Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black........

Yes! This is truly a "pot calling the kettle black" post here folks!

How many times have you gotten out of your car, rolled into the gym and jumped right into a WOD. No stretching, no warm up and no preparation!? I admit, I am a little guilty of this. As a coach I feel like a hypocrite when I tell my athletes that they need to follow a proper warm up before just hopping into a WOD.  Unfortunately, we don’t often follow the advice of our coaches, or even ourselves and the turning point is usually post injury or when we have identified decreased performance.

I have two friends who are currently rehabilitating or dealing with meniscus tears in their knees. I have had countless athletes and friends tell me about nagging injuries that seem to never get better or go away. The reality with these injuries is that they are not getting better because we refuse to let ourselves heal. Another thing I am guilty of. We must take care of our bodies or they will fail us! As one of my coaches at CrossFit Reston states, “We come in and put all of our effort into the WODs. We post pictures of our nutritious and outstanding food we make and eat. We work extra time on skills. But, how many of us work on stretching and mobility?”

Warming up is essential to proper performance. One warm up I generally prescribe when I am coaching at CrossFit Walter Reed is:

400m Jog/Run/Row
3 Rounds of Cindy

For stretching, I generally try to focus on the core activities we will be performing in the WOD that day. I prescribe the 400m and Cindy reps to get everyone in the mindset of working out. This let's the athlete reset their mind and focus on the task at hand instead of what they just completed at the office or whatever they think they might want to do after work that evening. 

At CrossFit Rubicon, we have a rather extensive warm up procedure that when followed, leaves you nice and warmed up, limber and slightly, if not extensively, sweaty! I find that when I do this warm up, not only am I less sore than if I don't but I also perform so much better during the WOD! 

So, why don't I always warm up? Honestly, there is no set reason. Sometimes I come in and start socializing before the "oh shit" moment when the WOD is about to start. Sometimes there is a time constraint. Sometimes I half ass warm up and then just think I am good to go for the punishment I am about to inflict on myself! Bottom line is proper preparation reduces injury and increases performance. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You have a WOD, nutrition and hydration which forms a nice picture of cute puppies playing. The box with the picture of the completed puzzle is your mobility and preparation. Now how easy is it to put that puzzle together if you just have the pieces in a clear Ziploc bag with no reference!?

Mobility WODs FTMFW!!!

I have three rules I like to live by:

1. Eat real food.
2. Exercise 5 days a week
3. Drink beer....because it's fucking awesome!

Let's pay attention to rule number two here. Exercise does not necessarily mean working out everyday or taking the day off of the gym to run or ruckmarch. Exercising also means mobility work. is a wealth of knowledge about working on mobility and taking care of some of those nagging injuries or tweaks you may have. Your coaches at your local box should be able to steer you in the right direction as well. I do have some other suggestions for you as well.

Be self sufficient! Learn what you need to do from your coach then put a little cash in the kitty and buy some mobility supplements for your home! You don't have to make a trip to the gym just to do mobility work. Again Faster Equipment and Rogue Fitness have tons of Mobility equipment for sale and if you "like" their Facebook pages, they usually will post mobility packages which carry pretty good discounts. You can also just go to your local sporting goods store and purchase everything you need. 

The possibilities are endless for buying what you need for cheap but it's up to you to put as much time in to mobility work as you do your nutrition and WOD performance.

Again Faster:

Rogue Fitness:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Two Days Just Aren't Enough

31 Heroes WOD v2.0

August 6, 2011, 31 Heroes died tragically when the Chinook helicopter they were flying in crashed in Afghanistan. Almost immediately, The 31 Heroes Project was born As the CrossFit community embraced the cause, a very challenging WOD was announced.

31 minute AMRAP
Partner WOD
8 Thrusters (155#/105#)
6 Rope Climbs (15ft Ascent)
11 Box Jumps (30"/24")

400m run with Sandbag (45#/25#)

For more information about the WOD visit:

Last year I performed this workout as an almost formal introduction to a sport I now love. I performed this WOD at CrossFit Reston and loved every second of it. It was challenging and I wasn't very good at the movements (especially since all the Crossfit experience I had was self taught at Gold's Gym with the help of the main site and little to no coaching). Coach Jeff Tincher took time after the WOD to coach me on thrusters and to welcome me to the box.

Jason at CrossFit Rubicon during the 31 Heroes WOD.
August  4th, 2012
What a difference a year makes. I performed the 31 Heroes WOD this year at CrossFit Rubicon. I am an intern coach at the box and partnered with another amazing athlete and wounded warrior, Mark Tippett. The WOD was just as challenging as before except despite my increased experience and training. I watched the other athletes power through the WOD. When it was my turn, the heat destroyed me, but I just kept going. I still had to scale the thrusters and I didn't make every rope climb, but I kept moving. Motivated by honoring our 31 Heroes but also by my partner and that sense of the mutual suck.

Overall, I am proud of our performance and while I could criticize myself and say that I need to work on this and I need to practice that..... this WOD was not about my needs, it was about our heroes. As Coach Chef stated at the beginning of the heat, this is not a WOD for you to learn to perform a movement, this is a WOD for you to safely put it all out there to honor the fallen.

