(One finger in particular.)

I didn’t blog yesterday, which obviously means it was a rest day. It was kind of a rest day. Here’s what transpired.

I coached the 6:15 session. I will admit to being quite anxious, as the regulars have seen me struggle with all lifts; thus, I was concerned with my perceived credibility. I also strongly believe that you teach best what you know.

I began the session with mobility, focusing on the shoulders and using the lacrosse ball. I saw many painful faces. Next was a 400m run followed by split jerk progressions. The skill was split jerk, and folks were to complete 1-1-1-1-1. I carefully observed form. The most common mistakes were not landing with feet spread far enough apart, not getting under the bar quickly enough, and not squatting deeply enough. Nonetheless, I saw some impressive lifts, and a visitor (from Hawaii) even got a PR! I will give myself some credit, in that she failed her first attempt and I encouraged her to try again. I reminded her of proper form, and her lift was solid. Okay, she gets most of the credit.

The met-con was rough to watch, coach, and (later) do.

Push press (115/75)
Ring dips
Shuttle runs between rounds of 150/100/50m total 

Uhm, that’s all upper body. I encouraged folks as much as I could (and one person too much), and it was challenging for everyone, even people who don’t typically struggle. I made sure to remind people to sprint during shuttle runs, to get full range of motion during ring dips and pushups, and to not hyperextend for push press. Many people had to scale during the WOD, including using bands or boxes for ring dips, doing pushups on knees, and dropping weight for push presses.

Griff, if you read this, I apologize for being such a bitch during your last round of ring dips. I know and you know that full range of motion is more important speed. I was delighted to run with you during last shuttle run. Would you have preferred that I didn’t? I need to know!

I attended the 7:15 session, led by Doug, although I didn’t complete split jerk. The met-con killed me. That’s 2 in a row.

As there were many in attendance, I started with rings dips, then did push presses, pushups, and shuttle runs. I completed first round of ring dips unbroken. I then completed 8 push presses lifting 115 lbs. On the 8th lift, however, I knew it was unlikely that I would be able to complete the remaining push presses lifting 115 lb, so I dropped 10 of each end and lifted 95 for the remaining reps. Even that was a struggle, and the most I was able to complete unbroken was a measly 4.

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t complete 21 pushups unbroken, having to break rounds into reps as many as 10 and as few as 3.

The shuttle runs were a welcome break. It was funny, however, to observe people trying to race me — often at Doug’s enticement. “Catch Paul!” Ha!

The rest of the met-con was a sweating, grueling, sloppy mess. I completed round of 15 rings dips and pushups in reps of between 7 and 1, and push presses in reps of between 3 and 1. For the final round of ring dips, push presses, and pushups, I completed in reps of 2, 2, 2, and 1. I completed the met-con in 12:39 (if I’m recalling correctly).

Later that day, I posted the following on CrossFit Durham’s Facebook page:

Dear Dave, 
I am unable to raise my arms. Fortunately, I am able to raise my fingers. (One finger in particular.) 
Your friend, 

I attended CFD today at 5 pm, and it was led by Dave. Yes, Dave. He led us through a mobility warmup focusing on the shoulders. I can’t imagine why!

Dave posted this video. I think it’s some of the best gay porn I’ve ever seen.

Skill — Dead hang weighted pull-ups
5 sets of 5

I completed 5 reps of 25 lb, using a kettle bell. I then wore my 15 lb weight vest for the remaining rounds, and used plates. I completed 5 reps of 30, but when I attempted 5 reps of 35 I failed last 2 attempts. I lowered the weight to 30, and successfully completed 5 reps. Dave was kind enough to remind me to move my hands closer together when I’m doing a chin-up or mixed grip pull-up. For one brief, shining moment, he was my favorite coach. I finished doing 5 reps of 32.5 lb.

7 rounds of 7 reps of the following:
24″ box jumps
Air squats

Dead hang pull-ups

More pull-ups? Really, Dave? Box jumps are getting easier and easier — and faster and faster. I substituted jumping air squats for air squats. Why? Because I’m a glutton for punishment. I completed all box jumps and jumping air squats unbroken, as well as the first 3 rounds of dead hang pull-ups. For the remaining rounds of pull-ups, I completed in as many as 5 and as few as 1 (particularly last round) reps. My time was 8:38.

