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Posts Tagged ‘Fitness’

Why We Lie

In General, Training on January 17, 2013 at 11:45 am

I’m going to guess that most of you have read about the bizarre Manti Te’o story. As one entirely ignorant of football, I had never even heard of Manti Te’o before reading the article, and was just stunned by many elaborate twists in this tale. A quick summary for those who might live in just as much of a cave as I do: Manti Te’o is a linebacker for Notre Dame who garnered a lot of press in 2012. Apparently, he’s the most decorated collegiate football player of all time (thank you, Wikipedia). But that’s not the full explanation for why he’s received so much attention in the past year.

In September 2012, Te’o announced that he’d lost his grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, within twenty-four hours. Kekua apparently suffered a car accident after a long bout of leukemia, yet Te’o bravely played on and led his football team to dramatic triumph. It would be inspirational, if it were true. Probing media inquiries have found that no one by the name of Lennay Kekua ever enrolled at Stanford– where she allegedly studied. Government records reveal no deaths under the name of Lennay Kekua. Now the story splits. Many media reports implicate Te’o in the scam and accuse him of contriving the story for publicity’s sake. Te’o himself, and Notre Dame, insist that he was innocent– lured into an internet relationship, which he believed to be genuine… and he suffered a very real heartbreak as the dupe of some depraved scammer.

The story has weirder details and twists, but I’ll let you read the actual press if you’re interested.

On a different, but similar thread, I discovered this article this morning about Kip Litton. Actually, Litton’s story ate up my entire designated morning work time. Litton’s a curious character, who appeared on the marathon scene with relatively impressive race times. However, one reporter’s very thorough investigation discovered many questionable gaps in Litton’s achievements. Race photos frequently show Litton at the beginning or end of a race, but rarely in the middle. His race times show questionably superhuman negative splits. He admits to making up the website for one of his first marathons… he has slippery stories and explanations for most things. Despite all the questionable evidence, no one has been able to figure out how he has cheated the system– how his tracker makes it cross all the checkpoints, etc… yet all evidence heavily suggests that he has cheated.

As I read Litton’s story (and in part, Te’os– when I wasn’t being weirded out by the whole idea of a made-up person), I was just… profoundly sad. What resonates beneath both these narratives is this terrible sense of insufficiency.

Whether or not Te’o had to overcome his girlfriend’s death, he is undoubtedly a phenomenal football player. Before Litton started sneaking his way across finish lines, he had impressive run times– and he actually did progress from an out-of-shape middle-aged man to an actual runner (I think…). But… for either of these people to lie (hypothetically– I won’t make assumptions about Te’o, despite where the evidence points), he would do so out of insecurity– that what he has accomplished is not enough.

I’m actually a little haunted by the Litton article. I can’t stop thinking about this man… how empty it would feel to wait quietly by the finish line and step across it for the last two seconds of a race– how hollow it would feel to be surrounded by exhausted, wearied but satisfied, sweaty bodies that had slogged through 26.2 miles (that’s the length of a marathon right? #notarunner), knowing that he’d sat his lazy ass by the finish line just so he could put down a faster number than everyone else. I think about how good I feel after a hero WOD– after forty-some minutes when everyone’s splayed on the floor of the box… when rounds and times don’t matter because everyone gave themselves to the moment, and that satisfaction of having held nothing back. No wonder Litton’s “fake” marathons became something of an addiction– it seems to me like he’s trying to fill himself with empty praise because he can’t find actual fulfillment… and that satiety comes from within, not from times you can post on a website and compare with others.

But I can’t entirely demonize people like Te’o and Litton (okay, if Te’o made up a dying girlfriend to manipulate viewer sympathetic, I do hate him a little)… but I get it– it’s so easy to feel… not good enough. Human beings are fragile and insecure (many of us anyway– if you’re not, way to go!), and if that desperate yearning for recognition and accomplishment goes ignored for too long, the world feels hopeless and isolating. Obviously, these people went about it the wrong way… and Litton will actually never feel good enough if he keeps making up marathon times. But I think that’s where it originates from– not some malicious desire to deceive the world… just a sad, pathetic man’s longing to be better than he is.

