Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Living and Competing: Is it the Same?

This weekend was an off one from the races. Weird I know?! I'm attempting to hold myself to the standard of one race every other weekend, but the need to compete gets difficult at times. I think it's something innate inside me. I seem to live by the quote: "When the gun goes off everything changes..the world changes...and nothing else matters." Competing allows you space. It seems to give me that something I can't get out of every day life and honestly its quite addicting.

Although this weekend was considered "Off" I think I forget that I get the opportunity to compete every single day at CFHH. Saturday's Hero WOD was no different. Fittingly enough it was Memorial day weekend so I had the opportunity to participate in a little workout known as Murph. For those who don't know the workout it's goes a little like this:

1 Mile Run
100 Pull-Ups
200 Push-Ups
300 Squats
1 Mile Run 
*Wear a 20# vest or body armor if you have it
PR - 33:06 (vest <)
Somewhat tougher than any Endurance event, you think?

What's great about CrossFit is there's always a lot of meaning behind named workouts. The workouts are constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensities; however there is always a PURPOSE to every workout. I think this is the number one difference you'll see with athletes who don't train CF/CFE style is that not all their workouts have a meaning. Heard of the recovery run? Interesting concept ha

Let's compare the two styles from a runners perspective:
Typical Endurance Athlete
- MEASUREMENT of a good week: the number of miles completed
- INTERVAL Sessions:1-2 if any?
- TIME SPENT: anywhere from 4-8 hours, skill practice non-existent, warm up? Maybe? 
CrossFit Endurance Athlete 
- MEASUREMENT of a good week: held all splits within 1-3sec or new PR
- INTERVAL Session: 1 short, 1 long
- TIME SPENT: 2-3 hrs max w/skill practice+warm ups, time of actual running 30-90minutes
*Let's not forget they are CrossFitting 4-6 WODs per week that are all different

Now back to Murph. I don't think there couldn't be more of a purpose behind this past weekend's workout ... insights below...
The Hero WOD is performed in memory of Lt. Mike Murphy who was killed in action during Operation Red Wings . He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions there.Operation Red Wings is widely considered one of the heaviest losses of life the Navy SEALs have ever suffered in one action.(The other would happen just a few years later…) Some of Murph’s SEAL teammates were caught talking about yesterday’s workout and one of them addressed the group. He was addressing a group of elite CrossFitters (men and women you will see at the CF Games this year). He said, rather intensely, that this wasn’t a “Hero WOD” to Mike. This wasn’t “intense”. This wasn’t “epic”. This was “Wednesday”. Puts it in perspective eh?

I think the point I want to make in this blog today is that we need to remind ourselves of why were competing, moreover why we are living. Guys like Murph put their lives on the line so we can answer this question. Without protection from our service men and women, we wouldn't even have the time or opportunity to find an answer to this question. I think that when people connect with the WHY behind their living ... their behaviors ... their benefits... the closer they get to their best selves.

So why do I compete? I think it's got a lot to do with the same reasons I live. Competing for me opens up a unique environment where I can see what I am made of. I think the best part about it is that I think about all sorts of crazy stuff, but being in that zone allows me to really uncover the important things in life. What's interesting is most of the time friends and family cross my mind. I have Ironman coming up in 14 weeks and you know what excites me the most? Is that many of my friends and family will be there supporting me in 100degree weather for literally 91/2 hours(that's if I am on target.) "No matter what you achieve in life somebody has helped you." 

Anyways, Competition is where I thrive (My Coach Craig knows this, probably almost to the point where I get annoying before races haha),. The beauty of life though is that everyone's different... it's your turn now, take this topic and answer the critical questions ... Why do you compete? Could it be inline with the same reason you live?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Charleston Recap, Clean Eating and Being GRATE

Just getting in from leading Hilton Head Health Guest Orientation, which is always a blast! We meet a bunch of different walks of life every week, but it's always refreshing to see people taking their health seriously. I mean it is our greatest asset.

Anyhow, can you believe this is my 3rd weekend in a row? I'm really enjoying getting back into these posts. Sort of a place for me to unwind now. This week you will notice a switch with the structure. Since I'm backing racing again theses days I'm going to start off with the weekend's race results and learning experiences. After that I plan to follow it up with a CrossFit Endurance topic so that we can educate folks out there then I'm going to end it with the deep stuff. Yes the inspirational words of wisdom. Here goes: 

Charleston Sprint 2011
Race: Charleston Sprint #1 2012
Place: James Island, SC
Conditions: Cool, Light Rain, Windy

Swim: 9:56 (29th)
T1: 1:17 - bike helmet strap got stuck!
Bike: 33:24 (14th)
T2: 0:34
Run:18:20 (4th)

Overall: 5th
Age Group: 2nd

This was my second time competing up at Charleston and I have to say it was a much better experience than the first time last July. At first driving up it looked like it was going to be an absolutely crappy day due to rain and wind; however about 15minutes before the start conditions subsided nicely. I quickly warmed up on the bike and the temperatures were ideal for a fast 5K. Learning experiences from today:

#1 - Try the bike helmet on before the start - I usually do a good job of testing a quick placement, but wasn't as meticulous this morning. I swear the 10-15 seconds it took me unjamming the strap from the helmet cost me on the first transition. If you look at the standings that would have been a 4th place overall finish. Every second counts gang.

