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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Minimum Effective Dose: CrossFit Version

CrossFit HQ just published the CrossFit Games ticket information. Pretty exciting. Now that Games Open 2015 is complete, we , and trust me, everyone in every Box is gonna start thinking about how they will prepare for next year’s Open experience. Really. There are some very high quality CrossFit sites with a proven track record of producing CrossFit Games competitors who are publishing supplemental training programming for 2016 Open Athletes. Heck, I’m “borrowing” some stuff from Ben Bergeron (thanks Ben!) for my son Randy’s Box. Innumerable FB threads and blog posts host spirited discourse on “Competition Training”. Too much/too little. Goldilocks is lost in the forest of Open training.

Fear not. I am here to guide you.

Why do you do CrossFit? This is a proxy for “What are your goals?” It’s really that simple. Really. That’s not to say it’s not hard, though. You must sit yourself down and have that little chat. Why am I doing this? What is the outcome I seek? It goes back to Coach Glassman’s Black Box theory of research: define the right-side output you want and keep changing the left-side inputs into the Black Box (YOU!) until you churn out the desired result. Fuel. Volume. Technical emphasis. But it all starts with knowing what you seek to achieve.

I’d like to introduce a concept from my day job (with attribution to Mark Sisson for reminding me) that applies here, especially when it comes to the siren song of CrossFit and other fitness competitions: Minimum Effective Dose. That amount of left side input that is the lowest amount of whatever–lowest dose–that will produce a desired outcome. How much food and what type. How much training. How much time. Unlike above where we do not know what talents we may or may not possess until we have completed the Crossfit Open, we know exactly how much time we have in every day, and we have a pretty clear idea about what else must be accomplished in our lives outside of CrossFit. You know, stuff like your day job, napping, nookie and such.

Whether you are a Games aspirant, a Regionals shoo-in, someone who routinely competes at a local level, or the rest of us just trying to ensure that we will be able to get up off the loo when we are 80, this is a concept that you should embrace. Start on the right side of the Black Box that is you and define a set of goals, outcomes. Seek to find the MED of the CrossFit Prescription (WOD, skill work, nutrition, recovery, etc) that maximizes the likelihood of achieving those outcomes while minimizing negative results (injury, lack of balance, life losses due to inattention to other priorities, etc.). Relentlessly re-evaluate your own MED in light of both your desired outcome and other essential priorities, putting equal emphasis on both the “Effective” part and the “Minimal”. While not particularly easy, it really is that simple.

I have long held that the most important competition in CrossFit is actually the one you wage with only yourself, the battle to be a better version of you tomorrow than you were yesterday through your efforts today. The Minimum Effective Dose is as personal as any other part of you vs. you.


Sunday musings 2/22/15

Sunday musingsā€¦

1) Hooptie. A comically old and partially functional vehicle. Totally new word for me, much to the amusement of some of my co-workers.

Especially since this describes my daily driver to a ‘T’.

2) 0.31%. The percentage of Americans who do CrossFit. ~5%: the percentage of Americans who are regular gym goers. That’s an awful lot of Americans exercising and not doing CrossFit, let alone Americans not exercising at all. Seems like a target-rich environment, no? If we simply increase the percentage of gym goers to 10% that doubles the number of CrossFit gym members, and it’s still only 0.62%.

Tell me again why there is so much strum und drang about competition between local CrossFit Affiliates?

3) Tuba. “The tragedy of the unhappy tuba player.” –Ben Bergeron

We are blessed in the CrossFit community by the presence of many, many fine speakers. Indeed, every Flowmaster at CrossFit Level 1 trainer seminars is a polished speaker able to tell a tale while effectively transferring their message. It goes without saying that Coach and all of the original SME’s are somewhere way into the stratosphere of excellence.

Beth and I attended a seminar at CFNE yesterday where we spent the ay with Ben Bergeron. That, my friends, was some treat! It wasn’t enough just to point out the importance of moving from a macro to a micro view while leading a class. Not even enough to liken the views to watching a great marching band perform. Nope, the description and example was nearly poetic:

“From the stands you watch a band in full bloom, moving as one, the epitome of applied excellence. The macro view; your class from the front of the room. You want to reach out to congratulate the bandleader. Then you zoom in on individual players and you come across a disheveled tuba player who isn’t playing at all. Indeed, his mouth is not even connected to his instrument as he trudges along a quarter beat off, tears streaming down his face. The micro view as you walk among your athletes.”

No chance I’ll be forgetting macro/micro after that! Kudos and thanks to Ben for hosting us.

3) Belfry. The mind is a wild, mostly wonderful, occasionally wacky place. The more I learn about how our minds work, the connections, neuroplasticity and all, the more mysterious it becomes. Beth and I are visiting my Dad, two parts of a team filling in for my Mom, front row seats to watch a mind careen between what is and what is not. As frightening as it is to be a passenger on this journey it must be simply terrifying to be driving the bus.

The science I get. Bad plumbing results in insufficient O2, not enough fuel over a lifetime, and delicate circuitry is lost. Or sludge of some sort builds up in a critical part of the wiring. Insufficient flow becomes no flow, and thoughts become trapped, diverted, or even worse, stillborn. Juliane Moore may win an Oscar tonight portraying a woman so afflicted. I’ve not seen the movie and most likely won’t; it just cuts too close to the bone.

Tragically, some of this is unavoidable at this point in time. We know not why certain types of age-related diseases rob us of our memories, our faculties, and in time our very selves. Ms. Moore portrays a character who is ambushed this way. Others, like my Dad, suffer from a version that likely results in part from self-inflicted trauma of a sorts. Smoking. Diabetes resulting from nutrition and inactivity. Use or abuse of mind-altering substances, most commonly alcohol. The mind is a terrible thing to which you lay waste.

What is there to do? Well, for me, for Beth, for my siblings and for any of you who may find yourself in similar straits there is little left but to apply the lessons of kindness, understanding, and empathy I have shared here and elsewhere. That and to have handy a healthy supply of tissues, for there is no balm to sooth these wounds for us or for my Dad. For those of us who do CrossFit we have already been given a prescription in 100 concise and precise words that is so far the most likely preventative medicine known to mankind:

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.”

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at February 22, 2015 8:28 AM