Wow it’s been a while…

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve been back. But as we ramp up for the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge, which starts mid-September, I know there’s going to be plenty to talk about. 

In the meantime, I’m happy to report that a) I’m still crossfitting and b) I’m still doing yoga once a week whenever possible. However, my diet did take a nose dive after the Crossfit Games. I kind of decided on my birthday that I was going to enjoy myself and have been enjoying myself for the last few months. Definitely time to buckle down, reset a bit, and see what we can do for the Challenge. 

Bread and cheese are two of my mightiest enemies these days. Both taste SO GOOD! But eventually I’ll be going cold turkey… again. 

As of this post, my weight is about 217. At my skinniest I got down to 199 for a day during last year’s Lurong Challenge. At my heaviest I’ve been up to 221 I think at one point (though nowhere near the 260+ I was at two years ago). My goal is to get down below 210 and stay there. Maybe even down to 200, but we’ll go one step at a time.

As far as skills go, I’m feeling much more confident these days. My form still sucks and I need to work on that, but I’ve figured out how to do handstand push-ups inconsistently, pull-ups consistently, and even strict pull-ups. I even managed to break through my fear of long rows, completing a couple of 1,000m rows and more over the last 6 months or so.

I have not figured out double-unders but am doubling down on those with the purchase of some speed rope trainers to try and get my left hand in gear. It’s almost as though the left side of my body belongs to someone else sometimes. Singles I can do, but doubles are going to require a lot more work. 

So this Lurong challenge will be intriguing. I suspect I’m in much better shape than I was the last time. But we’ll see if that corresponds with better performance. 

Thanks for reading!

Anybody else joining the Lurong Challenge this year? What are your worries and hopes? 

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The Challenge of the Crossfit Open

I’m not the most competitive person in the world. In fact, I’m more likely to cheer you on than try and compete with you head-to-head. It’s just not in my nature.

So crossfit for me was a bit of a match made in heaven. Why? Because I’m competing against myself. More weight. More reps. Better time. Even just working on a new skill. And I’m content with that. It’s never about doing better than the other guy. It’s just me doing what I can to get better from WOD to WOD.

Reebok Crossfit GamesAlong comes the Crossfit Open and we were all encouraged to join. It’s fun! It’s a challenge! You can see how you stack up against the other folks in your age group!

And I bought into that.

For the last several weeks, we’ve had mini-gatherings at Crossfit Continuum to watch each announcement of the next workout. We’ve seen each broadcast get bigger and bigger and I’ve felt a growing disease each time I’ve watched.

Why?

Because it’s added an outside pressure to something that has been traditionally an internal one for me. And that was ok for a while.

The first workout involved double-unders and snatches. I did my best for 10 minutes to accomplish one double-under. I didn’t, but I gave it my all.

The second workout involved overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups. OHS are not one of those movements I’m good at, but I gave it my all and achieved two of them at 95# and was happy because it wasn’t a goose egg on the score board.

The third workout was deadlifts and box jumps. Woo hoo! Finally a couple of movements I could do! I got 76 reps and was pleased with myself.

The fourth workout was a row and toes-to-bar and a bunch of other things. T2B is one of those movements I’ve been getting closer to and had finally achieved not long before the announcement. And I got 19 of those puppies done – I was happy and enthusiastic.

Then this last workout was announced. Thrusters and burpees. Thrusters, like OHS and several other movements like squat cleans, are not among the moves I have in my bag of tricks. They’re doable, but not pretty. And this was going to be a bear. Descending rep scheme – 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 – of thrusters (95#) and bar-facing burpees.

I watched the elite athletes mow through the workout in 8 minutes. And I was struck by how easy they made it look. Each move was carefully done for the maximum effect. Each thruster might as well have had a pause at the top so the paparazzi could take a photo for posterity.

It got in my head.

I fought with it all night. And this morning it was still there. Gnawing at me from the inside. My head just didn’t feel right. I was not excited about going to the box to attempt the workout. I dreaded it.

Got to the box and watched one of our young, talented athletes plow through the workout in about 20 minutes while I warmed up. Then the first heat of folks did the workout and I watched another of our elite talented folks blow through it in 18 or 19 minutes. And the dread grew.

I tried to shake it off. But it swelled until it was pounding in my head. The doubts were circling like sharks. Why even bother if it was going to take me an hour? 95 pounds was heavy for 21 reps – how would I ever make it through 80 of the suckers?

When it was my turn, I tried to joke with the trainer (Marilee) who was judging me. The swearing began pretty quickly. I hardly ever drop F-bombs while working out but they came fast and furious today.

By the time I got done with the 18 reps of thrusters  I couldn’t do it any more. I paced the floor trying to gather the oomph to do the burpees but didn’t have it in me.

So I bailed.

Walked outside after punching the door and sat in the sun around the corner until people finished, punishing myself and at the same time trying to settle down the demons in my head. It took a while, but eventually I was just there sitting and enjoying the sun.

Eventually I wandered back into the box to get my stuff… keys, wallet, glasses, phone, etc. And waited in the car for the rest of my family to finish.

But by that point I’d pretty much decided that this whole competition thing was not for me. It added another layer of pressure I didn’t need. It was no longer just about completing the workout. It was about living up to the standards set by those elite athletes the night before.

And that wasn’t cool.

