Lately, life has been impossible to “manage,” and it’s all I can do just to keep up a workout schedule alongside the whole “I have a full time job that’s been demanding more lately than it has in years and so does my wife and we have two small children and it’s my four year old’s birthday next week and my parents are staying with us for a couple of weeks and sleeping in my basement while my mother in law still lives nearby and of course I usually shop for all the food cook all the meals and do the financial books around here and speaking of the books we’ve finally realized we have to cut our expenses before we go bankrupt” thing. So, for me, what gives way in this scenario, it turns out, is my trademark scholarly approach to monitoring and planning my fitness and food life. I’ve been slacking off when it comes to the controls I have in place around the use of alcohol and consumption of other non-paleo food items, and I’ve also relaxed my normal strictures about daily fasts, etc. With predictable results: I’m more tired, less energized, less generally pumped (in other words more depressed), recovering harder, feeling and looking a bit dumpier, and in general “a bit off” … at least, “off” of “my game” as I’ve established it over the past couple of years. Worse: I can tell I’m feeling off, but, I have barely enough room to take notice of this, to care, and to try to do something about it.
Yet quantitatively, the effects of all this “slippage” haven’t begun to really take hold. Not so far. Maybe it’s even all in my head for now. If so, the negative impact is no less “real” for being “only mental.” That’s stress for you! Let me substantiate what I am saying (about the slippage not really showing) by posting my most recent body metrics data with recent comparisons.
||Body Fat %
||47 1/4″ / 40 7/8″|
||47 5/16″ (sh) / 39 3/4″ (ch)|
||13 3/4″ flexed, 12 5/8″ unflexed
|Feb. 6th, 2011
||14″ (flexed) / 12 1/2″ (unflexed)
|Nov. 21, 2010
||(less than) 6 mm
||(less than) 11.5%
||14″ (flexed) / 12 1/2″ (unflexed)
|Oct. 24th, 2010
It sure is hard for me to evaluate these numbers. I see two ways to read them. One is to stack them against the past few months and say, yeah, I was leaner back in November, but I’m basically holding steady since February. Another is to point to all the very small increases and decreases and pretend they are meaningful. I show an inch increase in my umbilical region but only a pound and a half increase in weight. So that might be the extra cheese, dairy, sugar, alcohol, grain, etc., I’ve been eating, for sure, or, increased total carb consumption is just leading to extra water retention. If so, it’s not retaining in my biceps, which seem to have shrunk (consistent with my terrible performance, lately, on pull-ups), but might be found in waist and thighs. Yet my suprailiac skinfold remains more or less unchanged, even possibly better. Am I stronger? Yes. I’ve done some things lately that tell me I am. Am I faster? No. I am probably not. Fatter is more like it.
So, I’ll be on the look-out but, until I get through the next four weeks and shift gears into summer, this monkey remains in hell and doesn’t feel like cracking down further on the monkey mind.
Plain and simple, Friday am was dedicated to accomplishing WOD three. I did six total reps at 165 on Wednesday, but only 4+1 of those in the WOD itself. A part of me dreamed of getting ten reps. But knew that wouldn’t happen. Seven reps seemed feasible. If only!
I warmed up by focusing on mobility, doing my calisthenics, and then doing a very few full clean and jerks.
Clean and Jerk: 1 x 115 / 1 x 135 / 1 x 155.
Open Sectionals WOD Three
Five minutes of clean and jerk at 165 lbs.
Result: 5 rounds.
First two reps were finished before one minute was up. I felt good. But then I missed the clean on my third rep! I didn’t get the bar very far up out of the second pull, for some reason, and didn’t drop very far under the bar. Not enough aggression or drive! So, I waited some more time, and tried again, giving a massive effort on the second pull and dropping into it. So I got the third rep near the middle of the second minute. Any chance at seven reps now seemed long gone. On the fourth rep, again I faltered on the catch, dropping one knee to the floor (my right). Ouch. Moving on, I tried again, and got the fourth rep. Now with just over a minute left. I powered out the fifth clean with determination, and then missed the jerk! Frack! So, seconds ticking away, I power cleaned (!) that bar one more time, set up, and barely managed to press it out overhead. With a few seconds to spare.
That was a fun WOD but more of a neuromuscular challenge than anything else, for me.
