I don’t usually do a “5 for Friday” shoutout, but this week has been full of so many interesting, fun, amazing things that I though I should. Then, I realized I had excessively more than 5 things to share – so, you’re getting “15 for Friday!” I’m talking about everything from amazing eco-wellness products from Shiftcon, the lotions I put on my face, a really cool app-based, customized meal delivery service, my latest ambassadorships, the 3M Half Marathon, mystery excitement news, and more! You have to read on to find out all the deets!
Last year I discovered Tommie Copper, a fabulous fitness wear brand for all my active endeavors like running, CrossFit, yoga and jumping around on the trampoline like a fool. Tommie Copper was founded in 2010 as a natural solution for reaching peak performance by speeding along muscle and joint recovery through compression. Whoohoo, I love me some compression! The unique hook of Tommie Cooper is that their compression and active fit (not so tight) lines of performance apparel are fashioned from fabric infused with high density activated copper. Not only does the proprietary copper fabric serve as an anti-bacterial agent, it also releases ions which may help reduce harmful oxidants in the body.
Recently they sent me an outfit to wear for one of my WODs in the CrossFit Games Open. It was so cute that I naturally had to wear it on the first workout, WOD 15.1. This workout was a 9-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 15 toes-to-bar, 10 deadlifts and 5 snatches. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of strategy, but the quick story is I decided to do the “scaled” workout because this skinny chick could not handle the prescribed 75lb snatches. If I couldn’t even do one, it meant I’d have to stand there and watch the clock run – it happened to me in one of the workouts last year. So, instead I strategically decided to do the scaled version with slightly lighter weight and go for max reps – and I did get a lot!
I was so happy to have the Performance Compression Fold-Over Shorts on to give me some extra support around my core and keep the lactic acid rushing in as a knocked out 74 deadlifts and 35 clean and jerks in that 9 minutes (not to mention the bar work). They were so comfortable, no rubbing on the ergonomic seams at all and the super wide waist band folds over as low or as high as needed for extra compression. I stayed in them for a couple hours afterward for recovery! The Performance Active Fit Racer Back Tank is also a winner, I’ve worn this top before in white and it’s one of those light, quick-drying tops you don’t even notice you have on (that’s a good thing) and the pomegranate heather color is so pretty!
I’d love for one of you to try one of the products from the Tommie Copper line (they also have men’s stuff for the guys) and I’m giving away a $50 gift code. Please enter through the Rafflecopter app below.
This post and giveaway is sponsored by TommieCopper.com. However, they did not tell me what to say or how to say it; all opinions and comments are my own.
Yesterday while I was knocking out some burpees, my mind started to wander and I realized that I never gave an “official” update on my experience doing the CrossFit Games Open 2014. But, first let me give you the quick backstory. I’ve been a fairly competitive runner for a long time and my first real experience with CrossFit was back in January 2011, when my good friend Valerie Hunt, a running coach and owner of BVM CrossFit, drug my scrawny runner’s rear up to California to a CrossFit Endurance (CFE) camp being put on by Brain McKenzie.
Brian’s CFE program follows the CrossFit model while adding precise training protocols for endurance. It is fair to say I was skeptical of the claims that weaving CrossFit into my fitness routine would make me a better runner. It is also fair to say that despite my high level of cardiovascular fitness, I was pretty darn out of shape. I could only do one pull-up and after running a marathon, the sorest part of my body would be my lower abs and back as I had the core strength of a flea.
I took what I learned from camp and with Valerie’s encouragement and advice turned my wimpy self into a much all-around fitter person, if I dare say so myself! The one measly pull-up turned into 25 unbroken “kipping” style pull-ups and I overcame (most) of my fear of Olympic style lifting – all this “old dog trying new tricks” translated into some great Master’s running PRs. Despite all the improvements, I do need to get over my tendency to just do the parts of a WOD that I like – which tends to be the body weight and endurance stuff. My weaknesses became readily apparent when obligated to perform the CrossFit Games Open 2014 workouts exactly as prescribed – for it to count, there could be no scaling back the weights, substituting or skipping over a move!
14.1 WOD Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes of jump rope double-unders (30 reps) and 55-lb. power snatches (15 reps). Started off the whole Open with a skill I have never done (why jump rope when you can run had been my mindset)! I felt like an uncoordinated kid, but wasn’t going to let it all start and end with first hop. I reminded myself that you have to believe you can do something to actually do it, so I kept my confidence up and at one point actually strung along about 7 rotations.
14.2 WOD Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete: From 0:00-3:00 2 rounds of 10 overhead squats and 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups; from 3:00-6:00 2 rounds of 12 overhead squats and 12 chest-to-bar pull-ups; from 6:00-9:00 2 rounds of 14 overhead squats and 14 chest-to-bar pull-ups. I was SO looking forward to doing the chest-to-bar pull ups; this is one of my stronger skills. The only thing standing in my way was the overhead squats with a 65 lb. bar. Overhead squats are one of the lifting moves that I had always ignored; rationalizing this un-love with the excuse my tight runner’s hips don’t work like that. I practiced all weekend and was having trouble even finishing one with an un-weighted ladies’ 35 lb bar. Well, by some miracle, I made it through the 10 reps (not pretty) and was able to knock out the chest-to-bar pull-ups with ease. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get one more squat with quite a bit of time remaining on the clock, so no more pull-ups for me. Sniff.
