Murph 2021

There are Crossfit workouts and then there are Crossfit workouts. Murph is one of those that comes loaded with a ton of meaning for the community and reminds us of the sacrifices made by our men and women in the armed forces to keep our country free.

Men’s Health did a fantastic article this year on what Murph is and what it represents, so I encourage you to give it a read.

This workout and I have always had a tenuous relationship. First, there’s the run aspect. Y’all know that I am not fond of running. I’d rather turn and face the damn bear than run from the thing, even if it means dying in the process.

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

I’ve done some form of Murph just about every year since starting at Continuum in 2013.

  • 2013 – My first Murph. I split it with Mickey and finished in 65 minutes
  • 2014 – We did a modified Murph at home – push-ups, air squats, and sit-ups – no idea on time
  • 2015 – I did a 1 mile run/walk, 1/2 Murph and DNF
  • 2016 – I started with a 2000m row, did 1/2 Murph, and walked a mile in 52 minutes
  • 2017 – I split it with Mickey. She ran a mile and I rowed. We each did 10 rounds, Cindy-style. And we finished in 55 minutes.
  • 2018 – Ran both ends of 1/2 Murph and finished in 47:32. That’s a 5 minute improvement over 2016 and 8 minutes better than 2017.
  • 2019 – We did Murph but I don’t have any details (it was a crazy time because Mickey was graduating from high school)
  • 2020 – Must be COVID blindness ’cause I don’t remember what we did last year. I suspect we did something at Marilee’s due to COVID restrictions, but I may have skipped it

So that brings us to 2021. We’re all vaccinated. Ev and I wanted to do the workout together, but it didn’t quite work out that way. She’s over at Marilee’s doing it now and I did it at Continuum earlier today.

Slow and somewhat steady, but got ‘er done

Today’s workout:

  • 800m run/walk (ran about 200m and then my left ankle/calf turned to concrete, so I walked the rest)
  • Ten rounds of
    • 5 ring rows (body is not up to pull-ups at this point)
    • 10 push-ups (usually split into 5/5 or 4/2/2/2)
    • 15 air squats
  • 800m walk (started walking about the 30 minute mark)
  • Time: 39:46

No matter what, that’s a pretty decent time for me and definitely a lot better than other years. Not sure why that’s the case, but hey, I’m happy.

My left ankle/calf is a little annoyed at the moment, but it’ll get better. Hopefully tomorrow’s workout doesn’t have any running. 🙂

Great work Continuum family! Y’all rocked it this year as per usual!

Inconsistency on All fronts

In a more vaccinated world, I’m finding it easier to get back to some of the normal levels of madness. Amazingly, last week I made it to crossfit three different times! Unfortunately that was not the case this week.

This week I had it on the books to do a workout on Tuesday and backed out. It was a 5k row, I thought. I can do it at home, I thought. And I eventually even attempted it… failing miserably because I didn’t warm up. (1250 meters does not a 5k make).

Add to that the wild inconsistency in nutrition due to a lack of family cohesion and an absolutely insane schedule and a crazy sleep schedule due to dogs and a brain that won’t shut off…

You get the picture.

So I wanted to look at why going to the box beats anything I try to do at home.

  • Lack of Willpower – Yeah, that’s a big part of this. Some of that is due to the fact that I am a creature of habit. Since I don’t ever leave the house (I work from home), everything happens here because I’ve worn grooves in my brain to keep on track. I have yet to find a way to wear a new groove that involves doing something physical. Usually I’m just sitting for long periods in front of a computer.
  • Organized Sports Are Meh – Nothing against my wife and daughters (and others I know) who somehow still manage to escape the house to play soccer almost daily, but that isn’t interesting to me. In fact, organized sports of any kind are no longer interesting. I haven’t watched football or hockey in a very very long time and even college basketball is at best a once a year thing. I only watch high school soccer because I’m interested in watching my daughter play.
  • Need to Escape – This is the other side of the Lack of Willpower. If I get out of the house to something like crossfit where I am engaged, I’m much more likely to do something productive on the healthy side of the movement equation. If I don’t escape, nothing happens.
  • The Work Schedule – Yes, I still have to do that work thing. I haven’t won the lottery or struck it rich in other ways. That means that sometimes my time is not my own (especially working in a group that is at best east-coast-based and at worst Europe-based). Meetings and critical issues sometimes suck up my best time to work out, which is mid-morning.
  • The Home Schedule – And then there’s the rest of my time, which usually isn’t my own either — though some of that will improve when we have another driver in the house in a few months.

