Here’s last week’s recap and my goals for the upcoming week.

Last week:

  • Fitness
    • Metcons
      • Workouts have been all over the map for me lately in terms of feeling good or bad about my fitness, but such is life. I’m very curious to see how this year’s Open goes in terms of movements that I consider “strengths” verses “no so much strengths” for me!
      • A variation of Isabel (30 Snatches for time) was Wednesday’s workout, and I debated all day whether I would try the “Rx” version of the day (115lbs) or whether I’d give the “Competitor” weight (155lbs) a go. At the last minute, I decided that 155 was the right choice, did quick singles the whole way, and finished my 30 reps in 4:03. I’ll take it!
    • Barbell Work
      • Monday brought waves of Power Cleans; Min 7 – 3 Power Cleans @ 81% (230lbs), Min 8 – 2 Power Cleans @ 84% (240lbs), and Min 9 – 1 Power Clean @ 87% (250lbs), and some pause Front Squats (heaviest at 275lbs)
      • Built to a heavy single of Clean and Jerk on Friday and hit 280lbs. It wasn’t my prettiest lift, but I’m glad anytime I get to 275+
    • Calorie Challenge
      •  Since it was a short week (I left town Friday afternoon and just got back), I had quite a bit less time to sit on a rower or bike. I did, however, hit another 700 calories. That puts me at 3,000 for the month so far. I’ll likely reach 4,000+ by the end of February!
  • I did write one “The 2018 Open is Coming” post! The Open starts this week, I can’t even believe it!
  • Progress on the book (Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jacko Willink) continues. Still haven’t given myself more than 10-15 minutes once or twice before bed, but I’ve already put more of a focus on reading in 2018 than I have over the last few years. I’m celebrating that.
  • Swimming Post is live! It’s fun to already have had some people reach out asking more details about my “Swim Better Now” clinics. Bottom line is that I want to help people get better, whether that means swimming faster, or just learning how to float safely in deep water. If you, or anyone you know, is interested please do not hesitate to reach out.

This week:

  • The first workout of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is released this week. In the past, I have recorded “strategy” videos for each week. My goal is to try and get a video and post live by the time you wake up on Friday morning. Wish me luck!
  • I had a pretty poor weekend of sleep at the place where we stayed up in the mountains, so my goal is to get over 6.5 hours of sleep two days this week. No, that doesn’t normally happen. I was going to challenge myself to say 7 hours, but when I do reverse math based on the alarm, it’s just not realistic. Working on it!
  • I have a really big weekend of work ahead, with nearly 10 hours of client work accounted for between Saturday and Sunday. Even with that, I’d like to devote some time to continuing progress with the drywall in our garage!

Alright, your turn. What’s going on with all of you?

Here’s a picture from our weekend in Breckenridge. Have a great week, everyone!


This weekend we got out of town and came up to Breckenridge, Colorado for a few days! The sun is shining, people are smiling, and while it’s not even noon, we’ve already had breakfast, got in a workout at CrossFit Low Oxygen, and now we’re posted up at a local coffee shop to get a bit of work done! One thing that we always try to do on our trips is make time to workout. Why? Because Em is an active and fit human who takes care of her body, and I would just sit and day drink on patios around the world all day every day if she wasn’t there to help me reel it in. A healthy balance of the two makes us a pretty good team when we want to be!

I used to do a “Smashby Drops In” series on this blog, and while looking through my archives, I saw that it’s been nearly six years since my last post of this kind. What better time to bring it back, than right now, that “the blog is back” in full swing! I have been to one other gym in and around Breckenridge (and that gym is CrossFit Breckenridge), so today I decided to check out a new box. Since I have several friends who had been to Low Oxygen before, and one couple who considers this their “home gym away from home” when they’re up at their mountain house, choosing it was a no-brainer.

The options for Saturday workouts I saw were a Partner WOD at 9am, and then a regular class at 10am. Since Em and I never get to work out together, I thought it’d be nice to choose the Partner WOD. We got there a little early, since I tend to be a “late person” (as Em calls me), so we had a few minutes to just move around a little on our own before class. The gym is cool, has lots of toys, and was really clean! I also go to try out my BRAND NEW DSX FLYKNIT METCONS I bought at the Nike Outlet store last night!!