With my last month of backsliding, I’m a little discouraged– but, for now, I still feel unusually optimistic. I know that I’ve been giving this my all… I’ve spent countless hours (days? months?) of research and talking to coaches– in person and online– to figure out a training program. I’ve scrutinized and documented my diet to the point that I can now tinker with macros in isolation and figure out what works best for me. I lift with everything I have when I’m in there and… yeah, the numbers aren’t where I want them now, but I’m working on it… And when I leave the gym, I can be happy with that. And, more importantly (for my sanity and my career), I can also forget the gym for the periods I need to to focus on my schoolwork and my teaching (not that I’m not still reading CrossFit Journal in my cubicle…)

Also… many thanks to my friends for these moments of clarity that I’ve been having lately. I know a sense of self-worth has to come from within and from making peace with yourself… but all your support and your understanding have definitely been the key to getting me here.

So many hugs to the universe.

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Built for Nothing

In Training on September 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm

It is my delight to respond to a recent article penned by a friend of a friend and fantastic blogger, Caitlin from Fit and Feminist. The piece is entitled “Should Women Run? You’re Damn Right They Should” in response to what sounds like an outrageous blog post discouraging women from running. Here are Caitlin’s opening paragraphs:

I’m a runner who doesn’t look like a runner. I am a six-foot-tall woman who has hips and broad shoulders. In fact, I look more like a basketball player or a swimmer. Yet I happen to be a pretty good runner. I regularly finish in the top 10 percent of local races, and I’ve even come close to winning a couple of 5Ks. I love running, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

So when I read a blog post entitled “Why Most Women Shouldn’t Run,” in which the author wrote that only women with narrow hips and flat chests should run, I was confused, because clearly she couldn’t be talking about me. And when she went on to say that the rest of us should just stick to the StairMaster, my confusion turned into unadulterated rage. I would rather strangle myself with the laces on my running shoes that step foot on a StairMaster.

I am, perhaps, Caitlin’s opposite. At 5’3″ and flat and narrow all over, I’ve often been asked if I’m a runner. The truth is, I rarely log distances longer than 400m at a time. Most of my cardio is confined to 100m-200m sprints or 250m rowing repeats. My hours at the gym are spent primarily with barbells and pullup bars. Ironically, I like lifting heavy. My favorite CrossFit movements are the explosive ones– power cleans, kettlebell work, etc… and I also enjoy the slow satisfaction of my max effort days–sets of one to three with long rests, the feel of triumph when the once-impossible heap of iron and rubber clears the ground.

Again, 5’3″ and flat and narrow, I’m not build for heavy loads. And with my aforementioned brain/body coordination issues, I’ve certainly struggled with “explosive.” It took me months to conquer box jumps, and my cleans stalled for just as long because I could not drive the bar with my hips. In fact, if I chose my physical activity based on what I were “built” to do, I’d be confined to a chair… for the safety of world and myself. Actually, because I allowed myself to be limited by my body– to be discouraged by my asthma, frustrated by my lack of coordination and endurance– I spent most of my life avoiding physical activity. One of the many things for which I owe CrossFit: it taught me that it’s okay to suck. I learned to accept coming through the door last, having the lightest weight on the bar, and flailing awkwardly from the rig. I learned to just enjoy it for me, regardless of times or rounds or numbers.

