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Monday
May302016

Eating for Murph Today

I've a feeling people around the world are writing about their Murph workout experiences today. I'll keep it brief.

Today I slept in. Breakfast was a Best Bar Ever (chocolate peanut butter), while walking Jack the dog. Headed for CrossFit Green Bay. Drank my second cup of coffee while riding.

During Murph, I had a BlenderBottle of water with one packet of Progenex Force in it. Basically, I didn't even finish the BlenderBottle during the session; that's a tough workout to drink during!

66:18.  Dead-hang pullups. 

My post-workout Build-Recovery shake never tasted so good!

Salute to all veterans, including my 93 year-old-father who served in the U.S. Navy, Pacific Theater, from enlistment six months after Pearl Harbor through the surrender.

Thanks, Progenex and Best Bar Ever for the fuel.

Saturday
Feb272016

CrossFit Saved My Week

I experienced a few workout ups and downs last week, creating my own formula for a weirdly-sore body.

My trusty Honda Element has been my traveling camper on countless occasions over the years. I love sleeping in it. But I’ve not done so in the dead of winter. Up north in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So I did.

Here’s how it went down. Last Tuesday I was at CrossFit Green Bay, my home base. DT was the workout. It’s a tough combination of a dozen deadlifts, nine hang power cleans, and six push jerks. Work your way through these, without putting the bar down. Then repeat four more times for five rounds total. Prescribed weight is 155#. I pulled my Masters CrossFit exemption card and hammered through it, slowly, at 135#. It was tough enough. 

Then I did some extra work, barbell rows and tricep dips. Showered, and hit the road for the 500 mile drive through the U.P. to visit my father. Keep in mind, right from the gym to the driver’s seat. 

I enjoy eating while I drive and listen to podcasts. Usually I stop and buy some turkey and some sliced cheese, perhaps some rice crackers, and make a mess while driving and watching the U.P. go by. I needed to stop somewhere with Wi-Fi and catch up on email, place a Progenex order, and just get out of the Element, so at the three or four hour mark I settled into a booth at McDonalds, home of very hot coffee and decent Wi-Fi. And Big Macs. McDonald's in Escanaba, MI. WI-Fi was my excuse to stop.

I may not have had a Big Mac since high school, and some weird combination of workout-tiredness and windshield hypnotism may have caused this, but suddenly I was eating two Big Macs! So there, confession. For the record, they were dry and tasteless and I’ll probably go the rest of my life without another one. No fries! Just water.

Four-hundred relatively slow miles later (logging trucks, two-lane highways, consistent snow showers, coffee stops), I pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot for the night. I crawled over the front seat into the back, where I’d removed the seats and laid down a workout mat, a camping air mattress, three layers of old cloth sleeping bags (one from my childhood, so it could be 50 years old), and had another sleeping bag and a blanket to throw over myself. Fully clothed, I slept well, watching a snowstorm through the sun roof of the Element.

Woke up stiff and sore. Hobbled into the Wal-Mart, used the bathroom and brushed my teeth, avoided the mirror, walked around a bit to circulate some blood, and headed back out to my cold vehicle. While it warmed up I made a big Progenex More Muscle-Build shake, swallowed some fish oil capsules and BCAAs, and headed back onto the highway.

Destination:  CrossFit 989, my hometown CrossFit where I’ve been wonderfully treated for three years whenever I visit (Jim Reaume, a good friend). Three hours later, more coffee, I’m there. After greetings and catching up, I look at the whiteboard:  DT! Are you kidding me? Two days in a row?

Suck it up, I tell myself. Get tough. A bunch of mobility later, I’m as ready to go as I’ll get, class begins and there I am with 135# again. I thought about going down in weight... but didn’t.

After DT I did some squatting, but spent too much time running my mouth with other members between sets, tightened up after a while and had to shower, shave and leave. Forearm after second DT workout. Jacked!

So the rest of the day was mostly sitting, visiting my father and then my brother. Post-workout shake, mid-afternoon Best Bar Ever, dinner was eggs and bacon and toast at Bob Evans with my father. A couple of glasses of wine that night at my brother’s home, and I was back to the Element in the parking lot. Not smart enough to take him up on an offer to use the spare bedroom, I remembered how comfortable I was the night before and decline.

Stupid. Temperatures dropped to between 3 and 6 below zero that night. Who knew? I didn’t, because why look at the forecast when you’re going to sleep in your vehicle in the middle of the winter in Michigan? It sucked. Even with my Carhart boots on, my feet were so cold they hurt. My sleep was erratic, I couldn’t get warm or comfortable, I somehow injured my shoulder moving around in the back of the Element... it was a long night. I think I was under-fed after the workouts, too, and probably a little dehydrated. Swell. Not enough sleeping bags...

Next morning I stumble out of my ice-encrusted vehicle into the white wasteland of the Wal-Mart lot, and into the store. My feet don’t even want to work. I clump around for a while trying to get warm (happily, no matter how disheveled and weird I may think I appear after sleeping with three layers of clothes on in my vehicle, to Wal-Mart employees and security I appear well-dressed and normal). I bought something to eat (nuts, string cheese), then headed for a Starbucks. Salvation.

My laptop, which of course spent the night in the Element also, took 15 minutes, plugged in, to even begin charging. That scared me. Two Americanos later, after about an hour, I felt decent. So where did I go?

CrossFit 989 of course. This was Jim’s “weightlifting Wednesday” so I worked through as much mobility as possible (got there early), then max-effort ten-rep strict overhead pressing, and a bunch of other Olympic lifting stuff. Two hours of workout later, shaved and showered, I was feeling pretty good.