#2 - Kick sooner on the run. I've been finding that I'm cruising a nice 5:50 clip in these sprint triathlons; however I think that last 800meters could be pushed a little harder. Next race I'm going to focus on"going mental" right when my Garmin hit 2.60miles. Time to start exploiting my strength.

Coolest Race Highlight - Got 2 from this one! The world (yes I said) WORLD Triathlon Sprint Series 70-74 Age Group Champion raced this one. Wholly Molly. That's what this sport is all about. The second highlight, I witnessed an amputee competing (seen this before) but seeing this guys ability to move is truly motivating. People are doing amazing things everywhere we  look, we just have to keep our eyes open.

That's a wrap on the race, now onto the Endurance stuff. Last week I discussed that more isn't always better and that it's sort of like "Training Drunk" (hope I did not offend anyone!) This week let's go after nutrition. I was glancing over a few articles, specifically: Is the Paleo diet the right choice for runners? and To Carb, or not to carb by none other than Brian Mackenzie. I don't want to get too over the top here, but don't just assume because every Endurance athlete is eating one way you have to do the same. Learn, test, and re-test.

My most simple advice here is TEST what works for you. I believe there is a basic Paleo framework; however everyone is going to be different. What you need to do here is educate yourself and always stick to foods that are outside the isles (unless its coffee, that's a food group). If your coming from the typical Endurance background of 80% processed carbohydrates start with 5 ingredients or less and you'll already start to feel better.  A lot of the time people get suckered in by that new supplement, sexy Gatorade or the massively processed protein bars (I'm not saying I haven't been there), but what I do know is I've grown and am getting closer to what works for me. Significantly clean eating.

One question I'll address today that comes up most often with our CFHH athletes or when I'm shooting the shit with triathletes is what do you eat before a race? Haha everyone loves to know this one. First off, what I eat doesn't change a whole lot on race day. I believe these days are even more critical to be eating right. If I'm local, it's 3 Eggs 1/2 Avocado and Fruit. What I am stoked about now though is the travel pre-race meal I've implemented which involves, a new SFH Pre-Race protein formula mixed with water. I'm loving it because it's easy and I've felt great in the last two races testing it. I also add a LaraBar for some fat (pretty much the only thing I eat of a package besides jerky). I know the dates are somewhat high on the Glycemic index, but again everyone is different. At least I know where it came from correct?

The next thing you need to take away from this discussion today is the 30-minute window. CRITICAL, CRITICAL, CRITICAL ... Do you need me to say it again? This is when our bodies need the good calories the most. Liquid protein source (SFH brand) is what I go with along with fruit offered at the race and some nuts for the fat. Hitting this window will allow you to train the next day at 100% (huge for the typical triathlete who does not like to take days off). What separates good athletes and great athletes is their ability to reocover. Anyways, this was just a brief talk on nutrition regarding pre and post race, but do me a favor and test things for yourself. You can't say you don't believe in something until you try it. EVERY ATHLETE needs to start looking at their nutrition as "EAT to TRAIN, DON'T TRAIN to EAT" (thanks Doug Katona).

That's enough for my nutrition discussion. Those of you who have been to a CrossFit seminar of any type understand that the above really only scratches the surface haha With that said, let's move on to the deep stuff.

This week was an interesting one. Busy as usual, but a Birthday week none the less. I had a great birthday because the day was really the same as any other: 2 workouts, work@H3 8:30-5:30 and a fun dinner with a friend. How lucky am I?

It's easy for humans to look at the negative. I think a lot of the time people get in this groove when that's all they can see ...the things they don't like about their life. They don't see that they have two gifted children or they forget that they live on gorgeous Island with 24 hours beach access. These are the same people that get pissed off by the 5minutes traffic added to their morning commute or the water that their waiter accidentally spilled on them when out with a client. These people ring a bell?

For those who know me they probably know that I'm the most positive dude out there, but even I can be guilty of not being grateful or getting negative. If I were to narrow down the most important trait someone could have it wouldn't be beauty, no, not brains it'd be their ability to live gratefully. People who give thanks to everything they have in life are infectious. You want to be around these individuals because they don't take a solitary thing for granted. One's ability to find the positive in even the worst of situations is remarkable. I think it goes hand and hand with being a strong person too.

