Tag Archives: reflections

Battling Pride and Ego

Though I actually headed in for a Friday Hero WOD (amazing, I know, because usually I skip ’em!), I want to cover a few other things first… (Sorry, but this is a long one.)

Changing Goals

This has not been the best week. Last week wasn’t the best week ever. And yet, even in the craziness, I really want to keep chugging away at my fitness goals. But what are those goals? That was the question that came up this week amidst the meetings, scheduling issues, and general lack of motivation. What is my “why” for training these days?

listeWhen I started, my goal was simply to get off my butt and start moving again. As a computer geek and writer who works from home, I do a lot of sitting. And it was taking its toll. Thankfully I had help finding crossfit from my wife and friends.

Once I got started on my crossfit journey, it became about nutrition – switching to a paleo lifestyle, cutting out a lot of crap from our diet, and generally cleaning up what we consume on a weekly basis. Though we’ve ebbed and flowed a bit over the last 4 years, we’ve tried to remain fairly paleo when we put in the effort to do so. So that’s been a good change.

In 2013, I started at 248 pounds and got all the way to 201 at one point. Now I hover between 225 and 230 fairly regularly. I’d love to get down to 210 or 215, but inconsistent eating has made that a challenge. 🙂

As things progressed, goals have shifted here and there. First, it was PRs. I went “heavy happy.” Or as I call it “let’s get frustrated when we plateau or our max lifts fade over time with injury or misuse.” Then it was “let’s learn some new skills” like pull-ups and handstands. Then it was “my running sucks, let’s work on that…”

And lately I’ve been struggling with body parts not allowing me to move as well as I’d like. Or with wacky mental states brought about by work or emotional stresses. Or generally not being able to work with folks and not slowing them down when we partner up here or there.

I guess what I’m saying is I’ve been kind of all over the place. 🙂

That led to a great chat with Coach Drea on Thursday.

A Changed Focus…

Yesterday’s workout involved short sprints — a lot of them. And my history with sprinting is full of perilous tales of injuries, exhaustion, and nightmares of suicides during basketball practices in junior high school. My negative relationship with running in general really began even earlier than that with trying out for Little League baseball and sucking wind due to childhood asthma, throwing up after every practice. Sprints in junior high were better, but still sucked.

running-failTo say the least, I really don’t like running even though my running has improved over the last year. It has a long way to go. My knees and hips don’t like it much, and I have a tenuous relationship with those parts of my anatomy already.

So I suggested that perhaps it was a good day to sit down and chat with Coach Drea about where we go from here.

First, we covered the Lurong Challenge and the benefits of going with a macro reboot to our nutrition at home. Long story short, it didn’t work for Ev because of the measuring and it didn’t work for me because I don’t think we have the numbers right. We’ll play with the numbers and I’ll try and continue with macros as we work to stay a bit more paleo with some rice and sweet potatoes added for good measure.

It was good as a reset. Workouts didn’t work well for us for a variety of scheduling reasons, but it was still a good opportunity to just get our lives back to a bit healthier eating.

7ddab0239cdee568d2b75c5c092c03e1Second, we chatted about my general lack of focus during workouts these days. Some of that is emotional, which I think has been masked for years as I increased my use of alcohol as a calming agent. That’s just my opinion, but I have to say it’s been very interesting cutting alcohol down to maybe once a week and watching my mental state during the week. Sleep has been more productive idea-wise than in a very long time even if it’s not exactly “better” as far as length of sleep or recovery.

I had a workout where my head really wasn’t in the game though I tried (see “Some Days Just Don’t Work Right“). And I just got frustrated with my performance. Heavy wasn’t good that day. And everything I did just got in the way. So I knew something needed to change.

Go Lighter and Faster

Drea suggested something I hadn’t really pondered much. Going light and focusing on quality of movement and speed.

Now the one thing I’ve maintained all the way along the way during my crossfit journey is that I’m not fast. In fact, I cringe whenever a coach tries to tell me to move faster. And Drea knows this all too well. 🙂

That said, recently I came to the realization that scaling isn’t a bad thing. But I typically work my way down from Rx weights, not up from Level I weights. And even then, I typically try to go as heavy as my body will allow on any given day.

