A full class schedule wasn’t enough, we had to add a noon class for the Canada Day holiday and still most classes were full.

Back squats and rope climbs were on the menu.  It was first come first served and Fierce, Sandman and Silk got the station with both a rack and a rope and went on to RX the WOD.  For Sandman, it was a personal best as he beat even his previous fast time finishing under 11 minutes to put up our first official post-COVID in-gym personal best!

It was the perfect way to start the month of July but he wasn’t the only one crushing the holiday WOD.  Dauntless was showing off a much more confident foot pinch on the rope.  Sprite was flaunting 2 consecutive pinches in a row throughout the WOD and Spice, who got her first ever rope climb just before the WOD, completed all 15 of them in the workout!

Post-COVID we’ve seen fewer kids in the gym so it was fun to see Silk’s kids cheering her on and Peril & Danger’s daughters too.  It’s been a big missing for us.  Considering how well-behaved the kids are and the fact that there seems to be little to no transmission from kids to adults, I hope we start seeing more family participation.

Classes got to discuss what we love about Canada.  We have a lot of members who hail from other parts of the world and I found their insights particularly interesting as it made me realize how much we lucky Canadians take for granted.

A small, liberal democracy.  My son rails against socialism but we are very lucky to have a great health care system.  Our government also did a great job of stepping up during COVID to help us through.  I would not be able to keep doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for the great support we’ve received with our rent and our groceries during this difficult time.  And Doc Disc pointed to community centres as very visceral emblem of how Canada so often gets things right.  Well-used and well-funded, our community centres actually serve their communities very well.  It is easy to forget how wealthy we are.

The Land
And we’re so wealthy in other ways:  Public beach access, beautiful parks, vast wilderness expanses, profound geographical variation across so many regions, a small population relative to landmass making all this possible.  Canada is rich with land and we have not yet despoiled the natural treasures we’ve been blessed with.

The People
Kind, friendly, sane and not pretentious.  In these chaotic, alarmingly volatile times things here are just a little more sane.  Diversity is a big one for many of us and not just the fact that we are multicultural, many places can claim the same, it’s the way that we are all Canadian first no matter where we were born.  In Canada we can share in the wonders of each other’s cultures and traditions.  This is another form of wealth that we often take for granted.  Canadians are a richly embroidered tapestry of differing heritages and beliefs.  If you’re a Canadian growing up in a city like Vancouver, you have friends from so many different backgrounds your horizons can’t help but be broadened.  Perhaps our sanity is anchored by that.

Safe & Clean
If you were born here you may not appreciate how safe and clean our country is.  I’ve dodged the dog turd landmines of Parisian sidewalks and cringed at the sight of burnt out cars and bloated dog corpses in the drainage ditches of Ensanada and it makes me grateful for Vancouver’s sanitation standards.  Thanks to all our city Workers!

Until you’ve lived under the threat of violence, you can never understand the importance of safety!  Give thanks to our emergency services including law enforcement for the fact that you can go for a stroll in your neighbourhood at 8pm at night in the fresh, clean air without the fear of being attacked, murdered or robbed.

A Sense of Humour
Quirky perhaps but humour nonetheless.  How else do you explain the following answers?  Beaver Tails, Ketchup chips and best of all, Coach.  These are the things folks born in Canada list as their favourite things because it is easy to joke when your health and safety and welfare are taken care of and you live in harmony with your neighbours with abundant land and wildlife around you.  We are truly a lucky bunch!

I have to admit, I hadn’t thought of all of these things.  Born Canadian, there’s many I have taken for granted.  Yesterday you really deepened my appreciation for our country.  We have so much to be thankful for.

And Speaking of Our Beautiful Neighbourhood: 10K Run
Let me start off by thanking our super-supportive community who made everything possible.  Thanks Hard Rock for snapping me out of my must-fix-everything-myself mindset, thanks Fierce for addressing fix number one, The Touch for calling Super Mario and Super Mario’s IT superhero-fast responsiveness.  Thanks to all these helpers I had Saturday afternoon free to make a solid dent in my Sunday workload and to write my Original Strength certification exam.

