Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Say Goodbye To This Site!


As of today folks, this site is no more.  This post will be the final post here, and if you want to read up on my fitness adventures and all the other fun I post, you got to head over to www.courageperformance.com.

Also, if you saved this site in your favorites, or bookmarked it and so on, please take a couple seconds to switch all that up.  Just head to the new site and bookmark that one!  I should be able to shift things to all those who get email alerts and whatnot, but to make matters easier, you can subscribe to theRSS feed of the  blog on my new site by simply clicking the "RSS" button on the sidebar of the blog.  That will aloow the new posts to pop up on your feed each and every day!

Sorry to those who need to switch things up, but this new site is so much more functional now that I have this new gym and such rolling.  And I know that you all will enjoy it's simplicity and look as well.

So head on over, subscribe to the blog, follow on Facebook and Twitter, and enjoy!


Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snatching


Today marked day one of my official 2011 CrossFit Games training program (explained in detail in yesterdays post), and it started off with a bang.  I haven't worked the full snatch, seriously, in about a year and a half and, needless to say, I was just a hair nervous about how I would perform.  As posted yesterday, my goal is to get a 210# snatch by March, and out of all my goals, this one I am most uncertain of; mostly because I don't really now where I stand with the lift, but also because I struggle with the movement so much.

I started very deliberately, getting form work in with the PVC and an empty bar, then started off my 5, 5, 5, 3, 3, 3 progression with just 85#.  I felt very smooth and strong with it all the way through, and was able to finish with 3 slightly sloppy reps at 160#.  So excited to be able to pull this weight after practically zero work on the lift!  I am feeling a LOT more confident that with a little technique and mobility work, I will get my goal weight here.

I then moved on to the biggest struggle of the day:  a single snatch balance to 3 overhead squats for 4 rounds.  I obviously expected to get a good deal more weight on this than with the snatch, but I lost focus and for some reason could not get a proper lock-out at 175#.  I opted to move down a bit in weight, ultimately working up to 155#.  I realized my struggle with this movement, and what will be the toughest part of my progress with the snatch, is getting under the bar quickly.  I want to muscle the bar up, then sink into the overhead squat, and this will just get more and more impossible the heavier the bar gets.  This stems from my lack of confidence in my shoulders, and it is so clear to me that I just need to get these movements in more often if I ever expect to overcome that fear.

My challenge for the day was inspired from the 2010 Games, just a whole bunch of pressured weakness work for me:

For Time Do:
10 muscle ups then
3 rounds of:
3 power cleans 205#
4 HSPU

I got 5 unbroken muscle ups, then 2, then 1 and 1.  Missed none, very happy with that.  On to the heavy cleans and HSPU's, I got the cleans no problem, and stayed very deliberate with the HSPU's.  My first round I got 3 unbroken, yet another PR on those, and in all I missed 3 reps.  Still very weak, but I am seeing HUGE improvements with that move.  With the amount I am programming them in over the coming months, I expect to see some pretty impressive gains.  I finished in 6:28 and was very happy with that score.

In other news, I got a hair cut today, and dropped about 5 pounds in total thanks to that.  I'll miss my crazy bushy, long hair, but it was just getting to much to handle with my activity level.  So, back to the shortness! 

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back In CA, And Back To Blogging!


So after a week of not-so-regular postings, I am back into the swing of things and ready to go with tons of new material.  First off, the host site of this site you are reading now seems to be having some major issues with editing and it lead me to search around for another host/blog/site to get my info across.  Below I have a link to what I have created and to what every well may be my new site in the coming days.  Please let me know your honest feedback on it, and which one you like best and why.  Thanks so much!!


Next on the list is a mention on the pause between when I said Courageous Meals #7 would be up and now.  The meal was created by my sister Deb, with a little of my help, and it turns out I d not remember the exact process for some of it.  So, in my efforts to get a hold of her with enough time to recall and write it all down, it has taken a couple extra days.  Expect that to come up shortly. 

Now on to the fun stuff!  Tomorrow marks the start of my official programming for the 2011 CrossFit Games.  While I have been very focused on getting better and better each day, I have not really taken the time to sit down and chart out the months building up to the crazy event.  Last year, kind of on a whim, I decided I would sign up for the sectionals competition.  Having it occur only three days before my bike attempt across the country, I was not really all that focused on it; or at least, not as focused as I would have liked to be!  I ended up finishing 10th (8th because 2 competitors had already qualified) out of some 60+ male competitors.  This placed me in the regionals competition which I had to give up my spot thanks to my broken hand.  This year is a different story though.  I plan on focusing everything on this event in July.  Sectionals will be sometime in late March or so, regionals will happen in May sometime, so, I have a very specific program to put together.  Here is how I put it together:

Goal Setting:
I began by designing a list of goals that I will test over the first week of March.  I set the test date as that to break down my overall training, and to give myself about two or so weeks before tapering to really sit back and see exactly where I may be lacking.  Here they are:
Strength:
Pull up/dip - 100#
Strict Press - 190#
Bench Press - 300#
Front Squat - 335#
Back Squat - 435#
Deadlift - 500#
Clean and Jerk - 275#
Snatch - 210#
Speed/Conditioning:
Sub-5:45 mile
Sub-20 minute 5k run
Sub-25 minute 800 meter swim
Skills:
8 unbroken palms out muscle ups
5 unbroken full HSPU

All these goals are very realistic in my eyes.  I kept them a little less lofty as I know I want to also increase my metcon and overall "CrossFit capacity".  This usually is to the detriment to dramatic strength gains in more experienced CrossFitters, so I intend to time my training accordingly.  I have been focusing on my strength lately, so now it's time to train my mental and metcon-ing conditioning a little more.  I will head back into a strength bias in January for a bit.  This is the biggest dilemma/debate I see in the CrossFit community:  how does one balance all domains in programming to see gains across the board?

Well, from my experience there is not a cookie-cutter type of response to this.  It totally depends the type of person approaching the training.  I have personally found that I adapt extremely quickly to metcons and can see gains in these within a week or two of focus.  Strength on the other hand is a little more slow-moving for me.  I see gains, but they are not as dramatic.  So what works best for me is to bias my programming around strength, mixing in very deliberate metcons to assist improvement on my weaknesses.  My gains become more balanced this way.  Here is what my programming will look like over the next three months:

Month 1:
3 on, 1 off, 2 on 1 off schedule where Mondays are Olympic lifts and support work, Wednesdays are Max Effort deadlifts and Fridays are Max Effort Strict presses.  Metcons will be every work day and ill increase in time and workload through the week (early in the week will be more body-weight focused and/or shorter in total time, while later in the week I will move to heavier weights and more chipper style).  Tuesdays will be dedicated to speed work (generally track work or hill running).  And Thursdays will generally include an easy conditioning session (IE: long run or bike ride or swim).  The third week will introduce two-a-days on two training days, as well as a 4 on, 1 off, 2 on schedule.  And the final week will be a lighter, recovery focused week.