I almost immediately ran to Fullsteam Brewery to join the Bull City Running group for their weekly run. I ran the first 1.5 mi sprinting from one telephone pole to the next and then running from the second telephone pole to the next. Lather, rinse, repeat. Fartlek? Yes. I then ran the remaining 2.5 mi with Stephen. I also saw Karen, Jim, Doug, and birthday boy Heiko! A fun, full day. I think I’ll rest tomorrow. I mean it. Seriously.

It’ll make a man maker out of you.

Today was a scheduled rest day, and believe me you — I had every intention of resting. Yesterday’s 145 push presses and 87 dead-hang chest to bar pull-ups had done did me in, I tell you. They done did me in and good.

At about 3:30 this afternoon, I received a text from Jack asking if I’d coach tomorrow’s 6:15 am session. Well, if I was going to be coaching tomorrow morning, that meant that it was unlikely that I’d get to work out. I’m good at math, so that meant that I had to go do the WOD today since I wouldn’t get to do a WOD tomorrow. Right? Right?

I worked through lunch so that I could attend the 5pm session feeling free of guilt. And that’s what I did.

Dave led today’s session, and the focus was on the hang clean. I will begrudgingly admit that I like Dave’s warmups, as they are usually focused on the lift. Today was no exception. We grabbed a bar and did numerous squats followed by stretching of the wrists.

Hang Clean
2-2-2-2-2 (0r thereabouts)

I put 2, 25 lb plates on the bar and completed a 95 lb hang clean. Jack, who was participating in the WOD, immediately saw the error in my form, provided coaching, and I had a breakthrough! I had been failing to literally extend my hips and thereby push the bar off of my mid-thighs. I did it on the first attempt, and it felt great! (I have marks on my thighs as proof that the bar did indeed make contact. I kid you not.) I completed about 5 or 6 more 95 lb hang cleans, and requested that both Dave and Jack observe to make sure I was doing lifts correctly. Yes, Dave, I still need to loosen my “death grip”. One thing at a time, Dave.

Jack, thank you once again for your insight. You are my favorite coach. Don’t tell Dave, though.

I put 2, 10 lb plates on the bar and successfully hang cleaned 115 lb 2 times. It felt great. I put 2 more 10 lb plates on the bar and successfully hang cleaned 135 lb. “Dave,” I asked, “may I attempt to hang clean my current one rep maximum for squat clean, 145 lb? That’s my bodyweight.” Dave rolled his eyes and said, “Sure, do whatever you want.”

What follows is my self-talk: Okay, 135 lb. My current 1RM for a squat clean is 145 lb. I need to put 10 lb on the bar. (I walked to the stand of metal plates.) Okay, those are 5 lb plates, and I need 10 lb. Why not just get the bumper plates? (I put 2, 10 lb plates on both ends of the bar.) Whew, 145 lb is how much I weigh. If you fall on your ass, it’s okay.

I went from position 1 to position 2, made sure the bar made contact with my thighs, dropped under the bar, attempted to move my elbows as quickly as I could, freaked out that I had actually hang cleaned 145 lb, and fell on my ass. I stood up and rested for a moment. Jack was looking at me. I steeled myself, walked up to the bar…

…and successfully hang cleaned 145 lb! I was very proud of myself, and Jack, Dave, and Tripp offered their congratulations. Tripp asked, “How much did you lift?” I replied, “145 lb, my bodyweight.” Tripp added the plates and said, “I think that’s 155 lb.” Let’s see, a 45 lb bar + 2, 25 lb plates + 6, 10 lb plates = 155 lb! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a personal record. Did I mention that I’m good at math?

We then prepared for todays met-con, and it was a doozy.

