetable in sight – I usually find microwave meals lack that certain crunch that I like in my veggies, but not with Paleo Now.

The meat was tender and flavoursome, and perfectly cooked. My favourite was the beef, which was pink to perfection and melted in my mouth.

Paleo Now Beef

Peppered steak with creamy sweet potato mash and stir fry veg

My only criticism was that I would usually have a slightly larger protein source for my evening meals, but Paleo Now have responded to feedback and now offer a “bumper bundle” for those who need a slightly larger portion size.

All in all, the meals were convenient, tasty and a much appreciated break from the norm of “convenience” food.

How to Order

Orders can be placed online through Paleo Now’s web store. Meals can be ordered individually, or, for the best value, in bundles of 3, 5 or 10.

With the 3 Meal Bundle starting at just £12*, or £4 per meal, Paleo Now offers a drastic contrast in cost to the average office worker’s spend of £7.81 per day on lunch, drinks and work-time snacks (officebroker.com).

Paleo Now Fat Loss Challenge

Paelo Now are now also launching a fat loss challenge, starting 1st September 2014.

The challenge will run for 40 days and 40 nights and will include:

  • Individual nutrition programs
  • Monitored weekly weigh ins
  • Progress pictures and measurements
  • 24/7 online advice
  • Easy to use spreadsheet to log meals and activity

Plus, there is an option to upgrade to have all weekly meals prepared for you*.

The package costs £65. Numbers are limited so register before 22nd August 2014 to secure your place!

* Prices correct at time of writing. Upgrade to include weekly meals for All Inclusive or Mini Package customers only. Please see website for upgrade prices.

Why I Bombed In the CrossFit Open… But Loved It Anyway

I wanted to throw up, came away with whip marks all down my arms, had moments of pure frustration, and moments of proud elation. Several times I questioned my own sanity as I tried to do things I’d never done before, but I achieved new skills, and forced out a personal best lift. All of this while watching the world’s fittest CrossFit men and women perform the same workouts as me (albeit a hundred times better and faster!).

Wow. CrossFit Games Open… thank you.

Happy WOD

Where The Story Begins

“You never know, you might just get a PB out of it”.

These were the words of Annie, my CrossFit coach. For a few weeks her and Lee, owners of CrossFit Raeda, had been talking about the CrossFit Games. The world’s elite men and women of CrossFit, battling it out to achieve the title of The World’s Fittest Man and Woman. Surely this is no place for me, a slightly soft CrossFit noob?

That’s the beauty of the Open.

See, the first round of the CrossFit Games is an online shortlisting process. As many people as want to can sign up to have a stab at 5 weekly WODs, announced in the early hours of Friday mornings, and submitting scores to the leader board by Monday night. I knew the WODs were going to be hard looking at previous years, and I knew my limitations, but I wanted to challenge myself and set a baseline from which to track my CrossFit progress, so I signed up anyway.

Bring it on.

Whipping Donkey Kicks

Along came 14.1… and my heart sank.

A combination of double unders and snatches, I’d fallen at the first hurdle. I’d never successfully gotten a double under. Double unders, for those who don’t know, are a skipping technique where you spin the rope twice for every jump… F***.

With a zero score looming in the very first WOD I knew I had to try. I had three days to learn. By Sunday afternoon I’d managed it, I’d got my first double unders. Sure, they weren’t pretty, and they bloody hurt when I caught myself with the rope, but I’d got them.

Monday came around and it was time to WOD. After much arm whipping, and flicking my legs behind me like a crazed donkey, I battled my way through just over two rounds.

The Zero Score

And then it happened. It had to really.

14.2 brought with it overhead squats and chest to bar (CTB) pullups. Fail on both counts.

For as long as I can remember I’ve never been able to squat full depth. In CrossFit, a full squat is defined as when the hip crease goes clearly below the line of the knee… aka “Ass to Grass”. But, for reasons too lengthy to go into right now, this just isn’t possible for me at the moment. Because of this, every rep would have been a “no rep”.

At this point I became stroppy. If I could just get one rep out, one measly rep, I would still have been able to register a score and stay in the Open. But with a zero score you’re automatically off the leader board. There is no scaling in the Open, and this caused a fair deal of frustration – both via social media, and in my own defeatist mind-set. But after a slight tantrum I came round to the fact that the Open is designed to wittle down the masses to the fittest men and women in each region – it should be tough.

I brushed myself off and scaled the WOD to partial squats and jumping CTB. But I was out.

Picking Myself Up Off The Floor

Having bombed in the Open already, I was feeling deflated. Why did I bother signing up? And then 14.3 came along. Now this is my kinda WOD!