I know that, a year ago, when I started telling people that I wanted to be a CrossFit coach someday, I sounded ridiculous. I was 88lbs; I couldn’t do a box jump or a pull-up. I couldn’t clean 45 lbs. It’s been a little more than a year. I’m 27 lbs heavier, and almost all my lifts have doubled (or more). I can do pull-ups– strict, kipping, and butterfly. I can do chest-to-bars. I can do handstand pushups and rope climbs and pistols… things I never imagined would ever be in my realm of possibility. I have a long, long way to go still I know. And I’m greedy about it. I want a heavier squat. I want a muscle up. I want a faster 400m time, and I want better endurance… but I’ll keep working on it– not because I expect to be the best or even particularly “good,” but because I enjoy it. I find it fulfilling, and it’s good for me– physically, emotionally, mentally (I’m really not fit for human company when I haven’t been allowed outdoors or physical activity for more than 24 hours). I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made these past 15 months… and grateful even more for the patient coaches that have worked with me even when it seemed impossible– when I spent months falling off the same box and dropping the same 50lbs. Sometimes I get frustrated with my training because it feels like I’m fighting my body. I am small, which means my stride is shorter and my pull on the rower is shorter, and the amount of mass I’m throwing against the barbell is… sometimes laughable. I don’t put on muscle easily and I lose it even faster. As I’ve discovered in the past months, if I neglect a lift for two weeks, my numbers plummet. If I engage in endurance-based activities, all my lifts stall. There are many moments when I feel as if my brain is screaming at my body, but my limbs won’t obey, my joints can’t coordinate, and I lose all dexterity. But you’ll still find me at the gym the next day, falling off the rings just before the muscle-up transition.

Caitlin says that running has made her more confident, braver, tougher, and I maintain that CrossFit has done the same for me. My build does make things tougher… I still find myself envying girls that come in and throw 95lbs onto their shoulders like it’s weightless when that same achievement was a long, yearlong slog for me. But I’m not going to let that stop me… because I’ll strangle myself with the laces of Caitlin’s running shoes before I trade CrossFit for half-marathons 😉

Fitness and Perspective

In General, Training, WOD on August 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Because I mentioned this today in conversation, I must follow through and post it on my blog. I attribute this discovery to Madeline at Good Gravy who posted a very articulate response to the Reebok CrossFit commercials that I had blogged about recently. This morning, after 31 Heroes, we were sitting around talking about the many varied forms of fitness, and the different ways in which it can be defined, and I recalled this photo shoot of Olympic athletes. It’s presented here as a reference point for artists, so that they may diversify the body types in their illustrations, but it’s also just a fantastic reminder of how widely fitness can vary, how differently it manifests when we put different demands on our bodies.

It’s funny that CrossFit defines itself as “the sport of fitness,” which I understand– as we’ve incorporated competition, community, and intensity in what we traditionally term the practice of “fitness.” However the actual embodiment of “fitness” is not so easily defined. When the Olympics began, one of the CrossFit clothing companies (RokFit, I believe? But don’t quote me on that) posted a photo of Sarah Robles, currently the strongest female Oly-lifter in the country, and asked the question “Fit or Fat?” which many (including myself) found particularly offensive. For one, they pitted her weight against her fitness as if the two were in opposition with each other. And secondly, I found it troubling that they even questioned the fitness of this immensely dedicated, powerful athlete based on her appearance.

Let’s think about the word for a second: “fitness.” What does it mean to be “fit” for something? To suit, or be appropriate for the occasion. Her occasion is hoisting metric shittons of weight from ground to overhead. And she does it at heavier weights than any other woman in this country. Is she suitable for the task? Fuck yeah.

Speaking of Olympians, I’ve (like everyone else) been glued to my television for London 2012. What I’ve noticed most is the dramatic range of attitudes in different athletes? Did anyone catch the male gymnast from Ireland? He may be the first-ever gymnast from Ireland to participate in the Olympics. Either way, he knew he had no hope of reaching the podium; he knew his single floor routine would be his minute of Olympic glory, and he executed the entire thing like it was a celebration. It didn’t matter if he wobbled or if he skipped forward a step; every inch of his body exuded overwhelming happiness. He was just glad to be there. He’d already won, and the opportunity to perform his sport in front of this audience was his prize.

