A Marathon Ace

lindsey b.

This past Monday, our Lindsey B. set a personal record of 3:23:58 at the Boston Marathon.

Lindsey placed 826 out of 5,948 in her division: females 18-39; her gender placing was 1,021 out of 12,168, and she placed 5,958 out of 26,639 overall.

Are you frickin kidding me!? These are awesome accomplishments from an awesome woman!

Lindsey sets a great example for anyone with goals. She didn’t just hope she’d hit a personal best, or feel that she deserved it, she put in twelve months of work to make this happen. Sometimes Lindsey would run 10 miles in the morning before work then come to the 7:30pm class at the gym that night. This is dedication! But this is what it takes to crush your goals, and Lindsey has mastered the practice.

Lindsey, thank you for inspiring us and showing us that accomplishing your goals can be done through hard work. Your kicking-ass-at-life skills are unrivaled and we are fortunate to have you in our ranks. We could not be happier for you or more proud of you!

LindseywithherMom

2016 CrossFit Games Open Recap

The 2016 CrossFit Games Open comes to a close tomorrow and I am proud of our members.

Whether or not you signed up to participate in the Open, you all worked hard, overcame fears and obstacles, and gave it everything you had.

We saw a lot of great moments this year, both individually and collectively. This picture of Adam getting his first bar muscle-up sums it up. I’m glad Josh P. was there to capture the moment on camera.

FB Adam

The picture says so much about who we are as a gym and the bonds that our members have formed. Look at the excitement on Adam’s face, and the faces of everyone around him. This is pure elation.

I was fortunate to witness this event in person and it was one of those moments as a coach where you almost have to pinch yourself because it seems unreal that this is what your life’s work is all about.

This was just one of many moments like this that took place at TwinTown Fitness during the Open this year, and I am happy that we were able to share them with you all.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to moving properly and safely. Nobody did anything foolish to get a few extra reps. Nobody sacrificed form or personal safety for a better score.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to reel yourself in and prevent losing form or taking shortcuts to shave time or get more reps when the clock starts. But we all know the consequences are not worth it. Let’s finish this year’s Open doing it the right way with quality movement.

Good luck crushing it tomorrow!

 

TwinTown Fitness Running Skill Series

Running_series

We run. We run for fun, to burn off stress, to shed some lbs. We run in CrossFit, in run clubs, in marathons. We have always run. But how do we become better runners? The running culture is based around volume. Unfortunately more miles does not equate to better performance. Running is a skill to be learned and continually refined, just like swimming or deadlifting. The same way we can inefficiently pick something up off the floor, we can run inefficiently. Inefficiency leads to injury, and injury leads to a breakdown in performance. The TwinTown Fitness Run Series was created to help you achieve greater running performance.

The approach is simple. We will help you achieve greater running performance and injury prevention by:

  • Preparing and maintaining the body for running through consistent mobility work and strengthening, uncovering and correcting old injuries and structural weaknesses
  • Teaching and promoting efficient running technique

In other words, we are going to fix and prevent aches and pain instead of pushing through them, and adjust running mechanics to minimize the stress placed on the bodies joints and tissues over thousands and thousands of steps.

Come join us. You’ll run better. You’ll feel better. Sign up here.

Shoulder Mobility Journey – Part One

In the past, I have documented how my lack of shoulder mobility has held me back and lead to injuries. I have also stated that until I fix this problem, I won’t kip, I won’t go overhead and I won’t be able to reach my goals of walking on my hands, stringing together strict muscle-ups and doing a freestanding handstand pushup.

It’s time to man up and do something about it.

This time, instead of just writing about it, I’m going to show you what my shoulder dysfunction looks like with two basic, but telling, tests.

Kelly Starrett arms overhead test:

For this test, you should stand with your feet hips distance, raise your hands overhead with your thumbs back, elbows locked out, and ears visible while keeping a neutral spine.

Passing this test means you have the shoulder and upper-back mobility to safely and successfully perform movements where your arms are overhead like a pullup, push press, strict press, jerk, or power snatch.

One fails this test when their elbows flare out, shoulders roll forward, and/or their lower back arches. Failing indicates that areas like your lower back will overcompensate for the lack of mobility in your shoulders when trying overhead movements.

Shoulder MOB P1

FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen:

The first step is to measure the distance from your distal wrist crease to the end of your longest finger. You can use a ruler or any other measuring device.

Next, stand with your feet together and make a fist with your thumbs inside of your fingers, like you wouldn’t do if you were going to punch something. Extend both hands out to your sides with your elbows locked out, then reach one fist behind the neck and the other one behind the back at the same time, trying to get the fists as close as possible to each other without forcing it. To test the other side, repeat these steps and switch your top and bottom fists. You may try up to three times per side.

A “passing” score occurs when your hand measurement is greater than the measurement of the gap between the end of the two fists, i.e., your fists are touching or almost touching. If the hand measurement is about the same as the gap between your two fists, or a lot less, then you have suboptimal shoulder mobility.