15-10-5 man makers (40/30 lb)
Perform 50 double unders after each round

Dave reviewed proper form for man makers as I excused myself and peed. When I returned, I grabbed a set of 35 and a set of 27.5 lb dumb bells and placed my jump rope to the side. (I couldn’t find a pair of 30 lb dumb bells.) “Dave,” I said, “can you show us once again how to do a man maker?” Dave did. I asked, “One more time, please, Dave?” And he did. “Dave, will you do a total of 15 man makers so we can see what we might look like after the round of 15?” Dave finally caught on that I was egging him on. Haha!

I did the first round of man makers using the 35 lb dumb bells, and it was tough. I struggled least on the pushups and rows, and most on the thrusters. I was using my arms instead of my legs. I should know better. I completed the first round of double unders in reps of about 35 and 15. I completed 3 more man makers using the 35 lb dumb bells, but on the 4th rep I couldn’t get the dumb bells overhead. I dropped them, picked up the 27.5 lb dumb bells, and performed the squat clean and thruster. I used 27.5 lb dumb bells for the remainder of the met-con.

Somewhere during the round of 10, I said, “Man makers are too damn hard! May I do gay man makers instead?” Dave actually laughed out loud, and I think I heard a chuckle from Jack as well. Dave asked, “What would that involve?” I replied, “I’ll dance, sing, and snap my fingers instead.”

And then it happened. My shirt came off. Yes, I took off my shirt. I had little control in stopping myself. Before I had even realized what had happened I had crossed my arms and pulled the shirt over my head. Those who know me well know that this means the met-con was rough.

I completed 25 double unders, caught my breath, and set my goal to perform an additional 25. I completed 23. I yelled, “Shit!” I then picked up the rope and did the last 2 double unders.

By the way, I completed all reps of double unders starting with a double under, i.e., my first jump is now always a double under. Applause, please.

I struggled through the last 5 man makers, caught my breath, and struggled through the last 50 double unders. I called time at 11:27. This was hardly Rx, but it was one of the most difficult met-cons that I can recall.

I finished my all-too-brief time at CFD coaching the endurance athletes. The rain must have scared most people away, as only Jay, Jack, and Lindsay attended. It was quite enjoyable running in the rain. That is all.

Focus on strength…

We just worked out!

30-minute AMRAP of the following:
5 push-press (65% bw, 95 lb)
3 dead-hang, chest to bar pull-ups

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m adding specific strength WODs to my solo training. My goals were to complete 30 rounds, do push-press and CTB pull-ups unbroken (A goal), pp and pu unbroken for first 25, 20, and 15 minutes (B, C, and D goals). I’m happy to report that I did all rounds unbroken, but sadly missed my goal rounds by 1, i.e., I completed 29 rounds.

I did not treat this at all like a metcon, although it certainly felt like a metcon by the 20-minute mark. I leisurely walked from the platform to the pull-up bar, I jumped to the pull-up bar and hanged momentarily, making sure that I didn’t kip. For push-press, I made sure to tighten my abs and ass, to take my “head through the window”, and to lock elbows at top of press. For CTB pull-ups I ensured that my arms were fully extended at bottom and that my chest touched the bar at the top of each and every pull-up.

I was certain that I’d have to break up reps by the 20-minute mark at the least, and was quite pleased that I made it all 30 minutes without breaking. Uhm, I thinking I’m getting stronger. Yes, Jed, I hear you loudly and clearly: you think it’d be even better if I did strength WODs of shorter duration and heavier weight. Yes, Jed, I’m concerned with getting heavy.

I then coached the 10 and 11am sessions. I had created an awesome playlist–but left my iPhone at home! Egad.

Warmup consisted of pass throughs and then lunging pass throughs. This was followed by tabata held squat and then tabata held plank with rotating hands. Today’s skills was “Going Vertical” that consisted of yet another tabata, this time holding vertical for 20 second intervals with 10-second rest. I was pleased that most chose to do so on the rings, with others doing handstand holds against the barbell rack or wall.

Dave had originally scheduled wall balls and bear crawls, and that’s what I documented on the whiteboard. Bea arrived early for 1-on-1 coaching and informed me that website listed burpees and not wall balls. What to do, what to do… Why not alternate rounds?

