Two weeks into a five week summer surfing adventure, I start coming to grips with some new (old) bad habits and deficiencies. Sugar. Ice cream. Meal frequency. But so far, no serious problems with my body composition. In fact, I’m losing weight. Must be all the surfing.
Crossfit is great. I love it, and, barring actual physical disability, at this point in my life I plan always to do it, or apply its principles to what I do.
Did you sense the “however” approaching? Yes, it’s here. “However,” I see this morning that there are times when CrossFit will not be enough. In particular, CrossFit seems ill equipped for relief and recuperation from pain associated with acute injury. For that you need something else.
Two days ago, I sprained the muscles of my lower ribs (both sides) on my back during the CrossFit Asheville WOD “In the Fight.” I regard this as my own fault. Four problems contributed to the injury. (1) rushing the movement; (2) Straining with my face and body beyond the force required to complete the motion; (3) a lapse in form caused by fatigue; (4) itself exacerbated by training on what should have been a rest day. More simply put, on Thursday am I was already stiff and sore in my lower back from the previous day’s workout, and I should have stayed home; instead I worked out and pushed myself too hard and hurt myself.
You can’t deadlift yourself out of back pain… I think. (Actually, I’ll ask Corey, Shanna, and Randy what they think about that.) But in any case, I knew yesterday morning immediately, as I cringed just getting out of bed, that a CrossFit WOD was probably not the correct prescription for my aching back. After all, the WOD was a “back squat” and then a grueling partner WOD involving two men lifting 7000 pounds from ground to overhead (in somewhere between 52-156 reps). Even if the reps are shared, I needed rest, first and foremost.
I also needed some kind of movement to get blood flowing in my back, to keep range of motion going, and to relieve acute pain. YOGA to the rescue. It’s days like yesterday, and today, where I am grateful that I have several years of Yoga practice under my belt.
Saturday AM Yoga Practice
Today, I began the day with posterior-chain focused Yoga stretching. Cat Cow, Child’s Pose, Warrior 1, forward bend, pigeon, cobbler, hurdler’s stretch, etc. Basically, trying to get full range of motion into a mid-back that feels fused and frozen.
Swimming at the Y
Yesterday, I spent some time in the pool with my family. That was fun, and in the pool all my back pains went straight away. It’s amazing what some zero-gravity play can do.
So today, I went to the YMCA during Lena’s nap. I swam maybe 10 to 12 laps, with various strokes, in the lap pool, and then did some stretching and pool calisthenics in the warmer family swim pool, using some pool noodles as flotation aids.
Then some time in the steam room.
Yoga Stretching in the Evening
I did some rolling and stretching and sitting again in the evening. It was good for me. By the end of the day it began to be clear that the pain I have been suffering is muscular rather than skeletal (thank god) and will inevitably subside if I care for it properly.
My trip to London has been great. I bought a one week membership at a little gym right on Belsize Park Gardens, about 2 blocks from Gadi and Mimi’s place. They have Concept II rowers and some crappy olympic weights, so I decided to do the WOD from the mainsite that was posted for Monday:
Row 500 meters
Body weight Bench press, 30 reps
Row 1000 meters
Body weight Bench press, 20 reps
Row 2000 meters
Body weight Bench press, 10 reps
Post time to comments.
So, I arrived at the gym about 6:45 am. There wasn’t a good place to do warm-ups, so I just did a few squats, push-ups, and sit-ups. I should have done some pull-ups too, but I figured I might get them in for the challenge, later. But now it looks like I have to skip the challenge today. Details below.
Bench and Row
I didn’t have a chance to check the main site, so I had the details backwards. I did bench first, then the row.
I did a few warm up sets with the bench. It’s been a long time since I did this awkward, no fun movement. It hurt my right shoulder. Also, I quikly realized that there was no way I was going to do 60 reps of a full body-weight bench. I did: 20 kg x 10; 40 kg x 5; 50 kg x 5; 60 kg x 3; and then attemted 80 kg, and failed. So, I started my workout at 60 kg. 13 reps into the 30, I backed it down to 50 kg. Then I did my second set with 50 kg. My last set I did 55 kg. Also, the erg was on a totally different floor, so I had to walk through this facility, and up a staircase, to switch stations in the circuit. That slowed me down some of course. And my first set of bench presses was insanely slow.
Results: 47 minutes. First set of Benches: 13 reps x 60 kg; 17 reps x 50 kg; First Row: 500 meters in 1:43; Second set of benches: 20 reps x 50 kg; Second Row: 1000 meters in 3:53; Third set of benches: 10 reps x 55 kg; Third Row: 2000 meters in 7:53.
I got a good sweat going. Had a steam, shave, dressed, and now I am out and about biking through London.