Shifting to starting at the bottom again was an odd thought.

1refu1

We chatted about the fact that even though we know we should scale sometimes, we find ourselves almost using that as an excuse when we talk about our performance. Drea even mentioned she’s working on that herself – like scaling down this week’s Double Grace and kicking ass with the lower weights. She got complimented on her time and she caught herself saying “thanks, but I scaled” — I fall into that all the time. (Not getting complimented, but adding the “but I scaled” phrase many times.)

I know I fall into the trap of “it’s not Rx so it doesn’t count” but if we take the idea that even though it’s a programmed workout, it’s OUR workout every time… that changes things.

So she suggested that I start back at the ground level again. Go with lighter weights for  barbells, dumbbells, and medicine balls on those days that we do metcons. The goal there is to focus on good movement, larger sets, and faster times. But keep up with strength training on our heavy days.

I have to admit to balking a bit at the word “fast.”

1refxf

We talked about today’s workout and attempting to get through three rounds — doing wall balls with a lighter ball and doing them unbroken, lightening the deadlift weights and focusing on doing good touch-and-gos, and working on just keeping moving through the burpees.

Um. Sure. I nodded, smiled, and agreed to come in for Friday’s workout. Light deadlifts? Sure. Lighter wall balls? Sure. Burpees or bar-over-burpees? Ugh.

That said, it was a good chat and I ended up with some things to try. So thank you Drea!

Friday’s Workout – Scotty

Friday’s workouts are always hero WODs. And 9/10 times they include running, so I typically avoid them like the plague. I’m not afraid to admit that. But every once in a while one comes up that doesn’t include running and looks hard, but doable.

This was one of those.

My daughters were supposed to go do this one with me, but they decided to sleep in this morning. I can’t say I blame them. 🙂 Coach Drea had an interesting group today… Jonathan & Sarah, Larry, Jed, and myself.

Hustle-1-120x149(As a brief confessional aside, I somehow managed to not eat this morning. So I was operating on a Spark drink and a Red H Nutrition “Hustle” pre-workout drink going in today. And afterwards I did a Progenex Recovery protein shake, followed up by an iced coffee with almond milk creamer — yeah, I’m not doing hot on the whole food thing today. Not sure I “hustled” much on the pre-workout either. 🙂 )

We started with some banded hamstring stretches and then did a little 3 round warm-up:

  • 400m row (or something similar on the assault bike)
  • 20 fast step-ups on a box (24/20″)

I rowed and did 20″ step-ups, which was fine.

 

Hero-Scott-Deem
Scotty Hero WOD – more info at Crossfit mainsite

We went from there to warm-up with an empty barbell and add weight over 5 warm-up rounds of a few reps to get to our working weight for the workout.

 

  • “Scotty” Hero WOD
  • 11 minute AMRAP
  • 5 deadlifts (315/210#, 275/185#, 155/105#)
  • 18 wall balls (20/14# or 10/8#)
  • 17 burpees over the bar (or straight burpees)

I warmed up to 175#, which felt ok doing touch-and-go, and used a 14# wall ball. So definitely attempting to go with Drea’s idea of bigger sets, more reps, faster cycle times.

What I found was 5 deadlifts was easy and though the 18 wall balls wasn’t easy, it was doable at the lighter weight. I even managed the first set of 18 unbroken. The second set was split in two chunks of reps I think. And that third round was miserable, broken into many smaller sets.

b47aa02aae091b740c95f643d38aa508It was the burpees though that killed me very quickly. Usually bar-over-burpees are easier for me to get through, simply because I’m not standing all the way up in every burpee. But today… Wow. Not today. I was doing 2-4 at a time and struggling even with that.

Got through the first round and Drea suggested just stepping over the bar, not even jumping. I did that for the second and third round.

Made it through 2 rounds plus 27 reps — so I got through the deadlifts and wall balls of the third round, but only 4 burpees.

Yesterday, Drea said to shoot for 3 rounds. I was close…ish. 🙂

Great work everybody. Jed was a beast and got through 4 or 5 rounds I think. Not sure how anybody else did, but they were humming along on the other side of the room. 🙂

Thanks for the encouragement Drea. We’ll work on trying to speed up a bit. It definitely puts a different emphasis on my workouts, let me tell ya!

