Ebb & Flow – After The Open / A Big Start-To-The-Year

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How are you feeling after the Open?

Actually, even if you didn’t do the Open – How are you feeling at the moment?

Believe it or not we’re 4 months into 2017! That’s right, in less than 9 months it’ll be 2018 – What the sh$t?!

It’s been 2 weeks since I wrapped up this year’s CrossFit Open and to be honest, I’m a little bit tired and I’m feeling a little bit lost?!

I’ve been distracted, unfocused and it feels like it’s taking longer (than usual) for my body to recover – Even though I’m in the middle of a 2 week deload I’ve still managed to pull something in my back – this body I inhabit is feeling battered and broken

As a matter of fact I really, really don’t feel like training at all. I think I’d prefer to be watching movies in my PJs. I reckon another holiday would be good and I don’t even have to go away… I could just stay at home and watch a movie…

I’ve been making more than a few poor nutritional decisions too – mostly of the chocolate kind. I mean I’ll eat well for the first 3/4 of each day and then every night at 8pm, I transform into a gremlin and turn the house upside down in search of sugary treats – It’s seriously like Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

While I’m not technically sick, I feel like I’m operating at about 65% (and that’s probably being generous) trust me “I’m a Donkey on the edge…” ~ Shrek quote – and I don’t feel like it would take much to push me over it…

How do you feel?

I’ve been chatting with a few people this week and it sounds like they’re experiencing the same things I am…

– they’re distracted & unfocused
– their nutrition has gone to absolute crap
– they’re not recovering (like they used to); and
– they really don’t feel like training (they’d also prefer to stay at home and watch a movie)

For everyone that’s been smashing themselves over the Open or the start of this year, the reality is that you can’t burn the candle at both ends – forever.

As tides surge and abate so do the seasons of our lives. Wow, so cliche right? – but just run with me for a moment. If you’ve recently been working hard (flowing) then you’ve got to allow for the occasional ebb too

Example #1: Work Project

Think of a recent project at work.

You’ve absolutely busted your arse for the last 6 weeks to come up with the goods.

No biggie – it’s only taken you working 60 hour weeks, staying up to 12am each night to send crucial emails and documents and spending your weekends scanning your smartphone for the next critical email to respond to or threat to manage – but who needs weekends right?! – hey and it’s only for a season 😉

Let’s just say you even managed to deliver the Project and wow your boss/s…

A week later when things have died down and the hype of your epic success has lost it’s sheen, you find yourself in a bit of a valley experiencing all the symptoms outlined above – The project has ended but for some reason you find yourself eating more chocolate (or chips) than usual, skipping out on training sessions and feeling like you might be coming down with something?

Example #2: The Open

Perhaps you did do the Open and combined with your weekly training schedule you managed to complete every WOD for the last 5 weeks

You told yourself that you weren’t taking it that seriously but if we’re being honest, you’re a little bit disappointed that one of your training buddies managed to finish a couple spots ahead of you

As each week progressed it stopped being fun and things morphed from “just having a go” into an epic battle for survival and standings. Instead of relaxing each weekend, every Saturday morning started to stress you out…

2 weeks later, it’s all over and the dust has settled. Your place on the leaderboard is now set in stone for another year and perhaps you’ve even come to accept it. All of the post announcement hype, all of the Saturday morning epic-ness have been replaced by regular ho-hum, day-to-day training -> sessions that in comparison to the Open should be easy but don’t feel that way.

You feel tired and unloaded barbells feel, well, like they’re not unloaded

One missed training session turns into a week of missed training sessions – your nutrition slips and you too start to feel like you might be coming down with something?

Don’t worry – it happens to everyone

I know what’s happening to me at the moment – I am tired. I have been burning the candle at both ends and now, well I am picking up the pieces… This is the ebb and flow of training – of life even

If you find yourself experiencing similar symptoms, there’s a strong chance you’ve may have also been burning your candle at both ends – if you have, here’s a list of

3 things to get back your Flow after a low of burning your candle at both ends

  1. Develop self awareness
  2. Play
  3. Sometimes you gotta hit rock bottom – to make a change

Develop self awareness

Awareness of your physical body and mental and emotional states

We all have warning signs that we’re doing too much and it’s your job to see the signs before you end up in a ditch

Physical warning signs – are you in tune with your body enough to be aware of:

  • lower than normal energy levels
  • messed up guts (eg. unsettled stomach or trouble digesting food) and
  • are you experiencing longer than usual recovery times after training?

