Am I becoming friends with the Assault bike?

What is happening to me? I feel like a stranger in my own brain today.

Thursdays at my box we get a choice of cardio workouts that are all slightly different and all designed to make you regret your choice, no matter which one you choose.

Today we had three options:

1. Suicide sprints and bear crawls

2. Max effort rowing for 40 seconds

3. Max effort Assault Bike for 20 seconds

Each workout had its own rep scheme and its own rest built in. Lately, I have been picking the Assault Bike because I’m not good at it, it scares me, and we generally hate each other. I pick it for those very reasons. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, or something like that…right?

Sometimes (nearly all the time if I’m honest), I don’t understand how to plan to spread my limited energy out to make it through a workout. But max effort? I get that. Each round for 20 seconds, you go until you cannot move. Until your muscles scream and beg. And then you keep pushing because there are 5-7 seconds left on the clock and rest is coming. I know I have about 10-12 really great seconds in me and then it’s a mental game to get the rest of the way.

Eight rounds. Twenty seconds. Three minutes of rest.

Rounds 1 and 2 I got that bike to 97 RPM. I will repeat that: 97 RPM! TWELVE calories. This is a PR by such a long shot that it’s almost funny. And yet I cannot adequately describe how my heart filled with pride at this. I was barely able to stand, I was trying to breath out of my skin to get more oxygen, there were still 6 more rounds to go.  And yet, I felt good.

I felt good about something I did on the Assault bike? Who am I? Where was the person who wrote “the Assault Bike is my nemesis”? What was happening to me?

I got 80 calories in those 8 rounds. Yes, my performance declined in subsequent rounds, but 4 of the 8 rounds I was able to hold it over 90 RPM for 10-12 seconds before my max effort dropped into the 70’s. The other four rounds I kept in the mid -80’s for 10-12 seconds, before having to drop into the 70’s.

I know there are athletes out there who could keep that dang bike in the 90’s (or higher) for all 20 seconds. But you know what? I’m not them; I’m not comparing myself to them either. I’m comparing myself to last week, last year, 2 years ago. And today, I can proudly exclaim that I gave it my all. I am STILL feeling the pain, 5 hours later. And I’m happy with what I did today. Yes, it destroyed my ability to do pushups, but I don’t care. I am happy with an Assault Bike performance.

Are we becoming friends? Is that even possible?

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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.

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 … 

Named WODs

Diane, Linda, Karen, Helen, Grace, Angie… 

There are way too many names that have become forever entrenched in my mind for the pain and suffering they cause. 

I’m not going to be having any more kids, but if I did, none of these names would work anymore. NONE. Crossfit has ruined them all. 

Today was Diane. Coach said “under 5 min”. Now, granted, I don’t have hand stand push-ups, so pike push ups for me (the blog IS called Scaled to Perfection). And I managed it in 4;40, with the Rx deadlift weight and pikes.  The workout is 21-15-9, deadlift and hand stand push-ups, in case you forgot. 

How in the world does 4 and a half minutes destroy a person?’ Seriously …. suddenly I have great respect for boxers and I’m not even being punched while I’m working. 

Ladies, I applaud whatever you did to Greg Glassman to make him not like you. Your names are now etched in the hearts, minds, and muscles of every crossfitter out there. 

I’m going to take a nap now… 

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!! 

Adding to the feeling of defeat or how to completely defeat a scaled athlete part 2

A few days ago, my crossfit partner in crime wrote about a particularly brutal WOD. In case you missed her post, it was 5 rounds for time of 150ft sled push (115# for women), 20 thrusters and 30 sit-ups. Complete with a time cap of 20 min.

A little math (some numbers just automatically math). 20 / 5 = 4. So one needed to average 4 min per round to get through. I am fully aware that the usual progression (at least for me) of time allotment is faster at first and often decreasing as you tire. This means that the first round might need to take 2 min if the last were to take 6. 

The parking lot had recently been resurfaced. Sled pushes are now BRUTAL. Every 10 feet the dang thing sticks to the sealant. The weights were heavy. The reps were many. The time cap actually very short. 

I walked out of there feeling as if our head programmer seriously overestimated our abilities. I assumed I just sucked. It was (to borrow my friend’s phrase) soul crushing. Again, I think we both agree that a good, soul crusher is not always a bad thing. But there is a difference in getting into the 4th round of 5 and barely making 2! Coming close is … I have to dig a little deeper. I have to rest a second or two less. Push a little harder. If one is barely half way through, it serves no point at all. I don’t mind being time-capped. The cap is often there for several reasons, only one of which serves to keep the classes moving on time.  I don’t like feeling totally inadequate. 

I went back through the Wodify whiteboard. Not one female athlete made it. Even the ones who generally seem to excel at everything. Not. One.  

Guys, we aren’t newbies. We’ve both been doing this for 3 years. We get there will be WODs we suck at and others that make you feel on top of the world. But it’s been a very long time since I felt so utterly and completely crushed by a workout. 

I’m not even going to get into the lack of scaling option. That seems almost unheard of for crossfit. We’ve been preaching that it’s scalable for everyone. Though on the whiteboard, lots of people entered a scaled number. 

I’m left wondering if our head programmer is also looking back at that workout going “what went wrong”? He’s usually excellent at knowing the athletes. I know I would be, were I in his shoes. 

That workout will be forever etched in my mind with the 3-4 others where I just wanted to never come back. The ones that weren’t just hard, didn’t just require digging, but where I gave up a piece of myself and tucked my tail and cried all the way home, utterly defeated. 

It’s not a good feeling and I hope there aren’t many of those in my future! 

How to Completely Defeat a Scaled Athlete

Today is Saturday, my last day in the box was Wednesday which is when my soul was crushed by a soul crushing WOD.  Now, I’m all for the occasional soul crusher but what made this WOD particularly terrible was that no scaling was permitted on one of the WOD components – the sled push (the other components were thrusters and sit ups for a total of five rounds).   The sleds were set up with male and female RX weights (female was 115#) which is crazy heavy for me and conditions were less than favorable as the surface we were pushing the sleds on was super sticky having just been resurfaced.  Between the super heavy RX weight and the sticky surface, it took me about 5-7 minutes to do one 150ft sled push (time cap was 20 minutes).  So in a workout that required 100 thrusters, 150 sit-ups and 5 150ft sled pushes,  I ended up doing 2 150 ft sled pushes, 21 thrusters, 60 sit-ups which is only 381 of the programmed 1000 reps ((150×5) + (20×5) +(30×5)).  

So, here’s where my knowledge of scaling fails me – which situation is better: 

1.  Do the RX weight on the sled, struggle bus through the workout,  complete less than half the reps and then be so sore and defeated that you really don’t want to go back to the gym for the next 3 days?  Or: 

2.  Scale the sled push, get more reps with a more consistent effort across all WOD components, and still feel the soul crushing but use it as motivation to get better the next time? 

I realize the defeat feeling probably varies person to person but as far as effort goes I think it would be best to scale for consistent, doable effort across the WOD components so you’re not spending an large amount of time on one part of the WOD and clogging up a fairly limited resource as sleds are limited in number anyway (don’t get me started on my thoughts to capping class numbers). 

I should have asked to scale the sled push but instead I just suffered.  Never be afraid to ask to scale, you’re probably paying a good amount of money to be training where you are and coaches should know your abilities, they may push you sometimes but don’t be afraid to verbalize your limits.  Better to be a little embarrassed in the moment than feel completely defeated (or, heaven forbid,  suffer an injury) for the next few days. It’s okay to scale and no one sound feel ashamed or embarrassed to do so.