14.3 WOD Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of: 95-lb. deadlifts (10 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 135-lb. deadlifts (15 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 155-lb. deadlifts (20 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 185-lb. deadlifts (25 reps) and 15 20” box jumps through 205-lb and 225-lb deadlifts same pattern. So this is one of the WODs I was most proud of because I always scale back my deadlifts “to save my legs for running.” So, knowing that I had only lifted 135-lbs for a few reps here and there, I totally surprised myself to get all the way through the 20 reps of 155-lbs! I had about 35 seconds left to go for some 185-lbs, but decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of injury considering I had just run a half marathon the day before!
14.4 WOD Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of: 60-calorie row, 50 toes-to-bars, 40 wall-ball shots, 20 lb. to 10-foot target, 30 cleans with 135 lb. 20 muscle-ups. The rowing was totally tolerable, especially when reflecting on the time I thought it would be a good idea to row 13.1 miles at one sitting. I had raced a 5k the day before and my glutes were screaming during the wall-ball shots – I never made it to the muscle ups, but definitely some day!
14.5 WOD 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of 65-lb. thrusters and burpees. No surprise to me that the easiest workout for my athletic abilities and also ranked me the highest on the leaderboard – despite having run the Dallas Half Marathon and winning my age division the morning before!
What I learned:
1) Always start a WOD with an “I can do this” attitude. When I start to self-doubt, I’m not focused on the task at hand, only failure. Case in point, the double-unders and the overhead squats — decided I “could” do them, and I did!
2) Road racing and the Open mixed better than I thought. I really wanted to do the CrossFit Open, but also had two half-marathons and a 5k scheduled on three of the five Sundays during the Open – I went for it ALL anyway! With the WODs being announced on late Thursday night, my hand was forced to compete on Mondays, the last day scores would be accepted. This meant no significant practice prior and often competing with delayed onset muscle fatigue.However, recovering proper after my races with a lot of quality protein (BEEF) helped significantly as did a lot of warming up before the start timer went off.
3) Pay more attention to my weaknesses and actually put in the work to improve them. In CrossFit you have to be ready for anything at any time – constantly varied, functional fitness and all that! Until they come up with a “Jennifer WOD,” doing only what I “like” isn’t going to make me very adaptable or competitive.
4) I didn’t get bulk up like a beast and lose my streamlined runner’s shape doing Crossfit. Many women have the misconception that this type of exercise is going to make them huge and man-like. Your body is genetically programmed to have a certain shape, more or less. So, unless you are from Amazonian stock, you are just going to look like a fitter, leaner, slightly more muscle-y version of normal yourself.
5) Winning isn’t everything. In running, I compete to win overall, master’s or AG depending on the race. If I don’t, I can be very hard on myself However, the CrossFit Open reminded me that showing up and getting it done is something to be proud of. I put in a lot of work, even though I didn’t get any sort of golden ticket. So, how DID I do 0 that IS the burning question, right? Well, according to the online results, worldwide I ranked 1078 and in the South East region I ranked 70th, I’m assuming this is my age group or the entire Master’s division; I’m having trouble interpreting the leaderboard. I think there were around 125,000+ competitors in the whole event, so I’m actually quite happy and surprised. I felt like I would be at the bottom when I compare myself to the strength and talents of many others I know.
And, now onto the refueling smoothie of the day! It sounds sort of strange, but tomatoes and strawberries make a really interesting, yummy combo for a fruit smoothie! I mean, a tomato is a fruit — right?! Check out my recipe for a Strawberry Tomato Smoothie.
Blend 10 ounces almond milk with 6 frozen grape tomatoes, 6 frozen strawberries and Stevia to taste. Add ice to achieve desired consistency, if needed. Top with chia seeds.
Even though I’ve shared my recipe for Thai Chicken Noodles in the past, it may be new to you! Spicy and super-speedy to make, this globally-inspired recipe is one of my husband’s favorite meals! He always eats his heaping plateful with chopsticks for the “full immersion” experience. I’m not quite as dexterous so I just scarf it down with a fork – that way I’ll be the first back to the stovetop for seconds. I’m competitive like that! What a fun surprise when a friend Facebooked me to say this healthy recipe was featured in the current issue of Taste of Home magazine.
Really, it’s quite a nutritious meal, made with ground white meat chicken breast and whole grain noodles. The veggies include sliced red bell peppers and julienned carrots (hmm, the original also includes red onion) – I like to buy the carrots already “matchstick” cut to save time. Oh, and there’s Sriracha sauce, natch — I’ve been using this now oh-so trendy red chile sauce (aka, what my kids call Thai ketchup) for years.
