How Functionally Fit Am I?
This is a two for one post, I firstly want to talk about my recent Tough Mudder Yorkshire experience and then examine how my Crossfit background assisted in enabling me to complete the course.
I recently wrote a post about my friend Brad and his efforts to raise funds for his charity Bone Cancer Awareness Trust so with this motivation, four of us (Brad, Owen, Murray and me) set off for Yorkshire last weekend to run 12.5 miles around the countryside broken up with some challenging obstacles. If I am honest we all felt a little nervous. I have a cross country back ground and have ran these distances before but we all talked about the obstacles, poor Owen was convinced he was going to have a heart attack at the Arctic Enema! He must have felt cheated when he realised it was the first obstacle. Once under way we set off with a nervous smile.
If you are considering doing a Tough Mudder event or similar, do it! None of the obstacles were anywhere near as bad as we thought. The unknown had been magnified by our fear but working as a team, all were conquered and we finished soaking wet and very muddy but safe and well. At the last count I heard we had raised over £800, thank you to all those who donated.
After the event I got to thinking just how prepared I had been for the event. Crossfit is sold to you as a “functional fitness” regime. This is derived from Greg Glassman’s description of Crossfit consisting of functional movements performed at high intensity. The system looks to improve the ten general physical skills required of optimal physical competence as described by Jim Cawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax. I can honestly say that I no longer use these regularly in any intense way with my day job but on the course, I most certainly did. Running, climbing, swimming and lifting people for nearly three hours will do that.
There is a wisdom among strength and conditioning coaches that everything is easier if you are stronger. I follow a simple linear strength program the Wendler 5-3-1 method focussing on Dead Lift, Squat, Strict Press and Bench Press. I supplement it with weighted Ring Dips and Pull Ups. It’s effective, there is an App’ get one, start training to get stronger, other strength programs are available too. You should check out our S-Course.
I run regularly, you should always put some miles in your legs, running is functional, fun, social and does not have to be boring. The Crossfit London Running Group is a great example. My MetCons these days are kept down to the 12 minute area. This is a practical decision based on time available and bang for buck. An approximate 12 minute MetCon consisting of singles, couplets and triplets will always be effective. Occasionally I will do a chipper week when resting from strength training. Being able to pull my own body weight through space over obstacles and hold my own body weight for protracted periods was invaluable. Muscle ups with false grips and pull ups on fat bars (groan) definitely contributed to my preparedness. The Muscle Ups and Levers course will have you monkeying around in no time.
All this Crossfit training and experience was invaluable but for me the biggest help was what I describe as number 11 on the list of (10) physical competencies, Mental Fortitude, very closely linked with “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable”. One obstacle tested me, I am not a strong swimmer and I was required to swim through muddy water under three semi-submerged sewer pipes. I was tired, cold and a little intimidated. But facing these fears is what the real challenge is all about, Owen jumped into a skip full of ice convinced he was going to die, in fact he was first in! Perhaps he forgot?
I will finish by saying that if you regularly Crossfit you should test yourself. You can compete in Throwdowns or even the Crossfit Games, but equally I would say step outside of the Crossfit arena and test and explore the unknown and the unknowable.