Have a great weekend folks!

Some Days Just Don’t Work Right

Today’s post is a bit of an apology for the 8:30 class by way of an explanation.

It’s just another Thursday. Like most Thursdays, I planned on going in at 8:30 with my wife (and kids if they woke up in time). And we all made it there for Coach Drea.

We had a full class – the four of us, plus Jonathan & Sarah, Caleb, Alan, Brianne, Danielle, and Connie. 11 people in total.

sportsrow-800pxWarm up was:

  • 250m row
  • 10 ghd hip ext or good mornings with empty barbell
  • 250m row
  • 10 empty barbell deadlifts
  • 250m row
  • 10 empty barbell strict press
  • I think we were supposed to go to 2000m total, but most of us stopped after the third or 4th 250m

After that we did some empty barbell work. Deadlift and strict shoulder press progressions.

And then we divvied up space and equipment for the workout:

  • Total Time
  • Barbell_DeadliftRx
    • 15-12-9 reps for time of:
    • Double body-weight deadlifts
    • 3/4 body-weight shoulder presses
  • Level II
    • 15-12-9 reps for time of:
    • Deadlifts #345/225
    • Shoulder presses #135/95
  • Level I
    • 15-12-9 reps for time of:
    • Deadlifts #155/105
    • Shoulder presses #75/45

My one-rep maxes for these movements are:

  • Deadlift – 345#
  • Strict press – 155#

Nowhere close to Rx weights of 456# and 175#. But even the Level II weights were out of reach, really. So I knew I was going to have to scale.

strict-press-illustrationDue to a shortage of bars and space, Caleb asked if we wanted to work together. I said sure and we warmed up together with the little EMOM that Drea had us do alternating between deadlifts and strict press:

  • Strict press – 75# x3, Deadlifts – 185# x5
  • Strict press – 85# x3, Deadlifts – 225# x5
  • Strict press – 95# x3, Deadlifts – 275# x5 (I started running into some issues here)
  • Strict press – 115# x3, Deadlifts – 275# x5 (didn’t add weight)

Caleb, due to participating in the Man Up Challenge in Denver this weekend, didn’t want to push too hard to fry his body ahead of the competition. So he agreed to stay at those weights for the workout.

Our goal was to get this done in 10-15 minutes.

  • I did 15 strict press at 115# (got through 10 and then struggled through the next 5 one at a time)
  • Caleb did 15 deadlifts at 275# (made them look easy)
  • Caleb did 15 strict press at 115# (made them look easy)
  • I started on deadlifts

Doing the deadlifts as “grab and drop” style vs. touch-and-go, I made it through 5 and took a break. Then a couple more. And one more.

1lnkelAnd I realized on that last one that I was in a fair amount of pain from my left hip to my tailbone. It ached a bit during the EMOM warm-up but I thought I could work through it.

Yeah, apparently not.

After my 8 reps, I left the bar on the floor, told Caleb to finish without me, and walked out the garage doors.

I walked two laps of the 800m path we have around the box, came in, grabbed my stuff, and walked to the car to wait for my family to finish up.

DNF!-!-

Now, I know that DNF > DNS. But this was a shitty way to end my workout. It disrupted Caleb’s workout. It put undue worry on Coach Drea. And it made my family and friends worry about me as well.

First, I’m fine. I’ll stretch and mobilize throughout my day today and survive. I don’t think it was the physical demands of this workout.

Second, there were two parts to my crash and burn today.

keep-walking-quote

a) I should have either waited until more equipment became available (i.e. another barbell) or asked Caleb to drop weight.