Then compare that to the top athletes– some of whom fell short of personal expectations. Though I’m rooting for Team USA, I felt a little terrible for d Victoria Komova when she fell to second place during the women’s all-around. The moment those numbers went up, she was instantly crushed. Even on the podium, with a silver medal against her chest, she was in mourning. She’s the second-best gymnast in the world… according to this single competition. She’s earned her place at this global memorialization of sporting and goodwill, and she’s forever etched her name in gymnastics history. But she’s devastated. And I don’t mean to detract from her grief. With how much she’s trained, how hard she’s worked, she’s earned that heartbreak. And I’d be just as broken. But… it’s so easy to lose perspective in a moment like that. With the lifespan of most gymnastics careers, it’s quite possibly her only Olympics, and she wrapped it up with a beautiful floor routine. She’s seventeen years old. When I was her age, I was waiting tables at a sports bar, caffeinating all afternoon/evening beside stacks of history books, and sneaking home at 2:00 in the morning. She should be damn proud… and hopefully she figured that out when the cameras swept away. (Also, if I were one of those athletes, I’d be so tempted to punch the reporters who absolutely must ask “so how do you feel now that you saw four years of hard work go down the drain and you completely disappointed yourself?”)

Anyway, now to today’s WOD.

31 Heroes

AMRAP 31 minutes (As Many Reps As Possible)
8 Thrusters (155/105#)
6 Rope Climbs (15 ft. ascent)
11 Box Jumps (30/24″)

Partner 1 chips away at the movements while Partner 2 runs 400m with a sandbag (45lb/25lb). Our sandbag was 30lbs, but much preferred to the 1pd kettlebell we hauled around last year when we didn’t have any sandbags. Also, at some point we got the sandbags mixed up and I wound up dragging 45lbs around the block. I made the mistake of trying to put it down on the last leg of the run, and pathetically could not hoist it onto my back again.

But the WOD went well. Awesomely, I partnered up with the Mean Machine (who I’m told cursed me out during our last partner WOD– but it’s her own damn fault for picking a non-runner :p). Though we didn’t actively strategize at all, we wound up playing to our strengths. She did all the thrusters (rx’d– what a beast), I wound up with the bulk of the rope climbs (inner-thigh rope burn… I don’t recommend it), and split the box jumps pretty evenly. I’ve mentioned that I love hero WODs, and honestly I really do enjoy the long ones. For some reason, these are the workouts during which I don’t think about the ending, when I’m not wishing or waiting for it to end. I just hit a rhythm and keep going.

For those of you unfamiliar with 31 Heroes and its origins, here’s the website explanation:

This WOD was created specifically to honor the 30 men and one dog that gave their lives for our country on August 6, 2011. It is 31 minutes long—one minute in remembrance of each hero. The rep scheme is 8-6-11—the date of their ultimate sacrifice. Finally, this is a partner WOD. The men who gave their lives were from multiple branches of our military, working together as a team.  In the workout you and your team member will constantly be taking the load from each other providing much needed support and relief. We realize that no physical sacrifice made during a workout can come close to the sacrifice our brave heroes made, but we consider this WOD a CrossFitters ‘moment of silence’. This is how we can honor those that gave all in the name of freedom.

It’s a paltry comparison, but– that story about the Irish gymnast?– this is why I love hero WODs. I may not be able to do everything RX’d (105 thrusters? Someday, I hope…) I may feel like collapsing on the pavement beneath my misbegotten sandbag, but I can’t fail this workout if I’m putting my all into it. It’s not for a personal record, not to affirm anything to myself or others about my fitness. It’s in honor of individuals who gave literally all they could in the name of duty, protecting the comforts and liberties we too often overlook. A perfect way to start the day.