What are thoooooose?!

Once 9:00 hit everyone came together to warm-up, coach let everyone know that we were drop-ins, and introduced us to the class. While some people don’t like being the center of attention, I am a firm believer in making guests feel welcome. Thanks for that!


The workout (above) had rowing in it, so after some general mobility work, we did partner Rowling. (Alternate every 100m, your partner does the meters you’re over or under!, and go to 1,000) Over the course of the next ten minutes or so, we were walked through a Power Clean warm-up, and were shown proper range of motion requirements for balls slams and knee tucks. Once people got all set up, the clock counted down and we were off.


Em and I alternated 250m distances on the rower while the other one planked, and I was holding in the mid-1:30’s as my pace. It’s less than a minute, so I thought I’d be good. For the Power Cleans, I chose 135lbs since coach wanted them to be unbroken. Slam balls we opted for a 30lber since we were sharing. She would have gone up if I let her! (“What? I grew up with 30’s, they’re not hard!”) About halfway through the middle part of the workout, it hit me. I haven’t worked out at 9,000+ feet in a LONG time, and the shortness of breath was rough! On the Cash Out, you switched rowers every time someone lowered their legs, and I was barely able to hold a knee tuck on the parallettes for 30 seconds. Poor Em probably thought, “Dude! Let me row!” Our final time was 19:24.

Over the course of the hour, we interacted with every other athlete in the class, and they were all super friendly. Thanks for making us feel like a part of the family this morning, CrossFit Low Oxygen!


It’s almost here, everyone! One week from today the first workout of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is released. What does that mean for you? Well, here’s a quick list of 5 things you can do to make sure you’re ready for week number one!

1- Start training!

With only 7 days to go, now is probably a good time to get into the gym and start training for this year’s Open! 🙂

2- Take care of your body

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, we’re all busy. Sometimes we don’t drink enough water or get enough rest, but if the Open is really important to you, you need to make taking care of yourself for the next few weeks of a top priority. Since you’ll likely be pushing harder on these workouts, your body will need a little bit more TLC to recover properly.

3- Establish your “Event Ritual” ahead of time

For most gyms, Open WODs will be run a lot like regular CrossFit classes. Coach explains the workout, runs athletes through a general warm-up, then allows time for set-up, finding judges, etc. If you know you’ll want a little bit more time than that to get your mind and body right, plan for it ahead of time. Do you have a slew of pre- and post-workout supplements you take? Figure out how to organize them as efficiently as possible so you’re not distracted before an event trying to find your BCAA’s through a sea of people.

Some people show up early and stay late to cheer for their friends, and I love that about the Open! Keep in mind that you can use that time to be productive, too! Sit on a lacrosse ball to loosen up your hammies, attach a band to the rig and warm up your shoulders while your friends row. You can simultaneously help them and prepare yourself for when it’s your turn to throw down!

4- Breathe.

Hey you! We’re working out for fun, and none of this matters. And I mean that in the most sincere way possible! Relax.

5- Be a good person

You know number “4” above? The one reminding you to breathe? If you’re not one of those people that freaks out over these workouts, you’ll at least see a bunch of them start to creep up over the next five weeks. My advice is to be overly supportive to those around you. Some people need a pep talk before their heat. Others want to be left alone. Some will want a shoulder to lean on after they’re done. Be aware of what’s going on around you, ask people what you can do for them, and then do that thing! It makes the community so much stronger when groups of people just want to help one another.

One week until the madness starts.

And for the other half of you, only five weeks until it’s all over!


Every single day you go to the gym, you should give yourself one thing to think about during training.

I’ll give a few specific examples below, but my logic behind that statement is simple. As someone who suffers from paralysis by analysis in my own life, it is so simple to get overwhelmed with details that you can’t focus on a single one properly. For example, I could sit here list over 10 things to think about in order to plank properly. Plank… you know, the thing where you hold your body at the top of a push-up? So imagine how many cues one could have when completing a workout with four different movements, many of which are far more complex than a simple plank.


