the spaz of fitness has arrived

Fight Tomorrow

In Training, WOD on April 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

“CrossFit will teach you to push past physical and mental boundaries”– or something to that effect. We’ve all seen (or made) that claim on so many CrossFit webpages, in so many articles, on so many new blog entries by fitness enthusiasts who’ve just discovered their new favorite trend. And it’s true. At our box, I’ve witnessed the silencing of “I can’ts, “and denials converted to action. I’ve seen step-ups become sixteen inch jumps and twenty and twenty-four inch jumps. That’s all true. The invigorating environment of the classes, the inspiring feats we see our peers achieve again and again compel us to challenge our limitations. But, perhaps “pushing past boundaries” is the easy part. All you need to do is show up, drink the kool-aid, and join in the fun. What CrossFit doesn’t do as well, what we as a community sometimes neglect, is to teach one another– and ourselves– when tostop pushing.

Not to be too contrarian, but there are certain attitudes in CrossFit that make me uncomfortable. I’ve heard choruses of  “that’s awesome” when athletes bolt to the bathroom and lose their lunch. I’ve seen all the glorified portraits of torn hands and shin scars. On the one hand– yes, I understand taking pride in your scars– in knowing that you can and have confronted your fears, that perhaps you stumbled but you charged on and emerged stronger, fulfilled, triumphant. On the other hand, I haven’t and hope never to meet Pukie. I think working yourself to the point that your body revolts is unwise. And, I certainly hope never to attend any family reunion with “Uncle Rhabdo.”

Before I joined CrossFit, when I was fooling around on my own, when I was experimenting with free weights and Insanity DVDs and the like, I hit a phase where there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t just hurt. After you’ve learned to recognize soreness as a product of hard work, as usually a sign of progress, you forget to distinguish between good pain and bad pain– recuperative pain and I-need-to-stop pain. I think, with the right environment, CrossFit (or any supportive athletic community, really) can also teach us to be better in tune with our bodies. It took me probably longer than it should have (I’m often stubborn and dense), but I learned the very distinct difference between “that was a good workout” soreness and “I overdid it” soreness. The difference between the achiness that will fade after a good warmup and can be soothed by light cardio, or the achinnes that needs to be treated by a full day of nothingness and sleep. But even that’s a lesson that needs a refresher sometimes.

Because Sundays are open gym days, I’ve been using them to go heavier for the past few weeks. But because the box was closed yesterday (and I was determined to finish those novel edits– and I did! For those who care…), my workout was comparatively brief and light. That meant, this morning I was stronger than I have been on most Mondays. I muscle-cleaned 65lbs without trying. What used to feel like lifting a cement truck just flew onto my shoulders. And… it was a nice reminder that, even if I’m not beating myself down like I used to, a bit more rest could do me good.

Something I realized about the 70’s big strength program that I’m trying: it’s basically the CrossFit Football template, but with the freedom to design your own WODs. That said, I intend to borrow heavily from CFFootball WODs to supplement my training as they carry a strength emphasis. Today I did the 5×1 deadlifts (5 reps, 1 set) and 3 sets of pull-ups and then a quick metcon with sprints and cleans.

As with the back squats, I’m starting my deads below what I know my 5 rep max is, concentrating on form. Hopefully I’ll be able to add weight once I’m confident that I have the technique down. Something else about that “push harder”/”fight through” mentality– we all want results so badly, and numbers are the most quantifiable proof of achievement, that we (or I) throw weight on at the expense of form. Something I like about the CFFootball programming: the smaller amount of deadlifts. With 5/3/1, I’ve been able to do something around 18-20 on the fail set for the deads each time, but I’m positive that my back goes to hell somewhere in there. When it’s just 5 reps and one set, I feel like I can focus on just doing those five really well… whereas, with Wendler, it’s difficult to gauge the point of “failure” since it sometimes feels easier to get the bar off the ground with poor form. I realize this symptomatic of my own shortcomings rather than Wendler’s programming, but I think I’m finding a program that better suits my state of mind?

To clarify– I’m not disparaging CrossFit as the reckless, dangerous program that some of the uneducated media freaks out there are trying to portray it as. In fact, I think  the box environment is equally suited to promoting healthful, wise athletic development. In fact, without the Cyborg taking me aside and rebuking me for my multi-WOD days many, many months ago, I might still be in overkill mode and regressing on 50 lb cleans. So I guess my thought of the day is just… push hard, but remember that you want to be able to get up and keep fighting tomorrow. It’s a journey, not a race.


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