Archive for March, 2010

My Taper Plan

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 24 2010

I’m competing in the WV/VA/DC Crossfit Games Sectionals this weekend and am going to be tapering my training for the next few days.

Now if you ask anyone that’s seen me train since last years Qualifier, they’d tell you that it looked like I was tapering for about the last 360 days or so.

Aaron had a good post on this last year with some easy to follow rules, I recommend you check that out.

Joe Friel has some really good thoughts that apply equally well to Crossfitters as Endurance Athletes. The idea that fitness and fatigue are tightly correlated, and need to be for maximum fitness, gives us a good theoretical construct to wrap our heads around. His ideas on the “why” of peak performance are also worth checking out.

Here’s my game plan:

1) Movement. My last hard WOD was yesterday. The rest of the week, I’m going to be doing functional movements at a low intensity. The idea being I want movement to be therapeutic in the short term rather than damaging.

This will be a mix of Oly lifts at a very light weight, tougher gymnastic movements in reps/sets that are totally manageable, and running/rowing/double under drills.

2) Diet. I’ll continue to take in slightly more starchy carbohydrate than usual (which will still put me at less than 100g net effective carb per day).

3) Sleep. Will try to max this out – 9 hours per night with 4 ZMA pills to make sure it is deep and restive.

4) Mobility. Biggest thing here is be realistic about what I can get done. It’s tax season right now, we’re rolling out new classes and instituting new SOPs – so lots to do and little time to do it. Will try to take a break every two hours or so and stretch something and rollout. Just want to keep doing a little bit regularly.


Last year at Regionals I ended up 36th out of about 100 athletes that competed. At the Hopper Challenge in October I ended up 17th out of about 50.

This year my goals are:

-Have fun, hang out with the athletes at PCF (who I don’t get to hang out with enough), catch up with other folks in the local CF Community, and meet new people. In short, hang out with some cool folks.
-Don’t injure myself. The shoulders/elbows are still touchy. I’m willing to push through pain in order to finish, but I don’t want to have to put both arms in a sling for two weeks after the competition.
-My METCON and strength are still pretty weak, but my coordination component is still above average. Hopefully I can make up a second here and there on higher skill movements to give me an edge. Realistically, if I can finish all the WODs I’ll be happy. Finishing in the top 50% would be a treat.

Need to learn this Muscle-Up stat

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 23 2010

This was just posted over at .com on the Rest Day. The Muscle Up looked effortless and much easier on the shoulders/elbows than the traditional movement. I need to work on this ASAP (i.e., before this weekend’s Crossfit Games Sectional).

How to Get Better at Running (or Pretty Much Anything)

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 22 2010


Nicole S. is one of my morning crew gals, and she has a bit of a goat: running.

For most athletes that are in their first year or so of Crossfit, “just do something” is usually a good guideline for working on goats. The same guidance holds true after our newbie period when it comes to recovery, but we’ve hammered that point once or twice in this blog.

Whatever our goat is though, we need to make it the priority while trying to not lose ground in Crossfit. This becomes more difficult as we progress as Crossfit Athletes because of the complexity and level of those skills – but it’s still doable.

I’ve found basic templates to be useful for this kind of thing because we can measure performance before and after, and we can measure compliance fairly easily.

Another thing to keep in mind (and here’s why having a coach is so important) is that you have to understand how your personality will implement whatever training plan we come up with.

If you are a really laid back athlete who is just doing this for fun (which is tots cool), then I have to be realistic about how much volume you are going to consistently do outside of the class structure.

If you are a Type-A athlete, then I have to reign you in because if I tell you I want you to Crossfit three days per week and run two, you’re going to Crossfit seven days a week and run seven days a week.

The Plan

Nicole falls into our latter category. She’s a determined athlete who wants to get better fast. So for her, our ideal template would be:

Day 1 – Run
Day 2 – Crossfit WOD
Day 3 – Rest
Day 4 – Run
Day 5 – Crossfit WOD
Day 6 – Crossfit WOD
Day 7 – Rest

But, we’re dealing in reality, and Nicole can’t get to the box on weekends. The ideal template has Run Days following Rest Days so we can maximize intensity and skill development on Run Days. But because of the issue with weekends, we have to pack all her Crossfit training into M-F.

Day 1 – Run
Day 2 – Crossfit WOD
Day 3 – Rest
Day 4 – Crossfit WOD
Day 5 – Crossfit WOD
Day 6 – Run
Day 7 – Rest

For her Run Days, we’re going start with test days to measure whether or not we’re actually making a difference. Measurable results test our model and also show the athlete that they are making progress.