That means that I have to not only escape the gravitational pull of my house but do something that engages me. CrossFit is the only thing in my adult life that has really met that call. If I make it through the doors, there’s a good chance I’m going to succeed to some level.

I won’t get started on the whole “but you suck at physical things, Brian” voice that’s in my head regularly. Or the debate in some parts of the fitness community between scaling and prescribed workouts. Or the fact that many folks believe that CrossFit isn’t the end-all-and-be-all of fitness and it should still be in ADDITION to other things like organized sports or solo activities. That’s great and all, but I’m not an athlete in a competitive sense and there are other parts of my life that are more important to me than feigning interest in activities that don’t interest me.

So… CrossFit is the only thing that has worked for me in the last decade. But it only works if I’m consistent at applying it as a tool for a healthy lifestyle.

Wherever possible, I try to sign up a week early for classes for the days that may work for me. Putting my name on the list and scheduling that time in my work calendar is usually enough to get me out the door and into the gym. I just need to be better at following through.

Welcome to the challenges of being a middle aged guy set in his ways in an environment that is not always conducive to getting the right things into his life. I’m not alone in that, I know. But I have to do better.

Battles between Critic and Coach

This is going to be an odd post because I want to explain a bit about what goes on in my head during some workouts. Not all, but some.

Everyone is probably familiar with the idea of the angel and devil on your shoulder. It’s been a tried-and-true trope that’s been out forever. It shows up over and over again in cartoons like Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat, plus the above from the Emperor’s New Groove.

(Yes, I like my cartoons.)

Back to the main idea of this post… I recently revised my view of these roles in my own life to have the titles of “coach” and “critic.” My critic is the stronger of the two, but I’m learning how to deal with him.

In crossfit workouts, I have this moment sometimes where I want to quit and just walk out. I’ve become better at managing those moments, but it’s still a process. The conversation in my head goes something like this, though on more of a subconscious level.

The critic starts:

  • You should stop. You suck at the movement. It hurts. You can’t breathe. You didn’t do that right. That athlete is much better than you so you should just quit now.

There’s usually more colorful language when I think about it, but I’ve sanitized it for your protection. 🙂

Then the coach tries to but in:

  • Just take a breath. The moment will pass. Focus less on speed and more on quality of movement. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t look at the clock. Just pick up the bar. Just drop for one more rep.

Do you notice the change? Most of these things I’ve internalized since I began doing crossfit back in 2013. These days I mostly hear it in Drea or Nicole’s voices, but occasionally I hear Isaac, Bill, or even Caleb.

The critic is usually in my voice. The snide one I use to belittle everything I do, comparing myself and my work to others. It’s never good enough, let me tell you. Kind of like Bruce Banner in Avengers. The critic is always there in the back of my head.

So what I’ve started doing when I catch myself in the critic loop is laughing. Bullies hate it when you laugh at them. It’s like a gut punch and usually it gets mine to pause long enough for me to hear the coach.

Today I caught myself after a failed rope climb attempt. I was staring at the rope for what felt like forever but was probably 20 seconds. And I started laughing.

Laughing shut the critic up and I was able to hear the coach, which told me to scale the rope climb to the point where I was doing three lay-to-stands each round instead of attempting more climbs which weren’t working today.

By laughing, I was able to reset my brain long enough to adjust and keep moving. I didn’t walk out the door. I just kept moving.

What’s the moral of this story? I have no idea. In my case, I’m my own worst critic — but my critic hates getting laughed at. So laughter, it turns out, IS the best medicine.

Good luck fighting your own critics. Laugh them off the stage and give your better side a chance to kick in and help. 🙂

Hello Deadlifts! Day 2

You may have noticed that there were a few days between “Day 1” and “Day 2” here. There’s a good reason for that. After not really doing much physically for 6 months and really not attending any CrossFit classes for a year, I’m taking my time. And I have to say that I was super sore after burpees on Day 1.

However, my goal for the next few weeks is to come to a couple of workouts a week and leave myself plenty of recovery time in-between. This week I’ll go Tuesday (today!) and Friday, which gives me 2-3 days between workouts to make sure I’m not overdoing but am still getting some work in.

7×3 Deadlifts

It’s been a long time since I did deadlifts. I suspect that I did some early in the pandemic with Coach Marilee, but it’s been long enough that I don’t remember. I think my one-rep max at one point was 335#. But I walked into today knowing I wasn’t even going to get close to that.

