the spaz of fitness has arrived

Posts Tagged ‘PR’

Wrong, Again

In Rhetoric, Training on November 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

So now that I had my fluffy, happy, post-competition reflection, I need to follow up with perhaps a little less fluffy Jo-rant. I intend to continue training with a Westside-based template; I enjoy the variation it gives me, and how I can theoretically customize according to my weaknesses– assuming I can correctly diagnose those weaknesses, and wisely configure the correct matrix of exercises to remedy those weaknesses (that’s a lot of assumptions, I realize…). Saturday night, I drafted a new regimen, and Sunday morning, I went into the gym chomping at the bit. In my defense, I wasn’t planning a on a max-effort day– mostly assistance work and testing out the accessory exercises that I wanted to implement on my lower body days, but I did still know that most people would advise against lifting the day after a powerlifting meet. Zebrapants arrived at the gym and confirmed my suspicions and told me I shouldn’t be lifting at all. So I unracked my bar and rowed a very bitter, slow, 20ish minutes.

Sidenote: I think the reason I dislike long, slow cardio is that it gives me too much time inside my own head, and it’s a scary place in there. Spurts of intense activity– sprints, short metcons, bursts of heavy lifting– are all so demanding that they, for a few seconds, can obliterate the mind chatter. Long WODS, the beautiful hero WODs that become slogs through bodyweight and barbell activities feel entirely meditative to me. I reach a state where I can clear my mind, where I just move and the burn is cleansing. But I can’t find that rhythm in cardio; I know plenty of people do, but at least the first ten minutes of slow cardio are miserable for me– and I mean that in an emotional rather than a physical sense. I descend somewhere angry and unhappy and bitter and and just loathe the world for a good while. After that, I actually begin to enjoy runs or rows… somewhat, but there’s a weirdly dark passage that I have to traverse to get there. I realize this is symptomatic of something entirely unrelated to physical activity and much to do with my own insanity… and is probably something I should address, and is probably inappropriate for this blog, so we shall move on. Anyway!

Anyway… today I went back to the gym, assuming (apparently wrongly) that it was an appropriate day to start lifting heavy again. And I did. I hit a 235lb deadlift– a 10lb PR and 15lbs more than my final attempt at the meet on Saturday. I was psyched, of course. I finished with the new accessory lifts (which I like so far, we’ll see… I’ll post an updated schedule when it’s finalized), and then a few 250m rowing sprints and prepared to call it a day, feeling perhaps a little too proud of myself.

I’ve screwed up enough times, and have enough self-destructive impulses that I’m intimately familiar with Jefe’s “You’re -doing-something-wrong” look. When I naively announced to him my PR, I got that look x 5. In retrospect, with all the reading I’ve done on exercise theory, I really should have known that anyone would balk at a max effort day two days after a powerlifting meet. But… here’s what’s been troubling me all weekend and today:

On Saturday, I lifted 85% of my max squat (poorly) three times. I benched, poorly, less than 85% of my max– albeit with a pause, once, and then screwed up the next two attempts. I deadlifted, yeah, three times within a max-effort range. But on the Westside template, “max-effort” days involve lifting above 90% of your max for seven reps– which is more volume than my entire day put together (or at least damn close). Prior to my day of competitive half-assery, I rested for a full week. I did not lift anything above 85% of my max. I reduced my dynamic work, and limited myself to only assistance exercises. I did absolutely no metcons, and any conditioning was under 15 minutes and at probably 50% effort. And I still… relatively… sucked. Then, today, when my system is supposed to be “taxed,” when I’m supposed to (apparently) be “resting,” I feel fantastic and hit a 10lb PR.

I guess the root of my frustration is that I want/expect this science to be a science. I want my body to respond as the literature says it should. I want to PR (or at least lift well) when I’ve deloaded. I want things to make sense. The first time I squatted 142.5, it was a 7.5lb jump from my last sticking point, and it was literally two days after I’d last tested my squat. Any time I abandon a lift for more than a week, my numbers drop substantially. Everyone else raves about the restorative effects of proper rest, but for some reason it feels like my body forgets that it can lift these weights.

I worry it must be a mental thing– that I just shed all confidence that I’m capable of these things if I don’t remind myself every so often. But I’ve also been shocked by these drops in lifts… After not squatting for two weeks, only two weeks, my max decreased by 15lbs and I was stunned by the gravity of the bar on my back. So if it is a mental thing, it’s buried deeper in my subconscious than anything I can easily access.

I also wonder if all these principles of rest and restoration apply better to people that truly lift heavy. Yeah…¬† squatting 400lbs even once probably does a hell of a number on your system, but I’m so damn small that I feel like the sheer mass of what I’m moving can’t compare to those of the test subjects in these tried and true methods. That’s probably me rationalizing irrationally though. The final point is just that… because it’s me, because I’m the only one for whom everything just seems backwards and wrong, it makes me feel like I’m fucking up somewhere. It taps into all those insecurities that there’s just something wrong with me or that I’m stupidly bumbling around in my ignorance… but if I am, I can’t pinpoint the source of my wrongness.