I have become a crossfit convert not because of any outside factors, but because every day is a challenge for me. Some days are better than others, I’ll be the first to admit. Sometimes my body and brain don’t work together in any sort of synchronicity. But I have fun. And I try. And most days I succeed in some small way.

Today was not about succeeding. It was about comparing myself to those models of crossfit athleticism I’d seen the night before. Knowing that 160 reps of two of my least favorite movements were waiting for me. It was about knowing that a trainer would be watching every single rep to see if I held to the standard.

It was about the pressure. Not about the fun.

And that is no bueno.

So I am done with participating in measured events like the Crossfit Games and the Lurong Challenge. It’s not worth the aggravation. I’ll still do the workouts but I refuse to fall into this trap that I have to measure up to the rest of the crossfit community.

I don’t.

I have to measure up to my own expectations. My own goals. My challenges are purely of my own manufacture. And sure, I belong to a box and I want to succeed at doing these movements correctly so that a) I don’t hurt myself and b) I get some solid physical activity out of the workout. But I’m not there to see how I stack up against the world. I’m there to see how I stack up against myself.

Today I found myself lacking because my head was NOT in the right place. And it’s because I bought into the trap of competition.

Now that I know that, I refuse to fall into that trap again. More power to the rest of the athletes who can divorce themselves from the competition aspect or LIKE knowing how they stack up against the elites. But it’s not for me.

Sorry Crossfit Open, I think this is the last time I’m participating.

Is Crossfit Addictive?

Short answer: hell yes. At least I certainly seem to be these days.

yesLonger answer… Addiction is a strange thing. I’m no expert, but the definition of the word is “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” The term has a negative connotation in modern society, largely due to the addictive nature of harmful substances such as tobacco, narcotics, and other things.

“I can give X up at any time” is something I hear a lot from people addicted to cigarettes, for example. Can you really? Certain substances affect the brain and condition us for chemical dependency. Nicotine is one of those things. So is caffeine, though to less a destructive degree.

So where does crossfit fit in? Like running and other forms of exercise, I think crossfit activities release endorphin into the bloodstream, which gives us a bit of a “high” feeling.  We WOD, it creates a happy feeling, and we associate the happy feeling with whatever activity we’re doing. Voila – we’re addicted to crossfit.

Today we did a strength WOD with front squats. I improved my personal record (PR) by 35# over the last time I tried to find my one rep max (1RM). 185# in August 2013 to 220# in February 2014 is insane. And I’m flying high right now.

Not only am I addicted to the endorphin rush from crossfit, but apparently I’m addicted to trying to get better every workout – and discovering that I’ve done that amplifies the high.

If I’m going to be addicted to something, I suppose it’s good that it’s something healthy where I’m surrounded by others who are also trying to better themselves with the same addiction.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

One Year of Crossfit and a lot of Thank Yous

A year ago, in February 2013, I walked into Crossfit Continuum in Colorado Springs, CO to start something I had no idea that would change my life as profoundly as it has. My wife Evelyn had started a few months prior and I was honestly scared to start after seeing how sore she was in the beginning… but I went anyway.

I went through my two weeks of on-ramp weighing around 250. Just a few months prior, I weighed 262. So I’d already started making some positive changes. But let me tell you that crossfit was a shock to the system for an overweight 42 year old software developer who works from home sitting in front of the computer all day and usually plants his butt in front of the TV (or a book) all night. (By the way, I’m down to a solid 210 now!)

me-handstand-at-boxI could barely do a squat or push-up, let alone push a PVC pipe above my head in some kind of overhead position. I struggled with running and just keeping moving as much as anything else. I was tired, sore, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

Over the next 6 months I would ponder giving up many times. But with a supportive family and an amazing team of athletes and trainers, I got through all of that.

It was that community I discovered that kept me going. A community of people driven to just keep going “one more rep” who were there cheering me on or kindheartedly badgering me into doing that one more rep. I found kindred spirits struggling just as much as me, but in different ways. And this quiet, anti-social guy started talking to folks. Learning names. Listening to stories. Telling my own.

I would even help move the box with a group of athletes and trainers. Everything from loading plates and equipment into cars to doing demolition and painting. I’m not the most handy person in the world, but I was happy to give back to the place that had given me so much up to that point. And if you had ever told me that I would feel like I BELONGED to a gym, let alone help move one, I would have asked you what you were smoking.

Every workout I learned something new about myself. Maybe it was a physical limitation I would later figure out how to overcome. Maybe it was a new skill I would later figure out well enough to say “I can do that!” Maybe it was a new way to stretch or warm up to avoid injury. Maybe it was just that I *could* do one more rep or add more weight or move in some new way.

And that’s the thing… I discovered something new EVERY workout. I gained confidence *nearly* every workout. I still do. And I will always have something else to learn. Some skill to work on. Something to test myself with. Today for instance I figured out hand stand push-ups and managed to do 55 of them over the course of a 10 round WOD. I was giddy. (This is the same workout that proved that I have some big issues with squat cleans. Crossfit dost giveth and it dost taketh away…)

A year ago my journey began, but if I play my cards right I don’t think it’s ever going to end. I’m now in a new year and continue to work one step and one rep at a time. I have a lot more to learn and look forward to it even if I grumble or gripe along the way. 🙂

Thank you crossfit for making me realize there is a bit of an athlete inside me and I *can* do things I had no idea I could. Thank you to my wife and friends who encouraged me to start. And thank you Crossfit Continuum family for encouraging me every step of the way.

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?

A site about my crossfit journey…