Sunday, December 26, 2010

UPDATE: Football Tryouts

Last Thursday I went to my first tryout/player evaluation for the Boston Militia!  This tryout was the first step of many, to become a member of the Boston Militia and play semi-pro women’s football.

After filling out 9 different forms, releases, and waivers about everything from insurance to pictures to equipment requirements, I arrived at the Harvard “Bubble” for an 8-10PM workout. 

Approximately 36 other women came out to the Harvard Dome with what seemed like a 50-50 split of returning players and prospective athletes. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Small Successes in Crossfit :: Trials in Football

I kipped for the first time today!

I just thought I would try it.  I try to kip a pull-up here and there, but I usually run into one of the following issues:

1. I get too excited about my swing and can't control it
2. My hands hurt from lifting something
3. My muscles are beat after a WOD

Today, there was some time for skill work between our SWOD and our CWOD at CFB, so I hoped up on the bar. Forward-back-up!  My chin went over the bar!  I was actually so surprised I thought it was an accident.  So I got down, shook it out and hoped back up.  Forward-back-up, forward-back-up!

2 in a row = not an accident

1.31.10 crossfit mainpage

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pull-Ups: a Public Display

Public displays of data are influential: they tell us where we started, they help us track our progress, they show us where we have succeeded, and where we could do more.  Starting tomorrow (only because I do not have the materials tonight), I am going to track one thing:

1. Pull-ups 
One morning (the day after I hobbled away from my 5k run), I went to Crossfit Boston again which in itself felt like a win.  Neal Thompson, the owner of CFB, was the coach at the box that morning.  The workouts for the day were:

SWOD: Back Squat
CWOD: AMRAP in 15 min. of
10-Chest to Deck Push-Ups
15-20'' Box Jumps

As I went to grab my usual blue band to assist me on my pull-ups Neal told me to put it back, he asked me if I could do one pull-up, I said yes.  Neal then added the following, "That's how you will do them then, 1-by-1.  You are never allowed to use a band again.  And if I see you using a band you owe me 1,000 burpees in a weighted-vest."

Motivation enough for me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

5k WOD on the first day of winter

When I first joined Crossfit Boston I was warned early on, that "unless there is snow on the ground we run outside, so be prepared."  When there was no WOD posted on the website last night I should have suspected: running in the cold (or rowing).  Unaware as to the workout that was coming my way, I peeled myself out of bed and put on my winter jacket for the first time this winter.  26 degrees, 30 percent chance of flurries.

On the train, the words of came back to me, "unless there is snow on the ground we run outside..."  "Nah," I thought.  It's too cold.

Unsurprisingly, Crossfit Boston had the last laugh.  As I foam-rolled my muscles awake, Coach Jen only needed to write for a second to tell us what we would be doing today:

Skill: OHS
CWOD: 5k


It was one of those moments where you just have to laugh; being ill-equipped (and by that I mean ill-dressed for an outdoor run), and knowing that I cursed myself with my thoughts on the T, I laughed.  And honestly?  The workout was pretty great.  I overhead squatted (OHS) 110lbs, which I have never done before, I ran my miles at just under 8 minutes a mile--26:35 for 3.4 miles, maintaining my barefoot/POSE technique!  

I snotted all over myself, I had a hacking cough, and I didn't realize until I got home that I couldn't feel two of my toes.  It was great.  It was great because nothing else this week will feel that hard.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NEW OUTPUT CHALLENGE: Catch a Football Everyday!

1. Because the Head Coach, Coach Beasley of the Boston Militia told me to
2. AND I just found out that player evaluations/tryouts will be held December 11th, and 16th, a MONTH sooner than I originally thought

The Plan:
To work on my wide-receiver skills Coach Beasley suggested that I find a friend and start catching a football 50+ times a day: catch with fingertips, bring the ball to the body and tuck, alternating sides of my body.  I have enlisted my roommate to help me with this (thank you for volunteering and practicing with me in the kitchen).  The back-up plan was recommended to me by a football friend, is to lie on my back and throw the ball in the air to myself.

by Brero

Goals for this Output Challenge:
1. To start feeling like this is a motion that I am performing competently and unconsciously

This probably will not take more than a few minutes a day but it needs to happen EVERYDAY.  There are only twelve days between now and the 16th (when I will be going to evaluations/tryouts), that means that I am going to make this a 12-day challenge.

Challenge Ends: December 16th, 2010

Any on point wide-receiver drills?  Let me know!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

7 STEPS to Make a Training Plan for the Holidays

I am an athlete in training and I have found myself in the midst of the holiday season without a plan.

This predicament of being an athlete, being in training, being in the middle of many holiday parties, and being without a plan is not new to me.  I have always been an athlete, I have usually been in training, and I do not think I have ever had a good plan of attack to deal with the holidays.

The holidays need to be dealt with for obvious reasons: they involve lots of food, traveling, and stress.

Food gets sweeter and heavier; traveling pulls you away from your gym, and your workout routine; stress increases when unexpected challenges present themselves, and we often find ourselves facing all of these holiday pitfalls alone.

This year needs to be different.  It needs to be different because tryouts are approaching for the Boston Militia!  If tryouts are in January, this month, December is precisely the time I need to be kicking my training into full gear.  I cannot get lazy.  I am going to follow these steps to create my own plan AND I am going to come up with some tough input and output challenges to make sure I am working towards my goals and becoming a better athlete than I was in college.

STEP 1: Think about the big picture
This is important, ask yourself at the end of the holiday season: how will you know if your training plan worked?

STEP 2: Pick one or two things to focus on
You cannot fight every battle, so what battles are you willing to fight everyday?  Is it more important for you to focus on your food, or getting your workout in?  Make sure you know what your priorities are so that if you are running out of time and you need to cut something, you already know what you can cut.

