Tough Week

This week started with lunges and trying to find a heavy 3RM front squat. We moved to pushups and double unders, tossing in an EMOM for calories, snatches and dips, spent a day riding that blasted Assault Bike and ended with sled pushes and cleans. My legs are toast. Seriously…If I do nothing this weekend but sit on the couch playing video games, that MIGHT be enough for my legs to recover.

I haven’t really figured out how to recover faster. Maybe that is something that simply slows with age and my brain hasn’t understood that yet? Maybe there is some supplement I could be taking that would speed things up. Maybe I just need to go to bed earlier.

All I know is that the first round today of cleans (they were in sets of 3 at 85 pounds, so not that many and not that heavy) and my legs immediately yelled at me to stop. I could feel the pain by the third rep, the pain that makes me think I’ve done a lot more work then I really have. But crossfit soreness is a funny thing and generally the solution is more crossfit. So you push through, grinding through the reps and distance for the sled push and hope for the best. It wasn’t my fastest time (I’m generally not at all known for my speed), but I did it and now I’m going to spend some time doing nothing.

Nothing is a glorious word. Monday will be here before I know it and I will head to the box, work hard and probably be feeling the pain by the end of the week again. But for now … nothing.

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My nemesis (at the moment)

Anyone reading this blog for any length of time knows I actually have many crossfit nemeses and I’ll not rehash all of them here.

My current nemesis is the Assault Bike. 

I can’t even think the term without it being preceded by a long string of words better left to drunken sailors or The Sopranos. If I said them out loud, this blog might get an XXX rating! Suffice it to say, it is an evil piece of equipment, it’s a hate:hate relationship. 

Lately, in our box, Thursday’s have been generally devoted to intervals. We are given options: rowing/ski, running, biking or a strength option for those that go 2-3 days a weeks. For a long time, I would choose the ski-erg. Turns out, the ski-erg and I get along. It seems intuitive where to breathe, it’s possible to engage a wide range of upper body muscles, and yet it doesn’t spare the glutes or hamstrings, especially on the longer workouts. I love having this options and our head programmer is amazing at coming up with all kinds of variations for all activities!

The past 4-5 weeks though, I’ve chosen to do the bike workout.  I figured it’s something I hate doing. It’s something I suck at doing. Therefore, I should do it more. At least, that was my rationale. Work on your weaknesses, right?

Cardio will never be my thing. It wasn’t my thing when I played soccer. I was a keeper. Keepers don’t run!! It wasn’t my thing on the track team. I threw shotput. Shotputters don’t run!! Apparently crossfitters run, row, ski, and/or bike. And I’m a crossfitter. So now I get the “pleasure” of working on this thing I’ve always avoided. 

But the Assault Bike is relentless. And it’s not intuitive. I don’t know where to breathe. There is no obvious strength/rest move like the rower has. You use both your arms and your legs; there is no 1 second pull, 3 second recovery. It’s always moving. You can’t even coast downhill like on a “real” bike. 

I can’t figure out how to coordinate my arms and legs so the output is relative to the size of the muscles. I am always using one more than the other and constantly switching back and forth. Is this normal? It doesn’t feel normal. 

I can’t figure out how much body movement to put into it. I’ve watch the Games. You see some athletes sit very still and some move their upper body prominently back and forth. Neither seems bad, especially at that level of athlete. But in my mind, the more I move my upper body, the less efficient it feels. Maybe it varies depending on the workout? Perhaps short sprints one would use move movement to generate more power and on longer rides, use less movement to increase efficiency? 

See … having all these questions drives me nuts. I just want to know how to use the bike and not feel dead and defeated at the end of a workout. 

Maybe I’m overthinking it … 

Quitting Crossfit?

My son quit crossfit. My good friend quit crossfit. I’m dealing with an injury that still has me on the modification train. Should I quit?

I can come up with a million reasons to stop. Here are just a few:

1. After 3+ years there seem to be way too many moves I can’t do. 

2. I’m not fast, my cardio still sucks, I’m not coordinated (is that 3?).

3. So many newer athletes have greatly surpassed my skill set leaving me to wonder, what is wrong with me. 

4. It’s exhausting getting up at 4:30 every day. My natural inclination is toward night owl. 

5. I am injured and at some point this stupid injury will require a surgery. That seems like a darn good excuse in my mind!!

Etc etc etc

But I’m not going to quit for the one reason that really matters. I don’t want to. 

See you next week my fellow athletes!! 

Reality Check

Dear self, you are 49 years old. You are not 20. You are not even 30. You are probably closer to death than to birth and this means certain things for your body. 

1. You are under no obligation to “keep up” with the younger athletes in your box. Push yourself, yes. Keep going, yes. But please try to stop beating yourself up when the 20 and 30 somethings are faster/stronger. You do you. 

2. You are under no obligation to keep up with those in your age group. Yes, there are several mid to late-40’s women that you very much look up to. They are doing their own thing. You are doing yours. Push yourself, yes. Be happy for their accomplishments, yes. You do you.