So Day 1 is a test day and we need to record the times for:

15 Minute Dynamic Warmup
Run 800m
Rest 5 minutes
Run 400m
Rest 5 minutes
Run 100m
15 Minute PNF Stretching

Day 2 we push the distance a bit and get another benchmark time:

15 Minute Dynamic Warmup
Run 2400m
15 Minute PNF Stretching

All of these runs should be paced at a speed that will give us the best overall times.

For Weeks 2-8, we’ll just cycle through Intervals at varying distances/speeds. Week 9, we re-test our benchmarks.

Week 1
Day 1 – 4x200m, rest 2xRun Times (i.e., the 200m takes 0:45, rest for 1:30).
Day 2 – 3x800m, rest 1xRun Times.
Week 2
Day 1 – 7x100m, rest 3 minutes between sets.
Day 2 – 5x400m, rest 1xRun Times.
Week 3
Day 1 – 10x50m, rest 2 minutes between sets.
Day 2 – 3x800m, rest 1xRun Times
Week 4
Day 1 – Run 20 seconds on/10 seconds off until you’ve reached 1200m. Runs should be 95% all out.
Day 2 – 5x400m, rest 1xRun Times
Weeks 5-8 repeat 1-4.
Week 9
Day 1 – Run 800m; Rest 5 minutes; Run 400m; Rest 5 minutes; Run 100m
Day 2 – Run 2400m

Coordinating Instructions

1) Nicole needs to start a blog (preferably WordPress) so she can post her WODs/Times and keep track of everything.
2) If Nicole misses a Run WOD on a Run Day, she will make it up the next day and not Crossfit. Running is the goat and needs to be attacked head on and made the priority.
3) Hopefully, Nicole will update us via Comments on how she’s doing and give us a final report on her benchmark times.

The ball is now officially in Nicole’s court!

If anybody’s got questions, please post to comments.

More Taubes

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 20 2010

Quoted in “The (Political) Science of Salt” by Gary Taubes:

“Another thing I must point out is that you cannot prove a vague theory wrong. … Also, if the process of computing the consequences is indefinite, then with a little skill any experimental results can be made to look like the expected consequences.”

— Richard Feynman, 1964

Ain’t Nothing Like a Gangsta Party

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 19 2010

Wanted to make sure folks caught Coach Glassman’s description in the “Art of Training” of a successful coach running a class that’s “more like a birthday party than a physics lecture”.

My coaching style veers wildly between the two. Watching an athlete push pass their perceived limits is awesome, I’m high as a kite when that happens.

But sometimes that “feeds the beast” and class turns into “The Brian Show.” I know that happens, and it’s something that requires a balance.

The always insightful Doug Chapman actually just wrote a nice article about this: Cheerleading versus Coaching.

In the beginning, I ran WODs like a Physics Class. At that point I wasn’t trying to convince the athletes that I knew what I was talking about, so much as convincing myself.

So what’s the boiled down lesson?

1. Have fun, make it organic.
2. If you asked your athlete at the end of a class “What did you learn?”, make sure they’d be able to give a good answer.

Goat Post

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 19 2010

Call out to the morning classes: What’s your Goat?

A Defender of the Idea

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 17 2010

An excerpt from “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine“, by Micheal Lewis. Published in Vanity Fair and linked to on

Inadvertently, he’d opened up a debate with his own investors, which he counted among his least favorite activities. “I hated discussing ideas with investors,” he said, “because I then become a Defender of the Idea, and that influences your thought process.” Once you became an idea’s defender, you had a harder time changing your mind about it.

Zeus’ will that I don’t become a “Defender of the Idea”….

Quick and Easy Squat Fix

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 15 2010


A lot of ladies have issues with their hip flexors that cause them to bend significantly at the waist during any kind of squat: air, back, front, etc. Here’s what it looks like:


You’ll notice that we’ve hit all the necessary points of performance for this to be considered a technically sufficient squat:

-Lumbar curve
-Weight on heels
-Knees tracking over toes
-Hips back and down until the hip crease is below the knee

However, we know that in this position Nicole wouldn’t be able to handle a significant load on her back or in the front rack.

The Fix

A super quick and easy fix for this issue is just a modified goblet squat. Grab a 10-15 lbs weight and hold it away from the body. Then just go down into the bottom of a squat and hold for 2-3 seconds. It looks like this:


By moving the center of mass forward, we force Nicole’s torso up and her hips down. By making her go down slowly into this position and holding it, we activate the muscles that she’ll want to recruit when she goes into the front squat and/or improve her air squat and back squat by spreading the love between her anterior and posterior chain.

I recommend 2-3 sets, 3-5 reps, 10-15 lbs before a squat WOD. Stay at the bottom for 2-3 seconds and stay tight.