That said, I didn’t feel like waiting was really an option due to a different style of class going on at 9:30 (new folks doing a different variation on the workout). And I didn’t feel like I could ask Caleb to drop weight again. We had already discussed 315# during the warm-up and then I had to drop to 275#. Asking him to drop again would not have been “cool” although he probably would have been fine with it.

b) The bigger issue was that my head really wasn’t in the game today. I’m honestly struggling with a number of things in life right now. Work is not going well. Some of my writing is going gangbusters but not paying, so it’s a costly time sink at the moment. My wife’s charity work had a trip fall apart at the last minute, so we’re now reorganizing our summer. And we just found out our dog has a lung tumor, so that’s weighing heavily on everybody.

may-the-gains-be-with-youI tried dressing the part, wearing my Star Wars-themed “May the Gains be with you…” shirt.  I tried getting into the right headspace during the warm-up, joking around with Bri and Jonathan and Sarah. And for a bit, I thought it might work.

But it obviously was only a temporary fix. Wasn’t my finest hour.

So I apologize to everyone who was concerned when I walked out. It’s been a long while since that has happened.

I need to pay attention to my headspace and not push so hard during workouts, and maybe this won’t happen again. But I’m only human, so I doubt it.

Thanks.

not-perfect-only-human-quote

Scaling for miles

Today I’m going to start by talking about the day’s WOD and then I’m going to flip over and talk about some mental/physical battles I’m going through currently.

Stretching-Ballerina-Silhouette-800pxSo first… the WOD. I went in with Ev for an 8:30 workout with Coach Jimmy. We had a fun group — Larry, Todd & Melissa, Tionne, Caleb, Jenny, and Carrie. We started with some foam rolling while everybody got in and then we did:

  • 500m row or 2 mins on the assault bike
  • some back and forth across the gym with things like:
    • high knees
    • knee hugs
    • “ballerina” stretches on each side (the ballerina to the right is definitely not ME!)
    • spider-man lunges
    • reverse lunges
    • arm swings
    • arm hugs

Once all that was done, we did some clean practice with a medicine ball. And then we got out dumbbells, kettle bells, and all the other bits and pieces we’d need for today’s WOD:

  • 20 minute AMRAP:
  • 45/30# dumbbell squat cleans, 10 reps (35/20# Level II) (20/10# Level I)
  • 15 pull-ups (12 pull-ups Level II) (10 banded pull-ups Level I)
  • 20 box jumps (24/20″) (Level II, same) (15 box jumps, Level I)

From what we’d seen from earlier classes, folks pushed to get through 4, maybe 5 rounds.

kettlebells

So how’d it go?

Ev did four rounds + 3 reps of:

  • 25# dumbbell squat cleans, 10 reps
  • banded pull-ups, 15 reps
  • 20″ step-ups, 20 reps

I did 3 rounds + 10 reps of a weird mix:

  • 35# kettlebell squat cleans, 10 reps (round 1 & 2)
  • 35# kettlebell squat cleans, 10 reps (right arm only, round 3 & 4)
  • kipping pull-ups, 15 reps (round 1)
  • kipping pull-ups, (6 reps), ring rows (9 reps) (round 2)
  • ring rows (15 reps) (round 3)
  • 20″ step-ups (rounds 1 through 3)

This was not pretty. My knees were not happy. My shoulders were not happy. But I kept moving.

Thanks go to Jimmy for making some suggestions for those first two rounds of kettlebell squat cleans. We’ll see how many bruises I end up with anyway. 🙂

The Second Part

First, weight gain.

In the last few months, I’ve taken a pretty considerable nosedive on my weight. I’m back to nearly 240#, which is about what I was at when I started crossfit in February 2013. I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I was back then and can do things now that I couldn’t then, but considering that at one point I got all the way down to 201#, it’s been a long slow trip back up the weight train.

I suspect that many of my knee and ankle issues are from the additional weight. I also suspect that my issues with pull-ups stem from having even more weight to pull up on the rig.

So that’s a problem.

7509f17571697095d947c0c79d083001_fat-thin-cartoon-fat-slim-public-domain-clipart-woman-fat-thin_1300-1174

Second, scaling.

I’ve recently decided that scaling is ok. I’m not a world class athlete, nor do I ever hope to be. But what I aim for is to keep moving through workouts.

If I have to row instead of run to do that, fine. If I have to drop a barbell and go with air squats in the middle of a workout, that’s fine. If I have to shift to ring rows because I can no longer hang onto the rig for pull-ups, that’s fine.

Whatever I have to do to keep moving, that’s fine. And it is. I’m not just saying “it’s fine” and secretly not believing that it is.