Months 2 and 3:
4 on, 1 off, 3 on 1 off schedule.  This will introduce a more "random" mentality to my program.  I'm implementing this to allow my body to NOT adapt to training on specific days.  I tend to shut down a little on Sundays out of habit, so I want to get out of that routine.  This tough phase will follow a three-ish week on, one-ish week recovery as well.  The mentality of what I will do on training days will stay the same as before though.  Olympic lifting will generally be practiced on the first day back after a rest day, with Max Effort power lifting on the second days after that.  Metcons will all be focused the same way as well, with increasing demand towards rest days.

Month 4:
The first week will be a complete commitment to testing all my goals.  Following that, I will program accordingly, dependent on when my sectional will happen and where my strengths and weaknesses are.

Needless to say, the demand I am putting on myself is going to be wonderfully challenging and I can't wait!  And to top it all off, I'll be sending out contacts to as many Bay Area CrossFit affiliates as I can find to commit to what i did last January, but for the entire month!  CrossFit Community Month will occur from 1/1 - 1/31, and i will be traveling about the greater San Francisco region to visit affiliates, talk to owners, coaches and athletes, get a tough workout in, video and write about the whole thing!  The goals are two-fold: to spread the awesome word of CrossFit to as many people as possible (you know, to share the connectivity of all CrossFit around!), and to meet more people and train with more people like me!  I can not wait.

I will also be introducing a new aspect of my blog.  At least once a week I will be posting up a video blog (similar to what I did during my bike ride across the country).  I think it adds a little more personality to the site and it helps me to get even more involved in sharing info, which I clearly love to do!  Further additions, like the goals page and more nutrition info are on hold for the time being while I look into the shift of my site.  Again, please let me know what you think of the new one, either by posting here, or shooting me an email, text or call.  Thanks so much!

 Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving

An Awesome View From Our Hike
Even though it's the groggy day after Thanksgiving, I hope everyone had a great day, and continue on the greatness through the weekend and on.  My Thanksgiving was a good one, spending it with Lindsey;s family in Norwich, NY, we feasted, watched football and had a relaxing, fun time.  I allowed myself to consume a bit of food I generally don't like to have (mostly because of its usual negative side effects to how I feel) and I think because of my conscious decision to take in those foods, my body was forgiving.  While I felt a bit over-full, and feel a little stuffed today, I never felt bad, and that's a great thing coming out of a holiday known for indulgence.

We had a huge turkey, sausage stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, salad, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, corn, squash, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, and a couple other odds and ends, and it was glorious.  And of course, we all saved room for the birthday cake.  You see, while everyone else was feasting for the well-known holiday, we were feasting for Lindsey's 28th birthday (and a little of the holiday).  It was a great day all around.

Earlier in the day I took it upon myself to run my own little turkey trot.  This ended up being a whole lot tougher than planned because of the freezing cold, windy weather.  I charted off a 1.58-mile course out, giving me almost exactly a 5k in total (out and back), and took off.  Right off the bat I knew it would be hard, I was so cold from head to toe!  A massive hill around the half-mile mark helped warm me up a little. but the wind coming off the mountains did not help at all.  I ended up finished in just under 24 minutes which would have put me at just under a 8-minute mile.  No where near as fast as I would like to be running.  The part that made this crappy was the couple hours post run.  I could net get a full breath of air, it was like my lunges were frozen a bit, crazy.  I was happy to be able to get that work in tough, and I have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be with my fitness!
Me Shoveling Cake Into My Mouth!!
My trip back to CA today will see a ton of program designing, and some more planning to get this business up and running like mad!  Also, I have Courageous meals installment 7 almost completed, and an article on a topic that I think is so important to talk about, especially around this time of the year.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Squats and a Hike (and some Ribs!)

 Up in Norwich, NY, Lindsey, her brother Patrick and myself drove down to the local YMCA to get a lift in.  They went after power cleans and front squats while I went ahead and did a handful of sets of squats.  Now I have been feeling really good with this move as of the past few months, and I have written myself a goal of 435# by the March of 2011.  Today I made a pretty decent step in getting to that goal.  Today, after a few sets of 3 at 225#, 295# and 315#, I threw on 365# for an easy rep.  Then I did the same with 385#, 395# and then 405#.  I felt solid the entire time and even though I moved very slowly from the sticking point on up, I felt as though (especially after so much volume) I would be able to move up in weight very fast with this over the next few weeks.  Who knows, perhaps I'll surpass my goals!

Later on in the day, Lindsey's dad got back from work and we all drove through the beautiful country side to a trail head leading up Jones Hill, a peak they hike almost every year around this time.  It was not super long, but it was a real steep climb for most of the way,  At the top, besides being insanely cold, we had such a great view of the New York country.  We sat there for a good long while just soaking it all in and chatting before heading back down and back to the house to prepare dinner.

Yeah, so I've been craving ribs lately, have no idea as to why, but I really want them.  Back in the day I was a bit of a BBQ nut.  I even traveled around the US south for a couple weeks trying out as much top-notch BBQ as I possibly could.  I had some great stuff, and, some pretty crap stuff, but had a great time!  Recently, at a brewery in Burlingame, CA, I found a rack of ribs I would put in the top three I have ever had, unreal.  So, I want more!  Lindsey and I went over to the store and stocked up on a huge, meaty rack of ribs, some asparagus and zucchini and went back to fire it up!  This is not a Courageous Meals post, but I had a pretty interesting time cooking up the ribs in such a short time.  Besides a few of the middle cuts, they turned pretty good.  Now, with a perfectly full stomach, I am about to head to bed, and wake up tomorrow ready to feast away, workout like crazy, and celebrate Lindsey's birthday!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Getting Work In

[Sorry, no pictures or videos are uploading.  I'll get some out tomorrow!]

Early Monday morning, Lindsey and I were up and off to pick up our rental car and get on the road.  Luckily however, Kenny had a some mail to get to Lindsey, so we ended up stopping over at Siena College again, and we were able to get a nice workout in.  We needed it!  Now folks, I know I am a promoter of all things healthy, but I must admit, I have a sweet tooth that I sometimes lose control over.  This would probably explain my "fat kid" days as a younger dude (although, looking back at pictures, I was not as fat as I thought I was, which is a little bit of a relief).  So, Sunday I had a little "opening-of-the-flood-gates" as it were, and consumed a relatively larger portion of sugar-filled wonderfulness.  Now before all you nutritional die-hards have your way with me, know that I have long ago parted ways with the mentality that I need to feel ashamed or frustrated with myself for indulging in things every now and again.  I am also honest with myself in knowing that if I truly want to look and perform at 100% potential, I can not in any way have days like this.  But, given my training schedule as of now, I have now problem cutting lose here and there.  Yeah, this is a topic I could talk about for hours, but I'll just stop it right there as this post is supposed to be focused elsewhere!