1 Year older, I am beyond thankful to be where I'm at. To not only have an understanding of who I am and where I want to go, but to recognize that I've really been blessed with an incredible life. Most people don't have direction. That is what I am most appreciative when it comes to me. I've got a family that loves me, a wild group of Massachusetts and Clemson friends, an inspirational CFHH community, a gang of H3 guests, an H3 family, close island friends and STILL, I am ALLOWED the opportunity to race triathlons every weekend and train to my fullest potential.

Now it's your turn to ponder, what are you allowed? Who are the people your thankful for? I think the real gratefulness list for most of us would take an entire new blog post and then maybe a sequel :) Until then ... Be GRATE.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Opportunity Strikes: Training Drunk

About a month ago, another incredible opportunity came across my way and without a doubt I had to take advantage.  In April, I accepted my first assignment as an official CrossFit Endurance Intern. I know there's a bunch of us out there, but how incredible right? Especially for me. My only question was how am I going to fit it all in? We as humans typically assume we have more time than is actually available; however this is an opportunity that only comes around once. I had to accepted and I am already learning more than I ever imagined.

Over the course of the next 6 months, I will attend 4 CFE Running Seminars and submit videos presenting run mechanics, nutrition, and discussions on LSD training verses CFE. The question is what am I looking to get out of this? (I am in love with my job at HHHealth) But honestly the answer really came up: what won't I get out of this opportunity? Always have to follow what we believe in and "go with the gut" for a lot of decisions. CFE is the way I train. It's changed my outlook on racing and it's beginning to change the perspective of our athletes @ CrossFit Hilton Head. The potential for growth here as a coach, athlete, and person is simply exciting.

I truly believe that you make time for the things that are important in your life. The fact of the matter is that when you put your priorities first and decide what makes you happy you're truly living. I love training and I love coaching and seeing individuals change. I am the guy that is so comfortable with routine that it's sickening. What I'm saying is this: when a new opportunity comes up and you're willing enough to break your structure, your routine for it there's obviously some importance there. The difficulty is deciding how much to really place and placing enough where it's not throwing off who you truly are and how you want to live.

So on to the Endurance Topic for today. I watched a recent whiteboard Wednesday and it was on the subject of getting "WOD Drunk," which is very comparable to the typical LSD athlete. What WOD drunk refers to is an athlete who only places attention on the 30minute AMRAP (haha do those exist) or the 20mile Long Run. Many CrossFitters (especially when initially starting) think metcons are the sexiest things alive and same goes for the individual training for their first marathon. Believe me I've been there and I'd be lying if I wasn't that person at one point.

As I continue to delve deeper into the studies of anaerobic training I continue to be blown away by how DRUNK I truly was and how WASTED the endurance community is. There's a website named Zone5Endurance and for the sake of you saving time, preventing injury while getting better training results it's worth a read. Let's keep it simple today: The crossover from dominant anaerobic to dominant aerobic energy production can occur within the first 30 seconds of intense activity. Thus, short-duration, high-intensity training can deliver tremendous aerobic and endurance benefits because the training itself can be highly aerobic. For those who can't understand this that means you're taxing your body aerobically in efforts under 1minute. 400M Intervals will train you much better than going out for that 20mile run.

Back to simplicity ... Heard of the Tabata Protocol?

Group A
  • Trains @ 70% effort 1 hour per day 
  • 6 week training duration
Group B
  • Trains @ 100% effort for 4 minutes 5x per week 
  • :20 On :10 Off 8 Rounds of all out intervals 
  • 6 week training duration
Group A
  • Increased aerobic capacity by 10%, no changes in anaerobic capacity 
Group B
  • Increased VO2 Max capacity by 14% (one of the highest reported EVER in exercise science) and anaerobic capacity by a whopping 24%

What's the takeaway here? Just like you shouldn't drink too many beers, you shouldn't be getting drunk on training volume!!  Most athletes and coaches believe that gains in aerobic endurance are proportional to the volume of training.This isn't the case. 

In a nut shell, (par CFE module) some people bake Thanksgiving turkeys for 3 hours, others deep fry them for 15 minutes and they come out even more most. Check out the research. Don't train drunk. You wouldn't drive that way, why train that way??

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bouncing Back from Boston

Ever look forward to something for days, months, or even years? One of those events or moments that wakes you up in the middle of the night or makes your heart beat faster even thinking about it? Most recently, that moment for me was the Boston Marathon.

The kicker here is how do you react when that moment ... that day you've imagined in your head for years ...  doesn't go exactly according to plan? Does it define you? Does it change you? Define? Please. Change? That's a given (unless you're not being honest). e change is usually a positive. 

