Saturday, August 10, 2013

The most FAQ about my CFE training

The most Frequently Asked Question(s) about my CrossFit Endurance (CFE) training is “How long are the intervals supposed to be and how many?!”

Let me define this crazy thing called CFE that I am wildly passionate about. Defined simply, CrossFit Endurance is a strength and conditioning program that includes sport specific training (and programming) tailored to endurance athletes. The CFE program places focus on building power and speed which are critical components of greater endurance. Sports included in the programming: swimming, biking, running, rowing, and military athletes (rucking).

The question(s) posed above is/are not simply answered in brief. What the answer boils down to is another question imposed upon the person inquiring: What is your capacity to maintain proper form and function given the specific movement of the sport? (i.e. Do you run like a bow-legged duck? Are you a heel-striking/rolling-thru runner? Do you row with a neutral spine or do you look like a Halloween cat attempting a backflip? When do you swim are you doing the Freddy Kruger water-slap-stab or do you glide effortlessly forever?)

frankenfrontAnother question to ask the inquirer: Are you practicing the skill of your sport or are you just putting in the hours or miles? If you don’t practice the technique of your sport’s movement and practice it as a skill rather than something we take for granted and believe we all can do (such as running)—then you’re missing out on untapped potential. Not to mention, a far greater risk of injury.

As a CFE Coach, I would first look at the athlete’s movement, both at speed and in slow motion. I wouldn’t just focus on the movement of their sport, I would also have the athlete move under load. Seeing the athlete in the Frankenstein front squat position (pictured), overhead squatting—just squatting in general can expose a lot of incapacities. Also, picking up something heavy off the floor, carrying a heavy object, or pressing weight overhead can expose an athlete to a CFE Coach’s trained eyes.

After determining the athlete’s capacity for proper movement, it is then time to see how long the athlete can maintain proper form under duress. Only then can you prescribe the proper duration of intervals which becomes very specific to the athlete in question—based upon their movement and how quickly that movement breaks down.

For example, if a middle distance runner can only maintain proper POSE form for the first third of their 5K race before they start heel striking and breaking form; I would only program high intensity intervals no longer than 800m totaling 1.6K (so, 3 x 800m). The rest interval would depend upon their recovery, but 2:00-4:00 is a good general rule without looking at heart rate variability (again, the HR variable is very specific to the athlete). Looking a bit deeper into the programming of intervals for this athlete, I would put more focus on much shorter distances such as 100m and 200m repeats. The number of repeats wouldn’t necessarily hinge on the distance of this athlete’s races, but would be influenced far greater by how solid his running form is as he completes multiple intervals. And obviously his recovery plays a role, as well as the volume of training for the day (and week) in the realms of strength programming and/or a metabolic strength and conditioning workout (WOD). Then as this athlete’s capacity to run longer without breaking his form increases, the number of intervals and the increase in their average distance will also correlate. With CFE, mastering skill and technique comes before intensity and finally volume.


As you can see it’s not a simple equation and the formula from one athlete to the next can and should be completely different—based upon that athlete’s abilities and capacity. What you see when you look at programming on the CFE main website is programming for the general masses—it cannot be made specific to one type of athlete because there are 100,000 individual athletes looking at the website daily and adapting it to their personal abilities and goals (as should you if you’re using it).

If you’re not completely sure how to use the website or you want to start and you’re already a CrossFitter, see if a coach in your CrossFit gym holds a CFE certification. If not, look on the CFE website for a CFE affiliated gym in your area. I would also strongly suggest attending a CFE seminar (specifically the “running based” / standard seminar)—I guarantee it’ll be a game-changer in your understanding of CFE programming and how you train as an endurance athlete. It will also make you a much more efficient runner.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the question(s) posed above. I get these types of questions a lot on Twitter and as you can see the answer needs way more than 140 characters.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kyle Maynard: The Power of Failure

I had the most amazing opportunity to meet the legendary Kyle Maynard two weeks ago when I was judging the 2013 CrossFit Games. I was upstairs in the VIP Stadium Club looking for a friend and as I passed through I saw a guy who reminded me very much of Kyle. Actually, I had to walk through and past his table a couple times because I didn’t want to be rude and stare from across the room. I was wasn’t certain that it was him; then when I was certain, I couldn’t figure out my approach. Then I just pussied-out. Ha! But what I like to tell people is that I was needed on the field for a judging assignment so “I ran out of time— I was in a rush— I was pre-occupied...” —with self-loathing.

You see, to me Kyle exposes inadequacies and flaws. When most people who might not know who Kyle is sees him in passing they may only see the physical. If they don’t know him or haven’t been exposed to his legacy via his brilliant speaking and writing...then they wouldn’t see Kyle as I do: As a reflecting glass of glorious joy and positivity.

There is a Bible verse that reads, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (Ephesians 5:13). When taken in context with the rest of the Chapter 5, one can extract it’s meaning: a person filled with holiness living righteously will reveal the lack of holiness and righteousness in others—this person doesn’t have to be cognizant of it. And Kyle Maynard is a prime example of this to me.