Moving on to the workout, both Lindsey and I were moving a slight bit slower than expected thanks to the day before, but this did not hold us back.  I know I put forth my 100% for the day.  The workout:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 of:
Deadlifts 225/155
Box Jumps 24"/20"
Push Press 115/45
Double unders (I did 25 each round, Lindsey did 10 each)

We sort of gauged the time off a wall clock and I finished in the 12 minute range, with Lindsey coming in about a minute behind me.  I would say that on a good day I should be getting a workout like this one in in about 8 minutes or so, but I was sucking wind like crazy by round 7.  I ended up focusing on getting things completely unbroken, and that became the big challenge of the day for me.  Besides a few missed double unders, I was able to succeed in my mid-workout goal!

We parted ways with NY and drove over to Northampton, MA to visit my sister and her two cute as hell kids.  I went to a yoga class with Deb (my sister), and then we made such a great meal.  Deb is a vegan (except for some occasional fish) and an extremely focused natural food consumer, and this leads to some pretty great ideas in the kitchen.  I'll save the details of the evenings meal for the next Courageous Meals installment, but our lunch today was a wonderful mixture of a tofu scramble with cilantro, two types of sweet potato fries, a grand mixed salad, and home-made sushi rolls.  It was nice to hang with the family for a little bit, and for an early dinner we all headed out to a great Irish restaurant before Lindsey and I hit the road again for NY and her family.

Up tomorrow morning for a workout at the local YMCA in Norwich, NY, then a big hike planned in the afternoon before we whip out the grill for a feast.  I'll be posting up once or twice before the weekend so stay tuned for those, and expect a bit of a break-down of a few cool topics for posts next week.  I have a handful of things to plan out for the coming new year and I want to share it all with you!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back At Siena College

video

Back in the cold of the East, I had a chill evening with my good buddy Kenny, chowing down on a late night omelet and a beer before getting some good rest in.  This morning, we got up (10am and I as still so tired), grabbed some food and headed back to my Alma mater Siena College for a little workout.  We played a game of one on one basketball to warm up (Kenny got me this first round...) and then  hit the weight room for a little clean and jerk work.  Surprisingly, I was feeling pretty fresh and cleanly got 230# with zero issues at all.  I moved up to 240# and missed the jerk on three attempts; same issues as before, I get the arms locked, just without getting my head through.  I push the weight forward and have to dump the bar at the last second.  I was happy though, 230# with ease with the "just get a little work in" mentality.  I look forward to attacking a heavier session late next week!
video

For a metcon I decided to get a little bench in.  There's nothing like a little meatheadedness when back at college, so, I wrote up this little one:

8 minute AMRAP of:
Max Reps Body Weight Bench Press (210#)
w/ 5 pull ups and 10 air squats every break/rest

I started off with 10, then moved to 6, then 5, then 5, then 4, then 2, 2, 2 and finally 1.  This means I got a total of 37 reps of bench with 40 pull ups and 70 squats.  My arms were hanging!  But it felt good to fatigue the hell out of them with heavy weights.  But, getting back to the basketball court after that for a couple games was a struggle to say the least.  But, ha, I got Kenny for both of them.  Boom!

No we're off to grab some good food, do a little Birthday shopping for the most wonderful lady on the planet (yeah, that's Lindsey!), and just hang for a little.  Forgive the lack of posts this coming week as Lindsey and I will be shooting back and forth from NY to MA and back to NY to visit our families.  We will be working out a lot, but getting posts in may be a bit of a struggle.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grab The Bar


Recently I have been paying a bit more attention to approach.  You know, you walk up to your starting line, whatever it is, and something goes through your mind and body, your approach is all about what do with this something.  The conversation has come up a bit more these days because new-found CrossFitter James, at The Gym has been realizing the mental side to his workouts, and we have been spending so much productive time talking about it.  I am always so excited to get on this topic because, besides its awesome community, CrossFit in general offers just as much a mental test as physical,  and I believe this aspect of ones training should never be overlooked.  In my never-ending adventure into figuring things out through experience, I have found this mental approach struggle to be one of the most difficult to define and to control.  But if you were to put the same amount of time and effort into this side of fitness as you do in the physical, I can guarantee your results will come that much faster (don;t forget nutrition...of course!). 

One of the things James mentioned to me in our conversations was when I used the cue: "get a rep in", while he was struggling through the Filthy Fifty.  For him, this helped to cut back on the short rests he was taking during the long sets.  We talked about how it is an inevitability, when resting during a workout, that you will probably rest longer then planned.  I learned a while ago, that during tough metcons, the cues: "get a rep in" and "grab the bar" go such a long way.

The Psych Out:
This happens to every single CrossFitter (and person) at some point in time.  When you walk into the gym, or out to the trails, or to the pool or anywhere, and you see the tough workout that is planned before you, every now and again you just do not have the perfect attitude.  What this leads to is your brain telling you you can't do what you want to do.  While tons of results can come of this, you can generally boil it down to three things:
  • Walk away
  • Go through the motions
  • Overcome
I have seen plenty of people face this situation and come out the other side having done one of those three things.  Shoot, I have experienced all of those plenty in my time.  But the goal is, always, to do that last one; overcome any mental block you have and just get it done.  This is a HUGE part of the beauty of CrossFit.  The methodology does not only promote a strong, athletic, healthy body, but also a strong, healthy mind.  It constantly puts you in uncomfortable, incredibly challenging situations where you do not only need the ability to physically get through it, but also the mental fortitude to recognize what you are about to do and not let it defeat you.

Walking Away:
Walking away from a challenge is usually you at your weakest state in fitness (although sometimes it is smart depending on the risk of injury and such).  The best step to take if you find yourself shying away from things, finding excuses and sitting things out or just plain leaving, is admit you are weak.  This has got to be one of the toughest things for most people to do.  Do not go into a self-pity monologue, trying to find any and all excuses as to why you can't do the workout.  Just be straight forward and honest with yourself, take responsibility and admit that you have been defeated by the challenge.  You lost. Once you have been able to admit this defeat to yourself, it will be that much easier to actually face those challenges more often; you will not have an excuse at that point.

Going Through The Motions:
To go through the motions is almost as bad.  Sure, at least you are doing something, but if you are half-assing it, what's the point?  You are not getting better at anything, you are putting yourself at a greater risk of injury because you are not paying attention to details, and you are setting yourself up to form habits of negativity when faced with other challenges in life.  DO NOT confuse this with moving slowly.  I have seen and experienced plenty of situations where your 100% one day is just not the same as another.  This does NOT mean you are going through the motions, it just means you do not have the output ability that day.  Remember, giving 100%, no matter what your 100% is, is what it is all about.  If you give 99% or less on a workout, you are going through the motions.

Overcoming (or...Having Courage! haha):
This brings to mind a couple good, classic quotes:
"If you are going through hell, keep going" - Winston Churchill

"Why do we fall?  So that we can pick ourselves back up."  Alfred from Batman Begins (yeah that's right, Batman!)

