So much to talk about

So a very rare thing happened TWICE in the last week. I was actually proud of something I did in the box.

First, 18.1. My initial feelings and thoughts were anger at yet another move that I cannot do, relegating me to the scaled arena once again. Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely don’t believe there is anything wrong with scaling a workout where appropriate. But the reality is, I’m starting to think there is something wrong with me that after 3+ years, I cannot do one of the most basic of gymnastic moves, toes to bar. So it being the very first move of The Open, really upset me. Dumbbell clean and jerk? Ok. Fine. Rowing? Yuck, but fine. Twenty minute grinder? Again, yuck, but fine. It was obvious from the very beginning that the obvious strategy is find a pace that you can keep and just keep moving.

So get over yourself. You are doing scaled, end of story. Buck up and set a goal for yourself, and do that quickly. So I pondered my engine. I watched the “big wigs” perform and get into their 13th round and pondered my engine some more. My engine is more akin to a cheetah than an African wild dog. Meaning I can go fast, but not long. I am hella strong (particularly for my “advanced” age), but I don’t have distance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on myself as my cardio is well above where it used to be, but it’s certainly not my strong suit.

So my initial goal was five rounds. 150 total reps. Many of my friends were thinking more like 8 rounds, which I felt was very much out of reach because of the rowing. I wasn’t worried about the dumbbell at all. I was concerned the rowing would tax my engine to the point I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I asked my friend to use what I call his “Sargent” voice to yell at me so I would keep going.

In the end, despite all my fears, I got 8 reps into round 10. 278 total reps, darn close to TWICE what I initially thought and even past what others predicted for me! I was so proud of myself. THAT is the feeling that I’m not used to. Something I did, me. Old, still overweight, with a engine that doesn’t run long distances, with the coordination of a drunken, one-legged penguin trying to fly through maple syrup. And yet here I was , proud of 278 scaled reps. I’m not used to this feeling at all. I’m used to saying something sarcastic to cover up my feelings of inadequacy. And yet there I was, lying on the floor, incapable of breathing, of moving, smiling. Happy.

Incident 2 happened today. Today was a 21 min EMOM. Min 1 was 8-10 DB cleans, min 2 was 8-10 burpees over the DB and min 3 was 12-16 box jumps. Okay, so I don’t have box jumps in my brain anymore after falling over them one too many times. I’m okay with scaling to step-ups. I elected to use the 30 pound dumbbell over the prescribed 35 pounds mostly because (or so I told myself) that I wanted to leave those for the people who could Rx the workout. Looking back, I should have used the 35 pound weights, but that is a story for another day. Burpees. Oh goody. I HATE burpees. HATE HATE HATE them. They demoralize me, tax my small engine and in general make me hate everything about me and crossfit.

One day, one of the coaches said she could tell a change in attitude between movements from deadlifts to burbees. She could read it on my face. Yep. That would be my hatred toward burpees.

Today, on round one, I slogged through them with my usual attitude. Step back, flop on the ground, drag myself up, step up, turn to face the DB, barely hop over, heavy sigh, repeat. I got 6 in a minute doing this. Could I move any slower? Seriously…it was the proof I needed that I wasn’t a worthy crossfit athlete. And my coach’s voice popped into my head about changing my attitude toward burpees, something about working on my opportunities. My inner voice started cussing up, down, left, right and center. And then I made a conscious decision to change my mind.

I made the conscious decision to continue to do “only” 6 burpees (not the prescribed 8), but I would do them as fast as I could, every round. Guess what happened? I did 6 in less than 30 seconds each of the last rounds. By the end of the workout, I recognized that I could have done the 8 within the time! In addition, I was actually HAPPY about how I did. Was it as the coach wrote? No. Was it scaled? Yes. Do I care? Nope, not at all. I did six rounds of 6 burpees and felt good about it. Meaning this was the first time in over two years that I felt good about a workout with burpees.

So basically twice in the past five days I’ve felt good about a crossfit performance. Who am I and what has happened to me? I will say, it’s a feeling I could get used to.

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The Open is Coming

Another year, another Open is upon the athletes of crossfit-Land. Once again, perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve signed up.

