Food Find, Friday February 27th

About two years or so ago, they opened up a 7-11 in NYC. It's on 42nd Street, across from the Port Authority (north side of the street). I didn't grow up with a 7-11, so aside from the occasional commercials I'd see on TV, all I really knew about them can be summed up in one single word. Slurpee.

My interest was piqued in the summer of 2007 when the 7-11 magically transformed into the Kwicki-Mart from The Simpsons. Sadly, I waited too long to check out the line of Simpsons' Products and never did get to buy myself a Squishee, Krusty-Os and some Buzz Cola.

Fast forward to 2009 (when with that get easier?) - I walk past the 7-11 virtually every day, generally stopping in post-workout for a cup of coffee on my way back to the office. My training partner and I go in, pour some java and always peruse the long shelves of food-in-bar-form, lamenting the ickiness and lack of anything remotely appealing (much less healthful).

As we went to pay for our coffee one day last week, we sauntered towards the counter. We were passing by the refrigerated display of sandwiches, salads, fruit and the ever popular yogurt parfaits when something caught our eye - eggs. EGGS.

Two hard boiled eggs in moulded plastic carton, packages of salt and pepper included.

I heard church bells ring. And then realized that it was noon and we were next to a church. But wait, I digress.

For all you Paleo or Zone folks who don't live in a city inundated with bodegas and delis, head over to the 7-11 and channel your modern hunter/gather. Just don't ask me how many blocks in a Slurpee :)

Putting the Cart before the Horse

Some Crossfitters operate on the assumption that the people who come to Crossfit have some athletic background to begin with. For the most part, that seems to be true. While we're not all accomplished athletes like Gillian Mounsey or Eva T, most seem to be pretty familiar with the gym. Many have become bored with standard workouts and are looking for something new, exciting and challenging.

But there are people out there for whom CrossFit, even scaled, is too overwhelming to attempt. Some of the most basic components, like running, are beyond their capabilities. We can fix that.

Maybe it's the runner bias in me coming to the forefront, but I believe that CrossFit is doing beginners a disservice by not stressing adequate preparation for the run portions of WODs. A person who doesn't run can not begin by running fast intervals. An average person without a solid running background shouldn't attempt a 5K or a 10K. You really can't muscle you way through it. Doing any intensive running effort without proper preparation is just begging for trouble.

We want our clients to be able to CrossFit forever. To this end, we need to prevent injury, burnout and the distaste for running that comes from too much too soon.

A program like the Couch to 5K program can get a beginner from 0 to 3.1 miles in roughly 9 weeks. Successfully. It involves running 3x per week, and utilizes intervals of running and walking to gradually build your endurance and confidence in running. The workouts can easily fit into a CrossFit regime, and will better equip the athlete to really hit the WODs with more strength and speed later on.

I know that this isn't a popular concept within the CF realm, but I feel that athletes should be able to comfortably complete at minimum a 5k run (ideally a 10k) with ease before attempting intense interval runs like those found in CF WODs. This allows an athlete a point of reference in regards to effort, and enables them to really work rather than struggle with both the distance and the intensity.

You can prescribe the C25K program to your athletes and have them work it outside of their training with you - there is abundant information about it online, as well as free downloadable podcasts with the interval cues built in.

Everyone can run - but if you want to run fast you first need to slow down.

Humble Pie

Last week, I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who happens to be an incredibly strong CrossFit athlete. She commented that "the frustrating and fun thing about CrossFit is that there is always SO much that needs improving". That's why I love her (and CrossFit). It takes a special kind of person to find enjoyment out of always having to master something new. Some people may consider it masochistic. I prefer to think of it as enjoyable :)

Amusement aside, what she said is (to me) the heart of CrossFit. It never gets easier. Ever. Once you master a movement, you are then compelled to do it faster. Lift heavier. Throw a twist into it to push yourself just that little bit further.

It's that same never ending drive that attracts me to endurance running. Once I was able to run 5K, I had to tackle 5 miles. Then a 10K. A half marathon. The marathon. A 50k. Soooner (rather than later) a 50 mile and 100 mile race. Get faster, run further.