Granted, neither of those have to do with the initial approach to something like a workout, but having the same go-get-'em mindset before an event as you do during it will inevitably lead to overcoming a mental road block.  That first quote is one that is always in my head, and I am reminded of it every time I tell someone or myself to "grab the bar".  You see, once you've made the choice to overcome whatever it is that is holding you back, the only thing you can do from that point on is to keep going.  It is possible to attack a workout with so much passion and intensity, only to find yourself "going through the motions" half way through.  Say you're doing the well-known benchmark workout Fran (21-15-9 thrusters at 95# and pull ups).  You get through the first round and head into your 15's.  But your legs and shoulders are tired, your breathing is beyond labored, what do you do?  Well, you dump the bar to take a few seconds recovery.  But how long is that recovery?  Is it just a few seconds, or is it 5, 10, more?  Do you honestly need that much time to recover?  Short answer, probably not.  What happens when you take a breather during a workout is you give yourself time to realize just how hard what you are doing is.  When that reality hits, the exercises seem more difficult and the weights seem heavier.  And all along, especially in a workout like Fran, you are not going to recover in a matter of a handful of seconds.  You are doing nothing but wasting time and psyching yourself out. 

What I found in these situations is rather than maxing out on reps and dumping the bar to take a god-knows-how-long rest, cut your reps down, dump the bar, take a single breath and Grab The Bar.  When you make contact with the bar, or you initiate the movement, you generally find that there is nothing left to do in that situation than to do a rep.  And when you do a rep, you generally find that you can probably do two or three more.  All of a sudden, you are chipping away, cutting your overall rest down, and getting more work done faster.  And that my friends is CrossFit.

Now the next step is to increase that work capacity by transitioning into the "unbroken" world.  I have tons of thoughts and theories on this side of training as well, and I will work on a post all about this for next week.  In the mean time, the next time you get a workout in, tell yourself to just Grab The Bar, get another rep in.  Have your workout partner (if you are lucky enough to have one) count down: 3-2-1 grab the bar! for you each time you drop it down in exhaustion.  Make yourself move.  Do not give yourself the time and energy to find excuses for not being able to get things done at your potential.  When you walk through the doors of your gym, or step out to attack a workout, any workout, tell yourself you are going to give 100%, for 100% of the time, no matter what your 100% is.

I was faced with this mental challenge today in fact.  I had a horrible nights sleep, adding up to be only a couple hours before my girl Lindsey and I hit the gym for an early workout.  I had programmed in Fran, and, needless to say, I was a bit intimidated by her this morning.  But, I overcame.  I PR'd with a time of 2:33 and had more in the tank.  Check the video:



Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, November 19, 2010

Courageous Meals - 7

Chicken and Vegetable Soup
"Comfort Food!"

I was trying to think of something simple yet really good and all of a sudden it hit me, I love soup!  Lindsey has mentioned many times that she does to, but the difference her her and myself is that she has actually made it before!  Lindsey - 1, Josh - 0... So, I decided that should change.  I found inspiration looking through the web at the different sites I follow (mostly Marks Daily Apple and Whole9) and found a good sounding one on MDA.


Ingredients:
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup broccoli, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup zucchini, chopped
  • 2 ½ lbs chicken breast fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
First start off my boiling up some water in a medium sized pot.  Once it's boiling, throw in your raw chicken breasts and boil for 5 minutes.  When they're in there, go ahead and take care of the cutting and chopping of the other ingredients.  When the chicken is done, drain the water, let cool real quick, then cut them up into bite-sized pieces.

At this point, grab a big pot and throw in your stock and seasonings, bring that to a boil.  Then add all the veggies EXCEPT for the cabbage.  Turn the stove to medium, keep it covered, set the timer for 30 minutes, and let it simmer.  If you want something to do for these 30 minutes, read up on your fitness at T-Nation or at The CrossFit Journal (or, of course, my site!).

When the 30 minutes are up, add your chicken and cabbage, cover again, and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.  Serve wonderfully hot!!

Simple, warming, perfect.  I really want to get after making more soups.  They tend to be such a great meal, or addition to a meal.  I have my mind stet on the perfect pumpkin soup as I am a complete sucker for anything pumpkin.  I am so open to recommendations for this one!  And the best part about them (soups that is): they are just good in any situation.  Sharing a bowl with the lovely lady while watching a movie, or perhaps sitting on our great porch (which we have yet to use!!), making a huge pot and having a nice gathering of friends.  Oh the possibilities are endless!  Hope you enjoy this one if you give it a try.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Deadifts!!


Last Wednesday had me pulling a comfortable 425# off the ground and I was hoping to get around 450# this time around for my last phase of the second cycle of Max Effort.  James and I get together to get after it, and while he pulled 5x5, I went after my reps.  Using Kilo's, I worked up quickly and comfortably to the final two sets where I got 215 (that's 474#).  The back was not perfect, but not too bad, and I had to scoop just a little on the second effort with it (the first was a bit smoother), but man, I am so happy to have the deadlift working back up!  I will be posting up my personal goals along with the Goals Page early ext week, but I am WELL on my way to getting my goal of 500#!  After that, James and I got a wonderful hip-dominant metcon:

3 rounds of:
10 box jumps 20"
5 box jumps 24"
1 box jump 30"
12 GHD sit ups
12 GHD back extensions
12 KB swings 53#

This was a great one!  The descending reps/ascending height box jumps were sneaky tough especially on the final round, and the GHD work fatigued the hips enough to make those jumps that much more a struggle.  And of course, after the heavy deadlifts, the GHD's and KB swings did a number on both our backs.  But it wasn't taxing enough to cause any breaks (except for the time split seconds it took to kick the box over to its different heights) and I was able to finish in 5:15, I am thinking that's a pretty good time.

I then went after a little supplemental work.  I had written in weighted good mornings but took those out as my back was struggling a bit.  So, I did 3 rounds of 20 TRX pendulums and knees to chest, then finished with 100 wide-leg bicycles.  A good days work all around!

I'm thinking the 7th installment of Courageous Meals will be up tomorrow, and Friday calls for a little something special before I head back east for the week (and some innovative workouts!).

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Metcon, Fat and Goals


Today, still feeling pretty sore from last weekends squat marathon, I wrote up a longer metcon based on one I did a while back when visiting Capitol Jiu-Jitsu in VA.  I wanted to get a collection of big movements in without going super heavy.  But the main thing was making sure there was a decent amount of skill involved so that I would stay focused throughout.

21-15-9 of
Hang power snatch (95#)
Lateral jump overs (height - 20" bar)(each jump is 1 rep)
Toes to bar


Rest exactly 1 minute then do:

2 minute AMRAP:
HSPU
2 minute AMRAP
Muscle ups

Rest exactly 1 minute then do:

15-12-9 of
Clean and jerks 135#
Burpees

This was, of course, pretty damn tiring.  The Gym was beyond stuffy today and that effected my muscle ups greatly.  I got 6:15 on the first portion and felt so so about it.  There was about a 15 second pause in there while I had to pick up a piece of equipment that fell off a plyo box, so, factor that in; and my hands kept slipping off the bar on the toes to bar.  Moving to the handstand push ups, I was able to get 7.  This is not all that great, but again, I was just using a single abmat and was able to get pretty solid reps here.  So progress on those is HUGE for me!  On to the muscle ups and I just could not do it.  Not because of strength, or missing on a skill piece, but because every time I went to kip I slipped right off the rings.  I was sweating so much in fact, that the chalk was just caking on my hands.  I got zero reps.  Finally, the clean and jerks and burpees.  Wow.  Tough.  I got this is in 9:48 and had nothing left in the tank at all.  This was exactly what I wanted out of today's workout!

