Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Second Place

 When I ran track, I entered races expecting to win.  I don't remember going into a race without a goal and a plan.  If I hit my time, I won.  As I got stronger and faster my expectation was to place.  First place was the only place that really mattered to me.  Isn't that how it should be?  If you expect second place you'll aim for that and be satisfied with that.  My aim was 1st.

    Towards the end of each track season, I knew which guys expected to lose to me.  The ones who had the second place mentality were just taking up space, they really didn't matter.  They made their way to the back of the pack shortly after the race was started.  The race was between the guys who all thought they were going to finish first.  Man, that was fun!              

In the race that's your life, are you settling for second or are you expecting first?  It's up to you to take charge of your life and get where you need/want to be.  Don't ever settle for second!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Love This Stuff!

I'm a big fan of James Fitzgerald and the stuff he's doing down in Scottsdale!  A few of us stopped in a few days ago and had a conversation about training CF athletes.  Each time I chat with James, I'm left with tons of questions.  I'm sure he could give me the answers but that's not his style.  He wants you to put the time in.  Finding the answers motivates me to hit the books and research.  That usually leads to more questions and more research, I love it.  I feel that I'm constantly making progress.  He's helped open my eyes to what makes an excellent strength coach. Here's a little from his site, good stuff.  Enjoy and check his site out, he's slangin gold! 

