Athlete Profile: Tim Broder

I’ve often described our experience as Crossfitters to be that of a spectrum.  On one end, CMCmainyou have athletes who, smaller in size, can annihilate WODs like Cindy and Helen with tremendous speed.  Athletes on this end of the spectrum tend to enter endurance races of all lengths and difficulty.  On the other end of the spectrum you have people who can move tremendous amounts of weight, and find their comfort zone much more in the realm of WODs like King Kong and 1RM Deadlifts.  We’re all working toward the middle of that spectrum, where we can all test our endurance to its outer limits, while moving large loads long distances in the shortest time possible.  There is no finer example of huge progress in getting to the middle of the spectrum than that of long-time Crossfit NYC member Tim Broder.

In addition to his hard work paying off over years in the gym, Tim’s participation in our community has been exemplary. You will always find him pushing other members to finish WODs strong, encouraging and counting them through every last rep.  Tim has experienced every variation of Crossfit imaginable, and is definitely the most knowledgeable athlete at Crossfit NYC without an L1 certification (points are also given for the fact that he is a computer nerd who writes code for a living).

Tim Broder’s truest test has not been his training in Crossfit Endurance.  Nor was it his long-standing participation in NYC Endurance.  But Tim’s greatest test of stength and will has repeatedly surfaced in the immense discipline known as Crossfit NYC Endurance …the ability to endure the near-constant changes in programming, personnel, location and scheduling that embody Tim’s home gym of four years, Crossfit NYC.

Tim has weathered the storm, and has emerged an athlete with tremendous capacity to endure whatever Crossfit NYC throws at him, both in and out of the gym. Most valuable to us as a community is the perspective of this athlete that has watched our gym grow from less than 100 members to upwards of 1500+. There is a wealth of knowledge to tap athletes like Tim for, and we took this opportunity to do just that…

muscleupWhen I started at the gym in 2010 you were doing Crossfit Endurance training from the CFE site.  Since then I’ve seen you go through different phases of training…CMC prep, Invictus, Black Box WODs and now our competition team.  Have you been able to steadily progress in your overall fitness, or do you gear your training specifically to events and/or competition goals?

It’s a little of both.  Overall my fitness has drastically improved over the years in both strength and endurance.  But, at the same time I do tend to train towards a specific goal…whether it be a race, a strength cycle, or just to look/feel better.  This summer is the first time in a long time where I’m just in a maintenance mode.  You mentioned the different programs I’ve tried. I tend to have program ADD and am usually interested in trying something new after about 8 months or so. Historically I’ve alternated periods of Black Box WODs with some kind of tailored programming.

I’ve seen you manhandle barbells in metcons that were close to your bodyweight (in some cases more).  Did you have a lifting background before Crossfit, or is that something that came after you started at CFNYC?

Sort of…not really. I went to NYSC on a pretty regular basis for a year or two and did whatever lifting program was hot on at the time. That didn’t bring me to anywhere near the level of strength that I’ve gotten through Crossfit, or even size for that matter.  I was much bigger a few years ago for a period of time after playing with milk than I ever was doing traditional lifting.  An old rower friend of mine said he was trying Crossfit.  I did Tabata Something Else and was hooked. The competitive mentality of the workouts was just like being back in college where every morning usually ended with a race.

Like a lot of people, I was under the impression that the way you train for
marathons and endurance events was to run at least the length of the race many times over.  It seems Crossfit Endurance has a very different philosophy.  Can you talk about that, and how your results have been using that training method?