The other fun thing I did today was take a skin fold body fat test.  I was feeling curious about this seeing how the only testing I have done for this has been on one of those hand-held testers.  The strength guy at 1st String Athletics, Matt, helped me out a but on this, and we had a fun time looking through all the different calculations, ultimately landing on the Jackson Pollock method.  I took measurements in 5 locations (commonly you would take them in 3 or 7.  Check out this link for the test sites).  I did the Triceps, chest, suprailiac, abdominal and thigh and came out with 6, 6, 18, 16 and 6 respectively.  After throwing around a few different calculations, I found an on-line calculator that used the same Jackson Pollock method, check it out HERE.  This leaves you with a collection of measurements that are all pretty interesting to know.  I ended up with a body fat percentage of 8.21, which is actually a lot less than I thought I had, so, pretty cool.

I still have a goal to lose a bit more of this.  Based off this calculation, I would like to be in the 6% range over the course of the next few months.  Should be a fun adventure.  In the process of doing this, I have been working on designing a goal page for my site.  This page will have the basic lifts, basic body composition/measurement options and a few others as well.  What I will basically have is a Word document you can download and write in your specifics, then email it back to me and I can post it up on the Goals page of my site.  I will then be revisiting the page every two months or so to check out the progress, and you all can send in your progress reports as well.  It's good to have something out there that keep you in check and holds you responsible, no excuses people!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Legs Are SHOT!

Check out the rolling hills leading to the Pacific!  This is where we live!

So, after a real nice off day, exploring the coast line just south of San Francisco with Lindsey (yeah, we are less than 30 minutes form a freaking unreal beach!), a bunch of foam rolling and stretching, I am STILL having a tough time getting around normally.  Those 225# squats got me like crazy, I feel like the muscles in my legs are abut to just rip to pieces if I do anything dynamic.

But, I know that won't happen, just got to ease into things.  So, I headed to the hills for a long run along the ridge.  This proved to help a lot.  I probably got about 4 or 5 miles in in around 40 minutes, a very slow pace for me, but, I was intentionally moving slow and, the hills were, well, steep as hell!  With the temperature in the mid-70's it was perfect.  Even though I am still roughing through getting in and out of a chair, I feel a ton better after being in the great outdoors for a while.
Lindsey Getting Her Climb On!

Back at The Gym I hit up my final cycle of my second phase of Max Effort Jerks.  I was able to get 255# and it felt so smooth and easy.  I then went to 260# and literally locked the weight out no problem, just too far forward and it fell!  I need help!  Check out the video and please let me know if you have suggestions!



The metcon was given to me by Lindsey (who actually prescribed 155# for 10 reps on the ground to overhead!): With a running clock do 100 burpees with 3 ground to overhead anyhow's at 185# at the top of each minute.  I got all set up, and, in a rae move for me, opted out of doing it.  My legs tightened up so fast I just decided to work on some skill work (HSPU, planche, skin the cats) and foam roll a bunch.  I need my legs to get better stat, and I feel there is no need to destroy them any more with crazy metcons!

In other news, I wanted to talk a bit about two other solid performances I was able to witness this past weekend.  Lindsey hit the Mid-Atlantic hopper workouts with me and put forth a damn solid effort.  The best was the squat workout.  The women's weight was 135# and to date, Lindsey had got up to 150# (not that hard a weight for her, but given the lack of super heavy metcons in her programming, 135# for max reps was a damn big shock to the body).  She tore it up though with 23 strong reps!  I am so beyond impressed (and a bit envious to be honest) of how quickly she is progressing.  Her overall strength numbers have been sky rocketing (PR'd on power cleans yesterday with 115# like it was nothing) and her metcons just keep getting faster, stronger and better.  Proof of this was her getting all three workouts from the Hopper Rx'd.  And to make it even better, she pushes me like crazy, critiques my form and helps me out with my progress!  No video footage of her getting these workouts, but I'm sure you'll see a couple fun Thanksgiving workouts with us killing it soon enough!

Secondly, James Powell, an employee of 1st String Athletics has dropped in for a few workouts over the weeks and I gave him the benchmark workout "Filthy Fifty" to try.  He wanted something to kick his ass a little, so, well, perfect!  He was able to pull through it at just a bit over 38 minutes, a damn respectable time for a beginning CrossFitter.  I think we may have a beast in the making with this guy!

Alright folks, feeling some good energy for this weeks total max effort.  Along with a loaded post on a couple fun topics later on, I'll share it all with you!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shout Out to The 2010 Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge


Last week a bunch of my friends went over to CrossFit BWI to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge.  This is the second annual running of this one, and it's such an awesome concept.  They basically throw a bunch of balls in the hopper and pick them out at random to figure out what everyone will be doing.  I was so bummed out that I couldn't join in the fun, but at least I could test out the workouts!  So Lindsey and I decided to do the first three WOD's today.

WOD #1:
30-20-10 of:
Wall Ball 20#
Hang Power Cleans 95#

This one was a shoulder killer.  I blasted off as fast as I could and went completely unbroken the entire workout.  The one main thing to my advantage here was that I knew the workouts and I knew what other people got on them, so I had very specific numbers to work towards.  Still hard as hell, mainly just holding on to the bar for the round of 20 on the cleans, and getting enough momentum to get the ball to proper height on the final round.  But I toughed through and finished with a time of 3:47, this would have put me in second place.  Now I was motivated!  Check it out:




WOD #2
3 minute AMRAP of:
Back Squats 225#

I was excited for this one as I have a fun time with leg-specific, heavy, high-rep workouts!  I started a little wider than normal with my stance to get a little less range of motion, and planned to get 20 reps right off the bat.  After 5 though, I realized cutting it at 10 would be the way to go (side note: I was not sure if we were allowed to rack the bar, so I just assumed we could, I hope that's the case!).  Did this through 50, then just did the best I could to get those remaining reps in with the time ticking down fast.  I finished with a painful 56 and literally could not hold myself up after that, legs were so shot!  But, this would have put me in first overall, and again, I was motivated!  Check out the video:




WOD #3
For time:
500 Meter Row
44 Double Unders

This one was going to be a burn-out, one of those crazy fast workouts that would be over before the body even realized what happened.  So, the only thing to do was to just flat out GO!  I was able to pull a painful 1:28 on the 500 meters, which is around 2 seconds slower than my PR, but that was about where I wanted to be.  I was slower than I wanted getting off the thing so I was determined to get all the double unders unbroken.  This proved to be tough as my body felt about as close to jello as it could.  But I firmed up a little and just threw my arms into it as hard as I could.  I got them all in and stopped the clock at 2:01, enough to put me in a 2nd place finish for that.  Sweet, that would have put me in 1st after the first day!  Check out the video:



Yeah, overall we had a great time with this.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon driving around exploring the greater mountainous area around our home town (the picture at the top of the post is sunset looking over the Pacific Ocean!).  My body was pretty much shot the whole time, legs, low back, just dead; should be an interesting time tomorrow!  Thanks so much to the guys at CrossFit BWI (I don't know any of them, but they clearly rock for putting on such a great event).  And of course, shout out to all my buddies from CrossFit DC and CrossFit Balance, wish I could have been with you!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pulling Heavy!


