So I tried CrossFit…

…and I liked it!

"The unkowns" a tough WOD that I didn't finish on veterans day.
“The unknowns” a tough WOD that I didn’t complete on Veterans day. There’s more to it that didn’t fit on the screen!

I’ve run into so many people over the past year or so who do CrossFit and not one had ever had anything bad to say about it. That said, I had the misconception that it was some crazy, unsafe workout routine where people just got hurt and threw up. About five months ago I decided to give it a shot—after all, no one had anything bad to say, so why not. At that point I was a little burnt out from my tri training, so I needed a change of pace anyways.

There are quite a few CrossFit gyms, or “boxes” as they call them, in the Cleveland area and I knew people at a few of them. I decided to try CTOWN for no other reason than it was a convenient location. They offered a free “Bootcamp” classes try it out, so one warm Saturday afternoon, I showed up and gave it a shot. I arrived about 10 minutes early while another class was wrapping up. Everyone had amazing bodies, dripping with sweat and they all looked like they were going to pass out. Loud music was playing as the coach walked around encouraging everyone to keep going. A buzzer went off and everyone had a sigh of relief. Although for a minute or two everyone looked exhausted, and many laying on the ground, they all quickly recovered and started smiling and congratulating each other on a good workout.

Then it was time for the bootcamp class. Carl, the head coach at CTOWN, rounded up the class and had us run 400m followed by some more warmup drills. After that, he showed us the bootcamp WOD (workout of the day), demonstrated the moves it involved and pointed out how do do them correctly. He spent the most amount of time on squats. I now know why—a large majority of the moves in CrossFit involve some kind of squat movement, including wall balls. If my memory is correct the WOD that day involved rowing, pushups, wall balls and air squats. It was a 20 minute AMREP (as many rounds as possible). The workout was intense, a lot of sweat was shed and I was sore the next day.

After going through their training camp (conditioning program) I’ve continued to go back regularly. What’s great about CrossFit workouts is that they are fast but intense—most WODs are under 30 minutes of work time. I no longer have a concern about the program being unsafe. They spend so much time making sure you are doing the moves right (and safe) emphasizing quality over quantity (or weight you can’t lift). The workouts are also very scalable. If you can’t do a handstand pushup, you can do a box pushup or a regular pushup and work your way up to the full move. The vibe in the gym is nothing but positive. No intimidating body builders making you feel week—just good, encouraging people.

Although I’m currently CrossFitting 4-6 times a week, I’ll probably cut back and focus more on tri-specific training around February. That said, I’ve been read a lot of research lately that talks about how short, high-intensity interval (including strength) training can improve endurance sport performance. Just last week I had my best 100y free swim time in a while—and I haven’t been swimming much in the past few months. CrossFit is, by design, broad and general making it great training for any sport, physically demanding job or just life in general.

Cool graffiti outside the gym
Cool graffiti outside the gym

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Two races in two weeks

Ok so first I need to confess, I’m really late posting this—been lazy about blogging lately…

This summer I competed in two sprint triathlons, two weekends in a row. Although having only one week in-between isn’t ideal, it wasn’t too bad. That said, neither were my best race.

Lake Metroparks Lighthouse Triathlon | Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fairport Tri 2013 by seanskisez

This was my second time competing in this race. I didn’t really take this race too seriously and didn’t prep as I should have. Usually I stay away from alcohol completely for a week prior to a race and I didn’t follow that rule this time. The Friday prior I had drank a little too much thinking it wouldn’t effect me. The night before I also ate dinner late & went to bed late. The race is about a 40 min drive from home and, of course, I was rushing to get there on time giving me almost no time to prep once I got there. Typically I like to get setup in the transition area, warm up, listen to music & mentally prepare for the race ahead—that didn’t happen. Standing at the starting line, I also started to feel dehydrated. I was already off to a bad start and the race hadn’t even started yet.