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 4 tsp. Sriracha Asian hot chili sauce
- ¼ cup dried red pepper flakes
- 12 ounces uncooked multigrain spaghetti noodles
- 1 lb lean ground chicken breast
- 1 ½ cups julienned carrots
- 1 medium sweet red pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup chopped unsalted peanuts
- 4 green onions, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk the first six ingredients until blended. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook chicken, carrots, pepper and garlic over medium heat 6 – 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, breaking up chicken into crumbles; drain.
Stir in peanut butter mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 3 -5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve with spaghetti. Top with peanuts and green onions. Serves 6.
Now, here’s where the crazy “try something new” comes in – I signed up for the 2014 CrossFit Games Open . For the last three years, I’ve been doing a little CrossFit here and there (BVM CrossFit), to make me stronger as a runner, not exactly to be a more competitive in the sport of CrossFit. CrossFit is “functional fitness,” after all, and my function in life is to run – run races, run errands, run myself ragged!
I have dramatically improved my strength, especially my core and upper body. My back no longer hurts when I run a marathon. I’ve challenged myself in ways I never thought I would, and probably no one would believe it to be true of little ole me unless they saw it with their own eyes (hello rope climbing, pull up marathons and sled pulling) But, as for the legs, they are sort of scrawny and built for distance more than deadlifts. Workouts (err, make that WODS) with lots of Squats, Thrusters and other heavy lifting that demand hefty lower body strength have been a literal pain in the rear for me. What I have in endurance and bodyweight skills, I lack in strength. That doesn’t keep me from trying, but it does keep me from moving for a few days sometimes!
Now, don’t get excited — you’re NOT going to see me on TV in the CF Games, not even in the Master’s Division. The Open is just for anyone
crazy motivated enough to take on the workouts; the top scorers move on to regional’s and then those winners advance to the much hoopla-d finals. I am just hoping to push my limits and see how the dust settles out around after the 5 Open workouts that start later in February. To be able to finish the workouts as Rx’d would be a win for me! According to the infographic above, just being average will be quite an achievement, forget about those top three beasts . . . . . I’m in a lot of trouble here people! At least there is a week to recover between workouts! Keep you posted.
So, is anyone else out there crazy enough to have signed up for the CrossFit Games Open? How’d it go?
Am I going to the CrossFit Games in 2013? Uh, no. But, just because I’m not going to compete to be the “fittest woman on earth,” doesn’t mean I can’t follow along with some of the workouts being dished out in the Open Competition which started last week. In fact, when I scale the weight-lifting elements down a bit, these WODs become a useful cross-training tool in my quest to become the “fastest woman on earth,” or maybe we should make that, “the speediest old lady in the neighborhood.”
So, I headed down to Fit & Fearless CrossFit to give WOD 13.2 an “unofficial” shot. This classic CrossFit triplet features shoulder to overhead, deadlifts and box jumps. Because the weights and time cap are moderate, this workout is focuses more on pure work capacity and pushing through the discomfort rather than raw strength or technical prowess. That being said, I still decided to cut the weight by more than one-half so I would not kill myself and have fresh enough legs to race a 5k this weekend! I scored 290 with my weight Rx’d down, compare that to Iceland Annie who scored a legit 361! Okay, I can run faster than her. Maybe.
Here’s the 13.2 WOD:
Complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes (first weight male, second female):
- 5 Shoulder to overhead, 115 / 75 lbs
- 10 Deadlift, 115 / 75 lbs
- 15 Box jump, 24 / 20 inch
So, if you’re looking for a little more information on how to perfect these moves, just get started, or tweak them to meet your fitness goals, here are some resources:
The deadlift builds strength in your legs, hips and back, perfect muscles to target for runners! An intermediate goal for women is to be able to lift 120 percent of body weight, that’s about my limit. However, some of these competitive CrossFit gals, can lift 160 to 200 percent bodyweight! In the video above, CrossFit coach Valerie shows a modified Band Resistance Dead Lifts for beginners. Or, you can check out an earlier post I did on Dead Lifts that even has a really cool diagram of all the muscled used in the move.
The box jump is an explosive move of plyometric power. If done right, box jumps can improve your running power by strengthening quads, hamstrings, gluts and calves. If done wrong, well, see my bleeding knees below! Carl Paoli (from GymnasticsWOD.com) and Kelley Starrett (from MobilityWOD.com) give their tips on how to tackle a box jump with the best body position possible. Check out their helpful tips on perfecting the box jump. The key take-away for me is to remember to fully extend the hips at the top of the box and then land with feet fairy close together to prevent a “torque dump.”
Technically, a shoulder-to-overhead could be one of three overhead lifts, the strict press, the push press or the jerk press. Even though it seems like you only need strong shoulders to succeed here, you actually use your entire body, including a lot of core, to get the bar up overhead in a fully-extended position. And, I could go on all day about how improving my core strength has helped my performance (and recovery) in running. The Tabata Times has a good explanation of these shoulder-to-overhead lifts and how to perform them properly.
So, have you done the 13.2 WOD yet? What was your score? If not, do you use any of these moves (deadlift, press, or box jump) in your training? Let me know in the comments ! Hint — get to the comments by clicking the little “speech bubble’ at top of post.