Mental warning signs

  • how’s your focus and/or how easily are you getting distracted?
  • are you starting to make mistakes when you perform simple tasks at home or at work – tripping over much?

Emotional warning signs –

  • do you have a less patience for other people’s crap – are you more snappy than usual?
  • are the people closest to you (your spouse and your kids) copping it? or
  • are you so emotionally exhausted that you’d prefer to retreat from ‘crucial’ conversations?

To develop self awareness you’ve really have to ask yourself a few questions (like the ones listed above – and answer them, honestly

PLAY – verb

Definition of play
#1. engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
“the children were playing by a pool”

“The opposite to PLAY isn’t work — it’s depression…” ~ Dr Stuart Brown

This is an important one and many people overlook it when they’re stressed out – even the concept of playing stresses them out even more because they perceive playing as a waste of time

Play for me is heading out for a ride on my mountain bike (either by myself or with mates) and it gives me a chance to unwind and focus on the trail – Failure to be completely present when you’re riding usually results in going arse-over-tit and face planting into the dirt so when I’m riding – I’m present

For me personally, I know it’s time to head out for a ride when I’m start to feel overwhelmed, emotional and/or get snappy at Becca and the girls – they know when I’m over tired or stressed out and I’ll generally figure it out when Becca says ‘When was the last time you went for a ride?”

Playing helps to build a buffer into my life to handle life’s stressful situations. Even if I’m facing something big, I find that I’m in way better shape to handle it, to bounce back from it – when I’ve managed to get out for a ride earlier in the week – It makes me a happier person. It’s that important to me that I’ll schedule it into my diary at the start of the week

Play looks different to everyone – what do you do to play?

Does the concept of playing: engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose, stress you out?

What could you do in the next week or so to give yourself a better buffer -> is it:

  • long walks on the beach,
  • going for a ride,
  • a skate, surfing,
  • fishing,
  • photography,
  • reading

whatever it is -> it’s important that you schedule it in because if you don’t put it in your calendar – you won’t do it

Sometimes you gotta hit rock bottom in order to change

Earlier this week (during my post Open low) I sat down to watch a movie w/ Becca. I’d convinced myself that it would be a good opportunity to “let my hair down” and so went to the shops to grab a box of cereal (Crunchy Nut Cornflake Clusters) I don’t usually eat cereal so this was going to be a real treat. 20 minutes into the movie and 4 bowls later I kinda regretted my decision.

The movie ended up being total crap and my sleep that night was even worse. I tossed and turned and woke up with a massive sugar headache. I felt slow and lethargic. My guts were all messed up and I wanted to die

“Until the pain of NOT changing is greater than the pain of the change itself – people don’t” ~ Tony Robbins

For me, to wake up in such a poor state (after weeks of poor food and life choices) meant that I’d officially hit rock bottom – I found myself at the point where I said to myself “enough is enough”

I realised that all the sugary food I was eating was wreaking havoc on my body – physically, mentally and emotionally – and that I’d finally reached a point where the quick hit that it (sugar) offered me was no longer enough to justify the aftermath

Needless to say I made some changes (to my diet and lifestyle) and ever since I’ve been clearer and felt much better about myself. I’ve been sleeping better too and I think I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel ->

If you had to put yourself on a slider somewhere between [thing’s aren’t that bad] vs [enough is enough] where would you be?

How much worse would things have to get for you before you made a change?


So that’s it for this email – If you’ve been battling with motivation after a big couple of weeks or months, I’d love to hear about it – specifically what you do dig yourself out of the hole when you fall down -> leave a comment below and let me know 😉

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Coach B

Husband of @rebeccafwarren. Dad of Madz & Isabelle. Coach & Owner of @adaptcrossfit. One Passionate Dude.