In most cases, either of the last two results means you will struggle with the same overhead movements mentioned above. Worse, either of these scores, but especially a score where your hand measurement is a lot less than the gap measurement, means you’re likely more susceptible to injury while performing overhead movements. (my hand measures 7″)

Shoulder 2

As you can see from the pictures above, I have a long journey ahead of me. This is frustrating. But I’m sick of dealing with these dysfunctional shoulders, so it’s time to put my big boy boots on and get to steppin’.

I will check in every three months for the next year with pictures of my progress and my quarterly routine to un-stick my shoulders.

Stay tuned . . .

Meditation For The ADHD (and non ADHD) Mind

waterfall

I have been told for years that I should meditate. My response has always been, ‘thanks, but my ADHD makes this impossible.’  This is like me telling one of my athletes not to mobilize their shoulders because they’re stuck.

Yes, meditating can be hard for me because my mind is constantly chasing squirrels, but this is what makes it so important for me to meditate.

About a month ago I had a conversation with Andrew Sims. He suggested that I start meditating as a way to process the inundation of information and BS we constantly get thrown at us, and throw at ourselves. He was convincing, and I agreed to give it a shot.

Plus, I always remind our members they should attack their weaknesses and work to improve, so I would be a hypocrite if I chose not to mediate because I had to work at it.

I’m starting small. I take ten minutes a day about three days a week to meditate. Right now I’m following a guided program, Headspace, which is a free app. After the initial ten days following the app, I will have the skills to go it alone.

So far so good. Although far from perfect, for me it’s a great exercise in patience, determination and it allows me to filter what goes through my mind, and how to deal with thoughts as they come. This helps me when I’m coaching classes, working with my young athletes, or trying to write a blog post with the internet one click away.

Give meditation a shot. Maybe you’ll find it works for you. I’m no expert, but I imagine there are a lot of ways to meditate. I find that yoga acts as a form of meditation for me, as does riding my motorcycle in the middle of nowhere.

No matter what form meditation may take for you, it’s nice to have a way to decompress.

Do you meditate? What works for you?

Green Curry Pheasant

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.50.53 AMHere is a recipe from Rob Paetzold. Rob was kind enough to provide me with all the ingredients, including the pheasant. I highly recommend this dish. It is super tasty and about as organic as it gets because the bird was shot down in a local field last fall. If you don’t have pheasant, use a chicken. Also, if you’re doing the Eat Well Challenge, you have two options: either reintroduce snow peas, like we did, or leave them out of the dish.

Here are Rob’s ingredients and instructions:

I have snow peas in this curry, but use whatever you want, so long as it’s green. Asparagus, regular peas, sugar snap peas, more herbs, bok choy, green beans; you get the point. Serve curry with long-grain rice. Since you are doing the paleo challenge, I would rice up some cauliflower.

Bone out the pheasant like you would a chicken. I always brine mine over night. I always soak in salt, pepper, and a bit of cane sugar (no sugar for you, eat well challengers).

Ingredients:

1 small onion, sliced thinly from root to tip
1 Tsp oil
Salt
1 15-ounce can of coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken stock (optional)
3 citrus leaves (optional) (we used lime)
2 Tsp fish sauce or 1 Tsp coconut aminos
3 to 4 Tsp green curry paste
1 pound skinless pheasant breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 to 4 serrano or jalapeño chiles, sliced thin
1/2 pound snow peas
1/3 cup chopped Thai basil or cilantro

Instructions:

1. Heat the oil over high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Sear the onion over high heat, stirring it often, until it browns on the edges. Salt the onions as it cooks.

2. Pour in the coconut milk and the stock, if using. Fill the coconut milk can halfway with water and pour that in, too. If you are not using stock, fill the coconut milk can all the way up and pour the whole can into the pan. Add the citrus leaves, as well as the fish sauce and the curry paste. Bring this to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Add the pheasant breast and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Then add the chiles and snow peas and simmer another 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the basil or cilantro and serve.

It’s Okay To Dial Down The Intensity, Bro

blog Are you one of those people who comes to the gym to crush yourself and redline every single time? If so, you should know it’s okay to turn down the intensity dial a notch from time to time.

In fact, it’s a good idea. Backing off the intensity mitigates fatigue and helps prevent burnout and injury.

Last week I was beaten down. I was getting over a cold and I was tired and lethargic. I wanted to work out, but I just couldn’t get the engines firing for our 8:00AM workouts. On Thursday, I expressed how I felt to Peter who suggested I do the WOD at an easy pace instead of backing out of it entirely. An easy pace; what the hell is that!

I took his advice and turned down the intensity a bit. Not surprisingly, Peter was right. I got in a good workout and, afterwards, I felt fresher than I had in days. I also went to yoga later that day, which I highly recommend any time, but especially when you feel your body needs a break from high intensity workouts.This combination was exactly what I needed to stay in the gym without burning out or injuring myself.

Now, for you sandbaggers out there looking for an easy out, I’m not saying don’t push yourself and go through the motions; this is not an invitation to be mediocre. I’m saying pay attention to when your body needs a break and dial it down for a minute. Think of it as active rest and come back fresh the next time you hit the gym.

What’s your approach when you feel burnt out or fatigued?