I’m proud of myself because of the number of times I cleaned a pretty heavy bar this week. It’s going to be a good stimulus. One week from tomorrow I’ll test myself out and, I think, I should be able to get a new PR.
Wednesday morning, going in to CFA at 6:00 am, I was already feeling nervous about open sectionals WOD #3, which had been announced the night before: 5 minutes max reps clean and jerk at 165 lbs. 165 lbs, that’s 100% of my 1 rep max! I knew I could do at least some reps but it is becoming more and more clear that I am not in any real sense of the word “competitive” in CrossFit at this time. Maybe in a few years when I am a master? Anyway, I came into the gym nervous about it. But also glad, because, while I may not be as strong as the next guy, I do enjoy lifting those heavy things.
The Wednesday workout strength/skill was Front Squat 5-5-5-2-2-2-2 and then the prescribed WOD was some kind of circuit. I didn’t notice at first that CrossFit Games competitors would be doing the open sectionals WOD, but by the time we were done with warm-up and getting towards the front squats, Shanna was talking to Matt Smith, Tom Rehm and I about taking that first shot at WOD 3.
Thus, I decided to warm up the clean while doing the front-squats.
Full clean & 4 front squats x 95 / fc & 4 x 115 / fc & 4 x 135
Clean and Jerks
2 x 1 x 165
WOD 3: Five Minutes AMRAP Clean and Jerk
Result: 4 rounds + 1 clean, i.e. 9 points.
I did the first two reps before a minute was up, knocked out the next two before 4 minutes. But then I hit my fifth full clean and yet missed the jerk. Then I power cleaned it again, and missed another attempt. Time up.
Volume / Stimulus Analysis
So, in truth, today I did a total of 6 full clean and jerks at 165, plus one more full clean, plus one power clean at 165. Plus the cleans & front squats.
Prior to today I had, in my whole life, put 165 overhead after cleaning it only one time. I had done maybe one more total rep of the full clean at 165. Today I did 6. I feel good about that. Screw competitive. This is going to make me stronger. Multiple reps at 100% of my 1 RM? You better believe that’s an awesome stimulus. Bodyweight clean and jerk (185) here I come!
So, I got the results from my recent doctor’s visit a couple of weeks ago, and it’s good news! I am still alive and well and my bloodwork is solid. It’s highly instructive to look at the numbers and compare them with where I’ve been.
I reported my results from 2009 and 2010 last year on this blog, so, here comes the update. I’ll present all the data from 2009-2011 on one page for easy comparison.
||Feb 18, 2009
||March 16, 2010
||March 23, 2011
|LDL (“bad”) Cholesterol
||114* (8 vldl)
||113 (10 vldl)
|HDL (“good”) Cholesterol
|Chol/HDL Ratio (Risk Factor)
The words from my doctor were as follows: “your labs all look good. Don’t worry about the total cholesterol b/c it is almost all good chol or HDL..this is amazing. One of the highest I have seen.”
No doubt. This is what happens when you eat like I do. I eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates. This is true even though I rather frequently cheat with sugary desserts! My overall diet is really moderate to low carb and allows for only minimal processed foods. I also eat a diet high in saturated fat from animals and coconuts, and very high in protein. I eat more vegetables than the average American. I eat some nuts, but not a nutty amount. I don’t eat too much fruit. I typically fast 10-14 hours daily, and I work out regularly with weights and CrossFit style short intense training sessions.
Comparatively, there are no really significant changes from last year to this year, which is telling. The biggest change is in Triglicerides. I think mine were higher this year because I’ve been eating dessert and dairy much more frequently. They are still at what is considered a healthy level. Total cholesterol went up very slightly, and is considered out of the “healthy range” (i.e. it’s over 200) but my LDL went down and my HDL went up. That’s good! The rest is pretty much flat.
If you still think that saturated fat or a diet rich in animal products causes heart disease, you are a sucker.
Monday morning, after a night of not too bad sleep, such as it was, I made it to the 6:00 am class at CFA, rested, fasted, caffeinated… and I thought the plan for the WOD looked good. It turned out to be good, leaving me sore, tired, hungry, and satisfied all day.
Hang Power Cleans and Neck Presses
Behind the neck press was a great follow up to my Saturday lifting session, as were the Hang Power Cleans, although I’m not sure why my HPC is substantially weaker than my clean.
