Post 17.2 Thoughts

It’s entirely possible that some folks from my box will see this and when they do, I will probably get a burpee penalty for the coming negative comments. I will start with the negative and end with the positive so you all don’t think that my crossfit world was shattered (though it came close).

In case you’ve forgotten, or didn’t know, the second workout of the 2017 CrossFit Open consisted of dumbbell lunges, toes to bar (scaled is knee raises), dumbbell cleans (2 rounds) and then 2 rounds of the same thing, replacing toes to bar with muscle ups (scaled is pull-ups).

Upon watching the announcement, I was pissed. CrossFit has always advertised that it is for anyone, scalable for all ages, abilities, mobilities and strengths. So the second workout includes a move that really isn’t scaled?! What in the actual heck-fire? A pull-up isn’t really scaled (see my pre-17.2 jitters rant).

So I basically knew going in that scaled was really my only option. I know I can move the Rx weight (If there is one thing I am, it’s strong). But I don’t (yet) have toes to bar and pull-ups remain firmly in the realm of mystery.

Just over 3 minutes in and I’m ready for pull-ups. Jump, kip and … nope. Repeat for nearly 9 minutes. At one point, one of the coaches pushed me over the bar telling me that I am oh so close and not to give up, keep fighting for it. But I can feel how hard she’s pushing. Those last 2 inches (or however far it really was) might as well be 3 miles. I tried a range of emotions to help here. I tried telling myself that I’m certainly strong enough, so just do it already. Nope. I tried getting pissed at the bar. Nope. I tried getting pissed at myself. Nope. I tried getting pissed at the coaches (not sure why….was simply running out of things to be pissed at). Nope. I tried pleading with my arms. Nope. At the 12 minute time cap (oh so thankful for time caps), I was exhausted, frustrated, mad, pissed, happy, annoyed, irritated, pleased … you name the emotion, I was feeling it. It was best summed up by the word confused. Especially since all these people were congratulating me on a job well done, but it really didn’t feel like a job well done at all. It felt like 9 minutes of failure. It felt like confirmation of my perennial joke that blue whales can’t do pull-ups.

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Here’s where I’m sure the coaches would say that I didn’t do it because I believed I wasn’t going to. It’s possible they are correct; but, it’s also possible that I’m still lacking something, some tiny piece that once that clicks will allow pull-ups. That piece could be strength in certain muscle groups; that piece could be a timing issue with the kip. Maybe if my hands were further apart, or closer together, or I did switch grip, or reverse grip…. or …. or …. or ….. Who knows?

Now, despite all the negativity you just read, it’s really not all bad. It certainly shows where I need to work. I can start with the strength piece, building accessory muscles, working on negatives. I can start to play with grip a bit and see if that makes a difference (I do have a pull-up bar and a banded assist at home). The coaches really want us doing strict pull-ups before we get down to business with the kipping portion, so I need to work on that. There are a metric ton of videos available for how to progress to a pull-up. Perhaps I just need to pick one and do some work after dinner. Would 5 minutes really be that hard to find in the evenings?

On the very plus side, the lunges and cleans were just shy of a piece of cake for me. I felt good moving through them; the weight seemed light and I felt I moved smoothly and efficiently. I’m not unhappy with my “tie-breaker” time. It can also be said, that I could have asked for a box and simply moved to jumping; that is what most of the athletes without pull-ups did. I would probably have gotten a better workout that way, but I WANTED a pull-up. I wasn’t going to give up on that. So I spent nearly 9 minutes trying, feeling my arms fatigue and still working toward it. I never gave up, even as a wave of confusing emotions washed through me.

I know that 17.1 took a piece of my soul and refused to give it back. I’m pretty sure I could have used it for 17.2!  Now for 17.3 can we please have moves I can do and do well?

No matter what moves are included, I will show up, I will work to the best of my ability and I will do what I can!

PS…the image was taken by one of our dear box members, Jen Proaño, who really managed to capture the range of emotions I was attempting to process!

17.2 Jitters

Dear crossfit, a pull-up, while obviously a scaled version of a muscle up, is not really a scaled move. I predict that many athletes will get a score of 78. That would be 2 rounds of 10 lunges, 16 knee raises, 8 cleans. Then a third round of 10 lunges and 5-8 minutes of wild leg swinging in an effort to get their first pull-up.