Instead, once you know what you’re going to do for the day, pick a one thing and hone nearly all of your energy on completing it as effectively as possible. Let’s discuss a few scenarios:

Heavy Strength Set

If you know you’re going to try and move mountains today, the anxiety and excitement leading up to those heavy reps can be exhausting. For a big squat day, make sure your core is tight throughout the lift. Or that you knees stay out. Or that you take a big breath at the top before beginning your descent. Even those three things combined can be too much to focus on at once. Keep your cue(s) simple, meaningful to you, and effective! The less in your brain, the more you can just move that weight!


Long Workout

Let’s say it’s a 5 round workout with rowing, wall balls, deadlifts, sit-ups, and pull-ups. There’s a lot going on there, huh? Instead of trying to overwhelm yourself with pacing out your splits of how fast each round should be, you could say to yourself, “today, I’m going to do each round of 20 wall balls as a set of 12 reps, short rest, then a set of 8.” Many people believe that making a plan of attack and “visualizing” your workout is a great strategy.

If you’re in a competition, the stakes are different, and I completely agree! Planning out and rehearsing every second might be the difference between first and second place. But very few people have the time, energy, or desire to spend that much time getting ready for their 4-6 days of training every week! Pick a thing or two, and just breathe through the rest.


Active Rest/Recovery

Some days you’ll show up to the gym feeling pretty beat up. Your body is sore, your mind is tired, and you haven’t been sleeping well. “But it’s Friday,” you tell yourself, and you “ALWAYS work out on Fridays.” That doesn’t mean you need to red line on the workout, completely wreck yourself, and hobble around all weekend.

If you make the decision that you just need to move for the day, that’s totally fine, and I support you. Even on those days, you can find something to focus on. Maybe on the rowing portion of the workout you focus on keeping your heels down and start to learn what your stroke rate is for repeat 500’s. If there’s snatching for strength, really emphasize making your receiving position as snappy as possible. You can always get better, even if you’re just there to move for the day!


Now, this post is in no way implying that the rest of your training session should be done by completely checking out. Quite the opposite, in fact. I believe that everything in the gym should be done “with purpose.” Instead, I’m trying to help athletes narrow down a primary point of attack each day. Having a panic attack because you’re staring at the bar before a deadlift attempt thinking, “chest up, back flat, proper stance, breathe, chest up, knees back, push away the floor, grip it and rip it, etc, etc,” doesn’t help anyone.

We’re in the gym to get better every day. Try your best to narrow down your scope on the big things, and as long as you head out of the gym with a smile on your face, most of the time you’ve done alright. This fitness game of ours is most certainly a marathon, not a sprint.

“YOU DID IT!!” I yelled, as she took the goggles off of her head, revealing the largest smile I had seen on someone’s face in a while. I was excited, too!

Rachael had just swam the entire length of the pool for the first time in her life without help. She is also 39 years old and up until a month ago, couldn’t even get close to the side of the pool without her heart rate going through the roof and her body tensing up. However, her 6 year old daughter has been taking swim lessons and “wanted mommy to play” in the pool with her on the weekends. Knowing that her little girl would soon be jumping off of the diving board in the deep end, she decided that the time had come to face her own fears and learn how to swim so they could swim together.

Stories like this are not at all uncommon. In fact, in my twenty-plus years of teaching individuals how to swim, I hear more and more adults say they share perspectives like this all the time. “I avoid beach vacations with my family because I’m scared to go in the ocean.” “My partner never wants to go tubing at the lake because she’s scared of not being able to touch the bottom.” “I had a really bad experience as a kid and almost drowned, haven’t recovered since.”

On top of being an incredibly effective full body workout and a great low impact form of exercise, swimming is also a survival skill. The ability to safely keep oneself afloat in water should be critical for all adults.

Motivated by wanting to help others learn and improve this critical ability, a few years ago I hosted my first “Swim Better Now” series, and it was a huge success. Since then, I’ve taken on dozens of new athletes in the pool; some were triathletes looking to improve their efficiency for long distance swims, but most were adults simply looking to gain confidence in the water.