Result: HPCs: 3 x 95 / 3 x 115 / 3 x 135 / f x 155 / 3 x 145 / 3 x 145 (PR tie); Neck Press: 6 x 65 / 6 x 70 / 6 x 75 / 6 x 80. Volume: HPC: 1,905; NP: 1,740.
If I had examined my PRs before attempting the HPC, I would have seen that I already had 3 x 145 and would chosen a different progression, i.e. 95-115-135-150-150. Oh well, next time.
WOD: Running and Clean and Jerks
3 rounds of: 3 minutes work, 2 minutes rest: 200m run, 200m sprint, Max Rep Clean and Jerk @ Neck Press weight + 10-20%. Score is total reps.
Result: 95 lbs; 10-11-10; Score: 31 reps
Maybe a different plan
I’ve been hatching new plans. I spoke to David Hughes after the WOD. We’ve both been enjoying the knowledge that our recent USAW cert has brought us. Anyway, both David and I want to do more oly lifting, and maybe less straightforward CrossFit training. He’s now coming in and oly-lifting MWF at 6:00 am, which is my workout time. I think I’m going to start joining him in this, next week. We’ll see how that goes. David’s involved in starting the French Broad Barbell Club with Randy and other coaches from CFA. Meanwhile, I’ve been involved in the start-up of Asheville Barbell Club with T-Bone. (The relations between these two institutions, well, that’s another story, and one that I will likely never address in this blog.) Whatever else might be said about it, clearly there’s a new interest in USA Weightlifting in the Asheville area and those who will benefit are those who will spend time lifting and competing.
Another night of sleep. Blessed sleep. And then, on Saturday, blessed sunshine. I feel my humanity returning.
And then, to find myself in the place I want to be: on the black rubber flooring of my gym, surrounded by dedicated athletes and in the company of friends. What could be more pleasing than a leisurely Saturday lifting session in spring weather?
I showed up to the Open Gym time at CFA at about 11:00 am, planning to do Overhead Squats, Cleans, Pull-Ups, and Shoulder Press. And that’s what I did.
5 x 45 / 1 x 95 / 3 x 105 / 3 x 5 x 90. Volume: 1,985. What happened here: for some reason I thought I’d be doing three sets of 5 at 105. The first two sets at bar weight and at 5 were supposed to warm me up for that. Which was poor planning anyway (where’s my set of 3 at 75?) Anyway, when I snatched that 105 and started to squat it, I realized it was NOT HAPPENING. So I got out my handy iPhone, looked up my numbers and the master plan I’ve been working with and realized today was planned for 3 x 5 x 90. Oh. Duh. No wonder that 105 felt like crap. Gotta crawl before you can walk.
In between warm-up sets and actual sets of OHS I did some pull-ups. Nothing dramatic or fancy.
5 x 3 x pull-ups at body weight; 1 x 1 x pull-up w/ +5 lbs. I.E. 6 sets; first three sets normal grip; next three sets reverse grip.
1 x 95 / 1 x 115 / 1 x 135 / 7 x 1 x 155. Volume: 1,430.
What can I say? This was awesome. 155 lbs is a good place for me to be working, for now. I’m just scared enough of the weight to keep it interesting. It challenges my form just enough to make me have to think about not thinking about it. Next time I do a clean workout I will do 10-12 sets of 2 at 155, with 10s rest between reps. After that I’ll try to set a new 1 rep max, and hopefully get it up above 170.
I am going on the attack against the pain in my left shoulder. After Friday’s WOD #2, with its 84 push-ups, I was surprised that I had as little pain in my left shoulder as I did afterwards. The lesson clearly is that movement helps. You don’t clear injuries by not using the injured part.
I kept it light. I kept the form strict. I kept the tempo reasonable, i.e. 1 up, 1 rest, 2 down, 1 rest, repeat.
7 x 45 / 7 x 55 / 7 x 65.
A Last Bit of Fun…
I was working out with my pal Matt Smith during all this. And he decided to do some farmer’s carries with 53 lb kettlebells at the end of the WOD. So I joined him for one round. I did a 200 ft farmer’s carry, shuffling fast (Matt was basically running but he’s crazy like that). That was a fun end. Stretch out the biceps.