For those of you who witnessed my 3:29 Boston Marathon finish. You probably understand what I'm talking about. Not a single negative split the entire race. 40 minutes slower than my marathon PR. Yes, it was one of the hottest Boston's ever. Yes, my foot still wasn't 100%, but does that mean there's no positive change here? As I've said in the past, running and competing is where I learn about myself. It's where I'm able to think about what's important and live within my own head. That day showed me that I can push through a difficult situation, I can gut out a tough time and I can learn from that tough time. So here's what I learned:
  1. If the foot you stress fractured 6months ago is hurting touring around New York City 2 days before a Marathon it's probably not going to be a personal record or very enjoyable run
  2. When the temperatures reach 82 degrees at the start, have SaltStick!! 
  3. Temps over 80 degrees 20 oz of water per hour not sufficient. Check www.gssiweb.com for adequate hydration levels before every single race *Water consumption
  4. Review WHAT YOU KNOW and IMPLEMENT on race day (I had the info at my fingertips)
  5. Learn from your MISTAKES, MOVE FORWARD, and REMAIN HUMBLE.  
SO from the Boston Experience... now I know how to not end up in the medical tent post race for 2 hours trying to get your fluids back. Now I know how to not have to drink 10 bottles of water to go to the bathroom again.  Now I know what it's like to be severely dehydrated and suffer through 26 miles. But the biggest now I know is that you'll always bounce back. Usually in more ways than one :)

I cam back from Boston a little beat up. No much time to get back into the groove of work and having to answer that question "How was Boston?" at least 100x not enjoying telling the answer. What I found though is that the more I talked about it and the more I do talk about it the more Positive the experience gets. Millions of spectators, fulfilling a dream and finishing with five huge learning experiences how can I not be happy or proud?

The people who are successful in this world take their screw ups and learn from them. They use them as fuel to do better the next time around and to become a better person. There's NEVER nothing left to learn and you never know it all. The opportunity to learn from these incredible experiences and is gift were blessed with and when we lose sight of that we've stopped living.

So in a nutshell, "How was Boston?" It was incredible. It was an experience I'll never forget. It was a privilege to be out there and I'm grateful for people around me, my friends, family and the continued opportunity to compete :) 

Fulfilling a Dream

 Two October’s ago, I was logging onto the Boston Athletic Association’s website to register for the marathon and a screen popped up which read, “Registration for the 2011 Running of the Boston Marathon is now CLOSED.” A registration process that took nearly two months to fill up the year before had filled up in a matter of hours. The fact of the matter is that I had been locked out of running my dream race for one more year. Devastated and mortified that this was the case, I worked my aggression out in a CrossFit workout with Fitness Director Adam Martin who happened to witness my dismay. I think if you probe him a little bit he’ll tell you just how upset I was.

 I thought to myself, this can’t be? How can I find a way to secure a race number? Qualified since December 2010 and now getting locked out of registration left me absolutely frustrated. After a few months of exhausting my resources on finding a bib number for Boston, I quickly realized it wasn’t meant to be that year. Why fight it? I’m now sitting here nearly two years later with the Boston Marathon approaching in 9 short days, about to fulfill a dream that I never even thought was possible.

 What’s interesting is that when I came to Hilton Head Health for my internship, I had never run competitively or even entered a local 5K race. I actually had no idea it would be something I’d crave. Growing up playing team sports such as hockey, baseball, and golf led me to that basic conclusion. In October 2010, I ran my first 5K out in Bluffton finishing second overall in a time of 18:10. I was honestly baffled by the fact that it went so well. Lots of H3 guests know that I’m nothing short of “ALL IN” now when it comes to these events, but many have the assumption that I ran in college. I can honestly say that before I came to Hilton Head Health I was not a runner.

My number one takeaway from this personal growth experience and unexposed talent has been to alert guests that they need to uncover something similar. Without a goal or a dream in front of us, it can be difficult to create a sustainable fitness regimen. Regular exercise becomes a big challenge if there isn’t some sort of sense of satisfaction, intrinsic motivation or need for achievement behind it. It could be as simple as getting your kids involved in a local 5K or attending an exercise class because all your friends go or doing it so you are healthy enough to spend time with the ones you love. What I am calling each of you to do today is to uncover your dream or reason for exercising? What makes it important to you? Once you do that, I promise you that you’ll simply be unstoppable.

Everything happens for multiple reasons, but what’s unique about the Boston Marathon is that it symbolizes just one for me. My reason for toeing the start line on April 16, 2012 is to inspire. Inspire you to step outside your comfort zone. Inspire you to achieve something that you didn’t think was possible. Ultimately, inspire you to create change.

I run because I love to compete, but more importantly I love to see that smile on the face of a guest who has just finished their first 5K. To me, that’s impactful….That’s inspiring.
If you’d like to follow me fulfilling my dream via updates the morning of race, please sign up for AT&T’s Athlete Alerts. TEXT the word RUNNER to 345678 using your mobile phone and enter my RACE BIB Number 1037 … Have a dream, make a plan, go for it. You’ll get there, I promise.