Visiting my father again that afternoon, sitting, everything began locking up. I got some extra-strength Tylenol from him, stood when I could, and felt ok but stiff and sore in my hips. All day I was hammering water. About dinner-time was my cue to leave and hit the road for home, so back to the Element. Snow blowing in from Lake Michigan. Constantly. But pretty.

The first three hours to the Mackinaw Bridge were fine, and I felt pretty good, but as soon as I crossed and headed west for Wisconsin the snow hit. Speeds dropped, and for three hours I slowly drove through the dark tunnel of a snow globe. When the bright lights of the truck stop at Manistique finally came into view, I knew I was home for the night. In my Element. Again. 

Not able to bear the though the crawling into the back, getting on that floor and those oh-so-cold sleeping bags, I instead opted for putting the front seat back, covering myself with the blanket, and running the engine for a few hours with the heat on low. Slept like a baby! Upper Michigan roadside dining options

For a few hours until the snowplows began their work. Drove home five or so more hours, and have been sore ever since!

*postscript one week later* Open Workout 16.1 is tomorrow. I'll be sore all over again!

Monday
Feb082016

I Got Mad At Myself

I got mad at myself during a workout last week. Afterwards, the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became.

This was at Crossfit Green Bay. The three-round WOD consisted of three movements, and it was typically tough. The harder I pushed myself the rougher the workout became. Same as it always is. 

15 power cleans were in each round (the weight doesn’t matter - it became heavy enough). I’d broken the first two sets into 9 and 6 reps, momentarily dropping the bar, catching a couple of wheezy breaths, then hitting it. Even while I was doing this, I knew I really wasn’t giving my all. I thought I needed those few seconds of rest. Not really.

One of the coaches parked himself in front of me during the final set of cleans and yelled “do this unbroken!” And I did. Sure, it hurt and was tough and all that, but I did it.

That’s why I’m angry with myself. Why do I so often “pace” myself during metabolic workouts? If a coach I respect yells at me, or encourages me (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference), I go for it. Often I find myself performing at a level I didn’t think possible.

I know it’s all in my head, but I’d think that after 45 years of weight-training and competitive sports, and a half dozen years of CrossFit, I’d be able to throw the switch. Some days I can, some I seemingly cannot.

Solution: Study. Learn from the best. Currently on my bed-side table are an advance copy of Mark Divine’s Kokoro Yoga - Develop the Spirit of a Warrio - the SealFit Way, and How Bad Do You Want It? - Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald.

Divine is a legendary trainer of the mind and body. A well-read copy of his Unbeatable Mind has a home on our bookshelves. My wife Anne (also a CrossFit athlete) eagerly read How Bad Do You Want It? and reports great things about Fitzgerald’s message and philosophy and writing.

I’m diving in. Look for full reviews soon.

@MarkDivine, @Mattfitwriter, @stmartinspress, @velopress, @davetrendler

Friday
Dec112015

My Latest Fun Pre-Workout Combo

Lately I've been working out a bit more in a traditional gym utilizing machines. I was following a bodybuilding protocol, in an effort to remain strong and retain muscle, while rehabbing some injuries. At the same time I experimented with different pre-workout products, combining BCAA powders, creatine, and various stimulatory magical powders in a shaker. Back to CrossFit now, so living in both gym worlds, I've settled upon my favorite combination:

Progenex Peppermint Bark Recovery, strong coffee (Peet's, in my case), and Progenex Force.  In one Blender Bottle mix one scoop Recovery, one cup of cold coffee, and a single packet of Force! 

Taste is good, effects are great, with no heart palpitations or jitters.  I begin sipping while driving to the gym, and continue throughout the workout, adding water to dilute depending upon how long the session goes.

Give this a try. You'll maintain a nice level of nutrients (protein, carbs, BCAA, creatine) in your system while working out, feel energized and powerful for the entire workout.

@progenex, @peetscoffee, @northcentralprogenex

Sunday
Jul262015

New Progenex Bars Are Here!

I just got my hands on the first shipment of the new Bars from Progenex. This is their first venture into the competitive protein bar market. Based on the sample bars I chowed down, Progenex will succeed. High-quality hydrolized whey and CLA are primary and welcome ingredients. Each bar is tasty, maintaining the high flavor and mouth-feel standards set by Progenex long ago.

Two flavors are available: Toasted Coconut Almond and Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch. These make a great morning breakfast, especially on early workout days. Today I enjoyed a Coconut Almond bar with a couple cups of coffee, before setting out on the half hour drive to CrossFit Green Bay. My workout went great, I was strong and energized throughout, and my stomach felt good and settled. The Progenex Bar is easy on the gut.

According to the Progenex literature, each Bar "contains Symetrym™, a revolutionary hydrolyzed whey protein and trace mineral complex combined with CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). These two powerful ingredients found in THE BAR have been shown to increase endurance capacity and lean body mass while reducing body fat." I can tell you the science behind CLA is strong and real; it's not bro-science.

Protein bars, by definition, fall short of real food. In my opinion, Progenex powders rank higher than The Bar, too. But, there's important times and places for a bar like this. The portability will often come into play; I know I'll have one stuffed into the little bag under the saddle of my road bike. I can easily see The Bar going to a movie theater, or to my in-law's house! Even a long grocery shopping expedition (I've been known to visit two or three grocery stores on one outing) will find me taking a Progenex Bar with me. Oh, and walking the dog. 

Maintaining a good flow of quality nutrients in the body is critical, if optimum recovery and muscle growth is desired. I want that, every day. I'd much rather enjoy a tasty Progenex Bar inbetween meals if that's what will fit into my life and schedule, rather than miss a meal. 

At CrossFit Green Bay the Progenex Bars are available for $3 each. A box of 12 can be ordered from me for $32 and usually delivered the following day.

john.koenig3@gmail.com