Not everyone has that kind of drive (this is not a judgement, merely an observation). Sometimes, I wish I could be content with where I am, athletically. But I'm not. And that's one of the reasons I'm drawn to both CrossFit and running. Because there's always something that I can improve on. Always. I don't think the day will ever come when I can step back, look upon my abilities and be totally content.

As a character flaw, it's a pretty good one to have in terms of growing with CrossFit. The great thing about CrossFit as an exercise methodology is that it's infinitely scalable. Most of us tend to think of that in only one direction - simplification. But the real beauty is that every single Main Site WOD can be scaled in such a way so that it's challenging to even the most accomplished athlete. That, in my humble opinion, is what makes CrossFit so popular.

CrossFit never gets any easier. Can it get more beautiful than that?


Warming up. It's OK, you can admit it - you don't do it, do you? Sure, you may do the standard CF "warm up". But let's face it, is that an adequate warm up for every single WOD?

I'm a singer. As such, I am supposed (need) to warm up before singing. It took me years to realize that the function of my vocal warm up wasn't just to warm up my vocal chords and shake the cobwebs out, but rather to pattern the correct muscular involvement so that when it came to singing my music I would sing correctly.

The same is true when approaching any athletic movement. There is a reason we pattern the movement with light weights before approaching any max load efforts - just like with singing, we are working with the neurological cues as well as getting blood flow to the muscles. But I believe we need to begin that work even earlier, and shape our warm-ups in such a way that those muscles are automatically recruited when the WOD comes into play.

Regrettably, I'm not knowledgeable enough to design such warm ups on my own. As such, I plan to plan to reach out to the CrossFit and athletic community in the coming months in an attempt to compile a collection of varied and functional* warm ups for us all to stockpile. If you're anything like me, you are neglecting the warm-up. Let's remedy that.

How about you? How do you warm up before training?

*LOL, did you catch how I threw "varied and functional" in there? Tee hee. I'm good.

Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers

Today, I'm wearing lipstick. Full on, opaque lipstick. Not gloss, not Chapstick, not lip stain - Lipstick.

I don't have an audition. Not seeing any clients. Just wearing lipstick.

Now you may be wondering if (and why) that's a big deal. Truth be told, it probably isn't particularly newsworthy :) But considering that I am generally a wash and wear kinda girl - it's way out of the norm for me. I think my objection to makeup is a cross between being lazy, and some sort of spiteful reaction to being a conformist. Why should I have to wear makeup to be beautiful, right? Eh, I'm sure it has more to do with the lazy factor (and my close relationship with the snooze button).

OK - I hear you - get to the point!

Yesterday morning I was running late getting myself out of the door. I showered, threw on my gym clothes, wrapped my head in a bandana and walked out the door. I was clean, had brushed my teeth, was heading to the gym - all keeping in line with "scrubbing behind my ears".

But I still felt icky. I was cranky. Really, really cranky.

As I glimpsed my reflection in the mirror at the gym, I realized it was because I just didn't like how I looked. Not in a body image sort of way, or because I didn't like my gym outfit. But because I hadn't taken any time for myself that morning. I rushed through my morning, did the bare minimum of prep (cleanse and clothes) and just bolted.

So I'm wearing lipstick. This morning I woke up, showered, dressed and put the face on. I'm still a less-is-more woman, so there really isn't much of a difference between my naked face and my made-up visage. But I'm dressed now, head to toe.

And I really do feel better.

Please don't misunderstand me - I am in no way suggesting that all women should feel compelled to get painted up every time they leave the house. No need to invest in long wearing makeup that can take the heat of a killer WOD. Frankly, that's just a waste of money and makeup ('cause nothing can withstand a WOD like Eva).

What I am proposing is this; if you find yourself feeling off kilter, icky, cranky or just plain down and out for no real, tangible reason - explore your little morning rituals. Shake it up. If you're a sneaker girl, throw on a pair of boots. Granny panties? Go wild and try some hi-cut briefs. Jeans and a T? Throw on a cropped zipper hoodie, or a casual blazer.

