Strange Injuries and DNFs

So yesterday I went to a WOD at Crossfit Continuum and discovered two things…

  1. My right elbow is cranky.
  2. My left shoulder didn’t want me to push a bar straight overhead.

shovelling_plainThis led to a DNF, which didn’t make me happy – but I didn’t want to continue to aggravate whatever it was that was causing issues.

I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden basic movements were causing me grief. From a simple overhead strict shoulder press at the top of a thruster to doing ring dips on a box or even push-ups. Lowering weight didn’t make a difference. It was the range of motion causing issues. And even after doing some mobility work afterwards, I was still stumped.

This morning I figured out a possible cause to my difficulties.

Here in Colorado we’ve had a number of waves of snow in the last couple of weeks. That has led to my shoveling the walks fairly frequently. And this morning as I was shoveling, I realized that shoveling (or using a push broom) to clear the walks was likely the culprit for my cranky arms and elbows. I tend to use my right arm more than my left while shoveling, which is probably the cause.

Can anybody recommend a good snow shovel that avoids stressing elbows? I’ve seen various styles and am curious what folks have used to avoid any unavoidable strain. (Beyond buying a snow blower. 🙂 )

I know this isn’t really a crossfit-related question, but it’s a “real life intruding on crossfit question” so I’d like to figure it out. 🙂

Thanks in advance.

Lacking Endurance – Paleo Diet Fixes?

Ok, so today I got my butt kicked by yet another crossfit workout at Crossfit Continuum.  Took me nearly 45 minutes to get through this thing. And while it wasn’t as bad a disparity as yesterday’s workout (other folks completing in half my time), I still felt like I was sucking wind.

Front-squatLargely it was a single movement in the mix that killed me – the front squats. The rest of the movements – the singles (I still can’t do double-unders), the light deadlifts, and even the handstand push-ups (which devolved quickly into just kicking up on the wall as my shoulders got more and more fried.) As a result, I’m not sure if this was endurance or just not having the form right.

Either way, whether it was form or just endurance, I need to work on my endurance. I’m wondering if some of it is the lack of enough carbs in my diet.

Though we’ve been eating largely a paleo diet over the last year or so, I tend towards more protein, less carbs, because I get tired of eating salads after a while. I do eat a fair amount of fruit, but I suspect those calories are burned right away.

A friend of ours suggested eating a sweet potato after a workout to get more of the carbs into the system to keep fuel going through the rest of the day, so I’m going to add that to my lunch today and see if that helps. But I’m curious what else I can do diet-wise (and training wise) to help with this problem.

It’s not that I don’t mind being DFL, but I want to improve on my times and get stronger and faster instead of dragging nearly every workout…

Anybody have any suggestions?

DNF vs. DFL – YOU Decide

When I started crossfit, my goal was to do the best I could with the strength, flexibility, and abilities I had at the time. Often that meant scaling workouts down a ton.

Guess what? Even after a year of crossfit, that’s still my goal and I still scale workouts down. No two days are the same. And even if I do the same workout on two different days, the old quote from Heraclitus holds true.

You cannot step into the same river twice. – Heraclitus

Day to day, moment to moment, workout to workout – you are not the same person exactly. We change. Our mental state changes. Our physical state changes. The people we are with is different. The weather, equipment, trainer… there are infinite variables. And it is simply not possible to recreate the same conditions again.

strength-comes-from-overcomingBut the one thing I try to do EVERY workout I participate in… is finish.

Sounds simple, but it’s not.

If you’ve seen “DNF” before on the board for someone’s workout, it means “Did Not Finish.” And it’s a mark of shame for many people. Sometimes there’s a legitimate reason such as the athlete gets hurt and can’t complete it. Or maybe they ran out of time (sometimes you have to set a time limit on a workout and just can’t complete in the time allotted).

And then there are the people who just give up…

It’s easy to get into that state. You get tired. Worn out. Sore. Hurt. And the reps you have left just seems like an insurmountable obstacle.

I’ve been there.  Many times.

That’s when I’m thankful for my trainers and my fellow athletes who offer encouragement. Sometimes they help me scale the workout. Sometimes they get down on the ground and help with those last few reps and do them AGAIN just to show their commitment to helping you achieve your goal.

Sometimes it’s my wife who is there by my side matching me rep for rep. Sometimes it’s my kids. Sometimes it’s that new person at the box whose name I can’t even remember.

And I do the same for them. Shouting “Woo hoo! Go So-and-So!” or “Great work!” across the room. Offering to help. Giving even a tiny nod that says “yup, I know it hurts and you’re tired, but keep up the great work and we all believe in you.”