Wandered in and had Coach Valerie today, plus Dennis and a few other new faces (new to me anyway) and Coach Drea was working 1-on-1 with a client. I didn’t waste much time on chit chat, but decided to settle in for some time on the Devil’s Tricycle to get things moving. 5 minutes later I was wondering why I made that decision, but such is life. 🙂

We then moved into a quick warm-up, which involved a couple rounds of: 30 second ride on the assault bike, some lat pull-downs, some leg stretches that helped some of my inner thigh soreness, and some GHD hip extensions.

It didn’t take us long to get right into deadlifts after that. Empty barbell. Light barbell. Heavier barbell. You get the picture.

  • Warm-up: 95# x10, 125# x5, 145# x2
  • Set 1: 145# x3
  • Set 2: 165# x3
  • Set 3: 175# x3
  • Set 4: 185# x3
  • Set 5: 195# x3
  • Set 6: 205# x3
  • Set 7: 225# x3

Not going to lie… it was a bit rough at first. But I loosened up a bit as we moved through it. I did my best to push out of my mind any previous deadlift attempts – whether a 1 rep max or a simple metcon that had deadlifts as a part of it.

I did something different today since I am starting over. I started using switch grip on my deadlifts. And I alternated every other set. One set I would have my right hand under and my left hand over. Next set I would reverse it.

It helped me keep the barbell closer to my body each rep, I think. Not sure that was actually the case. 🙂

And it was just good to be back lifting something somewhat heavy, cheering on the people around me as they lifted ridiculous amounts (405# x3? come on, Preston!).

After we were done lifting, we did a brief 100m stroll outside, then came back and started cleaning up. When that was done, we did a little recovery with a foam roller and a softball. I’ll try and continue that work later today as well.

It was a fun class — everybody did great — and it felt good to be home. Thank you Coach Valerie and the rest of the 9am class today for the warm welcome! Eventually I’ll get everybody’s names sorted out too. 🙂

Catching up (#75Soft Day 61) and Back to the Box

Believe it or not, I’m still alive — even though I kind of dropped off the planet on this site for a while.

Quick update… still going with a few of the bits of my #75SOFT challenge

  • 100 oz water (happens pretty much every day)
  • reading daily (happens every day, sometimes more than once a day)
  • no alcohol (not a drop since before 1-FEB)
  • three meals (this is a mess – some days there’s just two and a snack, so maybe it’s ok)
  • move 30 mins a day? hahahaha

Yeah, it’s been one of those challenges. But I feel like I’m hanging on at least, even if it’s just barely (just like Buster Keaton).

And then today was my first time back at the box in something like 6 months.

Back to Continuum

Apparently willpower at home is not one of those things that I have a lot of when it comes to working out on my own. We have a rower. We bought an assault bike (and it’s in a friend’s garage gym less than a half mile from us). We bought some kettlebells. I think I’ve rowed maybe ten times in the last year at home, and that includes four times in the last couple of months.

Yeah, it’s not my thing.

So after getting my first COVID shot a few days ago, I knew it gave me a step towards feeling more confident in groups of people. Thus… time to go back to CrossFit Continuum.

Now… if it’s one thing I’ve learned a lot over the last twelve months it’s that you can’t just expect to pick up your life where you left it pre-pandemic. Things don’t work that way. But with the weight I’ve gained, it’s a lot like starting over anyway.

Day 1

My goal was simple. Get in, do a workout, and survive. 🙂 Next week I’ll try two workouts (Tues/Fri). And I’ll likely try to continue that trend for a while until I start to get my feet under me again, then I’ll add a third day.

Today we did Lorenzo, named for Lorenzo Zanetti, a CrossFit affiliate owner and trainer in Italy who died suddenly of a heart attack in January 2020. You can see it here at the CrossFit mainsite. Looking at it last night it somehow seemed fitting that I’d come back on a day with running and burpees.

Coach Taylor was there to help us out today and I got to work out with Todd and Jody, who care always fun folks.

Before I even started doing the warm-up for the class, I decided to see how my body felt, so I walked the 400m route on site. And due to allergies and generally being out of shape, I decided (nose running the whole time) it was not in my best interests to try and pound my knees outside today.

I did a couple of minutes on the assault bike and then we dove into the warm-up, which involved some AT-YTs (I did mine without weights), movement prep for the medicine ball cleans, a burpee refresher, and a few other things. I knew I was going to scale today, so I started right off the bat.