CrossFit: Sex Sells…

In Rhetoric, Training, WOD on July 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm

So… I need to address the puzzling CrossFit ad that appeared during the games. After Reebok obtained its monopoly on CrossFit, they started a fairly aggressive television ad campaign. I’ve never been stunned by any of these commercials– most of which just feature close-up shots of those ridiculous Zig shoes that I’ve never seen a CrossFitter actually wear (which is also odd because they produce plenty of shoes that CrossFitters do wear– the oly lifters and the nanos…)– but one of the ads during the 2012 Games caught my attention. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a high-quality version of it online, but here’s the idea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4wuGiBL7TI

Basically, it involves a lot of close shots of a female athlete, and eventually the words “Turning sevens into tens.”

Okay. The close-ups are obviously to show off the woman’s physique, and let’s face it, elite CrossFitters have bodies worth showing off. But to me, this runs counter intuitive to CrossFit’s functional fitness angle. Do CrossFit because it makes you stronger, because it makes you hardier, because it makes you capable. Do CrossFit because it makes you harder to kill. Don’t do it for the perfect ass.

In a generous interpretation of this ad, I could see that we’re turning a “7” in effort into a “10.” Or raising self-esteem from 7 to 10. But… given the visual focus of this commercial, I really doubt that that was the ad’s intent. I know sex sells, but if CrossFit is out to make itself a respectable sport, I think this is a questionable route to go. No one tells you to put your kid in football because girls will love the way his butt looks in tights. Or do ballet because dancers have killer legs. Dancers do have killer legs, but that’s not the intent of the sport. There’s so much more to it– body awareness and control, embodying an art with your entire physical self. If CrossFit is to garner any respect as a sport, it should do more than give you a nice ass. I’m pretty sure your LA Fitness step aerobics class could do that too.

Woo… okay I just needed to get that off my chest. Some fun WODs to share with you. Yesterday’s:

2 Rounds of…
3min AMRAP
5 Chest-to-Bar pullups
5 Switching lunges
5 Ring pushups
*rest 1 min

4 AMRAP
10 KB
10 Situps
10 Box jumps
*rest 2 min
I’m a big fan of AMRAPs and even more so of divided AMRAPs. Movements like chest-to-bar pullups are fun but too challenging to continue for, say, 15 minutes straight. So breaking them up into small chunks like this is a really effective way to work them into a WOD.

Due to the possibility of tubing tomorrow, I went in this afternoon and did tomorrow’s scheduled lifts today. I was nervous that they’d feel weak due to inadequate rest, but I’m actually pretty happy with them (*knocks on wood*). My squats are back to the last point I reached before failure…. so… lots of eating and rest before Sunday. And praying. So today:

Squats: 3×5

Press: 3×5

Pull-ups : 3 sets to failure

And then a WOD borrowed from CrossFit Football (I loved it)

10 Rounds:

1 power clean to strict press (use the weight from your sets of five)

6 walking lunges with bar on back (3 per leg)

50 yard sprint

I think I want to keep this one in my arsenal for press days. It’s short, hard, and it has built in accessory work for both my squat and my press.

In other news, my new landlord finally got back to me and, this coming Wednesday, I shall be migrating from my spacious, luxuriant, all too expensive 1 bedroom apartment to a basement studio with no air conditioning, living beneath 4 Penn State undergrads…  The funny part is that I’m happy I’ll have more space for my punching bag, but irked that I have nowhere to hang a pull-up bar. If, however, I truly am here in State College for 4 years… I’m considering investing in a rower. We’ll see.

No Pain, No Pain

In Rhetoric, Training on July 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

The notorious “Uncle Rhabdo”

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m examining the gym as social/rhetorical space in my PhD work, and now and then I come across something I think worth sharing with my indulgent blog-readers. If this sounds like too much academic fluff, I apologize. What I’ll be looking at in my dissertation is the gym (particularly gyms that market “functional fitneess”– so CrossFit-esque though not necessarily strictly CrossFit) as a social space. And I want to examine how rhetorical practices (verbal and nonverbal) influence physical practices and vise versa, as well as how cultural context impacts all of the above. It’s all very muddled right now, but I’m excited about it because– not only is it something that fascinates me endlessly– it’s very unexamined territory right now, and thus an invigorating place to be in one’s studies. The gym’s such an interesting space because inhabits a borderland between “public” and “private,” and– even more interesting–it’s where we go to change our bodies, for whatever number of reasons… but those changes reflect and enact any number of personal and societal ideals.