All this meant that Sunday, once I’d done a couple hours work, I found myself with a bit of spare time.  Sunghee was on a Zoom meeting; our son was out with friends and the day was sunny with a fresh breeze, the perfect weather and time to tackle the 10K run CrossFit HQ just programmed.

Rest days are critical, we all need them and Sunday is usually mine but Original Strength founder Tim Anderson points out that Original Strength resets can be done every day.  The three pillars of Original Strength are diaphragmatic breathing, head control and cross-lateral movement.  The most basic, universal human cross-lateral reset is walking.  Regressions of the cross-lateral gait pattern include rolling and rocking, progressions include marching, skipping, loaded carries and yes, running.

But 10K?  According to Original Strength, so long as you can maintain the pillars (breathing, posture and gait pattern) you are performing a system reset refreshing your vestibular and central nervous system and improving mood and hormonal function.  As soon as these break down, you have crossed a threshold and your system is now under stress.

So, is it possible to maintain breathing (diaphragmatic belly breathing through the nose only) and posture (head up as per the righting reflex) for 10K turning this test of endurance into a restorative system reset?

Tim Anderson claims yes.  He told us during the cert that it is possible to run 10K with only nose breathing.  CrossFit made a lot of outlandish claims too.  Personally, the only way I can be convinced is by testing it out so that’s what I set out to do.  I drove out to Pacific Spirit Park and chose the trails overlooking Spanish Banks knowing that the fresh air, sunlight, cool shade, breeze, green canopy and blue vistas in themselves are great system resets to restore a stressed nervous system.   If you ever doubt that we live in the most beautiful city, visit these trails on a sunny day.

After an Original Strength warm up of breathing, head nods, rocking, marching and skipping, I set my watch for an hour (my average 10K time) and set out.  I felt the muscles in my upper chest, neck and shoulders tense almost immediately.  These are the emergency breathing, muscles, the opposite of diaphragmatic belly breathing.   And this is how my body responds to running: panic.  To me running signals an emergency.  And why not?  Why else would I be running unless there was an emergency?  It seems a logical response to me.  But a panic run may not be the best approach to an endurance event.  It certainly didn’t turn out well for Pheidippides.

So I relaxed and focused on belly breathing through my nose only.  It certainly forced me to slow down.  With all the dramatic level changes it was tough.  There were a few times I had to exhale the CO2 build up through my mouth near the top of a steep incline but was able to immediately resume nose breathing.  A couple times I had to walk the last few steps of a climb to avoid mouth breathing.  But after 60 minutes of running I’d done it.  Was it truly 10K?  Maybe not at that slow pace but I certainly could have continued nose breathing and didn’t feel at all exhausted exhilarated instead.

Finished up with some rocking to loosen up my hips, knees, ankles and feet and chalked up a win for the Original Strength methodology.  A 10K rest and reset day, who would have imagined?  And in the following days I had none of the stiffness or body soreness that I usually associate with long distance runs and my mood and energy levels have been very high despite a very heavy workload.  Perhaps a 60-minute system reset is really the refresher I needed.

If you want to try this for yourself, take a timer with you.  Pick a route, run out 20 minutes at a pace that allows you to maintain nose breathing only.  If you get panicked just slow down to a walk until you can resume again.  At the 20 minute mark, turn around and head back.  You’ll have accumulated 40 minutes of belly breathing practice with time left over for a warm up and cool down and you just may overcome your dread of running.

Warm Up
2 mins Marching
2 mins Cross-Crawls
2 mins Skipping

10K Run or 10K Row
or Run 20 minutes out and return

Cool Down
Kickstand Rock
Lego Rock
Downward Dog Rock
Pigeon Rock