marathonIt’s very different.  My first marathon (Disney) was a combination of “traditional training” with some Crossfit thrown in on top.  So I had the long runs in there, did some interval training, and a few WODs each week.  Training time was probably around 15 hours a week depending on the long runs.  Fast forward 18 months and I’m training for my second Marathon (NYC…see photo) with pure CrossFit Endurance.  I was following a program designed by Brian Harkins of NYC Endurance and I saw immense improvement: 19 minutes faster than my previous race…on a much, much harder course with hours less training time each week.  It boiled down to four WODs in the morning, consisting of heavy lifting (squats and deadlifts). Then either a short intense metcon, or maybe a heavy metcon on its own for the day.  Then two evenings a week, and Saturday was sprints, longer sprints, and a tempo run. Sundays were totally off, so 7-9 hours/week.  Longest run: 13.1 miles.  It’s odd because while you are training, you don’t feel ready.  You just have to trust the program.  Try it out first on a shorter race.  I didn’t believe…trained this way for a half marathon to try it, and was completely blown away.  Not to use our catch phrase, but if you want to train less, and go faster, look up Harkins.

You’ve done races of varying lengths, from CMC to the NYC marathon and most recently the GoRuck Challenge.  Looking back on your athletic pursuits, what is your favorite type of event, and why?

It depends on how you look at it.  If it’s a crazy race, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll convince me to do it with you just so I can try it.  The adventure races are my favorite because they are the most fun, especially if you have a team. Get a good group of guys together and go do CMC, Warrior Dash, or a Ragnar Relay. Now that’s fun…especially cmc-mudRagnar. With that said, the New York Marathon is hands-down the greatest running race on Earth. There is nothing else like it. When you come over the bridge from Queens and run up 1st Avenue with crowds 10 people deep screaming…it’s insane.

You took me aside before I did my first 2000m row to talk about “the anatomy of a 2k”.  Can you discuss this, and has your approach to this WOD changed since then?

It’s probably the same. 2k’s suck. There’s no way around that. We did more than I’d care to admit in college, so I have a standard plan. It works for me but there are other options.

1) Fly and die (you’ll do this on your first one, so don’t worry)
2) constant pace
3) negative splits, or some combination of the three.

For the most part I break the 2k up into 3 parts: first 500, the middle, and the last 500. You start off with 10-20 hard strokes, then take 5-10 to get into what your pace is going to be for the rest of the piece.  At 500 do a check, see how you are feeling…keep going.  At 1k do 10 hard ones to get yourself into the second half and keep going.  At 500 left, hold on and mentally prepare yourself for the sprint.  Somewhere in between 350-250 to go, start sprinting. This should be balls out…empty your tanks.  If anyone wants more detail on this, such as what those numbers are for you, or how to figure out what your pace should be (or you just want tips), shoot me an email…I’ll be happy to help.

You’ve been Crossfitting for years.  What steps do you take to ensure proper recovery?  

disneyStretching and nutrition are the biggest. We don’t do enough stretching at CrossFit NYC at all. Most coaches at the box now have a pretty solid warm up routine…make sure you do it all. But after the WOD most of us tend to just bounce. Take some time, get some good, long, deep static stretching in…roll out, or play with a band.  If you have that feeling where you constantly want to stretch, that’s your body telling you to do it.

Also, rest. If you have a hot spot, think you pulled something, or something just feels…off, be smart about it: don’t do exercises that touch that part of your body, or take a few days off entirely. If you are feeling burnt out, tired all the time, constantly sore, either A) take a look at your nutrition, or B) just take a week off.  This is some of the best advice Robb Wolf ever gave me. I usually take two weeks completely off a year. One around Christmas time just because holiday travel makes it more difficult anyway, and then again over the summer when I’m hopefully just relaxing on a beach. You come back recharged and ready to go.

How large of a role does nutrition play in your training?  Do you have a preferred diet?

It’s critical. Whether you are prepping for some kind of event, trying to lose weight or get huge, if your nutrition isn’t dialed in you won’t see the gains you are looking for.  I’ve tried a lot of them over the years: Zone, Primal, Whole30, Paleo, Zone Paleo, and Slow Carb (4 Hour Body).  They all work.  What I look for is…what is sustainable long term and which one am I not trying to exploit some loop-hole all the time?  I’ve settled on Slow Carb, with a switch to Paleo for some of the summer to enjoy fruit.  The short version of Slow Carb is…its kind of Paleo, but take out fruit and add in beans/legumes for fuel.  It’s also great for training because it’s easy to adjust carbs/protein for whatever you are trying to do.  I timsupermanfind it easier than Paleo because to get the carbs I would need when training for a race I really have to eat a lot of fruit…but then it’s a lot of sugar, etc.