Green Smoothie For Breakfast

IMAG3815Since starting the Eat Well Challenge a couple weeks ago, I have woken up every morning and made a green smoothie. At first I was skeptical; I didn’t think a smoothie would fill me up. But as usual, my wife was right. A smoothie for breakfast leaves me satisfied for hours and gives me energy to kick off the day with a hard workout. Here’s one variation of what I have made:

1/2 C mango kombucha

1 banana

1 red Swiss chard leaf

sm handful spinach

sm handful parsley

2 brazil nuts

4 walnuts

2 splashes filtered water

1 T finely ground chia seeds

5 ice cubes

Blend the ingredients and enjoy!

At What Age Do We Develop Movement Dysfunction?

23428703034_0aa9eae278_oThe next time you’re around a toddler, watch them move. They squat with perfect mechanics and can hang out in the bottom position all day. When they pick toys off the floor their backs are flat and their hamstrings and glutes are loaded. Their movement is effortless and graceful.

My ninth graders on the other hand, move inefficiently with poor mechanics and a lack of body awareness. These guys are athletes; they’re more active than most kids their age, but they still have trouble performing basic functional movements like squatting and deadlifting.

I figure there are many contributing factors to their poor movement, the three biggest being puberty, sitting all day at school and at home, and today’s technology putting their bodies is awful positions for prolonged periods of time.

This lack of quality in movement at such a young age puzzled me. I was curious about when a child’s pure mobility begins to break down. As an experiment last week, I asked my eight-year-old super-athlete of a nephew to squat and pick up a shoe box for me. His squat was flawless, but his lumbar spine was curled when he picked up the box.

I was surprised by this. I know it’s just one kid, but let’s just say for arguments sake that this is the norm: kid’s movement begins to break down at the age of eight. Then what will their movement look like at 18, 30, or 45? Not good.

I mean, I didn’t stare at a computer or phone all day when I was a kid. I learned how to type on typewriter for crying out loud. I was highly active and played sports and games outside all the time. Yet, because I didn’t properly care for myself as a youth, my adult life has been plagued by poor mobility in the most crucial areas for functional movement.

The thought of this is disturbing. I picture a population of Quasimodo-like hunchbacks snap chatting and roasting each other (ask a high schooler about the app) on their phones who can’t perform fundamental movements.

Not all hope is lost though. This scary future is preventable, and some damage is reversible. It will take good old fashioned hard work, but this makes the victory even sweeter. I stress to my young athletes that mobilizing now is crucial, and I give them mobility work to do on their own.

Here are some ideas you can use yourself or share with the kids in your life:

Get up every 20 minutes and move.
Hold your phone or tablet at eye level with a neutral neck position.
Use a standup desk for at least part of your day.
Sit in the bottom of your squat for a few minutes every day.
When moving, be aware of whether or not you are using your core for its sole purpose: to support your spine.
Be physically active, move often.

Movement dysfunction is a snowballing SOB. Stop it before it’s too late.

 

 

 

It’s Not Too Late; Accept My Mobility Challenge

Blog couch
One of our high school athletes asked me what I regret most in life. I know he was trying to get me to slip up and give him some dirt, but I’m no fool; I thought I was slick when I was that age, too. What I told him is definitely true, even though it wasn’t what he was fishing for.

I explained to the young man that I regretted not stretching or recovering properly during the couple decades that I played contact sports and beat my body up regularly. When I was his age, I knew what stretching was but had no concept of mobilizing. Even if I had known, I wouldn’t have done it because I was stubborn, and refused to stretch. What a dummy!

There is no doubt this is why at 36 I can barely touch my toes and can’t get my biceps to cover my ears, which prevents me from kipping and reaching my potential on the overhead lifts. I cautioned my young athletes not to be lazy and pigheaded like I was because it would catch up with them down the road.

Since I was already in full old man, ‘learn from my mistakes, sonny,’ mode, I dropped some knowledge on them. I showed them the couch stretch, a few banded shoulder stretches, a couple exercises with a lacrosse ball to grind out crunchy soft tissue, and how to roll out their legs with a barbell. On a side note, the pubescent voice cracking that fills the room when a group of ninth graders roll barbells on one another’s calves will shatter glass.

After teaching them basic mobility exercises, I gave them the couch stretch as a homework assignment. They agreed to do it every day for a month, for no less than 4 minutes per leg. A month might be pushing it with these kids; they’re 14, and they have the attention span of goldfish, but I am definitely the pot calling the kettle black here so I can’t get mad at them.

Truth is, I don’t care if they do the couch stretch one night and pick a different stretch the next day. I just want them to mobilize.

We could all benefit from a homework assignment like this. But instead of one exercise, I challenge you to choose three mobility exercises that target your weak areas. Commit to doing them every day (no more than 2 minutes per exercise before a workout; longer after hitting the gym) and reassess in a month. If you get bored, choose three new exercises. If you need to be held accountable, get at your coach.

It’s not too late. Every bit of mobility work helps. If you stick with it, you will slowly begin seeing progress, which will set you up for success down the road.

Here’s what I’m doing: super hip floss for squats and pistols; 5-way banded shoulder MOB; thoracic spine/shoulder work. Hold me to account.