Since so many people have been asking me to do them again, I’m bringing them back!

Each week of the “Smashby Training’s: Swim Better Now” Clinic will include practice sessions of up to three varying ability levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. A more detailed description of these three courses can be found below.

The criteria for the Intermediate Course is as follows:

  • Swimmer should be able to complete 100 yards (or 4 lengths) comfortably without stopping
  • A basic understanding of proper breathing technique (either to one side or both) should be established
  • Athlete can efficiently tread water or float safely in the deep end of the pool when tired without touching the wall or lane ropes
  • For athletes who do not yet meet these criteria listed, the Beginner Course option should be selected. Athletes who easily meet or exceed the requirements for the Intermediate Course should register for the Advanced Course option.

Course objectives include:

Beginner Course

  • Basic Water Safety (how to keep oneself afloat safely in deep water)
  • Introduction of proper stroke timing of arms, legs, and breathing (for freestyle stroke)
  • Proper functional use of swimming equipment such as Kick Board and Pull Buoy

Intermediate Course

  • Increased efficiency of stroke technique and timing of breathing for freestyle stroke
  • Skills and drills using swimming equipment (Kick Board and Pull Buoy)
  • As requested, introduction to flip turn technique and additional strokes (backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly)

Advanced Course

  • Fine-tuning of freestyle stroke mechanics
  • Advanced speed, flip turn and technique drills
  • Technique work on additional strokes (backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly)
    Athletes in this group may also be looking to compete in an aquatic event (triathlon, swim meet, etc.)

Are you interested in attending one of these clinics? Here’s what you need to know:

Who should attend? Anyone who wants to improve their swimming

What are you signing up for exactly? One hour swimming clinic, programming and athletes grouped by ability level

Where will clinics be held? The Golden Community Center

When will these happen? Sunday mornings, date(s) to be determined based on interest (hoping for Mid-March)

PLEASE comment on this post, or email if you’re interested in attending, along with which course level is best for you.

Pass along the word to anyone you know who might benefit from these sessions as well, please.

I hope to see you all soon!


Here’s last week’s recap and my goals for the upcoming week.

Last week:

  • Fitness- The more time passes this year, the more appreciative I am of the little things that go well in my training. My expectation used to be that I had to hit big numbers in strength, and push hard on workouts. Both things had to be there, every day. Now, I look back on training and am excited to see that a few things go well every week. That’s been more than enough to keep me going lately.
    • Metcons:
      • 5 Rounds: 20/15 Calorie Row/Bike and 10 Thrusters (115/80) – 9:53rx
      • For Time:
        – 40/30 Cal Bike or Row
        – 100′ Front Rack Walking Lunge (DB 50/35)(KB 53/35)
        – 25/20 Cal Bike or Row
        – 100′ DB Walking Lunge
        – 15/10 Cal Bike or Row – 7:39rx
      • For Time:
        – 2k Row (or 1 mile run)
        – 200 Double Unders (300 singles)
        – 10 Rounds of Cindy (C2B Cindy) – 22:21c (chest to bar)
    • Barbell work:
    • Calorie Total:
      • The challenge this month was to accumulate 2,018 calories on a rower or bike. My goal last week was to complete an additional 1,000 calories, and I did it. I’m currently sitting at 2,300 for February.
  • Progress still continues slowly on my first book of the year (Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jacko Willink). I knew that it would be hard to prioritize sitting down and making time to read instead of doing some sort of work, but not this tough! I’m always so convinced that there are other things I need to be doing until the second I close my eyes to go to sleep, but at least I’m plugging away.

This week:

  • Write one “The 2018 Open is Coming” post
  • More progress on the book (Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jacko Willink)
  • Complete one thousand more calories on the bike and/or rower before next Sunday. Feeling good about the extra cardio I’m doing, I just need to MAKE time to get it in! Another 1,000 would put me at 3,300 by next weekend.
  • Swimming Post is basically done, just working on fine-tuning details on the graphic/poster! Booked another 2 new swim clients this week for later in the month, too.

Alright, your turn. What’s going on with all of you?

Have a great week!


I just registered for my seventh consecutive CrossFit Games Open. Over the last few weeks several people have asked me if I was going to sign up or not, and that question always stirs up these weird emotions. While I haven’t “trained for The Open” in over three years, in my mind registering for this online competition is just a given. I’m not trying to beat anyone, I’m not expecting to place well, but it’s just become a part of what I do.


It’s not every day that we get to say we’ve been associated with something since the very beginning, but “The Open” is one of those things for me. I clearly remember the first CrossFit competition I ever did (the 2010 Mountain Sectionals), I remember my first year watching the CrossFit Games live-streamed from the Ranch all weekend long and not living leaving the house a single time, and I remember the first time we had to register online for this crazy thing. Somehow, this sport and community of ours continues to grow, and it doesn’t even cross my mind to not cough over $20 every year and throw down with the rest of you.

So as another year passes, my training goals shift yet again, and life continues to change on so many levels, I find myself preparing to join over a quarter of a million people worldwide to put our fitness to the test yet again. Here’s to keeping the streak of consecutive Open participation alive. Good luck to each and every one of you, and I’ll see you on the leaderboard!


What does being unpopular mean?

The thought of being unpopular used to be one of my biggest fears. It may come as a shock to you, but throughout my life I have struggled with feeling as though I should do whatever it takes to be liked by most people. This belief has allowed me to maintain friendships far longer than I should have, it’s encouraged me to give far more than I knew I’d ever get back from people, and it’s lead to me to being walked all over by others because I felt too awkward to stand up for myself. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve realized that many of those relationships have helped mold me into the man I am today. I’m proud that I’ve been able to learn and grow from many of those moments.

In the video posted below, Rethinking Unpopular: Erika Napoletano at TEDxBoulder 2012, Erika describes her difference between being “unpopular” and being “unlikeable.” Being unpopular, she explains, means making decisions based on honoring two groups of people: those who will love us for everything we are (and everything we aren’t), and ourselves. Being unlikeable, however, stems from the belief that everything revolves around us. When applying that distinction to my job as a personal trainer, it means although I may not always make the most popular decision in the gym, I’ll always make the one that has the best interest of my athletes at the forefront of my mind.

My goal in coaching the way I do is not to try to impress other people. In fact, the older I get, the less I try to impress others, and the less apologetic I am about my desire to add value. Relinquishing the need for validation of any kind has allowed me to truly give as much of myself as possible, simply to try and improve the lives of others.


If you watch the video, you’ll hear her hilarious story about the graphic above. For the purpose of MY post, let’s change the word “Swear” to the word “Care.” I can’t explain why I care so much about my athletes, but I do. When I lead a class, my style of music may not be the most popular, but I’ll rarely play songs with lyrics that offend an entire room. I’ll often stop athletes from adding weight to their bar when form starts to break down, which may lead to some not wanting to take classes I lead. I’d like to think that it also leads to fewer athletes getting injured on my watch, however. I may suggest that the volume of a workout be reduced or movements scaled based on an athlete’s ability or experience. While this decision may bruise an ego here and there in the short term, it usually leads to those same people being able to come back the next day instead of being so sore they can barely move. They’re not always popular decisions, but they always ones that come from a place of caring, and a place that prioritizes safety over everything else.

To some, these choices are logical and expected by a coach. To others, they’re an attack on the abilities and character of an athlete. I’m not able to control how others react. When I lay my head on my pillow at night, though, I know that I tried to help every single person I came in contact with in the gym that day. Being so unapologetic in those decisions makes me feel really good about what I do.

Every day I hope that through my actions over time, I will build the trust of those around me and prove to them that I always have their back. For those who don’t feel that way, over time, they’ll slowly move on. While that scenario doesn’t always make me happy, that’s how it goes, and it’s alright to let those people out of my “blanket fort” of life.

Please take the time to watch the video below. Let it inspire you to reassess and remind yourself why it is that you do what you do. Today, I’m more comfortable with the thought of being unpopular than I ever have been, because I know the choices I make at work are simply to try and help others.

Love me, hate me, just don’t be indifferent!” she says. I feel the same way!

Yes. They can.

End of story.


All jokes aside, this post is timely given some members of the audience reading my blog, and some situations I’ve witnessed in my years as a CrossFit coach. A lot of gyms out there have fun monthly challenges to keep their members engaged and strengthen the community. One in particular, which I’ve seen at dozens of gyms all over the world, happens during the second to last month of each calendar year. This event is called… ROW-VEMBER! What is Row-vember? Well, it’s an in-house competition to see who in the gym can row the most meters in the month of November. Sounds fun, right?! Well, it can be! At least, until people take the competition a little bit too seriously.

If read that and thought, “You’re kidding, right? How can someone take a rowing competition too seriously?” I’m SO glad you asked! There was a handful of individuals that were so set on winning, that in many ways, rowing took over their lives for four weeks. They’d show up early to row before class. Stay to row more after class. They’d come in and just row instead of taking class. Sometimes they’d back to the gym a second time during the day just to get in more rowing. Someone even took apart their own personal a rower so it would fit in the car to take with them on vacation! Now hopefully the picture is getting painted a little bit clearer as to how things went down.


A few years ago, Crazy Castro had the CrossFit Games athletes complete a HALF MARATHON Row… that’s 21,000 meters. In a row. Insane! What happened next? Well, like every other year after the CrossFit Games are over, people all over the world tried to do the same workouts on their own… “Just to see how they’d do compared to the fittest people on earth.” I know several people who called up some friends one day, went to the gym, put a movie on the TV, and rowed for over 90 minutes straight, just to say they did it. I get it. (Well, just like I know people pay money to do Ironman distance triathlons, doesn’t mean I want to do one myself. You do you, just know it’s not my jam!)

So we’ve talked about a crazy CrossFit event where athletes rowed for over an hour. And we’ve discussed people going to the gym all the time just to row and taking rowers on vacation with them to not fall behind in random competitions. Now, to drive home my point of just how bad it got, put those two groups together. There were a handful of people rowing 20,000+ meters nearly every day!! And if they missed a day, they’d make it up before or after!! That is insaaaaaaaaane to me. I’ve been in this CrossFit game for nearly a decade, and I’ve never even rowed a 10k!

I understand some people just like long and slow cardio. I also get how completing long distances in the form of several shorter interval repeats can make it more manageable. But what my brain doesn’t process is why when you’re 23 days into a month, and your sleep is suffering, focus is off, hands are calloused, butt and lower back are wrecked, and energy is down… you’d keep going just because there are seven days left in the month! But they did. That is a situation where, in my brain, the competition got way too intense. If you’re pushing yourself to the point of adrenal fatigue over pride and a $50 gift card, I think your priorities should shift a little bit. Realize that we want to take care of our bodies through the work we put in at the gym, not destroy them!


I thought of this story because at one of the gyms where I currently work, they’re completing a challenge each month to complete 2018 reps of a different movement. January was burpees, and I think there were about a half-dozen members who completed them all! This month, it’s Calories on a bike or rower. Since I didn’t hop in last month on the burpee game, I figured as a coach I would hop in a lead by example to encourage others to participate. After a few days of rowing a bit and writing my score on the board, I realized that a few of us started to get a little bit competitive with each other. The first few days it was fun, and then I was reminded of the folks I saw a few years ago.

Let this be my official declaration to those of you who are in the friendly game with me:

I just want us to have fun. If you ever feel like you’re impacting your work, social/personal life, or health and stress levels just by trying to row more, let me know. I will gladly step back and bow out of the game! 

I say that kind of in jest, but still pretty serious. For me, I find rowing or biking a little more than I usually would to be a great way to burn off a few extra calories. It’s low impact, I can do it on my own, and at my convenience. So, while my goal is to “#BeLessFat” and allow myself to drink another beer or two on the weekends without feeling guilty, I know that some people get wayyyy too into the competitive spirit. Don’t allow me to fuel an unhealthy fire. I want to make your life better, not worse! Besides, at the current gymour competition isn’t even for most meters, it’s just to see if people can hit 2,018 in the month. Every meter above 2,018 is just icing on the cake! I’ll back out in a heartbeat if I need to, though.


If you can keep it all in perspective, though, game on. Today I rowed an extra 4,000 meters at a comfortable pace while watching a live video of my favorite Dj, and my heart rate was low the entire time. It was just some nice active recovery, and it felt awesome!

While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really competitive, I rarely let that get in the way of my own health. Sadly, though, I know a lot of people who can’t safely make that distinction. Did rowing alone lead to adrenal fatigue? Of course not. But putting  one’s body through that much unnecessary stress for that many days in a row, certainly didn’t help! Story one was about a competition that went awry. Story two is about a challenge to hit 2,018 meters. The point is, saying, “It’s not a competition,” is great, but we all know that to some people… everything is a competition! If all else fails and your brain won’t let your body stop pushing, remember that it’s only a game. And none of it matters. Train smart, friends.

One of my first real “paying” jobs was teaching swim lessons to little kids. Once we peeled their little bodies, kicking and screaming, away from their parents for the first time and got them in the water, the rest of the class usually went really well. One of our favorite “go-to” games to play with them, once they learned how to kick properly, was
“Red Light, Green Light.” In that game, the kiddos start kicking to begin. When the coach yells “GREEN LIGHT,” they kick as fast as they can! When the coach yells “YELLOW LIGHT,” they can slow down to a medium-paced kick. Finally, when the coach yells “RED LIGHT,” the kids either kick really slowly or stop kicking completely. Simple concept, right? It teaches a lot of things, motor control being one of them. By CHOOSING to exert more or less energy, you control the effort your body puts forth. That intentional ability to throttle power “up and down” is a skill that is useful to have in nearly all sports and athletic endeavors.

If you’re hiking a 14,000 foot mountain and start jogging up the trail, you’re probably not going to be able to hold that speed for the entire day. If you run the first 400 meters of a mile in a dead sprint, you’re likely going to crash and burn. (If you’re someone who actually sprints a mile from start to finish, shut up. No one can actually run that fast for that long.) Another way to apply this control is in the ability to pace oneself in a style workout. So often CrossFit athletes know one speed: Charlie Sheen!


That means whether it’s a 3-minute burner of a workout, or an hour-long Hero WOD, they come out of the gates at a breakneck pace, and just tryyyyy to hold on. And usually they don’t! What I’m here to suggest, is that while getting stronger so you can “go Rx” on the weight for a workout is great, that it should be equally as important for you to practice different pacing on workouts to see how your body responds.

I’ll never forget watching Regionals in 2013 (I think), when there was a workout called “the 50’s” or something, where each competitor had to do 50 reps of 4 or 5 different movements. (Yes, I realized the more I wrote in that last sentence that I said I would NEVER forget something, and the proceeded to know literally none of the details of said story. And then laughed out loud at myself.) Most of the athletes just went for it. One athlete in particular paced every round. He did 20 reps per minute, then stopped and rested the remainder of the minute. Rinse. Repeat. At first, athletes shot out ahead of him and he fell farther and farther behind. Then, by minute 11 or 12 when the other athletes started to slow down, here he came. With his heart rate under control, he caught and passed every single athlete in the heat, won the event, and was one of only a few athletes in the world that completed the workout in under the time cap. (Tommy, will you please completely debunk this fictional story I made up about you? It’s crazy how vivid I remember watching the event. Yet in my brain, I think I created a completely overly dramatic “Rudy” or “Rocky” type of a tale. How far off am I?)

What’s your action item? Go into every workout you do with a plan. Break your 21-15-9 rep workout into 3 sets each round. Another workout go unbroken for as long as you can at 80% effort. For shorter duration pieces, go as fast as you can and try to hang on. Then, retest some of those same workouts with a completely different strategy. The goal is to be scientific and deliberate with your training. Going to the gym and “going through the motions,” if your goals are just to work out. If you care about performance, want to improve, and potentially compete, it’s critical to really learn how your body works. Being aware of your body’s ability to perform at different intensities and to pace properly depending on the stimulus in front of you, separates the good athletes from the great. Master your own Red Light, Green Light, and watch your athleticism improve dramatically!