This past year, I’ve watched all these women move well past me in terms of abilities and skills. And here I am stuck in the same spot (I’m not really, but it often seems that way). I jokingly call that “The Overachievers Club”. I’m mostly jealous of them. Why do I have to try to find time outside of class to learn pull-ups and double unders? These ladies did it in class!!

Ok, ok… it’s possible they worked at home on these skills too.

Today we did 17.5. (10 rounds of 9 thrusters and 35 singles/double unders). My coach didn’t let me do this one last year due to my nagging calf injury. And while I wouldn’t say I’m 100%, I’m about 95%, and did the scaled version today with no issues.

That workout has a 40 min time cap. And I went in there going (please beat the cap). Then I thought, please get under 20 min. Then it was, please under 15. I did it in 14:42. Since I didn’t have a baseline, I was actually happy with this number. I was even happier that I did all the jumping and didn’t hurt afterwards.

And …. then I looked at the whiteboard. I know! Don’t remind me. I’m not supposed to compare. And my very last post was all about how happy I was with my performance! Turns out, my time really wasn’t all that good, and I find myself in a funk because I know I could have pushed harder, but I also know I wanted to make sure I paced myself due to fear of re-injury.

I guess in the end, it doesn’t matter. My score is my score and I can work to improve my mental game next time.

Bring on the open.

Monthly Challenge

Every month our box does a challenge. Usually (in my opinion) it’s some unattainable number of something. 1000 push-ups, 1600 min of planking, 150 strict pull-ups. Ten billion double unders (jk … it just SEEMED like 10 billion). 

This month we are doing something slightly different. We are supposed to do 10-20 push-ups every day right when we get out of bed. 

Finally somethat that seems attainable! Not something that I will get 1/3 to 1/2 way through and feel bad about myself for not getting anywhere close to finishing the challenge. 

Get up. Ten push-ups. Got it.

I’m going with two caveats…

1. I’m going potty first. There is no way I could do even 1 without peeing. 

2. I’m doing them in the bathroom. My dogs do not understand people exercising on the floor and are prone to noming and humping. No thank you. 

So with those two caveats, I’m jumping into this challenge with both feet. 

Monthly Challenge

Every month our box does a challenge. Usually (in my opinion) it’s some unattainable number of something. 1000 push-ups, 1600 min of planking, 150 strict pull-ups. Ten billion double unders (jk … it just SEEMED like 10 billion). 

This month we are doing something slightly different. We are supposed to do 10-20 push-ups every day right when we get out of bed. 

Finally somethat that seems attainable! Not something that I will get 1/3 to 1/2 way through and feel bad about myself for not getting anywhere close to finishing the challenge. 

Get up. Ten push-ups. Got it.

I’m going with two caveats…

1. I’m going potty first. There is no way I could do even 1 without peeing. 

2. I’m doing them in the bathroom. My dogs do not understand people exercising on the floor and are prone to noming and humping. No thank you. 

So with those two caveats, I’m jumping into this challenge with both feet. 

Why we (scale) crossfit

I’ve spent four days this week working on the Landscape Industry Certification test. I help set up, administer, and tear down. I do need to point out I am one of a slew of people needed for this. And it’s a lot of work. Most of the work isn’t physically demanding, but some of it is. Also my professor self is not used to working outside all day, in the blazing sun, in the billion percent humidity, doing any kind of work, much less hard work. 

So this got me thinking about why I crossfit. (Please inset whatever form of exercise you love). I started crossfit to look better. I kept it up to get stronger. I keep it up so I can get my old, kinda chunky, professor butt out of my office and work along side younger (mostly) guys who are used to being outside and doing this kind of work.

I heard the following over the past few days:

1. Nice guns!

2. You still doing that healthy stuff?

3. I started exercising after I spoke to you.

4. You’re a little thing, are you sure you can … yep! You definitely CAN lift that. 

I’m not trying to brag, but to point out that some form of strength training is essential as we age. It keeps the joints and muscles moving and able to lift things. It will allow me to do so for the next 20+ years.

Scaled or no… that is why I crossfit. 

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.

Non-Scale Victories

nonscale victories

This was posted to my box’s Boot Camp page on Facebook and it got me thinking, which has me writing!