During the swim I felt overwhelmed and had to stop and catch my breath a few times. Thankfully there were spots I could stand as the course is just off the beach. I just couldn’t get my breathing pattern down right and I felt overwhelmed by the other competitors around me. This theme of just not feeling right continued throughout the race, although not as bad during the bike & run. I finished the race with a time of 1:35:21, much slower than last year’s time of 1:19:10.

Results (Time | Overall place out of 298 | age group (M 25-29) place out of 12)

(500M swim, 20K bike, 5K run)
Swim+T1 23:29 | 260 | 11
Bike+T2 44:43 | 151 | 10
Run 26:59 | 116 | 9
Overall 1:35:21 | 173 | 10
Full results

Cleveland Triathlon | Sunday, August 4, 2013

I’ve competed in the Cleveland tri five times now (2009 super sprint, sprint distance all other years). Disappointed by my swim in the Fairport tri, I was determined to enter the water confident and ready to race, so I dedicated a good amount of my training the week in between to swimming. It paid off! I placed 3rd in my age group (out of 14) in the swim & felt great. I got to the transition area early enough to warm up & prep for the race. I also made sure to get a good position from the start (as to avoid the starting line wrestling match in the water)! The bike went well too. I felt good the entire ride & finished a respectable 4th in my age group. Then it went down hill. I was feeling great up until the first few meters of the run. A sharp pain started in along the tibia on both of my legs. It continued through the entire run. I finished with a pace of 10:32/mi (my normal pace is around 7:30-8:30). I was able to work out the soreness after a day or two, but I still can’t pinpoint why it happened (which is the most frustrating part).

Aside from the run, I was generally happy with my race. My overall time was slower than last year on the same course (2012 > 1:33:03), but I’m sure I would have been at least close had it not been for the sharp pain in my legs.

Results (Time | age group (M 30-34) place out of 14)

(0.5mi swim, 16mi bike, 5K run)
Swim 10:21 | 3
T1 3:46
Bike 54:26 | 4
T2 2:33
Run 32:38 | 10
Overall 1:43:45 | 6
Overall place 50 out of 159
Full results

This season I suppose I just wasn’t as motivated as I had been in the past—and it showed in my performance. I think I’ve been a bit bored with tri-specific training & didn’t spend enough time doing it. I plan to compete in sprint triathlon & 100M freestyle swimming in Gay Games 9 when they come to Cleveland in August of 2014. I’m really looking forward to that competition & hoping to come back to tri training in a few months with a renewed motivation for the sport. A few weeks ago I started going to CrossFit and it’s been a great change of pace for me. I look forward to the workouts (even though they kick my ass!) and feel much more motivated to workout than I did prior.

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Tri Season: It’s time!

Leaves are on the trees and it’s getting warmer—that means it’s time to start focusing on tri-specific training. Over the winter I’ve focused more on lifting, partially because I don’t like running and cycling indoors, but also to build strength for the season.

I had previously stated on here that I was planning on doing a week dedicated to each; swim, bike, run to kick off the season. I’ve decided this was a bad idea because it meant two weeks of not training other areas. Instead, I’m gradually reducing strength training and replacing it with cardio. This means the time I do spend in the gym needs to be focused on efficient full-body moves vs specific days dedicated to arms, legs, abs etc.

One thing I want to do more of this year is more interval training in all three disciplines. Last year I did with running and it paid off. This should really help in the short course, sprint, races that I compete in. The great thing about interval training is it takes less time will still being a very effective workout training fast-twitch muscles and learning how to pace yourself.

On another note, I’ve decided to try a paleo-ish diet with the hopes that it will help with lean muscle-mass. I say “-ish” because I like carbs way too much and intense cardio training requires carbs. Basically I’m trying to focus my diet on lean meats, fruits, nuts and vegetables along with limited whole-grain carbs, mainly in the first half of the day.

Healthy Dinner - blueberry greek yogurt, banana smoothie + organic kahl/baby spinach/chard, carrots, dried cranberries and chicken salad
Healthy Dinner – blueberry greek yogurt, banana smoothie + organic kahl/baby spinach/chard, carrots, dried cranberries and chicken salad (no dressing)

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