We would like to thank and congratulate everybody that participated in the Maltz Challenge in spite of the 24 degree weather this weekend. It is a fitting way to honor Mike and the crew of Komodo 11.
I know this was the first big hero workout for some of you and it was good to see you back at FLOW and moving on Monday. Keep these times in your book because we will revisit them in the future. Remember to order a shirt or make a donation at the Maltz Challenge Website. I also want to give a big hoo-yah to those of you that came back Sunday to do the Murph right before the snow hit.
Mike Maltz leaning on the tire fourth from the left.
FLOW is hosting two hero workouts this weekend as you were informed earlier this week. Sunday we are hosting the Murph in honor of Medal of Honor recipient SEAL Michael Murphy. Tonight, Friday 22 March, we are viewing a documentary of his life. You are welcome to join us even if you didn’t sign up before. Most of you know part of his story but you can get more information at the movie’s website.
The Maltz Challenge is named in honor of Mike Maltz and supports the group Honor the Fallen. You can look at the website to see the servicemen and service-women being honored this year. Mike was a teammate of mine for several years at two duty stations in Florida and Alaska. He was an intense New Yorker and loved to lift big. The two of us were on a team that summated Mt. McKinley in 1990.
Summit of Mt. McKinley from the Football Field
On the descent after reaching the summit my rope team that included two SEALs encountered a couple of German climbers in a large flat area just below the summit at an elevation of 19,500’ known as The Football Field. They did not speak English and were trying to communicate with us. After the other teams passed and we had begun to move on in trail leaving the Germans as the last climbers on the mountain I turned around as one of them fell down. At this point I removed myself from the rope and headed back to check on them while the rest of our group started to come back. This time it was obvious that the Germans were in distress and we began a full assessment of their condition. They German who I had seen fall was suffering from severe hypothermia and cerebral edema. After preparing them to travel Mike and I were given the task of evacuating the German who was in the worst shape. The rescue would involve putting the survivor between us and walking with him back to the high camp at 17,200’. The trail beyond The Football Field was a 2,000’ traverse from Denali Pass to the camp. This, historically, has been one of the most dangerous places on the mountain as tired climbers descend a member of the rope team will fall and the other team member is too weak to arrest the group before they are all pulled off and plummet to the glacier about 3,000’ below. The bodies that fall in this area aren’t recovered.
The traverse from Denali Pass to 17,000'
It was decided to put the German between Mike and I on the rope and I would break trail. Rope team climbing is used for safety in that when a member falls off the mountain or into a crevasse they yell ‘falling’ and the other teammate immediately performs an ice-ax-arrest by leaning uphill and plunging their ax into the mountain while the falling person rites themselves and gets back on the trail. With a climber on our rope that we had not trained with and did not speak English it became Mike’s responsibility to let me know when our survivor fell. This would happen several times throughout the traverse over the next couple of hours. On at least two occasions the survivor pulled me completely off the trail and Mike was the only thing that stood between me and the Autobahn to the bottom of the glacier. Thankfully his large size and strength paid off and he slowed us down enough that I could recover and stop. We would then get the survivor back up and on the trail to camp.
After a few hours and at the end of our 17 hour day we made it to camp and handed off the Germans to the rest of their team for treatment. This rescue is the highest save performed by pararescue to this day.
Mike went on to be an instructor at INDOC and served at several other units before he was killed. Mike's bio is can be found on the Maltz Challenge website. Many times we perform these workouts without knowing what happened to the people we are honoring. The operations officer for the unit where he was serving wrote a compelling article about what happened from the perspective of the base staff. I encourage you to read it. If you choose to support the group that organizes this event you can buy a tee-shit or make a donation.
See you Saturday, WT
For me, the key to success in changing your life can be summed up as: learn, aspire, believe.
Learn If you want to be slimmer, fitter, stronger and healthier, learn how to do it. What else in life did you achieve without any learning? You had to learn to read, drive your car, play your sport and carry out your trade.
How you learn best is up to you. You can read books, find an expert to learn from, or simply plunge into the deep end and learn by doing.
Aspire Aspire to be a better version of yourself, not to be someone else. Aspiring to be better comes from an understanding of where you are now and where you want to be.
Aspirations are different from wishes. Wishing something was different doesn’t change anything. Aspiring to something for me implies a journey, a gradual progression to a goal.
Believe Believe in your ability to carry out a program of work and get the outcome you want. Believe in your ability to cut through the crap and make decisions for yourself. I believe that everyone can become an expert in their own change.
Self belief is the most important quality: you have to believe that you can learn, change and get to where you want to be.
So go on, make it happen!
Eat for growth, train for strength, live for the MOMENT.
Everyone had a great time at The St. Patrick's Day team workout. The workout included:
Failure to take a chance. Missed opportunities. A fundamental lack of seizing the moment in front of you.
These are the things we regret in life. The times when we didn’t go all in.