Or if you're a Chapstick girl - go wild and paint your lips.

Channel the inner's OK. You're still bad ass.

Horton Hears a Who

Who are you?

Yesterday, as I finished the CrossFit main site WOD portion of my training, I was approached by a fellow gym go-er. He commented on the ease with which I was doing my pull-ups, how I was banging them out as though they were nothing. Sheepishly, I admitted that the last few rounds were done with some assistance (1/2 inch Superband). Unfazed, he pointed out that I was still far stronger than most of the men in the gym who can barely eek them out on the Gravitron. I said thank you.

"Are you a body builder?" he asked.

When I said no, he waited for me to elaborate.

"Because you're in pretty (or did he say good?) shape"...and then he waited.

I just smiled and said thank you....I had absolutely no idea how to respond. What am I?

The day before, another gym go-er (very old school incredibly muscled man) asked us if were were Powerlifters (I had been bench pressing, she'd been doing front squats). My training partner responded "No, CrossFitters". He asked if she competed (she does) and then he asked me. Again, I kinda froze....I said that I didn't currently compete, but that I was working towards it.

What exactly am I?

A year ago, I would have answered: "I run". I wasn't fast, I wasn't particularly good at it, but I ran. A lot. But now?

I am a girl who goes to the gym 4-6x a week and does stuff. Something different every day. I lift weights, I play around with rings, try to do handstands, run, jumprope, shovel with a barbell, jump on name it, I do it.

The only constant in my training is me.

I'm not a power or olympic lifter. I'm not a body builder. I'm not a gymnast, a runner, a biker or a swimmer.

I am Staci, and I'm training to be the best Staci there is.

Who are you?

Incoming Inventory

I love FedEx. Yesterday the FedEx man brought me lovely presents:
  • Another AbMat for my Gym
  • A 14# Dynamax Medicine Ball for my Gym
  • Barbell Clamps for my Gym
  • Push-up Bars, 2 sets - one for my home and one for my Gym
We have now stocked our Gym with:
  • Bumper Plates
  • Two sets of Barbell Clamps
  • One Olympic Barbell
  • One Women's Olympic Barbell
  • Two AbMats
  • One 14# Dynamax Medicine Ball
  • One 20# Dynamax Medicine Ball
  • One set of Gymnastics Rings
We will soon be adding:
  • One set of Squat Stands
  • An additional Women's Olympic Barbell
  • Possibly another set of Bumper Plates, or a portion thereof
And, fingers crossed:
  • One (if not two) Concept 2 Rowers
Our Gym is VERY good to us, because we are good to them. We don't disrupt the rest of the gym goers. Our gear is there for anyone to use, provided we don't need it. We don't poach on their specialty training programs.

We show up day after day with smiles on our faces and train hard.

It's good to be home.

Tuesday's Tip - February 17th

"Annoy a Liberal. Work hard and die happy." - unknown.
I'm sorry, I just had to. Saw this on a bumper sticker the other day during my morning commute....anything that makes me giggle pre-copious amounts of coffee is a winner in my book.

2009 Trek Women's Triathalon Series

I want to do a triathlon. I'm crazy, I know. I can barely fit in enough mileage to call myself a runner, and here I am lusting after two new skills that I'll have to master.

1/2 Mi. Swim | 12 Mi. Bike | 3.1 Mi. Run

June 21st, 2009 in the NY Metro Area (somewhere on Long Island). That's all the information I've got so far. But it fits into my schedule, doesn't involve travel AND is incredibly affordable to enter at $75 for an individual ($145 for a relay team). All I need to do is find affordable (used) equipment suitable for a beginner.

And time.

Stay tuned for more nuttiness, as I figure out just how to add triathlete to my bag o' tricks :)

Practice makes Perfect

I am a perfectionist. I am also a procrastinator (something of an "if I can't do it perfectly now than I'm not going to do it at all" kinda thing). The end result of these two traits is that I am very often dissatisfied - generally with myself, as opposed to the task at hand.