STEP 3: Make a calendar
Part I: Decide how many days a week your want to work out
Part II: What days, and what time you will hit the gym, or get a workout in?
Part III: When will you go grocery shopping?
Part IV: When will you cook?

Monday, November 22, 2010

POSE Running

This past Sunday I signed up to go to a 3 hour session on the barefoot/POSE running technique at Crossfit Boston done by Upstream Fitness.

I have been wanting to go to a barefoot/POSE workshop for a while because, to be honest, my run has always been a little off.  I almost always run heel-to-toe, except when I sprint.  I run heel-to-toe for distance, and when my body gets tired.

I need to work on my quickness and my speed if I want to be a wide-receiver; quickness and speed come from your muscles fibers being trained and ready to fire.  To get my muscles fibers to fire more often I had a feeling I needed to get up on my toes.  When you are on your heels you are at rest but when you get up on the balls of your feet, suddenly your body has potential force for quick movements.   Barefoot/POSE running is all about changing where your foot strikes, how long your foot is on the ground, and what you can do to harness potential forces like gravity.

Here is my before and after footage from the workshop:

You can see in my video, that there was a pretty noticeable difference between my first and my second clip.  I changed my heel strike to a ball strike, and I was able to get a much better "pull," getting my foot off the ground and move forward fast.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And the First OUTPUT Challenge: to get my benchmark numbers for Crossfit

Reason: Because I need to take my baseline of fitness on bodyweight exercises for future comparisons NOW

Even though this Output Challenge will not take me 10 days, it will take me 1 unpleasant day/hour.  I would like to give myself adequate rest in between each exercise, and I know throwing my body at the ground for a solid minute for my burpees will take a little working up to.  The exercises that I will be testing myself on are listed below, and can also be found with my goals, and benchmark numbers.

The Movements are max reps of:
1. Push-ups (consecutive)
2. Pull-ups (without coming off the bar)
3. Sit-ups (in 2 min)
4. Squats/Pistols (without stopping)
5. Burpees (1 min)
6. Dips (without coming off the bars)

I will alternate movements to make sure I am not tiring out one muscle group or part of my body too much; this will be helped by the fact that my dips and pull-ups will need to happen at Crossfit on Friday because I do not have the equipment for those in my house!

Goal for this Output Challenge:
1. To meet all of the Level I benchmarks for all 6 movements

Get your benchmarks and test yourselves!  Push-ups, sit-ups, and squats can be done anywhere.  If you are looking to try something new or want to see a movement done again, check out my Beginner's Guide for great websites to reference.  Beat me, and post your numbers!!

The First Input Challenge: No nuts or nut butter for 10 days

Reason: Even though nuts are a great source of things like fat, protein and minerals like zinc, I like nuts too much.  Unsalted raw almond butter is like candy to me.

Since taking the Paleo leap (and even before) nuts were an easy out.  A handful for a snack, or a couple tablespoons with an apple.  Unfortunately when you do this several times a day, your fat intake gets high fast.  My weight has always been pretty stable, but I know if I want to get as competitive and fast as I can that means changing my body composition: loosing fat and gaining muscle.

Goals for this Input Challenge: 
1. To include nuts in my diet 3-5 times a week instead of everyday
2. To get creative and think of better snack options for afternoon hunger
3. To stop eating spoonfuls of almond butter for dinner

Challenge Ends: November 20th, 2010

Snack ideas and encouragement are welcome.  If you have ideas for future challenges, or if you have a vice  you are struggling with post them or write me!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TABATA THIS! How My 'Better' First Got Better

Currently, I am back in my hometown of Philadelphia for a week-long visit.  This means some things are difficult: sticking to my nutritional plan while traveling and being around my mom's brownies.  Other things are difficult in the good way: long Metcons at Crossfit Center City!  The Metcon this past Wednesday at Crossfit Center City was Tabata This!  A forty-round metcon that is all about pushing yourself to do as many repetitions as possible.  A Tabata workout means that you are doing 20 seconds on, and 10 seconds off, for 8 rounds of one exercise; Tabata This contains the following movements:

Tabata Row
Tabata Squat
Tabata Pull-Ups
Tabata Push-Ups
Tabata Sit-Ups/Planks

So to start you row for 20 seconds, rest for 10, row for 20 etc.  You can rest for 1 minute before switching to the next exercise.  I have seen it done both with the 1 minute rest, and without it; we did not get this minute break between exercises.  Tabata workouts are always a little bit daunting because even if you get through four rounds, your muscles are starting to shake and you still have four more.

The Top 5 Things That Make Me Better


1. Going to bed by 10 and getting up at 5

2. Eating the right thing even when I am stressed/tired/
unhappy, or traveling

3. Getting to the track for my sprint workout when it is 
still dark out

4. Working out six days a week

5. Trying harder than I have before

In college I did not set goals for myself; I did not have high expectations for my performance.  I was “good,” and 80% of the time my ‘good’ was enough for me and for my team.  I settled.  I think I knew it was not enough, but I was waiting for someone else to push me.  I left college never having tried as hard as I could and I was not satisfied.

As a teacher I work with students everyday who are so scared of failing they do not try.  One day I realized the same thing about myself; I was terrified to fail.  

Now I want to be better.  I want to try, and I want it to be hard.  I am still scared that it might be too hard but I am trying anyway.  I have set goals for myself now that I might not achieve.  I am trying to find the limits of what my body can do.  I am trying to figure out how much better I can be.

You might fail, but you might not.  If you do not fail your mind and your body have just reached a new level of strength.  If you do fail you know you need to work harder, and you need to try again.

Share your thoughts, failures, and successes: what makes you better?