During this year’s Open, I figured this out. And it’s saved me a ton of mental grief ever since.

look-at-scaling-feat

Third, getting older, not deader.

This next week I turn 47. Woo hoo. And as I get older, I want to stay healthy, mobile, and strong. I need to learn more about what it will take to do that and get off my ass to do so.

Fourth, the Lurong Sumertime Challenge.

Yes, we’re doing the Lurong thing again. And this year the diet portion involves Macros.

The name of the thing has the word “Challenge” in it — and it’s going to be. Old habits die hard. But I’m going to try. I want to see if eating more protein, less fat, and less carbs, is sustainable as a lifestyle shift more than a 5 or 6 week diet change.

So we’ll see how all of this goes.

I’m feeling OLD. My knees are ticked. My shoulders are ticked. And I don’t want to stop crossfit because I worry that if I do, I’m done with the whole moving thing again.

Long story short…

  • Keep moving
  • Lose some weight
  • Find my mojo again

Let’s see how the next few weeks go.

Finding my “Why” again…

After asking for some guidance from the members at our box today, I received some great advice:

  • Figure out my “why” for why I should keep doing crossfit or stay in shape.
  • Find some goals to focus on in the short and long term.
  • Don’t forget to take time to celebrate the victories, big and small, along the way.
  • Find ways to have fun with your skills and gainz. Time is short. Make the most of it. Don’t just work at the box — get out and play sports, go hiking, do things that make your heart happy (physically and metaphysically).

So we’re going to break this down a little…

what_is_your_whyJimmy suggested figuring out why I am doing this in the first place. So I think I’ll start there.

It’s a damn good question. When I started CrossFit in February 2013, I was doing it to fulfill a promise. I promised my wife and Miss Charlotte that I would give CrossFit a shot once I lost enough weight (down to 240 at the time). And a few months earlier I decided I wanted to get healthier so I could be around for my wife and daughters as they got older.

As I became more proficient at some of the movements, I began to do it because I wanted to see what I was capable of. The community of coaches and athletes I became a part of was instrumental in doing just that. I got stronger. More confident. And that filtered into other parts of my life. That was the first couple of years… 2013 and 2014.

At some point in 2014 or 2015, I did a team workout where I tripped and fell running uphill — I’m talented like that. That was the beginning of accepting that injuries happen when you are actually doing stuff. During that spill, my hip got out of whack and that led to knee issues. Add that to the shoulder issues that I’d had since helping my wife move years and years ago. And then more recently, add that to the forearm and grip issues I’ve struggled with over the last year.

age-unfairI didn’t start this part of my journey until I was 42 (only months before I turned 43). And I have been going ever since. As a result, there is bound to be some wear and tear on my body. I get it. I’m not a youngster. I have scars from CrossFit and before. Shins. Elbows. Even one or two on my back from catching a door at one point or scratching myself up on a wall.

But CrossFit has become a habit. A good habit, but still, a habit. I have managed to get 3-4 workouts a week in most weeks. Some weeks it’s more. Some it’s less. But overall I’m pretty consistent. Monday. Tuesday. Thursday. And Saturday when I can get in.

So when I ask “Why” I still do CrossFit, it comes down to a few things:

  • I love the community. I feel like it’s one place where I belong, which is important. Many of those folks have become members of our extended family and I would definitely miss them if that ever ended.
  • It’s one way that my wife and family can do active things together where we’re on a more even keel. I am not an athlete in the traditional sense and have no talent for team sports like soccer or softball, so this a way we can share some time and get some physical work in at the same time.
  • It’s enabled me to get my health back in check and get off of cholesterol and triglyceride lowering medication, which I was .
  • I like being able to lift heavy things and do movements I was never able to do before. I’m stronger and more physically skilled now than at any time in my past, even as a kid.

scaleAnd here’s the “But”… you knew it was coming.

  • I am having a hard time getting past my own physical weaknesses and injuries.
  • As I get older, I’m adjusting to my own mortality and the fact that time is moving more and more quickly.
  • I fighting with my weight again, which has climbed back up to the mid 230s.
  • With changing schedules and commitments, I’ve not been able to work out with my family nearly as much as in the past.