31 Miles for 31 Heores

As I have mentioned before, the parallels between the CrossFit community and my other family, the GORUCK community, are uncanny. Terry Ford, a fellow GRT, came up with an idea to do 31 miles for the 31 Heroes and the idea blossomed into an event I believe cannot be rivaled. 70 individuals descended upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to ruckmarch 31 miles through Washington D.C., ending at Arlington National Cemetery. A wrapped brick representing a fallen hero as well as another representing the burden of the loss forever carried by the family was carried by GRTs who volunteered to sponsor a hero. At roughly each mile, we would stop to honor one of the fallen by reading a short biography and  raising a toast in their honor!

At the start, our organizer spoke and stated that we were able to raise nearly $3000 for the 31 Heroes Project and how grateful and astonished the project was given our small group of participants. While the amount raised was nothing to sneeze at, the 31 Heroes Project was about to get an even better gift. One of our GRT brothers stepped up and stated his company stood behind our cause, supported our tribute and graciously donated a check for $15,000.

Carson McHale and Mrs. TSgt John W.
Brown at Arlington National Cemetery.
August 5th, 2012
As each person stopped the read the biographies of the fallen heroes, there was a heavy cloud of emotion hovering above all of our heads. Almost every person who read a bio chocked up and many were brought to tears. Moving is not a strong enough word to express seeing this.

The group finished at Arlington National Cemetery, in the pouring rain. Upon arrival, they came upon the wife of TSgt John W. Brown at his grave site. While I wasn't there to see this, The picture to the left was taken and posted to Facebook. I teared up immediately. The site of her sitting there at his grave is nearly too much to handle.

I was unable to complete the 31 miles. Around mile 8, my prosthesis began to fail and worsened until I had to stop at mile 10. I was (and still am) carrying a brick each for SSG Patrick Hamburger and his family. The guilt I feel for his brick not having made it to the finish is a tough pill to swallow. Once my prosthesis is repaired, I plan to gather the route and finish where I left off. He deserves it and any pain felt is a small sacrifice I can pay in order to have his memory honored.

I cannot adequately express my pride in being associated with such an outstanding group of individuals. So willing to devote their time, blood, sweat and tears to honor those who paid the ultimate price. Cheers fellow GRT and 31 Miles participants.

31 Miles for 31 Heroes participants in front of the Capitol Building.
August 5th, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fran Time & CrossFit L1 Certification Thoughts........

Last weekend, I finally attended my long awaited CrossFit L1 Certification Course. First and foremost, I have to give the biggest thanks to Coach/Owners Maggie Dabe and Jeff Tincher of CrossFit Reston and CrossFit Fairfax. They graciously gave me one of their host spots for the course. Now, anyone who knows me knows that school and I go together like gasoline and a lit match. It isn't that I am stupid or have a hard time studying; it's that I simply hate school. Most of the training course I have had since leaving the Army have been IT Technical in nature and we all can imagine just how exciting those are. This course, however, was something completely different.

I am not going to talk about the course material or give you any kind of hints for passing the test here (as of this post I still do not yet know if I passed the exam). What I am going to talk about are three interesting points I observed in the class.

Professionalism! I have never seen such professionalism in a training environment. While the trainers would joke with you and made learning and practicing the fundamental movements interesting and enjoyable, they also ensured everyone operated in the safest manner possible. Their knowledge about CrossFit and kinesiology were top notch and collectively, they never struggled to answer any question that popped up.

You are going to be sore! While the bulk of the class is instructional; requiring you to take notes and observe the trainers, the breakout sessions will make you sore. And let's be honest, crossfitters don't get together very often without working out so you know the weekend will have WODs. (again, not going to talk about what WODs). With that said, I found myself very sore on Monday. 

You are going to discover your deficiencies!!! Admittedly, I have some form issues. I scale weight but my form for a lot of things has always been off. During the class, I found ways to correct my form exponentially as well as how to work on overcoming my prosthesis and the difficulties it poses. I have been able to fix (or at least have the tools to fix) my form in the squat, deadlift, push press, push jerk and clean and snatch. 


During the course, we discussed "Fran" and how it's the benchmark workout now for CrossFit. How many times have you been asked "What's your Fran time?" As Chuck Carswell (our lead trainer for the L1 last weekend) mentioned, at the globo gym, you measure someones gym stature by asking how much they bench. These two measuring sticks are very different but it's funny to me that these are what we gauge someones gym prowess with. In case you were wondering, my 1 RM Bench Press is a paltry 275#. 

My Fran time is not great; 6:30ish. Anyone who knows Fran knows the workout is 21-15-9 95# thrusters and pull-ups. My issue comes with the thrusters. Thrusters suck. I seriously hate them. I hate them because I have hips that get lazy and I end up doing front squats to overhead press without the explosive opening of my hips. So to force me to do this properly, I scale the weight to 75#. Do I feel cheated? No! At the end, I feel like I am going to puke! The reason I scale is mechanics. I simply do not have reliable enough mechanics to increase intensity. So, what do I do? Do I throw the Rx'd weight on the bar and muscle my way through the workout with poor mechanics and an even worse time? Or, do I scale the weight and focus on consistent mechanics (lumbar curve, elbows high, violent opening of the hip, transitioning into a push press) and still get a good workout? 

As taught by CrossFit, before you dial up the intensity (weight/load) you have to have the ability to show the proper mechanics CONSISTENTLY! Scale the weight. Work on mechanics. Instead of using your Fran TIME as your benchmark, use your mechanics. Have another crossfitter watch you and correct your form. Better yet, you'll learn even quicker if you fail on form and your reps are not counted. Don't get wrapped up in trying to Rx everything. Demand more of yourself especially when it comes to proper consistent mechanics of the compound movement.

That is all.