We don’t kick ourselves as much for the mistakes we make. Somewhere, down deep, we know that mistakes are light-years better than not trying at all. We try and it doesn’t work out? Well, we can look ourselves in the mirror. Not even try? Yeah, we’re looking at the bottom of a glass, or an ice cream carton, lamenting the woulda shoulda couldas of life. Remember the Frank Sinatra standard (dating myself), “My Way”? Ol’ blue eyes used to croon, “Regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” Well, one thing many people regret is inaction
How about you? What chances are passing you by today?
Shaq was a horrible freethrow shooter, but always responded to his critics with, “I make them when they count.” By which he means he would hit free-throws late, 4th quarter or overtime, when the game was close or “on the line.” This statement has always bothered me, and, over the years, I’ve realized that this type of rational can mess people up(me included).
Every Shot Counts
A free-throw in the first quarter is worth just as much as a freethrow in the 4th quarter. Just like the 6th day of a project is just as important as the day before the release. Don’t fool yourself by thinking near deadline decisions “count” more than decisions you made earlier. I actually feel it’s the exact opposite, because consequences from early decisions lead to tougher decisions down the line. In short, the game is always on the line. A shot made in the first minute of the second quarter is just as important as a shot made in the fourth.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. — Aristotle
Consistency vs Clutch
Being good under pressure is sometimes a sign of mental weakness. I think it’s similar to procrastination, where people need a deadline to inspire them. The reality is they are mentally weak to get the job done until the last possible minute. I want to be more focused on being consistent than being clutch, because the more consistent I am the less clutch I have to be.
"I will do today what you won't, so I can do tomorrow what you can't."
We have noticed a trend…..when people get competitive they do stupid things. It’s natural, and most of the time harmless. In our gym however, it could completely derail your training. This is because we program aggressively; aiming to challenge the fittest athletes with an Rx workout. If athletes are not careful and do not take care of themselves by training smart…the results can become extremely negative.
The coaches at FLOW have the difficult challenge of taking an average person and turning them into a competitive, hard charging, gut busting, lung burning, lactic loving beast. All while trying to maintain balance enough to keep them achieving consistent growth as an athlete.
We don’t always succeed.
What can, and has happened, is an injury, overtraining, burnout and other roadblocks that inhibit growth as an athlete. These are the results of neglecting some very key training principles, fundamental truths, really…..
Here they are:
1) Eat well
Diet is like religion…..you don’t talk about it with friends. Otherwise, you may not be friends after the discussion is over. There is a simple fact, “You cannot out-train a bad diet” If you are not eating foods that are good for you, your training will stagnate. Period. Some will try to train harder, longer, heavier and the result will be an athlete that is being crushed by little to no recovery due to lack of rest and subpar fuel and nutrients for recovery. Your fuel determines your speed of performance and recovery. Just think of the classic car analogy and it makes sense. Still though, many believe that this is a myth and are unwilling to change this facet of training and OVERALL HEALTH. This is where you make the difference in just about every fitness goal you have. FASTER,, STRONGER, LEANER all hinge on this fundamental truth. You are what you eat. If you want to make gains that few others are achieving, dial in your diet and everyone will wonder what the hell you are “taking” Simple…yet so hard.
Everyone knows that gains are made while resting. Still our CrossFit culture demands that we WORK HARD and COMPETE. Last time I checked, every 4th day is a rest day on the main site. This is good advice. Most that struggle with this truth want the rush of the workout and don’t feel “right” if they don’t get a workout in….these people are at risk of overtraining that can lead to many weeks of unwanted rest due to overuse injuries and overtraining. News flash! This is not a globo-gym split routine we are doing here. These are workouts designed to test the fittest humans on earth….sure you get used to the intensity, and you recover better than you did when you started, but the key to long term consistency is your rest cycles…
Here is a recommendation even for the fittest of us:
3 On/1 Off - 2 On/1 Off
This gives you 5 workouts a week. Plenty. Then every 6th week make it an “unload week” and scale the workouts down significantly and only do 3 workouts that week. Communicate your unload weeks to your coaches and we can program specifically for these “rest” weeks.
This is tough considering the magical (Rx) next to your name and the indication that you are going hard and heavy!. We all love it and should strive for it. However, there are times to scale. I just mentioned unload weeks….also scaling should happen during rehab of an injury or a problem with technique. Make sure to understand that scaling is not an indication that you are not training hard. It is an indication that you are training smart if you are established as an “Rx” athlete. Make sure to understand the concept of scaling completely. Scaling can indicate alternate sets, reps and even movements in some cases. Always clear your scaling with the coach, and outline what your concerns are in the workout. This will ensure the best movements are used and your workout will be as effective as it can be….even when needing to scale.
You need training goals. If you do not have these goals outlined. Do it now. If you have a goal and have written it down, it should have several critical qualities:
The classic goal of “I want ripped abs” is a goal of sorts, but not necessarily measurable, performance based or has a deadline as written. It definitely does not meet the goal qualities above. Here is an example of a well defined goal.
“I want to achieve a CrossFit Total Score of 700 or greater by 1 October 2013.” (Assuming you are not a 72 yr old, 102lb, female! )
This leaves little to chance when 1 October roles around and you are evaluating whether or not you reached your goal. Communicate your goals with the coaching staff so we can include additional training advice and drills to assist with your achievement of these milestones.