photo courtesy of
A Guide to Good Strength and Conditioning Training Principles
Max mentioned I should sit down and take an hour to watch this video
My days are normally so packed that to watch this length of video it is usually accompanied by popcorn and dark chocolate almonds. A few seconds in and I could not resist.
I have become enveloped in the search for what makes up higher levels of fitness - to answer the simple question - what makes this person more "fit" than another?
When I watch athletes train and see them in real life over and over, I can get a picture at least of what makes them unique and "better than most".
It has to start with of course an open mind and a watchful eye and experience. When you see the same things over and over again that make sense, one can "make sense" of it, (CCP coaches - "noticing your noticing") here is my evaluation of what makes Rich better than most in the sport of CrossFit.
I had been asked the question numerous times at athlete camps, interviews, from other cerebral athletes of what makes these fitness athletes so good. I have researched the "human element" while knowing about genes, traits, outliers, etc... and spoke even more recently with 2 local clinical psychologists about  
1. what creates this in people
2. how do we assess it
3. what are the traits that are similar in all
The conclusions drawn from my experience as well as what I personally see in Rich as well is;
- RESILIENCY - the connection to what is stress and ability to respond appropriately; perceptions not convoluted with feelings; knowing work/rest philosophy
- KNOWING ONESELF - knowing exactly what "the individual" needs to do to get the task done and taking 100% responsibility towards the goals/outcomes
- BURNING DESIRE - usually to reach self potential, purpose, etc...will stop at nothing to get this - NOTHING!
In analyzing the training, of course not having a knowledge of the full season of planning and being assumptive there are things drawn from it that I see that I wanted to share.
On the minute weight work I see as Phosphate Battery work - weight training skill based work - working at a weight of submaximal loads for example - 60-65% at times for reps of 3-5 with 30-45 sec rest allows a huge aerobic piece to the lifting and constant reminding of how that weight is to feel with some sweating and breathing involved. More recently watched a Dan Pfaff video where he was known for having his sprinters do 60 min weight training sessions with low effort loads constantly with HR at 130-150 bpm.
Like this:
A. power clean - 80% 1RM; 2 reps, rest 45 sec x 10
no rest
B. clean pulls - 80% 1RM; 5 reps; rest 45 sec x 8
no rest
(look familiar)
This work allows skill refinement, increasing and lowering loads based on how one feels, gives plenty of touches of movements that when used for tests will feel easy, and that they are done at game pace usually each time (and this is the most important variable as the speed of contractions work accoding to the fuel usage - that is, the speed of contractions change fuel utilization in the body - therefore if one has sugar to work with, and its fast and effective, then the ongoing reps at game pace make sense)
. Mixing this into a week with some heavier work allows more maximal touches when needed closer to game time and competitions - so 1RM's can be achieved on a linear path - slower over time as training age increases but still of course increasing.
I call this CP capacity training - the ability to handle ever increasing loads submaximal from the 1RM with incomplete rest times, more and more becoming an integral part of CF and the testing, and less about true absolute maximums in testing; i.e. being able to do more and more work with 70-90% of the 1RM with other pieces in the task is more impt than the 1RM alone.
There is a lot of this in here, with a nice blend of movements and work/rest on each movements, a good plan of sorts without calling it "planning".
Aerobic Base work. Although not as flashy or a lot of video gone into this one (political) I see this as always being a universal principle that folks are afraid to discuss. The "easy" work on the AD, rower is cyclical, allows blood flow and recovery from more intense sessions, creates a huge base to work from and allows more intense sessions back to back and manages weight to strength ratio - it is also non impact based, no eccentrics (not sure if there was any running in there for long and easy but it makes sense why not) which allows the contractile elements of the muscle to still bond under load when needed b/c of no micro-damage occuring.
This internal feeling of easy work also creates a rhythm and zone like piece to training - alone time to focus on goals, path, training split, etc..that no one sees. (I am not saying that this is the case here but giving ideas why it works)
The nice addition of "sport" in there of games, touch football, also superb low level aerobic work that is not "planned" but works well - so these athletes don't have to think about it, I will.
And by the way, how many times do we need to see examples of this before we say that there is nothing wrong with easy/recovery work and low intense training ALONGSIDE increased weights and strength?...geez louise.
Interval MAP sessions are what I think the secret ingredient for most CF'ers for the future of training in the sport. And this guy does it better than anyone. Watch the pace, tempo and rhythm used in the gymnastics + BWT work - a volume is created in there with partner work, work/rest scenarios and constant motion to allow MORE aerobic work BUT in particular more specific to the sport of CF.
It is done with multiple modalities and correct % of effort. What might look like a 5 rounds for time @ 97% for you and me is a 82% effort, high aerobic pace, constant movement machine like piece (whch on a side note was also seen in Miko's training) for these guys. Doing this work at submaximal effort creates an ENORMOUS opportunity to create speed and adjustment to training to prepare for competition-like training.
The Airdyne 30/30 x 30 is another super example of this - except cyclical it gives insight into:
1. work/rest
2. non impact breathing
3. metrics to determine critical drop off, etc..
4. noise (like on the rower, it creates rhythm where all you here is the machine) - swimming, outside biking, running does not do this - although elite cyclists talk of this when working hard, they can hear the rhythm and connection of the heart beat to the breathing rate to the RPM - fascinating shit - i digress, sorry.
Critical Drop Off. Knowing when to call a set, a day, a rep, SO KEY. When asked how many sets or reps was that it is the internal "knowing oneself" that listens to that. What you may see as volume is deep practice of movements with good form. Knowing when to call it or increase it is even more special. As it allows you to leave a little on the table each time - this will be a key component long term.
Not having a designed plan or program works well in this case as the plan of structural work (DL, press, squat) is there along with aerobic base AND CP capacity training IS the plan...and works mentioned when Rich says that some days he questions if he will continue to rise, and he will, b/c of this princinple of "planning on feel", and knowing when to call it and when to "cook the veggies" as Coach B says.
Mind chatter example: "Do 5 min with work every 30 sec, that feels so good at 5 min we can go to 25 min, lets do it"
...this is well organized training and feeling out each day and period - a secret to success in my eyes; some have to be guided with this, others not so much, it is what it is - no judgements needed.
CDO has been used in so many sports for so long, it is an internal piece as there is no coach here.
Fuelling. I love it.
I have nothing to say only find what works for you and get it done and keep improving.
And when someone wants to say "well...err... what is that going to be like for him in 20 years?" - who gives a shit!
He's the champ, you are not.
Cals in, cals out, a running machine with an intricate internal switch on what is needed and when. Lowish fat to keep gastric emptying fast, constant sugar in the blood for usage, protein as a base for recovery and management of all else; and good food when he gets the chance.
Sidenotes (authors comments):
- overtraining being mental - arguable; not anyone can do this work (go ahead and try, what works for one does not for others), but if you use the principles in there about submaximal work on weights and aerobic work and hardly any testing and LOTS of skill work - you can see why the perception of work stress is low.
The reason a lot of peeps will have a hard time understanding this is that their "perception" of what intensity is like for these higher level CF athletes is NOT measured - so DO NOT assume (like I have in some cases here) that you know what the "effort" imposed is on the person - what you and I see as stress is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in someone else's eyes (go back and read some basics on Seyle's work if you need to)
- Rich is full time at this - anyone in this community wil know that I have been talking about this for 2 years now and you can see why - one needs to be full time at this to get a shot now - there is still a few "good stories", but time will come. We are developing this, it will happen.
- Attitude - it was good to see the inside piece (albeit a little one) on his perceptions on how he does and how he will do over time - this critical info is appreciated by me. As one that has been there, not in performance ability, but the camera angle - this part of realization and growing created the end to my career....but in this guy a birth of a stronger athlete. (I wish him all the best - he's one of the good ones)