Lately, this has crossed over into my training. Case in point - on Tuesday I PRd my deadlift, pulling 240#. At first, I was jubilant. Bitchin'! I kick butt! High Fives were traded with my training partner.

And then I watched the video.


Watching a video of a PR is often like seeing a photo of yourself in your favorite outfit - some things are better left in the happy place. Especially if you're a nutcase like me.

The first time I watched the video, I thought to myself "OK, form definitely suffered with the heavier lift - I'll really have to work harder to set my back better next time". The second time I thought to myself "Man, that is not a pretty deadlift". The third time " Eh, my previous PR lift of 225# was uglier than this, so that has got to count for something". The fourth time "Ew".

Eventually, I watched the video and decided that I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I opted not to post the video in my training log, and set it to private on my YouTube channel.

Does the fact that it was not a perfect DL negate the PR? Or do I accept the imperfection, and glory in the sheer brute strength (give me my happy place here) that I exhibited in lifting it at all? It was not pretty, it was not perfect, but it also was not dangerous. And regardless, I was unable to lift 240# in any way, shape or form 2 months ago. But does it count?

The question I put to you is Where do we draw the line? At what point does simply doing it no longer cut it? If your squat is parallel but not below parallel, does it count? If the new CrossFit standard is chest to bar, does that mean the chin over bar is no longer valid? Are these nuances the difference between an elite athlete and a casual one? Or just the makings of neurosis?

For me, I think it all comes down to what I ask of and expect from myself. There is a first time for everything, and I will bask in the glow of accomplishing something that was previously impossible. But once mastered, it must be perfected. If not, what's the point?

Walking the Plank

Always adhere to training schedule while on vacation?

Always. My schedule doesn't change, just my location.
2 (20%)
Never. A vacation is just that, a vacation.
1 (10%)
Sometimes, if there's time or a convenient location.
4 (40%)
I mean to, but rarely (if ever) get to it, and always feel guilty later.
3 (30%)

I want to know who the two of you are that said "Always". You're either lying, delusional, or go on really sucky vacations:)

It's no surprise to anyone that I generally fall into the "I mean to, but rarely (if ever) get to it, and always feel guilty later" category. But this past weekend was different. No, not because I actually pulled out my running gear and went for those runs my friend promised me. But rather because I did NOT run and I was OK with that. Really.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not going to give him guilt for making me cram my running stuff into my carry-on bags and schlep them all the way from NY....after all, he promised ;)

You just can't trust a Pirate.......

First Comes Love then Comes Marriage....

Imagine, if you will: two young women (ahem) meeting daily at the gym. While there, they train (a.k.a. "work out") together.

Now, perhaps I'm missing the big red flag, but what about that scenario screams "romantically involved"?

Apparently, there are a few people at our gym who seem to think that my training partner and I are a couple. Really. Now, as far as I can recall we've given people no reason to come to that conclusion. No mud wrestling, no P.D.A. Just a lot of hard work and sweat. In fact, I have had many "gym dates" over the years and never once was pegged as a couple.

So I can only assume that it's the lifting. Since we're not gym bunnies or cardio queens - but instead pretty bad ass (if I do say so myself) chicks throwing around substantial weight (shh, let me have my happy place) I wonder if that is the jumping point from "girls who train hard" to "girls who must be gay".

Eh, whatever. The end result is the same - nobody bugs us :)

Poll Position

I'm off to Tampa this afternoon for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. Came in to work a half day (i.e. to hit today's WOD before I leave), heading out this afternoon for the airport and back again Monday afternoon.

Many of you know that I struggle with training while on vacation. I always mean to do it, schelp all my running gear, my burpee challenge spreadsheet, my tabata timer...but never manage to eek out more than one or two workouts. Such is my lot in life.