Whenever I watch videos about him or read his writings, it’s like looking in a reflecting glass that exposes me. I feel exposed to my flaws and hang-ups which, in comparison, are nothing to what Kyle has overcome and what he deals with on a daily basis. I’ve shared many times about my congenital eyelid condition and how on almost a daily basis someone has a rude ignorant remark to make to me. Or how people are quick to judge me as scrawny and weak (even though I can deadlift nearly 3x my body weight and do things on gymnastics rings that the yoked-bros can only think about).

Every time I see Kyle in a video, so many emotions flood my senses. I often become overwhelmed and tears well-up in my eyes. His joy and positivity are absolutely radiant. I’m captivated by him. And I am exposed to my inadequacies and how I face my physical failures and psychological adversities. As well, the negativity, hatred and jadedness in me are made ever more present and conscious.

The inspiration to share these thoughts came from a conversation that just happened. I had tweeted to Kyle right before I started writing this post. I saw a tweet from him in my tweet-feed and decided I would confirm his presence at the CrossFit Games. He WAS there (I already knew that, ha!) BUT I needed to man-up and take action and say out-loud (or in a written confession on Twitter) that I was a pussy and that next year I will definitely sit down and chat with him. I will probably be a whiney mess and won’t even be able to introduce myself without crying. Heck, I couldn’t even write that last sentence without tears forming in my eyes and a lump growing in my throat...

Oh the thought of next year!

Until then I’ll let Kyle’s motivating positivity and profound joy fuel some healing in me. Then when he sees me coming next year, he’ll only need half a box of Kleenex.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sugary drinks tied to obesity among kids?! Nooo!!

Oh the sarcasm in that title...

Five-year-olds who drink sugar-sweetened sodas, sports drinks or juices every day are more likely to be obese than those who have sugar-sweetened beverages less often, according to a new study.

Although the link between sugary drinks and extra weight has been well documented among teens and adults, researchers said that up until now, the evidence was less clear for young children.

[continue reading...]

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chad Vaughn, my friend who moves weight beautifully


2013 CrossFit Games: Top Highlights


It’s been a week since returning from my 8 days of volunteering at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, CA. There were so many amazing things that happened this year that I could quite possibly write a bestselling coffee table book. But I’ll spare you the jealousy and just share a handful (6) of my Top Highlights from this year’s Games.

NICK MASSIE—It may seem as though I continue to fluff his ego, but seriously; I spent the whole week in Carson, CA looking forward to our connection at The Games. Unfortunately, it came on the last day right during my 15 minute break from scoring the final event. Nick Massie (aka: Paleo Nick) is definitely the coolest, most down-to-earth, and genuine CrossFit personalities that I have the honor of calling a good friend. It’s funny when a person tries to paint a negative picture of someone and then your first impression via your first in-person interaction is completely off-the-charts opposite of what was said about them. Nick is a brah’s bro ;) And you can tell he is genuinely interested and listening to you when you interact with him. He also made me some ahi poke and brought it on an ice pack with a spoon and some nori—Seriously, a jerk?! HARDLY! Hands down, THE GREATEST HIGHLIGHT of my week helping out at the 2013 CrossFit Games!!

—The coach from the Biggest Loser. That’s right. And amazing dude, and totally humble and approachable. Quite the guy; open and friendly and just plain fun! Bob sat in the VIP seats directly behind where I was scoring the final events at the end of each of the three days. I had a lot of opportunities to interact with him and talk to him about the upcoming season of the Biggest Loser (BL) and the further implementation of CrossFit. Plus, spoiler alert CrossFit/BL fans, The Worm and The Pig are going to be making appearances in the next season. Bob told me he was picking up each the day after the final event. I’m looking forward to watching that hell unfold...

—Just moments before I took this photo, Josh finished (and won) the “2007” workout. On his way to the Sea of Green (the CF Invictus tribe) he ran past the line judges where I was scoring and stopped to give me an excitatory victorious (and very sweaty) embrace. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because I had an interaction with Josh the night before in the tunnel under the StubHub Center where I introduced myself as a close friend of Dan & April McKee (his brother-in-law/sister). We talked for a few minutes about them and us and CrossFit Lincoln. We shared a moment. Ha!

FROM JUDGING TO SCORING—During my stint as a Judge for the Masters Competition (Tues-Thu), it was asked of a handful of judges to step into the position of LIVE Scoring. A job that would remove you from the limelight and a job that not many people jumped for because of that very reason. I felt a calling that I should serve with servant leadership and take what many judges thought to be a demotion. I saw it as an opportunity to position myself on a newly forming, tight crew of individuals who will be in high demand as the week progressed (as the Men’s & Women’s Finals approached). And that’s exactly what it turned into. Myself, along with 11 other awesome individuals, took what many thought was a crap job at the beginning, but suddenly was the job that everyone wanted once it was learned that our crew of 12 would be LIVE SCORING the Finals on ESPN2. Did you see the power meters and changing score tickers during The Games? Yeah, that was me and my fellow crew members doing all that. Amazing stuff. It landed us in front of the VIP section and allowed for my interactions with Bob Harper and THE HUG from Josh Bridges. Epic stuff! AND, I’ve already been requested for the LIVE Scoring Crew for next year!! WORD.

