WHYNDTYM (Why Have You Not DONE This Yet MONDAY)

Our ‘regular’ feature can sometimes be such a struggle to come up with ideas, so we apologize for it not being so ‘regular’.

Our box puts on a two-day crossfit competition every year called Survival Games and it’s really quite something to see, observe, judge, volunteer and/or compete. So here is my challenge to all of you: go find a local event and offer your services as a volunteer, judge, helper, or whatever. You won’t regret it as there is so much that goes into these things behind the scenes that make it great for the athletes!

Competitions need people to reset weights between heats (yes, the athletes are supposed to, but they are often so tired, they don’t set the weights up in a nice, neat order), run score sheets to a head judge, help athletes find their location, answer their endless questions, look for teams that somehow go ‘missing’ between events etc.

Competitions need judges to observe, score, count and who are willing to be yelled at when an athlete gets no-repped. Rx men seem to be very intense individuals and really really don’t like getting no-repped. Scaled athletes are much more calm about these things!

Competitions need a cheering section. People to yell, encourage and clap.

So go. Enter a competition, put yourself out there. And if you don’t want to, that is fine. Help out at one. I can guarantee you won’t regret helping out!

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. 

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.

Urban Adventure Challenge

So my partner in crossfit crime asked our usual team (Victorious Secret) if we would be up for doing the Wooster Urban Adventure Challenge (WUAC). We both immediately said yes! 

When I visited the website, it said to expect 8-10 miles of waking, 12-15 miles of biking and other surprises. In talking to other box members who had completed the challenge before, we knew we were in for a good 4-5 hours of finding things around town, solving puzzles and swimming! 

I’m a total “plan as much as you can” type. So I started a notebook. I wrote down all the clues they provided, made a list of all the sponsors and their addresses etc and gathered my supplies: sunscreen, hydration backpack, first-aid kit etc. 

Mind you, I can’t run, I’m still on the “injured reserve” list at the box because this nagging lower leg thing refuses to go away. (Side note: the doc needs to hurry up and look at my MRI – I want to know!!) It was recommended that I withdraw. But I really wanted to and you didn’t have to run, walking was totally allowed. So my team members swore they would not let me run and so we set out!

We had to use clues to locate different business downtown, and at each stop we had to do something. The thing we had to do varied. Some stops we just had to take a picture of an object (an apron, a white rooster etc). Other stops required that we build something (a trophy). Most stops required something physical. One stop required that we use a dolly to move one team member to a cone and back (that was a funny one). Another stop had us holding a tire on a 2×4 while we walked “football style” through a set of various sized tires. 

Then we waked to an elementary school where we had to play four-square, look up information about a random state, climb the jungle gym (note- i have apparently completely forgotten how to play on one of those), and play hopscotch. Then off to a local park, to find a random animal on their jungle gym to take a picture, help a teammate navigate a small course while she was blindfolded, and do their small zip line. More proof that these “toys” were NOT designed for adult bodies. 

Then we walked over to the College of Wooster to play a word association game, hunt for our team number in their auditorium, and then off to the football field for a crossfit style workout: dips, step-ups, push-ups, tire flips, bear crawl, and run the stadium stairs carrying a 30# sandbag (walk the stairs…). 

At this point, I’m starting to get tired from all the waking and the sun is really beginning to get nasty. And … it’s barely 11am. 

Then we hike across campus to find some random trail, hike up the road to a puzzle, use our ninja skills (i.e. Google) to determine that a queenax is an adult jungle gym where we were expected to do upwards monkey bars… nope. Ain’t happening, but at least it was air conditioned and had bathrooms. Stay-Fit 24 is a nice little gym!

Time for more waking. Off to the middle school, stopping along the way for cornhole and croquet. (Note to all: our third teammate is DA BOMB at corn hole and I’m never playing against her). Puzzles and now carrying around a rubber duck! 

More walking to the local pool (now we’ve zig-zagged our way from the south end of town to the north). Water balloons, jumping off the high dive and paddle boarding. The water balloons required that we try to slingshot a balloon so that a team member could let it hit their butt! Turns out we were good at that part!! Even earned a 7-min time reduction here! We all had to jump off the high dive (very scary) and the water felt great. But my favorite part of the pool was paddle boarding a watermelon across the pool several times! I mean how silly is that?

A walk through the woods to the high school where we got to pretend we wed in a marching band and March the field carrying a sousaphone (I think we should have gotten bonus points for Keri who actually was in TBDBITL and did actual marching band stuff, including dipping the instrument to the ground a la Script Ohio). 

Finaly to another loca park to get the bikes. It’s now 1:30, we are so very hot, so very tired and our feet hurt. We were looking forward to a bike ride, until we deciphered the clues and learned the hill we needed to ride. 

I will remind you the website said 12-15 miles biking. Well … it was 12 miles to the last stop. That means 12 miles back…

One of the stops had us canoeing across a lake. The other made us do an adventure “ropes” style mini-course (note – never doing that again), before making us hike their 1.5 mile trail looking for more stamps. Ugh …. more waking. At this point, I’m very over this game. And I really really want to quit. But even if I did quit, I’d still have to bike back to town! 

We have just under 60 min left before the finish line closes. So we decided to bypass the last two checkpoints and bike to the finish line. We get there and are told we need to drop our bikes off and go to one last check point. Ugh … pretty sure the young volunteer giggled at my invented non-swear, swear words (he was a young volunteer remember?). Off we went, to a local pub. Beer pong, matching beers to their names and doing the coaster mazes. Ok… at least that isn’t hard. And then we had 5 minutes to get back to the finish. 

We made it. Eight hours and fifty-four minutes later we were done. They had some snacks and water and a party inside. 

Lots of food and drink, but I was too tired for any of that. I drank a beer, a glass of water and nibbled a few chips. That was all I could manage. 

Today, I’m a deep Ohio State red color, I’m so tired all I want to do is sleep, I’m STILL not hungry, and everything hurts. Yesterday I mentioned I wasn’t going to crossfit on Monday, but I see it’s bench pressing and deadlifting, 2 of my favorite things, so I will probably go anyhow. 

What did I learn from this? Several things. 1. My two partners are awesome, beasty ladies and I would not have wanted to do this with anyone else. 2. This was ssoooo hard to do!! The website said 4-5 hours, but we took nearly 9. I worked out for 9 hours in the sun. 3. I’m glad I did it, but I have no desire to do it again. 4. I need to learn a LOT more about competition eating because we did NOT plan that well. And 5. Three years of crossfit and I feel just as out of shape, uncoordinated, lacking in confidence as prior. This challenge proves just how non-athletic I really am. But I still did it. Sort of … 

Job well done ladies! I’m proud of you guys. 

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.

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.