This time around, I had absolutely NO intentions of training while away. None at all. But Mr. Diva offhandedly remarked the other evening "I'm surprised you're not going to try to run while we're inTampa. It'll be in the 70's". O. M. G. I actually almost had him repeat it, so I could record him suggesting that I go for a run. Needless to say, my running gear is packed and one of the friends that we're off to visit has agreed to go for a short run while I'm there!

So, I leave you with the poll you find above. What's your stance on training while on vacation? Hell yeah, no f'ing way, perhaps? Enquiring minds want to know!

100 Reasons I Run, #98

  • Because it's so much more fun to run up Cat Hill when the road is snowy and unplowed! But only if you're with Maria.

Heavy Metal Crossfit

This past weekend, I went to see Metallica in concert. From my vantage point in section 226, row 3, seat 20 I was able to look down upon some of the most entertaining chaos I have ever seen :) And virtually none of it was on the stage! It was all out on the floor, amongst the crowd that pressed up against the security barrier.

At least 5 times I saw (who I dubbed) Mr. Stretcher man come out from "backstage" and make his way through the throng of people with and empty stretcher and come back with a full one. OK, fine, my idea of entertaining might be a bit sick ;)

I witnessed multiple body surfing sessions, one of which resulted in the body in question being wrenched from the crowd by the security personnel and carried hand and foot out of the concert.

And of course, there were mosh pits galore! Here a mosh pit, there a mosh pit, everywhere a mosh pit!

As I looked down upon the gleeful carnage, I realized that in some ways, CrossFit is the Heavy Metal of the Fitness world...
We are often loud, occasionally vulgar, always sweaty, and - let's face it - from the outside we're just not that easy to understand.
Rock on!

Tuesday's Tip - February 3rd

"Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent." - Epictetus (55 AD - 135AD)

Get that PVC Ready...

I've done quite a few solo workouts recently. Putting my money where my mouth is, I made the time and effort to hit the gym regardless of whether or not my partner in crime was able to join me. In doing so, I realized something immense.

My training partner validates me.

Obviously, I'm talking about a sense of validation that exists purely in my head. I already know that I'm neurotic, with a whole host of silly issues (I have a friend who is readying the PVC pipe right now to give me a solid beating). But until this week, I didn't realize how much I rely on my training partner's company to make me feel strong.

Of course, it's possible that it's simply a girl thing. Maybe it's just that I have a hang up spending time in a portion of the gym that is predominantly male? I'm not really sure. But I do know that when I was in the back, doing the main site thruster WOD and the accessory work - I just felt stupid. I felt like people were walking by, wondering why this short little girl was playing with the big boy toys. Or, even worse, assuming that I didn't know what I was doing.

When my partner in crime is with me, that stuff never crosses my mind. In fact, when we're training together - that gym is ours. Seriously. It's amazing and absolutely fabulous. Just thinking about it makes me smile :) Of course, it helps that my training partner resembles Wonder Woman and is the strongest woman you'll ever meet. Nobody is going to mess with us. You touch our bumpers, we're going to know about it (OK, David at the front desk will tell us. We're not omnipotent. Yet.). What it comes down to is that she's an incredibly strong woman, and it is obvious watching her train that she knows what she's doing and she means business. And in reflection, it seems (to me) as though there is a bubble of competence that surrounds her when we're training and widens outward to engulf me in it as well.

It's difficult living in my imaginary world.

So, the question arises: at what point do I realize that I am perfectly competent on my own? That I have a right to lift a big 'ole barbell by my little 'ole lonesome? Will I wake up one day, miraculously cured of this random self doubt? Will it be the day I can perform Fran as rx'd in under 5 minutes? Or maybe the day I can pull a 2x bodyweight deadlift? Maybe just confronting the ridiculousness of the feeling will banish it from my consciousness.

Regardless of our relative strength or visual "buffness", we should never feel out of place with a barbell in our grip. Especially when we're alone. By walking towards that squat stand or piling on those bumpers, we have all done something incredibly strong, powerful and empowering.

Set that hook grip up and drop under that bar. Let's show them all how it's done.