For any of these though I’ve picked up a few big take-a-ways:

1) Frozen veggies are OK.  Living in NYC, you don’t always have time to sit there and steam fresh veggies. Throw a bag of frozen mixed greens in the microwave for six minutes and you are good to go.
2) Having a cheat day is much easier to hold to then having three cheat meals a week. It’s a lot harder to make that slip.  I usually cheat on Saturday and it’s gross (awesome).
3) If you are trying a new diet, stick with it for three months. You won’t see gains in the first week or so. After that, if it’s not working for you, try something else.

If we are talking about race nutrition there are a number of things I add in. Either a) a raw yam after Crossfit workouts. I just peel it and eat it. Don’t judge, it tastes like carrots. Or b) a bottle of Accelerade. Accelerade is great because it helps get electrolytes back into your system and has the perfect protein/carb ratio for recovery. It IS high in sugar so I only take it for race training and not day to day.  After evening workouts I have a can of coconut water. During training runs I’ll have Accelerade and Hammer gels on me. Hammer gels are like Gu but minus the sugar and caffeine.  For the actual race I’ll take Gu…you want the caffeine.  For longer races I’ll run with a fuel belt so I can plan out exactly what kind of liquid supplement I’ll have, instead of relying on what the race may have on the course.

If you could program a WOD that nails your strengths across the board, what would it be?  What about the opposite?

Longer metcons or chippers.  Angie and Murph are probably my two favorite to do.  OpenOHS WOD 11.2 (which I think you actually counted for me on) is another one that sticks in my mind.  Find a rhythm and Go.  Because of my size, heavy metcons such as Diane or Grace tend to be a struggle for me, but I’m getting a lot better at Grace thanks to Sara fixing my cleans.

The GoRuck Challenge is said to be a transformative event.  How was your recent GoRuck experience, and would you consider doing it again?

Now that is an interesting event.  There is a lot you can do to prepare for it, while at the same time there is absolutely nothing you can do.  I treated it the same way I would train for a 10-mile event, and tried to figure out how a backpack full of bricks would play into it.  We did a combination of CFE protocol with some Invictus competition programming. I think we were as ready as we were going to be.  It was intense.  They tell you when you start that you are going to be pushed to your physical and mental limit, have a “come to Jesus” moment, and love it afterwards. We did. My moment was in the East River. Holy F**K that was cold.  I would do it again with the right group of people.  I’ve trained on my own for a few races…it’s boring and lonely.  There are some variations such as HEAVY (more bricks, 24 hours) and then a Trek one where it’s 4 days and espionage stuff. Those could be fun.

You’ve always been helpful to beginners around the gym.  I speak from experience since you ran alongside me for many a 3rd and 5th round run when you had already completed your WOD.  You’re obviously motivated by driving the people around you to do their best.  Have you considered personal training or Crossfit coaching?

It’s a camaraderie thing. While we are all competing with each other during a timed WOD, christmaselfwe’re also still a team…everyone has to finish.  If me running along on an extra lap yelling or just trotting along gets everyone to the end, then let’s go.  I have dabbled in coaching, actually. I did private rowing sessions at the box for a while, but my day job is pretty demanding, so I cut back.  In another life I probably would be a trainer/coach full time.  In this one though I’m a pretty big nerd, and if my job didn’t involve programming I’d be sad.  I have always said though that if I ever left a city I’d have to do something drastic and go live in the mountains or something, so maybe in the future…

Tim Broder can be found working out with the Crossfit NYC competition team most weekday mornings at the Black Box.  He can also occasionally be seen doing his own thing as he trains for his next adventure race.  No matter where you see him, he will definitely stop what he’s doing to talk shop with you.  You can also email him at