I was surprisingly exhausted later in the day. And sore. SORE and STIFF. I love lifting.
What a horrible week. My sleep was all screwed up. I was working long stressful days and getting up super early to grade. From Tuesday to Wednesday: 3 hours. Wednesday to Thursday: 3 hours. I was in a foggy, dream like state all day Wednesday and Thursday, and feeling depressed to boot. Not sleeping is very bad.
I had skipped the workout on Wednesday morning, although I was up plenty early and dressed to go. Instead I just stayed home and kept grading. I knew that I’d probably do more harm than good to myself in my sleep-deprived state.
After not sleeping Tuesday night, I was sure that I’d fall fast asleep Wednesday night. Nothing doing. My overheated brain. I was so tired I couldn’t sleep, and had a sleepless evening.
Thursday night I knew I couldn’t let that happen again so I resorted to a sleep aid. It was a decent idea.
Friday morning, thank God! I woke up after finally having gotten some sleep. But my mood was still dark as hell: sectionals WOD #2, a 15 minute AMRAP of deadlifts, push-ups, and box jumps, would be on the docket. I was thinking: screw 15 minute AMRAPs. I just want to lift weights!
I used to love the long beat downs, because they beat you down, leaving you sweaty and sore, and giving this sense of unreal accomplishment. That’s all still true and that feeling is good.
But these days such WODs sometimes challenge my morale and attitude because I don’t see them as quite meeting my goals. Doing a high number of reps at a medium weight (such as body weight or 50% of max, as in this WOD), and doing it as fast as possible for fifteen minutes… well… that promotes speed and endurance and “toughness.” Good. Such as it is. But it doesn’t make you “stronger.” And that’s been my goal.
It doesn’t matter if you do 10 or 99 deadlifts at 155 lbs; your max isn’t going from 310 to 320 by doing that. Yet you do increase your chance of injury and/or dealing with unpleasant DOMS for a few days. Oh well.
These WODs really are good tests, and do what they should do: they differentiate the weak from the strong, and the fit from the unfit. The stronger, fitter guys do better at them. Probably the real reason I get bummed out by such WODs is that they besides hurting me, they reveal me to be weaker and slower than others whom I would, in theory, like to compare myself to.
I know I shouldn’t compare myself. You can only be yourself. Your numbers are your numbers! But… well… I am an official competitor and competition invites such comparisons.
By the way, am I the only one who thinks the CrossFit Games site is basically the most clunky, ridiculously badly designed piece of crap on the internet? Just wondering.
Enough with the Navel-Gazing Already…
So, when I got into the gym on Friday morning, in a post-Ambien fog, but rested, yet in a dark place, residual from a crappy week, my morale was low. I saw Corey, obviously pumped up for the workout. He was going to be joining us. Cool! I said, coach, I have a problem. What’s that he said? I have a bad attitude about this, I said. Fuck that, he said! Simply and directly. You gotta love Corey, he pulls no punches at all. This was a good attitude check for me. What the hell was I doing at the affiliate in the dark of the morning on a Friday anyway, if I wasn’t going to work out and try my hardest? Thanks Corey.
Your numbers are your numbers. The iron doesn’t lie. Just get in the game.
Sectionals WOD #2: Deadlifts, Push-Ups, Box Jumps
AMRAP in 15 minutes of: 9 deadlifts (155 lbs), 12 push-ups, 15 box-jumps (24″).
6 rounds + 9 deadlifts, + 12 push-ups, + 11 box-jumps.
Shanna smartly programmed some back squats for us after this WOD. I enjoyed the challenge of pulling myself off the floor and getting myself into the mode of squatting.
Tempo: 2,0, -, 3. Result: 5 x 45 / 5 x 115 / 3 x 165 / 3 x 185. Volume: 1,850. Small volume, and, all things considered, not a tremendous stimulus. But doing this immediately after such a difficult WOD, at tempo, was its own, good challenge. I noticed that Rehm, who worked harder than I did on the WOD, skipped the squats. Anyway, I took them as “this week’s back squats,” and was happy to do it, even if I only hit 3 reps at 88% of my 5 rep max.
A Final Apology
I apologize to anybody who might be offended at my lack of 100% sunny positive attitude about the CrossFit Open Sectionals process. I’ll try to pick it up in the next four weeks. In the meantime: kiss my grits.