I’m the first to admit, I will probably not be in any “before/after” transformation pictures since basically I am the same weight as the day I stepped into the box (my pants are 2 sizes smaller) and I don’t really think I look different in pictures I see. Don’t get me wrong, people have noticed that I look different and carry myself differently, so I know changes are happening, but when I see pictures of myself, I still see a fat, old lady, one who perhaps has no business being in a gym at all, much less a crossfit box.

{Now coaches, before you go and give me a billion burpees for sounding negative, please keep reading!!}

Are there moves I still don’t have down? Yep. There is a reason this blog is called Scaled to Perfection. My crossfit partner in crime and perpetual “in my head” sista (I swear we are one brain, separated by 20 years), have struggled with so many things for the years we have been doing crossfit. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know what they are, but if you are new, let me inform you of all the things I (well..perhaps we) still need to achieve, much less master: double unders, pull-ups, rope climbs, chest-to-bar, toes-to-bar, hand stand push ups, most things with the GHD, and box jumps (I had them, then the box tried to kill me so my brain refuses to let me do them again). My clean and jerk form, while improved, is a work in progress and  the snatch? Ugh… Ugly is a good word. Burpees about kill me and anything cardio is a long trip on the struggle bus.

This makes it sound like I can’t do anything at all, which isn’t true. The powerlifting moves are ones I love. I don’t mind thrusters, wall balls, the ski-erg, rowing, and kettlebells. I love all the accessory work we do! And I’m fairly certain that not one of the coaches would say that I give up, no matter how much I’m struggling, no matter how dead last I am and I will often go ahead an finish a workout, even if we’ve been time-capped, because…well…I’m not a quitter. That part has changed in me; I used to stop at the time cap, but I prefer to finish (if I won’t be in the way of the next class, or my taking a few more minutes means I won’t be late to work). I’m a firm believer in the crossfit attitude of cheering for everyone and that the last person to finish is just as, if not more, important than the first person. I LOVE to cheer on my fellow athletes when I get the chance. This is one of the things I love best about The Open. Except for your own heat, you get to watch and cheer everyone else, keeping them motivated if needed. I never thought that was a real thing, until it was happening to me and people really believed it.

Do you see a trend here? I do. If it has to do with brute strength, I’m all over that. If it requires grace and/or coordination, I struggle. I’m slowly getting better at all of these things and I have no shame in continuing to work on them, even as frustrating as it can be at times. I think back to high school and college sports and the positions I played: keeper in soccer, bench warmer in basketball, catcher in softball and shot-put in track. Those positions don’t really require coordination. You can just fling your body around without fear and that often gets the job done. The gymnastics move require something I’ve never really had the opportunity to train for, work on or even think about in my daily life. My parents didn’t send me to ballet or gymnastics (I would have told them no anyhow), so I never worked on those things and now I’m finding that I really need those things and old brains are apparently slower to learn than younger brains!

Back to non-scale victories! I’m a LOT stronger. I don’t give up easily (which can also have its downsides – hello calf muscle; I’m looking at you). My shirts are smaller; my pants are smaller. I can do the things the coach’s ask of me, especially scaled. I have enough confidence in my abilities that showing some of the newer athletes a move or two doesn’t worry me.

I’ve met so many wonderful people, many of whom have become dear friends. I participate in our #socialcommittee events as often as possible and have done some things that I never thought I would do, such as not 1, but 2 5k runs.

I’m fascinated by the programming and would love to know more about the inner workings of our head programmer’s mind when he puts the workouts together. And as I’ve been told to stay off this dang calf, all my workouts lately have been very modified and that has also been incredible to watch. It only increases my resolve to eventually save enough for my CF1, not because I want to change my life and start coaching, but because I want to know ALL THE THINGS, and the more data, knowledge, and information I have, the happier my brain is.

So as you progress through your journey, remember that there are many victories you will encounter along the way. Some will be more weight on the bar. Some may be getting a move that you didn’t have previously. Some may be taking time off your 500m row. Some may be as ‘simple’ as showing up every day, drinking the amount of water you know you need. You could drop clothing sizes; participate in a competition, partner with someone stronger/faster than you to push yourself; partner with someone slower/less strong than you to help them along. Relish all the little things because often the ‘I can’t’ permeates the day. Believe me, I know this from a LOT of personal experience over the years; I’m a pessimist at heart. But here and there, now and then, a glimmer of positivity shows up. And THAT is a non-scale victory I can get behind.