Yesterday I probably rode 10 miles on my bike. I have similar plans for today. I am out and about, fully clothed, fighting London traffic. The insane taxi drivers, white van drivers, and bus drivers are a serious threat to my life. And the occasional bouts of severe rain (!) are more funny than anything else. I am seeing the city in the best possible way. Convinced of it!
Pull Up Challenge Day 15
Well, I found out where to DO pull-ups: the very cool “Trim Trail” at the base of Primrose Hill Park, just north of Regent’s Park. They have everything for the body-weight only workout crowd there. I saw some truly burly dudes doing pull ups there yesterday. Only trouble is, my schedule today won’t permit me to find the time to work in my 15 pulls. What I’ll have to do is go super early there tomorrow, and do 31 pulls. It’ll probably take me the better part of an hour and a half. That may be my whole workout for the day, that and bicycle riding. So, with that promise to myself, I sign off, no pull-ups today.
I did “Angie” on Tuesday morning this week.
“Angie” is the first and most basic of the original “benchmark” workouts (aka “The Girls”) used in CrossFit (see CrossFit Journal Sep. 2003).
“Angie” is composed entirely of callisthenic exercises. It consists of one round of
100 pull ups, followed by
100 sit ups, followed by
100 push ups, followed by
In that order. Do the entire number of reps in each exercise before moving on to the next. Break into sets as necessary to complete. Record total time.
I did this workout using a medium weight rubber band on the pull-ups, and did the other exercises unassisted of course. My total time was 33 min 34 seconds.
My time was relatively slow by “CrossFit” standards.
Besides offering opportunities for training and conditioning, the benchmark workouts are utilized by individual athletes to track progress over time, and as a means for comparing “intensity” between athletes. Intensity is defined as “power output” using the formula power = (work X distance) / time.
The fastest time at our affiliate was coach Corey, who completed “Angie” in just over 14 minutes. (!) Although Corey and I are different in height and weight, and he didn’t use a rubber-band assist on his pull ups, we can still compare our Angie times and get a quick idea of the difference in power output (intensity) between our respective workouts. That’s because the element of time has the greatest effect on the value of “power output,” whereas height and weight affect the work and distance numbers a bit, but not too much. Discounting height and weight difference, his intensity (power output) was close to DOUBLE mine. I also note that he is in his late 20’s, and I am 40, but the formula doesn’t take age into account.
Explores my CrossFit inspired rediscovery of “the Zone” diet, 14 years after the original publication of Barry Sears’ 1995 book, Enter the Zone. In my own experience, the Zone-favorable diet is the best way to control your weight and promote your overall health and well-being.
“Fran” is number 6 of the original 6 CrossFit benchmark workouts called collectively “The Girls” (see CrossFit Journal September 2003), and it also happens to be the most revered of them all.
Today was my first encounter with her and I think I hate her or love her, I don’t know. I can’t do the “canonical” or “prescribed” weights and moves yet, but I hope to be closer or even there next time I meet her, and I plan to kick her ass anyway when I do even if I haven’t got the chops yet.
21 “Thrusters” (95# RX’d, I did 75#)
21 Pullups (unassisted “kipping” pullups RX’d, I used the “heavy rubber band” assist)
I’ve seen an outstanding x-fit video where a woman named Christy does a sub 4 minute “Fran” with prescribed weights. She makes it look easy.
My time was 15:44.
I ache, I hurt. “Fran, you make me wanna be a better man.”
So, CrossFit is kicking my ass. The past few days, we’ve been doing some hellishly great workouts. I am feeling revved up on hormones and endorphins, and filled with that good sore, all the time. Since returning from Oregon, I have done four of them, last Wed, Fri, and Mon and Wed. Four kick ass workouts in the past 8 days! That makes me feel pretty bad-ass, for a 40 year old desk jockey.
Today, this was our workout: we start with a warm up which includes some marching in place, push-ups, pull-ups, air-squats, and full sit-ups (3 sets of 10 each, broken up by movements), along with some sort of side-to-side dance moves (I’d have to show you) where you swing hands and arms on either side; also some hip and shoulder opening stretches. Anyway, this “warm-up” lasted about 10 minutes and got my heart rate up near 160.
Then we did the CrossFit workout from Monday. It’s called “Virtual Shoveling.” Virtual Shoveling was 6 sets — of 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 reps each — of two exercises. Each set consists of first the “virtual shoveling” exercise (see the official video here) and then push-ups, same number of reps each. So, that was another 105 pushups on top of the first 30, plus this crazy shoveling thing. I used a 35 lb long bar and a 15 lb olympic weight (same shape and size as 45, but thinner; a rubberized disk). This hellish workout took me about 14m20s. Then, warmdown for about 20 minutes.
I stopped my heart rate monitor after 55 minutes, so it included a few minutes of rest between “warm-up” and “workout,” and about 20 minutes of laying around stretching. STILL: the average HR was 148 and the max was 189. OW.