In a year, I’ve only received a DNF twice that I can remember. They’re like little black marks on my mental report card of effort in each workout. I don’t regret them – like I said, sometimes things happen and you just can’t finish.  But I use them as motivation. I don’t want a third. Or a fourth. It’s a horrible habit to get into. Ultimately you’re not giving up on the workout but you’re giving up on yourself.

That said, I come in DFL on a regular basis. Dead Fricking Last.

There’s a bazillion reasons I could give, whether I’m competing against people half my age or doing a movement with weight that’s probably too heavy for me but I’m pushing through anyway or running another 400m at a turtle’s pace because I’m just out of juice.

But ultimately I’m not competing against anybody but myself. I may shoot for a particular time or number of reps. But so long as I finish – that’s ok.

So DFL is NOT the same as DNF. Same number of letters. Even a couple of the same letters. But they mean completely different things.

Every workout I’m thankful I have great people in my corner cheering me on, but ultimately it comes down to ME. Do I choose to give up or persevere? Only I can decide that.

Competing in the Crossfit Games

I have never considered myself an athlete, though I grew up in a household where both parents had been gymnasts and my father played both basketball and softball. I had issues passing the “skip” test to get into kindergarten and wasn’t all that motivated to fall on my face trying athletic endeavors despite thinking it was cool my parents would compete walking on their hands down the front walk to the fence…

johnny_automatic_basketball_playerThat said, I did try little league baseball for a while and ended up having to quit because of asthma attacks that would sideline me after practices. In junior high, I played basketball on the second team on defense. I scored 2 points my entire career over a season and a half.

As an adult, I quit trying. I walked around the Denver Tech Center when I lived and worked in the area. I joined a 24 hour gym for a bit, went a few times, and stopped.

Even after getting married to an athlete (my wife played softball and soccer when we were dating and got married and still plays soccer) and having two daughters who both play soccer, I avoided physical activity.

Why? It was too much work. Too boring. Too hard. Whatever excuse I could come up with, I used.  So I got bigger and bigger. More and more out of shape.

Then I started crossfit. I’m coming up on one year of that effort. And I am so happy I did.

me-handstand-at-boxThe day I could do a handstand on the wall, I had my trainer (thank you Drea!) take this picture, which I immediately sent to my mother. Her response? She was glad that it only took 40 years for me to learn how to do a handstand. She’d tried to teach me when I was really young and I wasn’t ready yet. 🙂

So what the hell was I thinking signing up for the Crossfit Games on January 15th?

Good question. Let’s take a look at that decision for a moment.

When I competed in the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge in 2013, it was for a couple of reasons. First, we were going to be doing the workouts anyway and it would be good to see where I ranked among athletes my age and at my level. Second, it was an excuse to go more strict on the paleo side of the equation before the holidays and continue my weight loss journey. It was a twofer.

Did I rank nationally? No. Were the workouts great ways to benchmark my progress? Yes. Did they offer a way for me to get measurements of my waist, arms, and legs, and see if I was gaining or losing inches in the process? Definitely. Did many of those workouts kick my ass to the point where I wasn’t sure I could breathe or stand up afterwards? Indubitably.

Reebok Crossfit GamesSo what are my goals for the Crossfit Games?

My main goal is the same as it was with the Lurong Challenge. As a box, we will be doing the workouts anyway – so I might as well see how I stack up against other athletes in my age range. I’m not competing so that I can compare myself to folks like Rich Froning. I’m nowhere near his league. And that’s FINE! I respect the man and look forward to seeing him and the other elite athletes kick some serious butt in the games.

But even though I’m not competing against Froning… I’m looking at using these games workouts as ways to challenge myself and pushing harder to see just what I’m capable of. I’ve come a long way and I hope to go a lot farther.

As we keep saying with the paleo diet – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Crossfit is much the same. I both love and hate the workouts. And once I get past that, I have fun working hard with people who are having fun working hard.

If you had told me a year ago that I’d still be doing crossfit, I would have asked what you were smoking. But I’m still here because I’m having fun and enjoy working hard with the folks at our box – both trainers and athletes.

The Crossfit Games is just another opportunity (or excuse) to push hard and see what my body is capable of in those moments. More steps along the journey. More reps towards a healthier, stronger me.

So bring it on. I’m never going to think I’m ready or a real athlete, but I’m going to give it whatever I’ve got.

What about you? Are you joining the Crossfit Games? Why the heck not? 🙂

A site about my crossfit journey…