A progressive set of deadlifts and box jumps this was something I could do. Feeling a bit perked up I was eager to start Friday morning. Each round of the WOD the deadlifts went up in weight, from 43kg, to 61, 70, 85 etc. With a previous one rep max of 80kg I didn’t hold out much hope of going beyond the third round, but I set the weights out anyway.

And good thing too! A minute to go and I’d finished round three. I loaded the extra 15kg, set myself up and pulled…. Nothing. Shook myself off, dusted my hands and tried one last time to shift this bar that weighed more than I did, and I did it! Just one rep, but a new one rep max! Yesssssss.

Scaling My Way Home

It is well known that towards the end of the Open is the real crazy stuff, and Dave (Castro, CrossFit Games Director) didn’t disappoint.

14.4 was a chipper of rowing, toes to bar (TTB), wall balls, cleans and muscle ups.

Having already bailed out of the Open I decided to scale this one. TTB was another skill, like double unders, that I didn’t have under my belt before the Open, so I went for hanging leg raises instead – and this got me through to the end of the cleans.


14.5 was the first “for time” WOD in CrossFit Games Open history, with a descending ladder of thrusters and bar facing burpees to complete.

Poor flexibility caught me out again, and without a full depth squat, my thrusters would have been no reps. I did as much as I could with a lesser weight and partial squats. I came in at just over 19 minutes, and my god were those bar facing burpees tough!

What I Achieved

As the title of this post suggests, I’m not going to Regionals any time soon (or ever haha!) but I can tick off a few firsts and PBs:

My first CrossFit Games Open. Yes, this counts! And I’m already excited for next year… hopefully I won’t get any zero scores.

My first Double Unders. Just don’t judge the technique. I’ll work at it!

PB Deadlift 1RM by 5kg. Annie was right… I got a PB out of it! I’m hoping to re-test this soon as it may be higher considering it was at the end of a WOD.

My first TTB. Since deciding not to attempt them in the WOD I tried TTB in practice at the box and can now do a few.

That feeling of community in a worldwide competition. The Open brings you together with athletes of all levels and allows you to compete as one.

If I Was To Sum It Up

I may not have earned a place on the leader board, due to my zero scores, but I still loved my first CrossFit Games Open experience. To me, it pushed me hard enough to make me appreciate how much harder I have to work to really call myself a CrossFit athlete, but also gave me a taste of what it could be like to compete against the best in the world. No other sport can do the same. Even in running, the elite start at a different time, and place on a different leader board.

And that’s what makes CrossFit so inclusive.

Did you take part in the CrossFit Games Open? How was your experience? Did you achieve any new skills/PBs?


Photos courtesy of CrossFit Raeda.

Yeah, She Lifts – Nikki Burton

Next up to show you girls how it’s done is CrossFit and pole enthusiast Nikki Burton…

Nikki Burton

Nikki Burton attends CrossFit sessions at her local box like clockwork. Putting in a number of sessions a week she has seen her strengths grow and skills develop. Nikki also has a passion for pole fitness, and attends classes to develop her strength, flexibility and gymnastic movements on top of her CrossFit devotion. Here, Nikki proves that women can lift like a boss in the box without developing arms like Arnie!

Nikki’s “Yeah, She Lifts” profile…

Nikki Burton Cover

Full Name:

Nikki Burton



CrossFit Box / Lifting Gym:

CrossFit Raeda

Nikki 1

Deadlifting at CrossFit Raeda


Essex, England



Favourite Fitness Clothing:


Favourite Lifting Footwear:

Soon to be Reebok Crossfit Nanos!

Time Lifting:

3 months

Favourite Exercise / Sport:

Crossfit, Pole Fitness

Nikki 2

Nikki showing off some impressive pole skills

Favourite Lift(s):

Hip Thrusters

Lifting PBs / 1RMs:

80kg dead lift, 40kg push press, 42.5kg bench press, 6 unassisted kipping pull ups

Lifting Goals:

Short term to increase all 1RM within allotted time, long term to do unassisted pull ups in all WODs that require pull ups

Favourite Food:


Most Embarrassing Fitness Moment:

The first time I fell from the top of the pole to a chorus of gasps. This has become less and less embarrassing as time has gone on as it happens more frequently!

Has Nikki’s profile inspired you? Let me know, and stay tuned for more lifting ladies, coming soon!

Last time on Yeah, She Lifts we met Nicola Joyce, natural body builder and INBF Women’s Bodybuilding World Champion for 2013. She showed us how hard she works to maintain her body building figure, and how girls can hold their own in physique competitions. Check out Nicola’s profile here.

Do You Lift?

If you’re a Lady That Lifts and want to be featured in “Yeah, She Lifts”, please feel free to get in touch by emailing georgina@fitcetera.co.uk