Everyone has (better have) a book on the shelf at FLOW. Use it. End of discussion. How else can we track progress toward said goals? Guess work? Nope. CrossFit is about measurable fitness. Start measuring.
I understand that we all have our own perspective of fitness and “what we are capable of” ….forget it…..become coachable and approach CrossFit as a lifelong endeavor of health and fitness and maybe your perspective will change to include some vegetables and rest.
Otherwise, you have been educated in the principles of consistent success at Flow. If you choose to over-train, neglect your diet and ignore coaching recommendations regarding scaling and other facets of fitness, you do so risking the long-term efficacy of the program.
We want you to succeed.
We live in an age of fragmentation.
Our knowledge of health and the body has been broken down into shards, units and bits, each one cut off from the other, each one independent and isolated from its natural, unifying origins. We live in a world of free-floating facts, images and ideas, completely fluid and accessible, but completely divorced from history and habitat.
This is what makes our modern study of health so perplexing. There’s just so much to learn now: biochemistry, biomechanics, human history, psychology and all the rest. Health, formerly an accessible art of living, has become a minefield of complexity, cognitive overload and stress. What we need right now is a sense of integration, a way to wrap up all of our knowledge about health and training into a single form that we can rely on to create our lives.
As it turns out, there is a powerful way to do this, one that’s right in front of us, one that builds on what we already know about how the body adapts to the world. To put it simply, it’s all about training. Genetics play a role of course, but for practical purposes, training is what really creates the trajectories of our experience in the world. Everything that we do with our bodies and in our lives is the result of challenge, experience and repetition. In other words, it’s all muscle.
Let’s begin with the familiar. Most of us have trained our bodies to one degree or another and we know what happens when we challenge a muscle with weights or endurance training; it gets stronger. The gravitational and kinetic challenge stimulates a “super-compensation.” In other words, growth. This is a wonderful thing, of course and many of us have enjoyed the payoff. But what’s really fascinating about this process of challenge and growth is that it takes place, not just in muscle tissue, but throughout every tissue in the body. In other words, all tissue behaves like muscle; stress it repeatedly over time and it will adapt to meet the challenge. This is how animal bodies work.
We know, for example that bone is a living tissue and that it too adapts with precision to meet the demands of how it is used. Load up the long bones of your legs with robust physical challenges and your bone density will increase, exactly in the places where its most needed. In effect then, “bone is muscle.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Every system in the body has the ability to adapt and will do so when challenged. We see it everywhere: Endurance training increases our ability to absorb and deliver oxygen, sensory training stimulates changes to acuity of sensory organs, balance training stimulates proprioception; our ability to feel our body’s position and momentum.
Adaptation is obvious in muscle and bone, but the truly spectacular changes take place in the nervous system. We now know the process in great detail. Far from being a static system, the nervous system is constantly remodeling itself in response to experience. The fancy name for this process is “use-dependent plasticity.” When we repeatedly fire a neural circuit, that circuit becomes faster and more sensitive. Cells that fire together begin to literally wire together. The challenge, in other words, stimulates actual tissues changes: membranes, genes and protein synthesis are all transformed in the process. With this in mind, it now makes sense to say that “neural circuits are muscles,” and “the nervous system is a muscle.”
This is plenty interesting in its own right, but what really fascinates is the realization that our muscular nervous system is driving everything that we care about in health and living. Not only does it drive our physical movement, it also drives our emotions, our cognition, our behavior and in turn, our relationships with other people and the world.
And this leads us to an expanded idea. That is, if the entire body is “muscular” then our emotion, behavior and cognition must also be “muscular.” Body, mind and spirit are massively interconnected. And because our bodies are “muscular,” everything that we do in the world is the result of training, everything that we do is consequential. In other words, everything that we do with our bodies and our lives matters.
Given the tight interconnections between mind, body, spirit and behavior, it makes sense to extend the metaphor still further. In this respect, just about everything we with our bodies, our minds and our lives can be described as “muscular.” And so, it now makes sense to say that fear is a muscle, anger is a muscle. Cynicism, isolation, defensiveness and blame are muscles. Self-control and discipline are muscles. Patience and kindness are muscles. Trust is a muscle. Compassion, gratitude and forgiveness are muscles. Engagement, flow, attention and mindfulness are muscles. Honesty, resilience and good humor are muscles. Joy, exuberance and love are muscles. Relaxation in the face of crushing stress is a muscle.
Even more fascinating, we can also say that health itself is a muscle. That is, we become healthier by actually exercising our health. We become healthier by practicing our exuberance in the world, by actively engaging with our bodies, our people, our work and our habitats. This will come as a surprise to many, of course. Modern medical culture encourages passivity; health and disease are simply things that happen to us. If we’re lucky, we remain healthy in life, but if not, the doctors will patch us up. But when we view health as a muscle, it becomes something done by us, an active practice and a doing.
Eat for growth, train for strength, live for the MOMENT.