To be fair, there will be a lot of athletes who will not only get their first,  but follow that with others. So if the rationale here was to get those who are close to use the added adrenalin that comes with The Open to push themselves, then job well done, I guess. I did watch a couple of athletes at the reveal get their first muscle up, so why not have a bunch of folks getting their first pull-up? Push us outside our comfort zone.

But there will be a good group of folks (and I’m includeding myself here) for whom the pull-up is an elusive beast, akin to Sasquatch. Oft described, oft written about, occasionally “photographed”, but in reality, a myth.

Does this mean I’m going to spend my entire crossfit existence denying the existence of Sasquatch? No. I’m more than happy to get involved in the hunt; I want a picture too, damn it. But I’m so far from it right now. I seem to be missing the “pull-up” wiring in my brain, at least this is my fear.

One way around this would be to give us scaled athletes a couple of minutes to try and then give us a band. The reps won’t count toward the score, but we could get get a good workout in and it’s (slightly) less mentally defeating than 8 minutes of trying with limited progress. Seriously… earlier in the week, I needed the black AND the blue band for strict pull-ups, so I’m a billion light years from getting a real one. And a score of 78 really isn’t very thrilling. It’s mortifying….

My coach told me ages ago, that I wasn’t allowed to learn kipping pull-ups until I could do strict ones. I admit this has frustrated me over the past two years as I see a lot of athletes that don’t have strict doing kipping. But it didn’t take a lot of time on the internet to learn that kipping pull-ups, without the base strength for strict, could produce shoulder injuries. So I fully understand his logic.

Now, do I try, or do I just use the band …. sigh …. sometimes I dislike crossfit for the mental games it plays with me.

More Musings

So one of the coaches said some things before class the other day and it has me thinking. The box started a pull up series. I thought it was going to be once per week we would work on the accessory work to get us to doing pull-ups. We did two weeks of these. 3-5 rounds of various exercises that should help us get pull-ups. This movement seems to be one of the “end all be all” movements in our box. So many women want them; so few of us have them.

For me, I’ve always wanted to be able to do a pull-up. And when we started, I stated that as a goal and the coach told me I wasn’t allowed to learn kipping pull-ups before I could do strict pull-ups. Now I’ve seen a lot of women in our box get kipping pull-ups and they don’t have strict, and I admit to getting a bit upset both with them and the coaches. Then I did some research and learned that it can be very tough on the shoulder joint to do kipping without he strength in the muscles to do strict. So basically I had to logic my way out of my anger. This usually works and for 2+ years I’ve been doing jumping pull-ups and feeling okay about this.

But the things the coaches said where this:

1. You will never get better at pull-ups by doing jumping pull-ups

2. How many people have been working their pull-up accessory work at home? (None of us raised our hands – and she basically told us we needed to be doing these things on our own if we ever hoped to be able to do them in the box).

Both statements have me thinking.

The first because when the head programmer is coaching, we always do jumping pull-ups. This coach was subbing and that is when the comment was made. So we all did banded pull-ups for the workout and basically a good chunk of us were lifting ourselves off the ground maybe 2″. It was very demoralizing (at least to me). Next time I will use the black band and not the green one.

Then I read another blog post over on Eat to Perform and the author mentioned there is a 240 pound woman there who can do all the variations on pull-ups. So my thoughts of “I’m too fat for pull-ups” are obviously wrong.

Which means I’m not strong enough to do them and that brings me to point 2.

I THOUGHT this pull-up series would be once a week. Nope. Apparently we did it for two weeks and we were supposed to keep doing it at home. I struggle with this for several reasons. First, not everyone has the equipment to workout at home. I happen to have a lot of workout equipment because I spent several years doing Beachbody programs, but a good portion of folks will join a gym so they don’t have to buy all that stuff!

Second, not everyone has the TIME to do another workout at home. I go to crossfit at 5am. That is the only time that really doesn’t interfere with the activities of the rest of my family. I’ve gone to a few evening things here and there, but that requires very careful planning and often rearranging of who does what in my household. I would guess hypothesize that a lot of folks are this way.

Third, if I were motivated enough to push myself at home, I wouldn’t need to take classes 5 days a week! I could go on crossfit’ website, do their WOD, or head to YouTube, or bodybuilding.com and follow one of their programs.

Finally, I get a little annoyed when I’m told that 5x per week isn’t enough. That now I need to spend extra time practicing “insert move” or I will never get it. Five days a week isn’t enough? If this is really true, then I might as well give up, go home, and simply walk my dogs around the block for a hour at 5am.

End rant.