Anyway, there’s very little work done on the gym as social space– particularly fitness facilities. Sports theory has focused largely on professional (or collegiate) sports… some of the material I’ve found has been entirely useless while others have presented fascinating kernels of insight without further exploration. One article I read, authored by an English professor/spinning instructor meditated on the vocabulary used by different fitness instructors in their training methodology. How the harsher, drill-instructor types seemed only to recruit already-fit clients. Anyway… she pointed out how much of fitness refers to itself as punishment– how many personal trainers tell you to “work off” the muffin you had this morning, or– even worse– to “earn” the pumpkin pie you’ll eat at Thanksgiving, as if you’re being castigated for a predicted crime. While I’m proud to say that CrossFit eschews much of this (I’ve heard no mention of burning off your morning donuts in the box), it has definitely embraced exercise-as-punishment– or rather, exercise should hurt. However facetiously, this is a sport that’s made a mascot out of rhabdomyolysis.

Another fascinating aspect of studying CrossFit for me is that it’s still an emergent sport. It’s still finding its footing, still in the process of becoming whatever it is it wants to be. I see a lot of CrossFit now taking steps towards caution– more advice about smarter programming, patient training, and fewer glamor shots of ripped hands. Nevertheless, we have many years of that “no pain, no gain” philosophy to counteract. A lot of what I see on the CrossFit forums these days is veteran, more experienced athletes counseling new enthusiasts about moderation. Not every day has to be a metcon, not every workout needs to leave you an incoherent puddle. But is anyone surprised that CrossFit has perpetuated this athletic masochism? We have t-shirts like “Fran Happened” — featuring bloodied palms from 4 minutes of delirious exertion. We’ve adopted slang such as “meeting pukie” as if exhausting yourself to the point that your body rebels is a rite of passage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love in intensity. I’ve written several odes to that meditative state you hit in a particularly grueling workout, but I’m glad CrossFit is beginning to draw the line between pushing your limits and brazenly crashing through them. CrossFit already attracts a certain type– people eager willing to throw themselves through strength programs followed by all-out-intensity rounds of box jumps and thrusters and wall balls. 5 days a week. Perhaps sometimes what we need to reinforce sometimes is not the “pain” but the healing. After all– that’s how we build our strength, right? You get stronger not when your muscles are torn apart, but as they repair.

There’s Jo’s thought of the day.

As for my “Whole 14” challenge, it’s going by quicker than I thought. Soon, I’ll be reintroducing peanuts, then soy, then protein powders and then eventually I work my way through the other banned ingredients to test my individual tolerance. As to how I feel? It’s day twelve and… meh. The sugar cravings are gone, which I appreciate, though I don’t doubt they’ll come back. I just don’t think I’ll avoid all sweeteners everywhere forever… they’re everywhere, and they’re tasty on occasion. My digestive disturbances are significantly fewer and further between. Unfortunately, they’re not altogether absent. I suppose it would’ve been too naive to hope for one of those paleo “transformation” stories where this lifestyle cured me of a lifetime of suffering. Not quite so much. I do feel better–much, much better, but I still have to accept the fact that my genetics suck and my digestive system may always hate me a little bit. But my recovery still sucks. I’m still sore-ish, and really before this I’d long moved past the perpetual soreness you feel upon starting a CrossFit regimen. The recovery drink is probably a crutch and my dependence on it might entirely be placebo effect… but at least it was working? I hope it’s not what was irritating my stomach, but I suppose we’ll found out later in the week.

No really excited WODs to post about today. Yesterday, I worked on O-lift technique– definitely light weights. Today, I did squats (3 week reset), bench (still going up– *knock on wood*), and then I tried an actually fun new exercise: lateral sled drag. Basically, you hook a sled up to your ankles and walk sideways to work your adductor/abductors (I never remember which one’s which). 6 x 20 yards.