Today, in a wonderfully empty gym, I attacked my weighted pull ups, dips, and of course a great metcon.  I was feeling fresh and strong and it showed on my last effort of each.  I was able to get 90# pretty comfortably on the pull ups, and the dips were strong as well with 85#, and that was also on the rings.  The only tough part I had with this workout was my weight loading choice.  I don't have a belt for this yet, so I ended up using a small harness hooked to my weight vest.  The harness was small enough to string through plates, so it worked out pretty well, except for my fear of it breaking while I worked out.  Pumped to get my goal of 100# on both lifts!

The metcon was an interesting one:

10 minute AMRAP of:
2 handstand push ups
2 muscle ups
50 meters SB overhead run 52#
10 wall-touch rolling sit ups (lie with head 1 foot from wall, lift legs until feet touch wall behind head, roll open and perform a full sit up. That is one rep)

I was able to get 4 rounds plus 2 handstand push ups, and I felt realy good with this.  Not because I actually think that's a good score, but because I was able to get all HSPU's with just an abmat (the greatest range of motion I have been able to get so far), and I got all muscle ups unbroken.  The run and the sit ups were just fine, and they actually ended up acting as a recovery so i could really pout my energy into the two things I struggle with.

After that, I got a few rounds of support work in, just to work on core stability and scapular retraction a bit.  Some good food later and I am ready to hit The Gym tomorrow with Lindsey to try out the first three workouts from last weekends Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge that took place back East.  I had a handful of friends attend (Big Dan, someone I have workout out with a lot and has had a few mentions in this blog, came in 6th, and Christy Phillips, another workout partner won 1st for the women!) and I am excited to give the workouts a go.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Courageous Meals - 6

Breakfast Quiche
(Dairy-free of course!)

I have been wanting to give breakfast a bit of a twist since all I really have been working with lately is different scramble combos.  While I commonly don't like to use set recipes, I suckered down and opened up the great book Gourmet Nutrition (a gift from good friend Jim Bathurst of Beast Skills) and found inspiration.

Ingredients (I doubled the called-for amount in the book, this made 14 large quiches):
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepper (red or orange)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup grated rice cheese (original calls for grated Swiss, do what you wish, I actually think it would be just fine with no cheese)
  • 6 oz. deli style turkey slices
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Also needed:
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Salsa (to use on top of quiches when finished.  I used mango salsa, so good!)
  • Muffin tray (with 12 or more molds)
  • Blender
Once all the ingredients are set and ready to go, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Next, grab all the ingredients and throw them in the blender.  Blend on low until decently liquefied (it doesn't need to be total liquid at all, just make sure it is, mostly liquid).

Next, liberally spray the muffin tray with the olive oil and proceed to pour in your blended mixture.  Fill each mold about 3/4 the way and then slip into the oven.  Keep them there for 20-30 minutes, or until firm to the touch (no liquid should show when you press directly into the middle of them), then take them out and set on the counter to cool for about 5 minutes (they will shrink a good amount, just a heads up).

Plate a couple, throw on a spoon full of salsa next to them and enjoy!

These turned out pretty damn good I must say.  And because I made a bunch of them, they ended up being the perfect snack a little later in the day after being refrigerated.  I plan to make these again on a regular basis and I'll be trying out a few different things.  Here's what I'm thinking:  No cheese, adding actual solid pieces of meat or vegges to the mix, adding something spicy, if I ate cheese I would totally add parmesan.  yeah, there a few ideas, if any of you try this out with something different, let me know how it turns out!  Either way, this was a great dish as a light but nutritional breakfast, and/or a perfect snack or post-workout meal.  I highly recommend this one!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Deadlifts Are Back Baby!


Lindsey and I headed to The Gym a little earlier this morning and I was a huge fan of that decision!  I really do function better in the late morning in terms of my ability to perform, and while I know it is good to get training in at times when I do not feel totally comfortable, I know real gains will happen when training takes place at your peak.  My peak is between 9 and 12 every day.

With the second cycle of deadlifts to work on, I was feeling the frustration from last weeks debacle of an attempt.  Today was a bit different.  With only slight scapular fatigue I was able to pull 425# off the ground with ease.  This pumped me up like crazy, and gave me the motivation to get back up to that goal of 500# soon!  My metcon ended up being anther one of my sneaky tough ones:

3 rounds for time of:
50 box jumps 20"
15 KB snatches 53# (each arm)

This was straight up tiring.  I was able to get through every rep (except for a small break at rep 30 on the final set of box jumps) unbroken and I was good and toasted at that point.  I am starting to realize that The Gym is a bit stuffier than it actually feels.  When you walk in here it feel just about perfect,  but the second you start to get after it, the sweat just pours off you.  I am certain this adds a degree of difficulty to the workouts, but I am so OK with that.  I was able to get this one in in 7:17 and think that is a pretty good time.  Here's the video:



Later on in the day I returned to get a little extra work in, and there were three guys ready to get after the 4:15 class.  I knew them all, so I decided it would be good to get in with them and we could all get after it a little.  Here's what we did:

Warm Up:
While one guy does 250 meters row, the others do: max rep jumping jacks, KB swings (26#), hands off ground push ups.  We went twice through this.

We then got 10 minutes of kipping pull ups work, just to work on the mechanics of the move a little.

Workout: 3 un-timed rounds of (no break between triplet, 90 second max rest between rounds):
10 Overhead squats
12 pull ups
6 max distance broad jumps

Score was the farthest total distance of the broad jump.  Man this was fun!  I worked up to 74.5 kilos on the OH squat (that's 163.9#) and felt pretty solid getting 10 unbroken reps.  All pull ups were unbroken, and I was able to get 51 feet on my final round (1 foot farther than my first two rounds).  I really liked this combo of exercises, it left us spent, but productively satisfied.  Everyone walked away with some pretty positive energy and I just love that feeling.  Matt, James and Austin all had good performances, and Matt took the jumps by storm with a solid 55 feet.

Looking forward to a good recovery day tomorrow.  Lindsey and I are going for a 15-20 mile bike ride, then I'll get some good foam rolling and stretching at The Gym later on.  Look for the 6th installment of Courageous Meals coming soon!  Oh, and speaking of meals, I come back and this is the meal in the oven!  Broiled lamb, asparagus and a sweet potato.  So perfect!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Back On The TRX


It's been a damn long time since I strung up the TRX and got after a solid body-weight workout.  If you don't know what this thing is, you are missing out on what I comfortably claim is the single greatest fitness tool anyone can own.  It is basically a suspension system you can hook up to any bar, tree branch, basketball hoop, doorway, truck and so on to use against your own body weight to perform practically any movement under the sun.  Utilizing this style of training is beneficial is practically every possible way: building strength, mobility, stability, balance and power.  To hold your body in set positions, and to move through a range of motion in those positions, you must demonstrate great core stability.  In addition, the pressure your own body weight puts on your joints calls for the most functional sort of strength and stability training you could ever ask for.  Control your body, and controlling anything else will be that much easier.