3. You are under no contractual obligation to get: pull-ups, double unders, toes-to-bar, rope climbs nor any of the plethora of moves you don’t have. Work toward them, yes. Push yourself to try them, sure. Should you, one day get them, rejoice. But life isn’t over if you never get them. You do you. 

4. You don’t have to excel at all the crossfit things. You might want to, but you were given certain skills and certain strengths and some of those might not be exactly what you need to excel at crossfit. This is okay. Work on your weaknesses, yes. Push yourself to get better, sure. But not excelling isn’t failure. You do you. 

5. Learn to accept your journey. I keep telling myself this one. I’m not sure my brain fully buys in to this one, mostly because it’s not all all the journey I had initially dreamed of when I decided to get healthy several years ago. This is the hardest to accept. But again, you do you. 

If I keep repeating these, maybe one day I will believe in them. 

RX Need Not Apply

RX, as prescribed.  The gold standard of the CrossFit world.  What every CrossFit athlete hopes to eventually achieve (perhaps there’s even RX+ in your future).  But at this moment, scaled is where I’m at and I’m happy there.  I still push and try to build my lifts and endurance and I’m thrilled when I do achieve an RX workout.  I think, though, it is time to celebrate the scaled athlete.  I see scaled divisions fill up so quickly in CrossFit competitions so why is the Scaled-Only Competition so rare?  I would love, love, love to see a nation-wide (am I getting on too grand of a scale here?) scaled-only CrossFit competition (for a great cause, of course, maybe like the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio?).

A scaled-only competition would allow scaled athletes to compete and not be overshadowed by RX and professional-level athletes.  Plus, you could even have a division that maybe didn’t even use barbells.  A few years ago, our box put on a “Winter Wod-Land” Competition that had a “Bootcamp” division which was basically a No-Bar division – I thought this was great!  What an awesome opportunity for those that weren’t comfortable with the bar yet but still enjoyed CrossFit style workouts and were working at their comfort level of scaling which just happened not to utilize a bar yet.

I think there could be drawbacks of a Scaled-Only competition, perhaps the biggest one would be the same as all other CrossFit competitions that have a scaled division – sorting people out that should be in the RX division.  One box in Murfreesboro, TN (CrossFit Rampage) held a scaled only competition.  They had an extensive questionnaire to help their competition team understand the exact abilities of athletes applying as scaled.  A simple coach to coach phone call could also help the event staff know the level of the athlete.  I salute you CrossFit Rampage for recognizing your scaled athletes and investing in their confidence!

So, I’m throwing this out as something NorthEast Ohio definitely needs, Ohio probably could use, and CrossFit HQ should certainly consider – highlight your developing athletes by shining a spotlight on the scaled divisions and recognizing we all need to start somewhere.

The Struggle

Okay guys…if you’ve been reading this for any length of time (or even if you simply scan our titles), you are aware that we are two crossfit athletes scaling our way through crossfit and have been doing so for close to three years.

For me, here is a recap of all the moves I don’t currently have in my crossfit arsenal: double unders (these were close before my calf injury), toes-to-bar, pull-ups, chest to bar, muscle-ups, rope climbs, box jumps (I HAD these until the box tried to eat me), hand stand pushups, handstand walk, pistols, PROPER GHD situps. Here is a list of moves that I still struggle with and really need to work on mobility/cardio: Olympic lifts, burpees, the blasted Assault bike, running, over head squats, v-ups, wall-climbs. Here is a list of moves that I either really like, or feel at least proficient in doing: dead lift, bench press, back and front squats, push press, strict press, Ski-erg, wall ball and thrusters.

I’m sure there are others that we do semi-regularly that could go on these various lists. The point of this isn’t to highlight all the things I can’t do, but to move into how I end up feeling when the WODs include several moves that I really struggle with.

This week, we had a WOD that was 40 Toes-to Bar, 10 wall climbs, 20 T2B, 8 wall climbs, 10 T2B and 6 wall climbs. This was followed by accessory work (single arm bench press, banded triceps pull downs and flutter kicks). I KNEW going into this workout that it would be rough. I don’t have T2B and wall climbs rank up there as one of my least favorite movements. I feel as if I get far more exhausted than I should get doing them, and my inability to breathe doing them only makes that worse, I’m sure.  But when I saw the workout, I thought to myself, “Well, I will really try and hopefully come close to getting ONE, just ONE.”

Three tries in, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. My hands (even chalked and wrapped) were slipping off the bar, I stopped trusting myself to even hold myself up there. I tried knees to elbow. Nope. So knee raises it was. I tried doing several in a row and lacked the ability to even control my legs and ended up basically feeling as if I was just swinging my legs wildly, slipping off the bar. The sets of 20 and 10 were worse because I was fatigued. But I was SO FRUSTRATED with my inability even to control knee raises! This frustration grew worse and worse and worse. So much so that 10 minutes in, I was ready to walk out of the gym. This feeling of wanting to quit hadn’t happened in nearly 2 years and was contributing even more to my frustrations. I didn’t walk out. I finished (badly) the workout, slower than everyone else, but I finished.