Happy Sunday, folks!

Post-Vacation Assessment

In Training on June 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I’ve encountered an unanticipated setback in returning to my training. I spent all this time worrying about sliding back on my lifts, but I didn’t consider what would happen to my bodyweight movements. Much to my relief, my actual lifts seem relatively close to where I left off. After a week and a half of easing back into weights, my deadlift, squat, and  bench numbers are at least back to where I was on my 70’s Big programming. However, my bodyweight movements are pathetic these days. On Sunday, after the squat and bench, I tried ring dips and couldn’t manage a single one. I was up to sets of 6 or 5 ish before I left town, but I could not get back up on Sunday. Worse yet, I moved to the dip station and managed only to eek out 6 before falling off. I’d finished three sets of 10 before I moved on to ring dips before my vacation. Monday, I managed all right on my deadlifts (not too thrilled with my form on the last couple reps, though), but my pull ups were a travesty. I’d reached 8 strict before I left town, and could only manage on the first set today. Regardless, I’m going to keep pushing forward and just hope the bodyweight movements catch back up. My least-generous reading of this phenomenon is just that I’ve gained useless (read: non-lean) mass during my vacation, as expected, and my body’s not used to moving the extra weight. That said, I’m just glad I didn’t seem to lose any of my actual functional mass. My body seems to enjoy cannibalizing muscle for shits and giggles.

Today (Tuesday) was a skill day. Whereas before the vacation, I was content playing around with my skill days (usually participating in the programmed WOD), I think I’m going to have a bit more discipline now. I’m dedicating these days to my O-lifts. Recently, I discovered this article by The Iron Samurai on combining CrossFit with Olympic Weightlifting. I don’t know much about the author, but I enjoy the thought he puts into his training, the dedication he has to Olympic lifting, and his attempt at understanding the CrossFit mentality– acknowledging that he’s approaching it from a vastly divergent mindset. Since I’m doing the 70’s Big program, I obviously don’t have time and space to do his two days of O-lifts a week, but I’m structuring my skill day somewhat close to his prescription. I warm up according to the progressions I followed at Performance One, and then I work first on the snatch and then the clean and jerk. I figure my cleans get another day on “power clean” day (which I’ve decided to do as full squat cleans for the sake of embedding the form in my muscle memory), so Tuesdays will be snatch-centric. I start light and add weight until it’s comfortably difficult. I don’t go to my absolute max because these days are more about skill and technique than developing strength. At any rate, I’m enough of a novice that technique by far is my limiting factor rather than strength. I also like how intuitive this training method is… I add weight when I feel like it… if I miss the lift, I drop back down and climb back up to try again. It feels significantly more “chill” than CrossFit workouts– which is a nice reprieve towards the end of my training week (remember, Wednesdays are prescribed rest).

I also enjoy what The Iron Samurai pinpoints as the principle distinction between lifting and CrossFit: the pacing. I’ve come to appreciate the minutes between lifts. There’s a quiet to it that I find necessary between WOD days :). I probably haven’t mentioned this before, but one of my favorite dog breeds is the whippet. Beyond the fact that it’s endearingly funny-looking, I love that this dog breed has two modes: 30mph and 0. It’s either sprinting or playing potato. Now, I do have the occasional masochistic urge for a good chipper (ideally… 1x week, maybe once every two?) but for general working out, I prefer short, all-out bursts. By bursts, I mean sprints or just that push from the bottom of the squat to the top– at a heavy* weight, none of this high-rep, low-weight nonsense…

Anyway, regardless of unexpected speed bumps, I’m happy to be back in the gym and moving again. I’m not so concerned about the destination as much as the journey… I’m a long way from being a Regionals competitor, let alone the Games, so… I’m going to apply myself, give all I can, and enjoy the adventure.

*”heavy” here is relative to my limited capabilities…