ROOMMATES—I was blessed with these two for roommates. Jon, the cheese-ball, is a great friend I met at Regionals in Chicago earlier this year. I had already booked my hotel room for The Games back in February (months prior to Regionals). And it just so happened that Jon was going to volunteer at the Games as well, so I offered to share my room. Plus, it would make the trip more affordable for both of us. We had a room just a couple blocks from The Games campus. Aussie Andy, the guy intent on ignoring us in the picture, worked with Jon on the Media team. Andy had a crappy arrangement at a hostel with a pothead dorm King and random guys sleeping in his bed when he returned to hostel dorm at night. Jon and I decided we’d rescue him and invited Andy to crash in our hotel room. Bad attempts at accents and other ridiculous hilarity ensued most nights.

HERMOSA BEACH & THE TACO TOUR—After our very first day onsite (Sunday), Jon and I were excited to stretch our legs a little bit and do some exploring. I thought a bus trip to Hermosa Beach would be excellent. Once we arrived we decided we were starving and thus started our taco tour. Hermosa Beach and the area around it is known for it’s fish tacos and we were all about it! The Taco Project served the lovely taco pictured above—it won both of our votes as the best taco we had in Hermosa. (“The Blueberry BBQ” ~ consisted of pork, blueberry sriracha bbq sauce, and apple-kale coleslaw... It was LEGIT!)

DSCN1240Thanks for the laughs (and shorts), Lacee!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Have you improved since last year's CrossFit Games?

The infographic below shows how much improvement CrossFit athletes have achieved in the one year between the 2012 & 2013 Open. Across every standard there was humongous improvement -- both in men and women.

This coming Sunday (21-Jul) I will be flying to Los Angeles to support the community that's challenged the way I think about fitness and nutrition. Just like last year, I will once again be Judging the 2013 CrossFit Games. Even though my week in California will be spent mostly volunteering/working, I absolutely love the experience/opportunity and these types of working-vacations continue to make me and those around me better individuals.

How(?), you make ask... Well, CrossFit has made me a far better athlete; it has given me a greater effectiveness as a coach, and changed me into a better member of society. What we do in the box (gym) as a community has a far reaching impact into many areas of life outside of those four gym walls.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wheat: Stop the Violence

I get this question A LOT, so I thought I would tackle it in a short post.

What the THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT change to one's diet that will drastically improve a person's overall fitness and performance?

STOP EATING WHEAT (and all grains for that matter). Why? They are full of anti-nutrients and toxins that destroy your intestinal lining and inflame your gut.[1][2][3] An inflamed gut means you will not effectively absorb the nutrients in your food; which means your recovery and growth post-workout will suck. And if think this is a mainstream fallacy, take the gluten-free/grain-free 30-Day Challenge. By removing gluten-containing foods & grains from your diet for 30-day your gut will have a tremendous opportunity to repair itself. You might think you "feel great" even you're consuming grains and gluten, but the reality is you don't know what "feeling great" really feels like. After the 30-Days you can add back in glutinous foods (if you'd like; or you might feel awesome & Superhuman without them, why wreck that? Stay gluten-free) ... But if you decide to take the nose-dive back into your gluten-altered reality, you might soon wish you had not.

Also, gluten not only disrupts your gut lining and your ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients from food, but the protein itself can attach to a carrier protein in the gut and puncture through the cells and enter the bloodstream. From there it travels to the brain and crosses the blood-brain barrier, attaches to opioid receptors and creates one hell of an addiction. This has been known scientific fact since 1984 (or perhaps earlier).[4][5] I know many people that when I mention to them that I'm grain-free/gluten-free, and they realize I don't eat wheat pasta or breads they lose their minds. Often I hear, "I could NEVER give up pasta or bread. I absolutely love them. They are staples in my diet!!" (e.g. they are addicted and most of them are skinny-fat with Wheat Bellies.)

Friends, if you want to look good, feel good, and perform at an optimal level and you are currently consuming wheat/gluten and grains, STOP IT! Your genetic potential is being sabotaged.


1. Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial.

2. Gliadin induces an increase in intestinal permeability and zonulin release by binding to the chemokine receptor CXCR3.

3. Gliadin, zonulin and gut permeability: Effects on celiac and non-celiac intestinal mucosa and intestinal cell lines.

4. Demonstration of high opioid-like activity in isolated peptides from wheat gluten hydrolysates.

5. Opioid peptides derived from wheat gluten: their isolation and characterization.