This frustration led me to questioning the accessory work. I KNOW the bench press is a strength of mine, but I lowered the weights anyhow. I didn’t push myself. That only added to what I was feeling; crossfit is supposed to be about pushing yourself. I mean, I understand that some days you just aren’t on point and other days you are on fire. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m taking about the conscious decision to not do a harder weight, not because of injury, not because of working on form (I did that today with the snatches so I could concentrate on trying to keep good form and my breathing), but because I was angry, frustrated with myself and riding the mental struggle bus.

Later, I posted that I really wanted to walk out of the gym on Facebook. Another member posted that I worked through it and folks look up to me as an athlete. What I WANTED to say was “you all should look up to someone who can actually DO crossfit”. I didn’t because the coaches would see and I would get burpess for having a negative attitude. But it was very hard to me to see why someone, anyone, would look up to me, especially at that very moment in time.

I’ve spoken about this to one of the coaches. Apparently I embody the spirit of crossfit: keeping coming back, going in even if I know the WOD will stuck, going in even if I know I can’t do the moves, if I have to scale everything. Going in even with injuries, cheering, encouraging and  embracing the community that has developed in the gym. I know we are supposed to be practicing having more positive attitude (PMA), but I simply cannot be all PMA 24-7. I know that little things will get in the way; they always have; this is just me. I bet all of us get frustrated at things from time to time. It’s part of being human. For me, it’s definitely part of the struggle of lack of confidence.

I might have upset a coach or two for thinking of walking out. I might have upset an athlete or two for it as well. I probably upset a few for voicing the thoughts. But here’s the thing about me, you can knock me down; I can knock myself down, but I showed up the next day and actually felt good about the workout (even with injury modifications). So I might have WANTED to quit, but I didn’t. I overcame the mental issues.

Conclusion? Push through. Show up the next day and the next. Do what you can do, when you can do it. One bad workout can’t define you.

Meal Prep Sunday

Plan the Work, Work the Plan.

So, after 4 weeks of no CrossFit and generally feeling lousy (thanks, bronchitis); I decided last week it was time to get back into meal planning and preparation.  Though I didn’t fall completely off the Macro Train, I certainly wasn’t putting the time and effort into planning what I was eating….which wasn’t as big of a deal as it normally is when I’m working out consistently.

I thought today (and maybe next Sunday), I’ll just share my plan to the week and how I’m prepping.  Maybe I’ll even keep myself a bit accountable by doing a review for the week (at the end of the week, of course).  Overall, my first week last week went well until Friday night which is generally what happens anyway but…no excuses!  This Friday will be better 🙂

Where to start?  After working with a dietitian last spring, I determined that my daily calorie goal is 1400 calories (I’m working towards losing a bit of weight, so this is deficit for me).  My daily macro goals are: Carbs 157, Protein 88, Fat 47.

My new job as an interesting quirk that I am on the road during lunch time.  This means unlikely access to a microwave.  Thus, I started planning with my lunches this week because of all the meals, the options will be most limited.  After lunch, I moved onto dinner and made sure to include my Plated meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Breakfasts were last.  So here’s what I came up with (macro totals provided by My Fitness Pal app or myfitnesspal.com).

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats – C46, P15, F5. (http://www.itscheatdayeveryday.com/pb-chocolate-chip-overnight-oats/) and a clementine orange – C13, P1, F0

Lunch: Cold Sesame Soba Noodles and Broccolini and Mushrooms – C55, P72, F15 (http://fitmencook.com/5-easy-cold-lunch-meals/).  That includes 6oz of chicken, not sure if I’ll really eat that much…seems like a lot.

Dinner: Slow Cooker Honey Lime Ginger Pork – 21, P30, F7 (http://therecipecritic.com/2016/02/slow-cooker-honey-lime-ginger-pork/), Brussels Sprouts – C5, P4, F0, and Applesauce – C12, P0, F0.

Daily Total: C154g, P123g, F28g = 1369 calories.

If I do CrossFit tomorrow, I may add in a small snack somewhere in the day.  Probably a Nature Valley Protein Granola Bar or 2 (190 cals for 2).

Tuesday, Thursday

Breakfast: Protein Shake (1c almond milk, 1c frozen mixed berries, 1 scoop protein powder, 1/4c oats) – C28 P22 F4.5

Lunch: Mason Jar Taco Salad (2oz ground beef, 1c lettuce, 0.25c corn, 0.5c black beans, 0.5c quinoa, 0.25c cherry tomatoes, greek yogurt dressing) – C55, P29, F23

Dinner: Plated – Pine Nut Crusted Salmon – C44, P44, F-52 <– I will be using less oil than the recipe calls for, so this will be lower.

So, that’s my plan for the week.  Hope you enjoyed!  I’ve never tried any of these recipes before so hopefully they turn out well!