To better understand the benefits of body weight training, ask yourself these generalized questions: how many muscle ups could your average body builder perform?  And how much could your average gymnast deadlift?

Easy answer: pretty sure your typical bodybuilder couldn't even come close to getting a muscle ups.  And...yup, pretty sure your typical gymnast could pull a double body weight deadlift with ease.  Conclusion: do more body weight work and you will be freaking strong as hell!

So, back to the workout.  I set up a 15 exercise circuit and blasted through it twice through.  I got every body part, every plane, crazy range of motion and tons of stability.  The workout was sandwiched between 250 double unders for time which was just flat out challenging!  I was able to get 3:24 on the first effort (getting 120 unbroken, not bad I would say), and then 3:34 after the TRX circuit.  All around I felt damn good with the work, and have been fully inspired to get the TRX back into the training program on a more regular basis.  I will use it in this full body circuit manor every now and again, but I generally like to use it for support work around other exercises.  It just adds so much to a typical program.

Here is the video from yesterdays workout:


Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Slowly Getting Control

Walden Working On His Muscle Ups!

You ever have one of those days where you feel like you just do not have a handle on anything?  Where everything seems to happen just out of your control and you just kind of breeze through the day just a little bit helpless?  I had a day like that yesterday.  While it was frustrating, it was nothing a little sitting back and getting things re-aligned wouldn't handle, and that's just what I did. 

In the gym I had Max Effort jerks (3, 3, 3, 1, 1, 1) and then I programmed in another muscle up metcon to make myself attack the weakness I was faced with so strongly last week at Balance Gym in DC.  As usual, I felt very strong with the jerks, but just did not have it in terms of mechanics.  I was able to get a little more hip engagement on the dip and push, which made me feel that much stronger, but it's that lock out that I just lose all confidence in.  I missed 3 attempts at 250#.  Each attempt I got the bar to a fully locked position with ease, I just locked it out in front of my head forcing me to dump the bar before I could adjust my body.  Today I have taken out a couple books I have on O lifting and will read up on it to begin the confidence building.  The honest to goodness next step is getting a coach to watch over me as I lift.  That's what I need!

The metcon was fine: 5 rounds of 12 hang power cleans at 135# and 3 muscle ups.  I got all the cleans unbroken except for the final round where the bar literally slipped out of my hands on rep 10 (forearms were FEELING this workout!), and I was able to get all the muscle ups in with only 1 or 2 misses per round.  I stayed very deliberate each rep to ensure I would get it, and this focus helped a lot.  My time was 9:04, and while I know this would be a sub-6 minute metcon, I am very happy with my time given my last muscle up outing.  (Video of this workout will be up later today).

After a not-so-well-prepared dinner, Lindsey and I decided we needed to re-assess our fuel preparation habits (which were so good up until a few days ago).  So, today I have a list of things to do, a plan of attack in bettering my chances of getting people to sign up for classes, and a shopping a meal list that will make our breakfasts, lunches and dinners the talk of the town!  Well, we'll see about that, but they'll be damn good, I know that much.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Bit Of A Run


It was about three weeks ago, tops, that I got a Groupon update email with 50% off the entrance fee to the US Half Marathon in San Francisco.  A quick, couple minute conversation with the girl later, we had two registered runners.  Oh boy.  Now I am by no means an inexperienced runner, with 12 marathons under my belt, along with a 50-mile ultra, I have logged my fare share of miles.  But, that being said, the longest I had run in a year (last November was my last marathon) was around 8 miles or so.  My girl had an even longer break going for her (she'd run 1 marathon, about two years, and not too much distance since), so we both were a little rusty to say the least.

So how the hell did I expect to make it, healthily, through 13.1 miles without having any sort of up to date run training?  Well, I actually was not worried at all.  Here's why:

Simply put, CrossFit.  And to be honest, even if I had none of my distance running background, I still would not have been worried.  A regular CrossFitter has more than enough cardiovascular and muscular endurance to last a couple hours of basic running; and when the body starts to wear down a bit, CrossFitters will have no problem enduring the pain.  If you regularly strength train (building overall functional strength in all major muscle groups), incorporate intelligent metcons (building solid cardio and muscular endurance, as well as "pain" endurance, or, "toughing it out") and practice mobility work pre and post workouts (enforcing increased range of motion through all your muscles and joints), you are more than prepared for about 90% of the physical aspect of any extended endurance event, and 100% of the mental aspect.  This leaves the final 10%: impact.


This is the one and only issue I find in CrossFitters attempting long runs, they sometimes lack the ability to handle the constant impact that is inevitable in the sport of long distance running.  Your feet, ankles, knees and hips (along with the muscles and tendons keeping those joints together) take an absolute pounding.  But, there is hope for those struggling with this issue yet!  If you train CrossFit correctly, if your programming incorporates proper supplemental/support work along with focused attentions on form and range of motion on all lifts, and plenty of running-based metcons, you'll do just fine.

Think about it, when you plant your foot while running, your joints just smash together.  If you have solid, balanced strength in all your main movers (quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves) those joints will be protected from any form of repetitive pounding.  Heavy squats, lunges, step ups, deadlifts and cleans will pretty much do the trick for the strength.  Now, add mobility and stability work to your programming (foam roll, stretch, dynamic warm ups, body weight movements, unilateral lunges, step ups, isometrics) and those joints will end up being stronger than most die-hard runners.  But you can still get better!  Get a handful of sprint intervals, 1-3 mile runs, weighted running (sled pulling and pushing, sandbag running) and chipper style, or 20+ minute metcons and you will not only be able to finish a 10-miler or half marathon, but do it with a damn respectable time as well. 


To be a great runner, don't just run.  In fact, I would argue that for most runners out there, incorporating a steady CrossFit style program into your training, while decreasing your total miles per week will help you smash all your running PR's.  And to take it a step farther, even elite runners would benefit from a similar shift in programming.  A phrase I like to share with my athletes: "the more overall athleticism you have, the better at your sport you will be."

So on to my personal experince.  I finished in 1:49:01.  I really wanted to get 1:45 or better but it just was not in the cards today.  But what a fun run this was!  For starters, it was POURING rain the entire time.  And I mean, some serious rain!  But this just made it that much more fun.  I made a huge running fopa by wearing a pair of super minimalist Saucony shoes that I had purchased the night before...thank god this did not come back to bite me in the ass.  And then, my girl and I shared a banana for fuel before driving in circles to find parking and literally running up to the start line as the gun went off.  Needless to say, we were not completely prepared for this thing.  But, despite all that, we both had a good experience.  It's just fun getting outside with a massive group of people and being active, what else can I say?  And after it all, with my recovery tights on as I write, I am feeling pretty damn good and confident to get back into the gym tomorrow for regularly scheduled programming.  Not too shabby at all!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

oooooRun!