So I am struggling and I’m not getting anywhere quickly, beyond mired in my own brain.

I think it’s going to have to come down to setting some new goals. I don’t have any right now and I need some goal posts. And I also need to accept a few things.

This is a long list and I know I likely won’t hit everything in the next 12 months, but it at least gives me a place to start.

  1. listeI would like to work myself back down to the 210-215 weight range. I’m at 235 currently, so that’s a 20 pound drop and quite doable in the next 3-9 months with more disciplined diet and exercise.
    • Macros seems to work well if I can figure out ways to fix my protein deficits.
    • Meal planning is a must. And coming up with easy-to-measure meals would also be nice.
    • Making the measurement task as easy as possible.
  2. I would like to work on strength to the point where I can consider body weight or above for the following movements:
    • Push press (current PR: 185#, historical PR: 195#)
    • Bench press (current PR: 230#)
    • Clean (current PR: 195#)
    • Clean and Jerk (current PR: 175#)
    • Deadlift (current PR: 345#, historical PR: 355#)
  3. I would like to figure out:
    • Double-unders
    • Freestanding handstands
    • Handstand walks
    • Bar muscle-ups?
  4. I would like to get better at:
    • Chest-to-Bar pull-ups
    • Running (ugh)
  5. I would like to improve my times on:
    • Fran (95# thrusters and pull-ups) – want it to be sub 10, fastest was “freestyle Rx” at 10:17
    • Isabel (135# snatch) – current PR was 2:54 with 85#
    • Mile run – I think my current PR is somewhere in the 12 minute range
  6. I would like to figure out a standard morning mobility routine that helps keep the kinks away.
    • Perhaps some yoga.
    • Perhaps some romwod.
    • Some combination of movements to work on the knees, hips, shoulders, forearms, wrists, calves, and back.
    • Something I can do at home during the day when I need a movement break, each morning when I wake up, and possibly before bed.

This is a long list. Better get cracking.

 

Another Open Done (CrossFit Open 2017)

As the 2017 CrossFit Open comes to a close, I’m left in a state where I almost wonder what happened. In some ways, it is a bit like a hit and run accident where I’m left piecing things together after the fact.

crossfit-openLet’s start by looking at the 2016 Open:

  • 16.1 – Scaled – score: 130
  • 16.2 – Scaled – score: 172
  • 16.3 – Scaled – score: 55 (also did Rx – score: 10)
  • 16.4 – Rx – score: 113
  • 16.5 – Rx (repeat 14.5) – score: no clue, but it took 46:56 to complete Rx

So looking at that, it was 3 scaled workouts and two Rx workouts. According to my profile at the Games site, I achieved 6235th worldwide, 350th in South Regional, and 149th in Colorado for my age bracket (45).

games-logo-2017This year, how’d we do?

  • 17.1 – Scaled – score: 182 reps
  • 17.2 – Scaled – score: 84 reps
  • 17.3 – Rx – score: 5 reps (5 chest to bars!)
  • 17.4 – Rx (repeat 16.4) – score: 99 reps
  • 17.5 – Scaled – score: 440 reps in 24:54

Let’s look at how I stacked up to the rest of the world in the 45-49 Masters Men’s division.

  • Worldwide – 10422 out of 13373
  • South West Region – 581 out of 738
  • Colorado – 238 out of 302

Those numbers are depressing if I was competing against those other people in any way, shape, or form. Guess what? I wasn’t. So honestly it doesn’t bother me a whole bunch.

What are my observations?

  • I had more fun this year (2017) than last (2016) and a ton more than three years ago when I tried this the first time (2014).
  • I approached it with less fear and just planned on doing the best I could and finishing every workout.
  • I managed chest to bar pull-ups in a workout for the first time, ever. Woot!
  • Once again I was good for the first three weeks and fell off a bit after that.
  • My wife once again kicked my ass. And I’m proud of her. 🙂

Will I do it again? Definitely. And I will go in with the idea that I’m there to have fun, cheer on my friends, and see what I can do.

Our crew from CrossFit Continuum kicked ass and I had a blast. Mission accomplished.