#176 Filthy Programmed

So it’s done. Workouts are written and ready for release.

Overall i’m satisfied. Simple, challenging, interesting tests. Well, I find them interesting. Here’s a few thoughts.

5 is now 4
I planned for 5, programmed 5, then 4 made sense. 4 workouts and a final for those who make it through. The volume works better at 4, not a beat-down, but enough to ensure the best teams can leave the rest behind. A floor-plan and athlete-flow re-design later and we’re all set.

Obstacle Course
This one was always going to be difficult, and thanks to Mairead from the Beast Challenge, we have ourselves a real race. Lets face it, obstacle courses are meant to be fun and thats what we’re aiming for. However, in a fitness competition with four tests, it also has to hurt. With outdoor events, the weather is always a factor. A nice crisp autumn day would be nice, but honestly, I’m hoping for the wettest, windiest, dirtiest day of the year.

Scaled? Intermediate? RX?
I hate these terms. Everyone has their own definition to the point of meaninglessness. But that’s what we have to work with. Most teams don’t sit purely in any one of those categories. Its usually a mix, so thats what we programmed around. Mainly Intermediate challenges with RX or scaled elements to test/accommodate the athletes at both ends of the spectrum.

This is not a combine. We are not simply gathering performance data on a range of exercises and seeing who’s numbers are best. We have 4 events with heavy elements, gymnastic components, odd objects, all mixed together. We will run, row, bike, ski. Are we testing the ten physical skills equally? No, but thats the idea. Simply put, its CrossFit.

In summary
We have a teamwork-burner, a technical test with strategy, some fast grunt work and an obstacle course. I tried to make them easy to judge, easy to follow and easy to attack…but not easy. What matters most is that teams have a great weekend with each other, and then the best team wins. I hope everyone is enjoying their training and bring their best on the 21/22nd.

The first workout announcement will take place on October 6th.

#176 Filthy Programmed

#175 Simple, Not Grand

One of the best programmed events I have been to in Ireland was the Blanchardstown Throwdown this year.

Hats off to Andy Ewington.

He managed to come up with very simple workouts that were at the same time, very interesting.

Thats the sweet spot.

Its in the making them interesting that things can get very complicated very quickly.

You start off with a simple couplet and before you know it, you have a part a and b, multiple partner transitions, rules for those transitions, separate scoring for both parts…layer upon layer upon layer

Shit show.

The other extreme is just as bad.

Power cleans and burpees will do. Eh, maybe thrusters and pull ups next. Then, assault bike. Lots of assault bike.

Done. Grand. Sure it’s all grand.

So here I am again, programming Filthy, trying to keep it simple, but not grand.

The team element is the crux. Challenging 4 athlete’s fitness in 20 minute workouts that are interesting yet not complicated.

I see Niall mentioned syncro in the lead up to Capital this year(which looks like its going to be even bigger and better this year).

He was right, too much syncro last year all-round.

For us, it was the only way we could get through over 1000 athletes over 2 days. We had to over-use it.

This year, we have reduced the number of teams, changed the format and increased the variety of equipment, all with a view to making the events more fun and challenging for everyone.

Every year it’s scary. Every year it seems more difficult.

Lets hope I don’t fuck it up.

#175 Simple, Not Grand

Munich – Day 3

Shortened, compressed, lengthened.

Occlused, perfused, oxygen saturated.

Scraped, distracted, smashed.


Two days of finding the extremities of my mechanics.

So, do I possess complete mechanics?

I most certainly don’t.

Basic capacities I was born with have slowly drifted away.

Or have been sacrificed to the combat-sports-gods.

But here’s the thing.

There are world champion athletes with incomplete mechanics.

The very best on the planet, yet athletically incomplete.

And I recaptured some of mine this weekend.

Whatever I am missing is simply potential for growth.

I can’t wait to get into this stuff with I get back to my athletes.

In all of these drills, tests, protocols, all I see are my athletes, and all that athletic potential.

Munich – Day 3

Munich – Day 2

As seminars go, this one is dense.

10 hours deep and I was ready to go home.

Phenomenal information, delivered by a master.

Going through the process in person with Kelly was a different experience altogether.

I finally got to ask the little questions I have had in my head for over 5 years.

Little pieces of nuance that weren’t quite landing for me.

Now I know.

All day, my athletes were popping into my head.

Ah, this one’s for Sharon. Donal needs that. The whole team starts that Monday!

All day, my athletes.

The biggest game-changer were the breathing drills.

We spent three hours on breath alone, and they hit me like a train.

Dizziness, pins and needles down both arms, loss of hearing.

Close to loss of consciousness.

Black magic.

If there wasn’t a second day tomorrow, I would leave now happy that the trip was worthwhile.

Roll on Day-2.

Munich – Day 2

Munich – Day 1

Cool place.

Unspectacular, understated, undeniably cool.

I have come here to train with a mentor of mine for the past 7 years, and tomorrow I get to meet him for the first time…

I owe Kelly Starrett a lot.

When I first started following his educational material, I was utterly bewildered.

He was speaking English, but yet talking this whole other language.

Here I was, a CrossFit coach, and there he was, a CrossFit coach. Yet, we were not the same thing at all.

He understood movement and communicated on a level I had never encountered.