US Half Marathon tomorrow!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rest Day / Musings


Today I took completely off, besides 6 miles of total bike riding (to and from work).  I foam rolled, I stretched and I got work done throughout the day.  So because there was not much going on to talk about, I've decided to use this post for two things: first, I'll let you know about some my training tweaks and potential changes to the site (because classes and training are starting up, I need to make sure the site is at its best!).  Second, I want to talk a bit about perspective, something I have lost a bit of control over thanks to recent stresses.

While I continue on to my second phase of Max Effort Black Box strength bias, I am also focused fully on my two main weakness: shoulders and core.  Besides what I've already been doing, I am going to be adding handstand push up practice and strict chest to bar pull ups each and every morning, along with light static stretching.  I think that added work is going to be hugely effective, so I am excited to feel those gains.  TRX core work post strength days will be pretty helpful as well!

As for the site, within the next few weeks I'll be making some changes to make it a bit more conducive for clients and members.  My blog posts will still be visible and easily accessible, but I'll be making sure pertinent information will be right there.  Nothing too crazy, just some minor adjustments to make things wonderful.

Perspective:

- eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity: be intensely yourself. don’t try to be outstanding; don’t try to be a success; don’t try to do pictures for others to look at - just please yourself. -

I have no idea who wrote this, but it made me sit back and think for a good long time, and I have some pretty serious adjustments to make.  I have always been one to promote being yourself, doing "your thing" and being happy with the knowledge that yourself is better than anything you could ever be.  I am not opposed to change, to pushing limits and challenging yourself, I am merely talking about becoming comfortable in your own skin as well as with where you are right at this moment.  But lately I have been focusing too much on the future and how to get a name for myself out here in California.  Again, I am not opposed to thinking, planning and pushing for wonderful goals in the future, just as long as they do not interfere with what you are doing at any given moment.  And the fact that Lindsey and I just moved out here basically on a whim, I have lost that down-to-earth, grounded aspect of my life that I had happily found over the past many years.

How am I to be perceived out here?  Will I be able to establish the reputation that I had in and around DC, and grow it?  Will I be able to change the face of fitness like I dedicated myself to years ago?  What do I have to do to appeal to people here?  Will I get the pro athletes in the gym, the big names?

Well, I have the answer.  With this situation I find myself in, I know exactly what to do.  Don't worry about it.  Simple as that.

I love fitness, I love training, I love exploring and I love the adventure of life, every single day.  All I have to do is wake up in the morning and love my life, be passionate about what I do, and things will happen.  This has worked ever since I can remember; and interestingly enough, not just for me, but for anyone I have met who has just let go and truly, passionately, followed what they love.

So besides finding random quotes that might inspire you to change your life, what can you do to ensure you are moving in a direction where your perspective is healthy and positive?  Well, for starters, make a list.  I know this seems a little bit regimented, but the fact of the matter is, seeing certain things written down tends to be pretty eye-opening.  So start by writing down what your day looks like; don't do it for just one day, do it for at least a week.  Write down everything, when you wake up, how you feel, what's your process, do you read the paper, eat breakfast, take a shower, brush your teeth, workout?  What to you do?  The main point of this is to become more aware of how you feel around these actions.  Interestingly enough, what I would assume of most people is that your general feeling towards most things you do is indifference.  Sure you might have some things that make you happy, and you probably have a tone of things that annoy and bother you; but indifference, or apathy is most likely a very common feeling.

Well, to be pretty damn blunt, that sucks!  Why would you want the majority of your day to just not really matter?  Think about how great your life would be if you actually felt GOOD about the majority of things you did in a day?  This leads to step two.  Take those things that make you happy...now do them more!

When I was young, I found that baseball absolutely rocked my world.  As I grew up I decided that baseball was what I wanted to do.  So, I made sure I did whatever I could to play it.  Later on I realized that my life was changing, fitness was becoming the most important thing to me, it made me happy, all the time.  So, I turned fitness into my life.  And I'll tell you what, when I lose sight of all the happiness that's actually in my life, I am able to find my way out of the rut sooner rather than later because for the most part, I am doing exactly what it is I want on a daily basis.

As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes it's a really good thing to count your blessings, you know, keeps things in perspective.  Here are a few of mine:

I am living with the girl I want to spend my life with.
I am living where I've always wanted to live.
Every day I have the ability to explore and be active.
I have support from so many friends and family.
I have so much potential to share my passion with so many people!

What are yours?

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Courageous Meals 5

Grilled Chicken Kabobs w/
Kale Salad and Sauteed Brussel Sprouts




 I headed back to the DC area for my fathers birthday along with the rest of the family and we decided a cookout would be perfect.  I offered to get some kabobs going, and the following is the meal.  Turned pretty good on the whole if I do say so myself, I am just such a huge fan of grilling food, it tastes so good!

Ingredients:
  • 4 large chicken breast
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • About 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 2 large lemons
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 large red onion
  • About 10 brussel sprouts
  • About 8-12 wood skewers
Extra:
I decided the meal would go great with some added sweet potato fries (almost the same way we did for Courageous Meals 1, check 'em out, so good!  We made them flat and wide instead of the long and thin though).  And we grilled up a large Turbot Fillet for the non-chicken eaters of the house.  I had never even heard of turbot before picking it up, not bad at all, just a thicker white fish, going to have to get some more of it soon!

Start off by cutting your chicken into about 1 inch cubes, then set aside while you cut all your veggies into pieces about the same size (the size is totally up to you, we cut up ours to be the same size of the chicken so the they didn't overcook on the grill (save some of the red onion for the brussel sprouts!).  Once they are all cut, skewer the hell out of 'em! 

Next, head out to the grill (preferably charcoal) and light it up.  Let the flame burn for a bit, heating up the grill grill, and make sure the flames are died down enough that they aren't reaching the actual metal of the grill.  Place the skewered meat and veggies on the heat.

Make sure you give them a quarter rotation about every minute or so.  These will be done in 15 minutes.

While the kabobs are grilling (again, make sure to rotate them!), peel the kale leaves from the stocks and rip them into larger than bite-sized pieces.  Boil up some water and throw the leaves in for about 2 minutes, promptly remove from the heat and drain them with cold water and place back into a large salad bowl.

Next, take your avocado and cut them into small little pieces (I think the best is about 1/2 inch pieces) and mix into the kale.  Put aside.

Next, get a pan heated over medium heat.  While that's heating up, cut those brussel sprouts in half, then cut up 1/4 cup of the red onion into very small pieces.  Add about a tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the pan and spread it around before adding your brussel sprouts and onions.  Add a pinch of salt and cook until browned.  Plate those up.

Next cut your lemon in half and squeeze as much of the juice over your kale, mix it thoroughly. 

Plate up your wonderfully cooked kabobs, get the family to grab a seat, and enjoy!

I had such a fun time with the grill that I have bee inspired to try to quicken the process of getting one at our place in CA.  Ones we get one I fully intend to use it about 3-4 times per week.  I can assure you, there will be plenty more Courageous Meals involving grilled meats coming soon!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage