Category Archives: Cross-Training

Functional Training

The idea of Functional Fitness has been around for awhile.  I’m not 100% sure of its origins, but it is based around the idea that going to the gym and lifting weights doesn’t necessarily make you strong enough to do every day tasks. Say that you can bench press 300 pounds but you can’t move a couch across the room – you are really strong, but lack functional fitness. Your 300 pound bench is meaningless in real life. Your fitness lacks a daily function.

Crossfit is a huge proponent of Functional Fitness.  I’m not sure what flipping tires has to do with daily function, but really we don’t do that very often.  Much of our workouts improve or focus on our core strength which can have a huge impact on our daily functioning.  We are also constantly working on improving overall strength in areas that are weakened by our sedentary lifestyle and office/seated working styles.

But my thought today is about more than being functionally fit. It is about using our fitness, but more specifically our daily training as a part of daily life. What does that idea mean to you? To me this could look like a few different things:

1. Stretching or doing yoga poses while standing in line.  You might get some funny looks, but why not reclaim some of that time?

2. Changing daily activities like sitting at your desk, to improve fitness.  Get a treadmill desk, standing desk, or balance ball chair.

3. Using your training to complete a task.  Ride your bike to work, the store, etc.  Or even literally run errands.

This cam to my mind recently as I literally ran some errands.  Based on the schedule I couldn’t get a morning run in, but I was dropping the car off the get serviced.  It was going to be a good 2 hour service, so I decided to run the 5 miles home.  I rode my bike back to pick up the car later.  I’ve done this before with the bike, but I needed to get a run in that day so I swapped it around.  Running to work can be hard as you’ll most likely need a shower even in cooler weather while biking is a little more forgiving in that area!

I’ve been using a balance ball chair for over a year now.  Two things I have to remember are to keep it inflated and to make sure I’m sitting properly in it.  Mine has a little bit of a back so it is easy to slouch which negates some of the benefits.  Having it fully inflated makes it harder to slouch!

I have a friend who often would stretch while waiting in line. Of course some people gave him funny looks,  but really who cares. Most of the people you will never see again.  Some stretches are super easy to do and don’t require you to expand your personal bubble too far!

How can you integrate your fitness regime more into your daily life?

Getting to a 5 Minute Plank

One of January’s Challenges is to hold a 5 minute plank.  Minneapolis Running retweeted a link from a local blogger who initiated the challenge.  The Right Fits blogs about running and fitness in the Twin Cities and beyond.  She laid down the challenge in her first post of the year and a Facebook Event. She kindly offered a “training” plan to get there in 1 month.

I must admit, it seems a little daunting to think about holding a plank for 5 minutes… I know people who can run a mile that fast!! Or do 100 burpees… but holding one position.  That’s a challenge.  I’m actually 3 days in and I was pretty shaking at the end of today’s 30 seconds.  And I feel like I’m in decent shape! We must find our weaknesses, expose them, and fix them!

Here is the plan:



30 Day Fitness Challenges has pretty much the same formula and an app to go with it! A quick search for 5 minute plank apps produced a couple that do a 5 minute workout moving through different plank positions, but only 1 that I saw that might actually work for this challenge.  Check it out here, I downloaded it on my phone. It has additional plank exercises that I don’t see a way to actually skip or remove but it has a timer on it and it is a pretty straight-forward no frills app.

In a text format the workout goes:

  1. 20 seconds
  2. 20
  3. 30
  4. 30
  5. 40
  6. Rest
  7. 45
  8. 45
  9. 60
  10. 60
  11. 60
  12. 90
  13. Rest
  14. 90
  15. 90
  16. 120 (2 minutes)
  17. 120
  18. 150 (2:30)
  19. Rest
  20. 150
  21. 150
  22. 180 (3 minutes)
  23. 180
  24. 210 (3:30)
  25. 210
  26. Rest
  27. 240 (4 minutes)
  28. 240
  29. 270
  30. Rest
  31. 300 (5 minutes)

Starting Crossfit

Today I delved into the world of CrossFit.  If you don’t know CrossFit is a regimen of constantly varied (CV), functional movements (FM) performed at high intensity (@HI) in a communal environment leads to health and fitness.  It is a little crazy and very intense.  I’ve read about CrossFit, talked with my Uncle, read CrossFit Endurance, researched boxes (CrossFit gyms) but never found a place that was conveniently located AND had a class schedule that worked.  Technically you don’t need to go to a box, you could do most of the workouts at any gym or at home.  I’ve always felt that I needed to get a good foundation, with someone watching my form, before trying it on my own.  Plus having a coach and others encouraging you is always helpful!

CAM05039 On June 1 a new CrossFit box opened up just over a mile from our house.  I was pretty excited to see that it was coming in and had talked with Christy about it.  She arranged for me to get a one month trial membership as a Father’s Day present!!  The new place is called Solcana CrossFit

Solcana CrossFit takes its name from early 20th-century strongwomen – with names like Vulcana, Minerva, Athleta and Sandwina – who performed feats of physical prowess in circus sideshows around the world. These iron ladies drew eager crowds and challenged the notion that women could not be exceptional athletes. Solcana Crossfit aims to embody the spirit of these strongwomen by encouraging growth in all of our athletes, pushing our personal limits and celebrating unexpected strength.

I had my initial meeting/workout with owner/head coach Hannah tonight. A class was just finishing up and the space is great. Barebones like you’d expect, but a nice area of cubbys for gear, couch to relax on, shower, loud music, white board, tv, timer, and all the workout gear!! We talked about basics of the gym and I was pleased to find out that they tend to be a little more holistic than some CrossFit boxes including some mobility work into their workouts. Hannah was super nice, even when she was encouraging me to complete the initial workout!

The initial workout was 500m row, 40 squats, 30 situps, 20 pushups, and 10 pullups. We walked through them backwards and she demonstrated how she wanted me to do them and then I had to do a rep or two. I struggled to make it to the top of my test pullup and she demonstrated a modification using rings that would help me complete the workout. Pushups had to be chest to the floor. I must have looked a little wobbly as she had me demonstrate the modification with my hands wresting on a box – this also could have been from our discussion about my torn rotator cuff from last year. The situps were pretty easy, they have back support and you get to use your arms to help swing you up! Squats are something that I need and struggle with doing consistently with good form so we went over those a little bit. Lastly the rowing machine always looks so easy, but it does take some coordination. The goal for the initial workout (and most CrossFit workouts) is to complete it as fast as possible, she said it should take about 10 minutes.

She wanted me to be rowing at about a 2:00/500m pace and I think I finished just under that. I pushed through the squats and situps without too much trouble. The pushups were where I started to hurt. I did them in two sets of 5,then 3-3-2-2. They really hurt. Then the modified rings/pullups which weren’t easy, but I was able to bang them out – which means I probably should have been at a different angle on them. My finishing time was 7:35!! Then I laid on the floor for a few minutes to catch my breath.
I was pleased with the workout, though I know I have a lot of room for growth. This workout is a foundation that we can go back to and check-in on over time to see improvement. After relaxing for a bit and talking about the workout I headed out on my bike. I could feel my arms were wobbly and my legs weren’t as springy for the ride home. Then Caleb wanted to be held…. 🙂

It was a great workout and I’m excited to finally be doing CrossFit!

Backpacking Superior #1

Over Memorial Day weekend I went on a 2 night backpacking adventure along the Superior Hiking Trail.  I was going solo which meant that I could hike at my own pace, take lots of pictures if I wanted to, stop and linger or push through.  I had a lot of fun. I talked with a dude from the Superior Hiking Trail Association at the Outdoor Adventure Expo to get some ideas and he suggested that I hike from Castle Danger to Beaver Bay – 30 miles.  That seemed reasonable enough.

I was planning to do a bike shuttle – drop my car or bike at one end and drive/ride to the other and hike through.  I compared elevation, etc and chose to drop my bike off at the Castle Danger trail-head and drive to the Beaver Bay trailhead.  The elevation change looked pretty equal, but the first several miles from the trail-head were on the road until it connected to the Gitchi-Gammi Bike Trail.  So it seemed like a good idea to ride that fresh!  As I was planning I had this nagging feeling that 30 miles might seem too short for 2 nights…

Saturday morning I got up early, finished packing, loaded the bike and hit the road.  I stopped at Tobies for an excellent cinnamon roll and drove the Castle Danger trail-head.  There was no place to lock my bike in the parking lot, but I found a road sign across the street that would work.  I decided to take my front tire off and used my u-lock through both tires and the frame onto the street sign.  I left the water bottle full on the rack and headed out.  I made it to the Beaver Bay trail-head loaded up and hit the trail by 10am.

I was hiking from North to South and the trail guide is written in the opposite direction.  This didn’t really create any trouble, but it was important to remember as I stopped to look at it and read the descriptions.  I also needed to remember to stop and look in 360 degrees throughout so I didn’t miss any epic views!  I accidentally left my hiking pole in the car and didn’t realize it until 1/2 mile or so in.  I probably should have gone back for it, but oh well!

I hiked for quite a while before I saw anyone and then saw several people before lunch at the Beaver Bay campsite.  This was also the first chance I had to try out my new UV water filter.  It seemed to work well as I didn’t get sick!!  It was a lot faster than either a hand pump or iodine tablets and didn’t taste nasty like iodine does!!  Throughout the hike I did reflect on how relatively easy it was for me to use this $70 device to drink water any time I wanted and how hard it is for some people around the world to access safe water.  It made me very grateful for all those who have supported my fundraising efforts for clean water in the Congo and served as a great reminder that I need to keep up the work of raising $50 to provide clean water access for life.  You can do that here.

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Sign Up for 30 Days of Biking #30daysofbiking

For the past few years I’ve signed up for the 30 Days of Biking Challenge.  It is a great way to kick-off spring and there have been some really cool stories through the years of people being inspired to ride and having their lives changed.  I missed the inaugural event due to Lyme disease, but have participated every year since.

In 2012, I was doing Project 365 – taking a picture each day – and dedicated April to taking a bike related picture each day!

Registration for this year’s event opened on March 1 and I was rider number 265 to sign up!

Here is my confirmation:


And my “pledge card”!



Of course I’m dedicating my riding and running this year to raising money for clean water projects in the Congo.  Your support of any amount is greatly appreciated!