Partner 20-minute AMRAP of the following:
20-yard bear crawl
10 wall ball (20 or 12 lb, 10 or 8 ft target)

As I didn’t want anyone to possibly hurt themselves crawling by equipment, I had folks crawl from racks to far end of gym. (Sorry, Dave!) There was plenty of room for both wall balls and burpees, too, so this worked out well.

This WOD looked tough, and most folks were really struggling by the last 5 or even 10 minutes.

We finished the day with a 2-minute held squat and then hamstring and calf stretches.

Okay, since it’s my blog, I get to vent. I’m all for people doing their own thing, particularly the barbell club. I do get upset, however, when other-than-posted WODs interfere with the scheduled sessions. Many thanks to those of you who were respectful of others (you in particular, Cliff, and my apologies for having you move twice), and a pox on those of you who felt inconvenienced. Scheduled WODs should always take precedence. I always make sure to ask permission of the coach if I’m doing anything other than what is scheduled or I complete my workout outside and out of the way.


There were 5 endurance athletes in attendance today, including Young Nick, Nick, McKell, Kristen, and Jess. First up was mobility using lacrosse ball on the feet. Ah, that felt painfully good. We next ran a “Native American” run for about 1200m. Today’s WOD was benchmark “Death by 10m”. I began by asking all athletes how many rounds they planned on completing, and all completed at least 1 more than their goal! I let them rest for a short time, and it was another 800m “Native American” run, only this time the goal was to drop as many people as possible. Young Nick and I raced to the finish.

As I mistakenly did the partner WOD yesterday (albeit solo), I created my own metcon.

AMRAP in 20-minutes
3 handstand pushups
7, 24″ box jumps
21 double unders

Why HSPUs, box jumps (yet again) and double unders (yet again)? I need to improve HSPUs, increase speed with box jumps, and continue to do unbroken dus. I knew HSPUs were going to be a challenge, so I set my goals: a minimum of 10 rounds, box jumps unbroken with pause at top and not bottom of jump, and unbroken double unders.

I used the rack to perform HSPUs, and did 3 unbroken for only the first 2 rounds. It was then 1 to 2 at a time. I did, however, make sure my head touched the ground. My biggest challenge was slipping, as I was dripping sweat all over the place. Box jumps are coming along nicely. I focused on increasing speed each round, and I did ensure that I fully extended hips at top of the box. (I could hear Renee’s voice reminding me to do so.) My first round of dus were a mess, as I hadn’t warmed up. I did complete most of the remaining rounds unbroken, with the exception of the last round. I wanted to make sure I was able to complete within the allotted time, and ended up missing 2 or 3. I was nonetheless able to finish the last round with 2 seconds to spare.

Total rounds = exactly 12

Dave was kind enough to allow me to play my own tunes, and midway through the metcon I turned up the volume. It was so loud, in fact, that Amy didn’t hear me singing to her! Sad, but true.

There were only 8 in attendance at Community WOD, including Jeff and the always lovely and delightful Gwen. As most were fit, I was able to teach folks proper form for dead-lifts. The WOD was a 15-minute (yes, 15 minutes!) AMRAP of 10 dead-lifts (not very heavy), 10 pushups, and 100m run.

Not good at snatch. Not good at balance. Not good at snatch balance.

Maybe I should join the Barbell Club. Renee, Rachel, and Ashley look like they’re having fun—and I really need to improve my ability to lift heavy things over my head.

Jack led today’s session, and the focus was on the snatch balance. I’ve come to the realization that this is a move that I may never be able to successfully complete (let alone master). I lack shoulder and hip flexibility, and it may be that I will never able to not overextend my back. *Sigh*

Jack led us through a warmup consisting of snatch balance progressions, using a PVC pipe. We were to next complete 7 reps of 1 snatch balance, working up to a weight heavier than our snatch. I started with just the 45 lb bar, and completed about a dozen reps, working on pushing my shoulders back and dropping quickly into a deep squat. I then placed an additional 10 lb on the bar, and was unable to successfully complete the move. Jack and I discussed (ad nauseam, I might add) everything wrong about my form. I got depressed, and decided to jump rope instead. Don’t hate on me. I am working on OHS and C&J. Snatch will just have to wait.

I went outside and attempted the “Coast Guard” jump rope WOD; 10-20-30-40-50-40-30-20-10 double unders. If you miss a du during any round, you have to start over. I made it to the round of 50 three times, but failed during each round. I became even more depressed. I grabbed my jump rope, tucked my tail between my legs, and went back inside. Most of the 6:15ers were preparing for the WOD. Jack asked if I wanted to join, and I let him know that I was going to be doing my own thing.

AMRAP in 15 minutes of the following:
5 pull-ups
7 pushups
10 box jumps, 20”

Why 20” and not 24” box jumps? Because my goal was to do box jumps quickly and unbroken. Performing quick or fast box jumps continues to be a weakness. My inability to jump quickly is mostly based on fear, so my intention was to overcome my fear. My others goals were to complete pull-ups and pushups unbroken, and to complete a minimum of 15 rounds.

This was a deceptively challenging metcon, and I think I know the reason why. Performing box jumps quickly takes much more out of me, as there is no rest and/or active recovery. Renee observed and (justifiably) chided me for not opening my hips more at the top of the box. I will knowingly admit that this was sometimes the case, and I really needed to focus on not only jumping quickly off and then quickly on the box, but to make sure I opened my hips at the top of the box. Jack observed and (justifiably) said that I need to rest at the top of the box and not to pause before I jump. I’m trying Jack, I really am! My box jumps were the fastest they have ever been. 24” box jumps, you shall be mine.

I completed 16 rounds + 5 pull-ups, 7 pushups, and 6 box jumps. I completed all pull-ups and pushups unbroken, and my form was impeccable, I tell you, impeccable. Some might even say flawless, above reproach, unsullied, faultless, immaculate, and (dare I say) perfect.

Vince and Shankar

Yes, today (like yesterday) was to have been a rest day. Two colleagues, Vince and Shankar, wanted to attend their first ever CF session, and Dave was kind enough to allow them to do so.

The three of us arrived early, as I wanted Vince and Shankar to see what the metcon was going to involve. It also gave me an opportunity to quickly teach Vince and Shankar proper form for squats, box jumps, and pull-ups (including how to use bands for assistance with pull-ups).

Dave then led the 6pm session, first leading us through a squat warmup completing air squats and then front squat using only the bar. This was a great way to loosen and warm-up the quads.

I hadn’t planned on doing front squats, as I thought Vince and Shankar would need more guidance then they did. As they both wanted to complete front squats, we shared a platform and did just that.

Front Squats

I didn’t record, so I’m going by memory. I lifted 135, 155, 175, and 185, a new 2RM PR.  Yeah!

I also hadn’t planned on doing the metcon. Oh, well, when in Rome.

Complete the following as fast as possible:
CTB pull-ups
24″ box jumps

I had a difficult time completing pull-ups, as I had to use the center bars and thus had to attempt avoid many dangling limbs. In addition, I stood on a small box so that I didn’t have to jump so high to reach the bar. This threw off my rhythm, however, in that I use the initial jump to start my kip and was thus unable to do so.

I really, really need to work on increasing speed of box jump. In all honesty, I really didn’t care how quickly I completed them tonight, and didn’t have much of a competitive spirit. I completed the metcon in 5:44, a relatively slow time.

Most importantly, I had much fun, and Vince and Shankar did a great job! Welcome to CrossFit, gentlemen.

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It’ll make a man out of you.

Brief blog today, as (unlike yesterday) there weren’t any milestones, roadblocks, or meltdowns. Today was to have been a rest day. I was wide awake at 4, so I thought why the hell not. I also knew that today’s WOD wasn’t going to be overly challenging.

While driving down Geer Street toward CFD I saw what I thought was a raccoon or opossum on the side of the road, its beady little red eyes staring me down, perhaps contemplating running in front of my car. It was merely Jack, attempting to mark 25, 50, and 75 meters on the sidewalk.

Jack led today’s session and the focus, at least for 3 of us, was on ring pushups. Jack first led us through another awesome warmup. (As an aside, the reason I like Jack’s warmups are because they are always varied.) We completed 5 rounds of 3 man-makers and 3 pull-ups. No, wait; it was 5 rounds of 5 man-makers and 5 pull-ups. No, wait; it was 3 rounds of 5 man-makers and 5 pull-ups.

Me: I feel like a man.
Jack: (Holding up his arms and flexing his biceps.) So, you feel more like a man?
Me: No, I feel like I’d like a man right about now.

Skill—Ring Pushups
5 sets of maximum reps

I positioned a 20” box body length away from rings and began. Sayeth Jack, “I bet you can get 50 reps this first round!” Ha! I doubt I could get 50 unbroken pushups, although I haven’t tried in quite some time. I completed 27 with wrists and rings turned in. I rested a minute or 2 and completed 26 with wrists and rings turned out.

Me: Jack, I notice that some people do as many pushups as they can as fast as they can, while I try to keep the same tempo from start to finish. What’s the best strategy?
Jack: It depends. I have a tendency to do as many as I can as quickly as I can, but when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t have any left.
Me: I might slow down near the end of the round, but I tend to go slow and steady.

For the third round, I did do as many as I could as fast as I could, and I did not at all like this strategy. I completed 21 reps with wrists and rings once again turned out.

Me: I went out hard and fast, and exploded.
Jack: So, going out slow and finishing fast works best for you.
Me: That’s what the ladies say… when I’m doing their hair.

What transpired next was a lengthy conversation regarding “comic relief”, including one individual sharing his/her dislike of said comic relief. I am the color orange: you either love me or you hate me. I’m fine either way.

I completed 21 reps with wrists and rings turned out for the fourth round, and a mere 17 with wrists and rings turned in for last round. Grand total = 112

(Audrey, make sure you keep your chest up when squatting. I’m not going to tell you again. I mean it!)

Metabolic Conditioning
15 hang power cleans (135/95)
100m shuttle
12 hang power cleans
75m shuttle
9 hang power cleans
50m shuttle
6 hang power cleans
25m shuttle

I warmed up hang power clean with 45 lb bar and then placed 2, 25 lb plates on the bar, i.e., 95 lb.

Me: Jack, how heavy should I go? Do you want hang power cleans to be done unbroken, or should I feel the need to put down the bar?
Jack: Unbroken.
Me: Okay, then I’ll lift 95 lb, the women’s prescribed weight.
Jack: Put some more weight on the bar.
Me: How much? Twenty pounds? Ten pounds?
Jack: Ten.

I thought for sure he was going to say 20, and had already grabbed 2, 10 lb plates. I was very, very relieved when he said 10. Thanks, Jack!

Hang power cleans continue to be a challenge, as I still have a tendency to arch too much, i.e., hyperextend, my back. I did complete round of 15 unbroken, and was the third person, after Brandon and Griff, to begin shuttle run. I ran up 100m, and while running back and preparing to turn around for 75 I noticed that Brandon and Griff headed back into CFD. I yelled to Jack, “Aren’t we supposed to do 75 next?” Jack said, “Yes!” That’s what I did, running 75, 50, and 25m up and back. As I entered CFD I said to Jack, “Remind me to keep my abs tight so that I don’t hyperextend.” Jack observed form, and reminded me to dip a little bit under the bar while bringing the bar straight up, and to have faster elbows. This advice helped considerably. I almost completed 12 reps unbroken, but failed on very last rep. I paused briefly, picked up the bar, completed the twelfth rep, and ran 75, 50, and 25m up and back. I completed remaining rounds of 9 and 6 unbroken, and ran the requisite distances. I finished in a time of 7:24.

Closing Thoughts

  1. I probably should have gone at least 10 pounds heavier on the hang power cleans, as lifting a heavier weight leaves me little option other than to have to drop beneath the bar.
  2. I should wear a weight vest for most if not all metcons that involve running. Running felt far too easy.
  3. I need to continue to focus on, above all else, proper form when lifting.
  4. I’m not sure if I like Max’s beard.