My workout became:

This was *NOT* my med ball today
  • Row 1,000 meters
  • 3 rounds of
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 medicine ball cleans (14# medicine ball)
  • 12 burpees
  • Then row another 1,000 meters

As you might expect, burpees were the absolute worst part of this thing for me. The push-ups weren’t great, but I could gut my way through them (usually in a 5-3-2 pattern). And the medicine ball cleans were the easiest part of the whole thing (usually did 8-7). But burpees? Come on. Even when I was in “shape”, burpees and I were not good friends.

My two 1000m rows were 4:32 and 5:30. Yes, the second one took me almost a minute more. It wasn’t my finest 5 minutes. 🙂

But the burpees were the pits. I resorted to simply getting down to the floor and getting up again. And I could only do that a max of 3 or 4 times before I had to take a break. And then I’d do a couple more and a couple more until I was done.

The last round I resorted to pulling out a bench and doing my “down” off the bench rather than going all the way to the floor. It was not pretty.

But I finished. It took me 29:30 or thereabouts to get done. I scaled accordingly to end up in the 20-30 minute time domain set up by our amazing coaches. And I got it done.

And I even walked 100m after I was done and then do a bit of rolling out with the foam roller.

I’m Back

Sort of like the Terminator, I’m back. I hope not too soon, but I have to do something.

Huge thank you’s to Coach Drea (for letting us come back to the fold) and Coach Taylor, who let me keep plugging away today. And to both Todd & Jody, who did awesome.

Next week we’ll try again. And we’ll see how many of these workouts I can write up before the end of the year.

Thanks all!

#75Soft, Days 6 and 7 (Not so great)

Time for my Day 6 and 7 update… Slight difference in format this time, reasons to be explained momentarily.

Saturday, Day 6

My day started with 32 oz of water and 20 oz of coffee, then lunch at the Adams Mountain Cafe. Skipped breakfast entirely. Had their amazing veggie lasagna for lunch with some water and their awesome iced tea.

After that, we drove to Salida up Hwy 24, hit some fun roads, and arrived about 430 or 5. I may have sipped some of the water I took with along the way, but largely I was pretty oblivious.

We went to dinner at a fun place, Currents. We had calamari and some form of a poke/tuna appetizer, then dove into various things. I had a tasty small piece of fried chicken and some mashed potatoes, all smothered in a delicious white gravy. And I think I had water or iced tea to drink.

No movement to speak of, unless you count getting into and out of cars to be athletic. And I did not continue the water trend after we got back to the hotel. I did finish my book however.

Using the scale of the #75 soft challenge that I set up…

  • Move 30 (nope)
  • No alcohol (yep)
  • Three meals (only 2, nope)
  • More veg/fruit (nope)
  • 100+ oz of water (nope)
  • Read/write before bed (yep)

2 out of 6 is a pretty piss poor average.

Sunday Day 7

So did Sunday go any better? Not even close.

We went to a local coffee place and a food truck for breakfast, then headed to Monarch to go snowmobile. Scarfed down a tasty breakfast sandwich and may have consumed 1/3 of the coffee (it was hot).

After snowmobiling, we drove to Canon City for lunch. I had a patty melt and some fruit along with a couple of glasses of iced tea.

Got home and chugged 32 oz of water in about an hour.

Had boneless wings and 1/2 a big salad for dinner with another 32 oz of water.

Let’s see how this stacks up:

  • Move 30 minutes (well, we snowmobiled for 2+ hours and it was hit and miss as to how much physical movement I did other than falling off once, so no)
  • No alcohol (yep)
  • Three meals? (only 2, nope)
  • More veg/fruit (yes, a bit in two meals – will count it)
  • 100 oz of water (I should hit 90 oz by the end of the day, so we’ll be nice and say yes)
  • End day with reading/writing (definitely yes)

So by the end, I missed a couple, hitting 4 of 6.

Seven Days In…

If I look at it from a strict #75hard perspective, I failed pretty miserably this past week on everything but not drinking alcohol and reading or writing before bed. I will admit to being sorely tempted to toss the alcohol requirement out a window a couple of days. And if I’m being honest, reading or writing before bed is a no-brainer. I also did ok on the water requirement until the weekend, so that’s not so bad either.

That’s three out of six I hit pretty consistently for a week.

Half. 50% is a failing grade in my book.

So how do I do better next week? Fine question considering most afternoons will have some sort of soccer activity for AJ and my mornings are pretty full with work stuff. Also, food is going to be hit and miss but I will be home so I should be able to manage it I hope.

Guess we do what we can and see where we end up. My goal here was to try. And so long as I’m hitting at least a few of the targets, I guess I’m doing my best for now.

Long story short – stop beating myself up and do what I can day to day.

Sounds good. Let’s do that.

Kick-off post

#75Soft, Day 5

Time for my Day 5 update…

  • 32oz water
  • Breakfast: 3 eggs, one chopped up stuffed poblano pepper from the other night (ground pork, corn,  diced red onion, cilantro, taco seasoning, and a little cheese on top), 1/2 cup of pico de gallo, ketchup
  • 8 oz cup of coffee with vanilla almond milk creamer
  • second 8 oz cup
  • 32 oz water (64 oz total)
  • Lunch: Ted’s Avalon burger (bison), only ate half the bun, had a side salad
  • 4 dark-chocolate covered almonds
  • 32 oz water (96 oz total)
  • Dinner: Roasted chicken and butternut squash
  • 32 oz water (128 oz total)
  • No movement
  • Read before bed

Kick-off post

#75Soft, Day 4

Time for my Day 4 update…

  • 32oz water
  • Breakfast: 3 eggs, 3 turkey sausages, 2 cups shredded raw spinach, 1 cup fresh pico de gallo veggies, 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar, ketchup
  • 24oz cold coffee with vanilla almond milk creamer
  • Period of intense panic with a work issue that had me running around like a chicken with my head cut off (productively spent making breakfast, emptying the dishwasher, pacing around the kitchen doing laps, standing on the front porch in 20 degree temps with bare feet — good times)
  • 20oz cold coffee with vanilla almond milk creamer
  • 4 dark chocolate covered almonds
  • Lunch: Mod Market – 1/2 Pepe pizza and Arugula/Blue Cheese salad
  • 32 oz water (total 64 oz)
  • 4 dark chocolate covered almonds
  • almond butter cups (x2)
  • 32 oz water (total 96 oz)
  • Home Chef: Simple bang bang shrimp, rice, and edamame
  • 16 oz water (total 112 oz)
  • Read some before bed

Not gonna lie, this was a rough day. Did not get any movement in unless you count the hour of freaking out and lapping my kitchen. I was exhausted by the end of the day.

Kick-off post

#75Soft, Day 3 (Better than day2)

Time for my Day 3 update…

  • 32oz water
  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1 cup shredded raw spinach, 1 cup fresh pico de gallo (tomatoes, onions, jalapenos), 4 oz sliced steak, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, ketchup
  • 24oz iced coffee with almond milk vanilla creamer
  • Movement: 35:22 5k in 500m with 1 minute rest laps
  • 32 oz water (total: 64)
  • Lunch: Tortilla. Slices of roast beef. Swiss cheese. Mayo & mustard.
  • 4 dark chocolate almonds
  • 1 Fit aid (orange can)
  • 32 oz water (total: 96)
  • Dinner: Roasted, stuffed poblano peppers with diced red onion, cilantro, corn, and taco seasoning – with some cheese on top
  • After dinner movement: About 20 minutes of recycling (we had a bunch of boxes to breakdown)
  • 20 oz water (total 116)
  • Dinner wasn’t enough so I had a small shake after – Almond milk and a scoop of Vanilla Bean Micellar Casein (slow digesting protein) — I won’t do that again (sleep was a problem)
  • Wrote before bed but ended up watching The Expanse Season 5 finale and stayed up later than I wanted to (but it was worth it!)

Kick-off post

#75Soft, Day 2 (not 100% success, but not beating myself up over it)

Time for my Day 2 update…

  • 32oz water
  • Breakfast (shared with AJ): 4 eggs, 2 cups shredded raw spinach, 1 cup fresh pico de gallo (tomatoes, onions, jalapenos), 1 cup sliced cooked potatoes (canned), 1/2 cup shredded cheese, salsa – in a bowl. used potatoes instead of tortilla
  • 20oz iced coffee with almond milk vanilla creamer
  • 3 dark chocolate-covered almonds
  • 32 oz water (total: 64)
  • Lunch: Burrito tortilla. A bit of mayo. Two pieces swiss cheese. Two big slices of honey roasted turkey deli meat.
  • 32 oz water (total: 96)
  • 20 oz iced coffee
  • Dinner: Flank steak and big salad
  • 4 more dark chocolate-covered almonds
  • 20 oz water (total 116 oz)
  • NO 30 MINS OF MOVEMENT (body still hurt after Monday, will try and do more tomorrow – promising not to beat myself up about this if I get at least 4 or 5 days of movement in each week)

Kick-off post

A site about my crossfit journey…