Honestly, I couldn’t help but hate the dude. Genuinely, my comparative lack of knowledge drove me crazy.

So…I went down the rabbit hole.

I immersed myself in positional archetypes, joint rotation, torque, capsule distraction…..

Eating up knowledge wherever I could find it, deepening my understanding.

I had witnessed a master, a coaching archetype to aim for.

Ever since then, Kelly’s framework for analysing and improving movement has helped me further my career, build a business.

As I said, I owe him a lot. In a many ways, the guy educated me for free.

And tomorrow, I get to chat with the 2017 version.

Needless to say, I pretty excited.

Munich – Day 1

#174 File Converted

Ok, those who know me will tell you how annoyingly upbeat I have been recently.

Darina tells anyone who’ll listen

“He’s in top-form, you just want to punch him”

It’s true. I have never felt more energised and ready for the next chapter.

A large part of that is down to finding a bit of clarity. Clarity about what’s important, and what’s not.

Figuring this out has frankly changed everything. Its like I have had this file on my computer named ”Dreams” and someone came along and converted it to “Plans”.

Decisions about where to invest energy and where to say NO have become obvious and easy.

Finding this clarity has been a process of answering hard questions over the past 2 months. This process is detailed in the book “Traction” recommended to me by Ben Bergeron. Its largely a process of target-setting and below is a very broad outline of that process and a few observations along the way.

Obviously, I recommend you go read the book.

10 Year Target

Your big hairy audacious goal. If I work my butt off for 10 years, would I be satisfied if this was the outcome? Thats the question. It has to feel worth it, so aim high.

3 Year Target

Where I need to be in 3 years to set me up for that 10 year goal. I was very surprised how close this looked to my 10 year target. My gut says its right though. We even tried to keep it relatively conservative and it still looked about 70% done in 3 years. Which means I will have 7 years of being very patient thereafter. Happily patient mind you.

1 Year Target

Approx a third of my way to my 3 year target. This is where it gets both very exciting and a little anxious. You can start to see your big hairy audacious goal beginning to take shape and it starts to feel very real. Then, the pressure hits you. Shit, I have work to do and can’t miss anything. Never have I felt something that sharpens the focus more.

Next 90 Days

What are the big things things that need to happen now to keep me tracking with my 1 year goal. My “rocks”, the nitty gritty, day-to-day stuff that moves me a step closer. Rower maintenance and cleaning toilets are all-of-a-sudden directly related to bringing an athlete to the CrossFit Games. Very cool.

This week

Track my rocks from last week, reset them for the coming week. This is a weekly meeting dedicated to that 10, 3, 1 year and 90 day targets. We’re on a schedule now, and can’t fall behind. The buck stops here.

And repeat, the buck stops here.

#174 File Converted

#173 Who We Are

Who are we? As a gym, as a community, as an organisation.

What defines us?

This was an exercise I set out to complete a few weeks ago.

To establish a set of core values that we believe in and constantly strive to become.

In reality, we are many things. Too many in fact.

I had written down nine core values which seemed to sum us up nice and succinctly.

Then I was challenged was to boil it down to three. Not so easy.

Then I spent two days at CrossFit New England and the answer soon became clear..

This is who we are


1. Humble
“freedom from pride or arrogance”, “holding a modest opinion of one’s importance or rank”

Humble people tend to put others first. Its a nice thing, but lets not confuse that with some sort of submissive acquiescence. Its not a lack of strength. Its more a recognition that no matter how good we are are, we all have things we can improve on. Its also a recognition that the more we build others up around us, the better we become.
Lets not forget that our goals are lofty and we’re not there yet. We don’t shout about how good we are but instead get our heads down and work our arses off for it.
Can we be confident and humble at the same time? Absolutely. Can we be humble and arrogant at the same time? Absolutely not. The net effect is a huge openness to feedback and nicer environment to grow in.

2. Hungry
This is trait that is probably most associated with CrossFitters. That get after it mentality. The very fact you were interested joining a CrossFit gym in the first place probably marks you out as somebody who’s not afraid of hard work. Hungry people seek out challenge and appreciate the value in going through discomfort. Once we recognise this in ourselves, we start approaching our challenges with energy and enthusiasm. “Let me at it.” “Bring it on.” This is what we see every day at the whiteboard, on the pull up bar and under the barbell…and i couldn’t love it more.

3. Happy
If we are not aiming for happiness, what exactly are doing? its kinda the whole point. The most common mistake is attaching happiness to future goals. “I’ll be happy when…”. Even CrossFit Games champions will tell you that after fleeting moment of happiness, they just move the goal post and start thinking about next year and retaining their title. This may be a useful device in keeping us moving forward, but what about right now?
My father always taught me to value relationships above everything else. Its all we have at the end of the day. My wife always reminds me(annoyingly) to be grateful for what i have right now. When i’m in the worst mood she’ll say, “go on, list 3 things”. After i tell her to piss off a few times, I’ll roll my eyes and do my list. “i’m grateful for…” Annoyingly, it always works.
Gratitude and relationships are where real happiness lie, and yet i need to be reminded of this daily. So, here i am reminding myself once more. I have a gym full of happy, hungry and humble people and i couldn’t ask for anything more.

#173 Who We Are