For post-WOD work, we need to address that hip flexor tightness, and nothing does it better than the wall stretch:


-Back knee as close to the wall as possible.
-Torso as upright as possible.
-Flex the quad/hip flexor of the down leg for 5 seconds, relax for 10 seconds.
-Repeat for six rounds on either leg.
-In between switching legs, go down into the bottom of a squat and see if you can notice a difference.

What I Eat

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 10 2010

I get all my meat and eggs from Alison (if you’re interested, email her, your taste buds will thank you) except for Wild Caught fish that I buy frozen at the Ft. Myer Commissary.

Breakfast: 4-5 eggs, bacon or sausage, maybe avocado, definitely coffee with coconut milk and club soda.


Lunch: 8-12 oz of meat cooked in bacon fat, butter, lard, coconut oil or olive oil, sauteed veggies cooked in the same or steamed veggies with microwaved fat drizzled on. Some examples:


Ground Pork and Kale


Whole Chicken and Brussel Sprouts with Olive Oil drizzled on

Dinner: Pretty much the same as dinner, but if it’s post-WOD I may add some starchier paleo veggies like winter squash or sweet potato, but still 8-12 oz of meat cooked in bacon fat, butter, lard, coconut oil or olive oil, sauteed veggies cooked in the same or steamed veggies with microwaved fat drizzled on. Some examples:


Ground Beef and Carrots sauteed in bacon fat with fennel


Wild Caught Haddock braised in coconut milk with frozen broccoli

If I’m trying to cut some weight, then I have to cut back on the fat intake a little. But my body’s “set point weight” seems to be about 215 and I can pretty much gorge myself on Paleo foods, still perform well, and not go over that weight. I like Monique Ames’ summary of Paleo Eating for weight loss versus performance.

A Warmup and Cooldown for Chris K.

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 09 2010

One of the most valuable things you can do as an athlete and I can do as a coach is give you a tailored Warmup and Cooldown to address weaknesses or injuries.

Chris K. of Potomac Crossfit talked to me about knee pain that was continuing to increase over the last few weeks. Chris had a partial meniscectomy (partial removal of the lateral meniscus) on each knee, about 2 years apart.

Most important thing about giving or receiving Warmup/Cooldown advice is to provide feedback. I think that the model I’m gave Chris can work – but the only way to really tell is to get Chris’ feedback.

So I gave him this guidance today, and in two weeks he’s going to tell me if there’s any change. If there is, we keep at it until we don’t see any more positive change and/or we don’t see any pain. If we don’t see change, we throw this away and come up with something else.

Here’s the guidance:


1) Perform Daily, Catalyst Athletics Warmup.

2) This is designed for total body explosive movement prep, but very good hip, knee, and ankle flexibility stuff.  Certainly won’t hurt your shoulders to do this stuff.

3) Add specific movements, we’ll call this movement prep, that you will be including in the WOD within the warmup.  So if the WOD is:

5 Rounds
Run 400m
25 Wallball, 20 lbs
25 Box Jump, 20 in

you’d add broken up sets of Run 200m, 7 Wallball, 7 Box Jump at some point in the warmup.  This gets your CNS ready for the specific movements you are doing, but doesn’t overload you with intensity or volume.

4) So the total Warmup would look something like this:

Two Rounds:
Partial CA Warmup
Run 200m
Partial CA Warmup
7 Wallball, 20 lbs
Partial CA Warmup
7 Box Jump, 20 in
Partial CA Warmup

5) I picked two rounds for the above example because that’s about how much time I want you warming up before a fairly long WOD like “Kelly.” Total rounds will change depending on how you feel and how long the WOD is.

5a.  If it’s a longer WOD, but not a lot of movements that would hurt your knees, then shorter warmup.
5b.  If it’s a longer WOD with lots of movement that would hurt your knees, longer warmup, but less intense – more dynamic stretching, less movement prep.
5c.  If a shorter WOD with movements that hurt your knees, you’ll want to do a longer warmup with a good amount of dynamic stretching, but also a good amount of movement prep.


1) Let’s start with the basics here and see if we see any progress.  Overall goal is to have extremely good flexibility/mobility in the lower extremities so we put as little strain on the knee as possible.

2) Baseline:

Quad Roller
ITB Lax Ball
Gastroc Lax Ball (this is each side of your calf)
Straight Leg Hamstring PNF
Psoas PNF
Calf PNF
Quad PNF
Hips PNF (You can do these on a box or on the ground.  You can also do this with a strap on your back and cross your leg Do these on a box.)

3) I’ve found that slightly changing the angle of attach on both stretching and myofascial help a lot.

4) For the Roller and Lax Ball, 30sec to 1 minute is the goal for each movement.

5) I need feedback.  Try this for two weeks and at the end of two weeks, tell me:

5a. How many WODs you did.
5b. How many times you did the warmup and post-WOD work.
5c. Any change in pain or mobility after two weeks.