I’m just whining now. I will feel better tomorrow. I feel better after writing this… and I will update you with my new gameplan for my training. But for now, thanks for your patience, and for fielding my frustrations ūüôā

Happy Monday…

Scars, Pride, and Gratitude

In Rhetoric, Training on September 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Buckle down. It’s time for some more Jomad-oversharing again. Ready? Good.

For the past week, I’ve had a misguided fling of no real consequence with a very sweet guy from whom I think I differ too greatly to actually continue seeing. That’s not really the important part. But at some point, he was frowning at the callouses on my hands, and when I asked him if they bothered him, he hesitantly said, “Not really.” And then added: “But if I could snap my fingers and change it, I would.”

Here’s the thing, I know a lot of the “strong women of CrossFit” rhetoric is silly. It glosses over and simplifies a lot of more complicated issues about strength, body image, and gender. I’ve posted about the CrossFit Women’s Creed before and you can read more on my opinions here and here. But when he made that remark, I was reminded of the line “I am as proud of my muscles as I am of my scars. ¬†They are the evidence of my hard work and dedication.”

I actually know a lot of CrossFit women who are bothered by the roughness of their palms– and I don’t fault them that. But personally? I don’t give a shit. Actually, I am proud of them. I earned these callouses through hours on the bar. I rubbed skin away into rawness and blood into scabs and callouses so that I could progress from ring-ups to pull-ups to butterflies… so that I could double my clean and deadlift in five months.

With all the new members at the box (part and parcel of the start of a new school year), I’ve witnessed again how quickly many new members will pick up skills that took me months (or a year) to learn (or not yet learn). I see lifelong athletes adapt quickly to new movements, already attuned to the nuances of their bodies, accustomed to soreness and strain and heavy burdens. I’ve written of it before– for a long time, I found this a bit discouraging… struggling so hard for things that came naturally to many others. But I think I’ve accepted it now– or perhaps embraced it. I PR’d my power clean today (and snatch as well, actually). At 90lbs, it’s not that impressive… the two women with whom I started CrossFit (athletes I admire, whose strength and adroitness I aspire to one day emulate) have been power cleaning above 85 since our second month. I’ve also seen many new members exceed that number when they first test their PR. But in a little over 5 months ago, 90 lbs was my body weight. The first time I tried Grace (30 clean and jerks, for time), I tried it at 50lbs and spent the entire 20 minutes choking on tears because I could not get the bar to my shoulders. Today, 90lbs felt light. To many women, it is. But to me, it’s a year’s worth of labor. Of compiling articles and videos on O-lift technique, of badgering coaches here and in Phoenix with my incessant questions, of so many mornings of the Burgener complex, of figuring out how to eat and train to put on weight and keep it on, of reclaiming strength my body had entirely forgotten after years of fragility.

So… I don’t hold my nameless fellow’s remark against him, but… I’m afraid it’s not his right (especially not within a week of knowing me) to want to change my hands. If I could snap my fingers and have baby-smooth palms… I wouldn’t. For one, I’m pretty sure they’d tear open the next time I did a 2x+ bodyweight deadlift. But for two, they’re the memory of how I got here.

This is probably a belated revelation. I doubt my story is particularly unique. The lifelong athletes of whom I’ve been jealous might have struggled just as hard, just as long– simply earlier in their lives… not as twenty-something grad students trying to figure out how to not fail at this whole life thing. But, nevertheless, I’ll keep my callouses and be proud of my scars.

So… speaking of progress. I achieved my first monthly goal (over 2x bodyweight deadlift), and then my next monthly goal (sub 4:00min baseline), so now I’m tasked with conjuring new ones. I’m not sure about an end of the month goal, but with this morning’s 90lb clean, I’ve decided on a couple end-of-the-year goals. So… before 2013, I will:

Do Grace prescribed (3o 95lb clean and jerks for time), under 15 min. I still don’t really approve of high-volume, heavy Olympic lifts for time, but Grace has been my CrossFit nemesis for so long that I just need to do this.

Sub 7:00min Fran. I’m pretty sure I could do Fran prescribed now, but it would be a long slog. My shoulder strength isn’t quite there for the thrusters, and my grip would give too quickly on the pull-ups.

I’d also like a muscle-up… but again, because it’s a weird skill that some seem to achieve naturally and that other, perfectly adept athletes struggle with for years… I can’t gauge how far off I am from this. But with this in mind, I should remember to bring ring dips back into my rotation of exercises. I’m also doing the Armstrong Pull-up Program. I only do four days a week– I skip the repeat day because I figure pull-ups will show up in one of the WODs. Right now, I’m doing work sets of 5 and rather enjoying it…. we’ll see how it goes. In order to improve my times on the “girl” workouts, I know I need to work on my power production, and my intensity… for some reason, I feel like my ability to push through “the suck” has decreased over time. Or… as I’ve gotten stronger, the feel of bearing that weight brings significantly more “suck.” Either way, I’m trying to push harder through my workouts– 5 more pounds, one more rep, one more step before I let myself take a break.

Anyway, it’s been a rather lovely Labor Day weekend– plenty of time with good friends, who remind me that life outside the office (and *gasp* outside the gym) is worth enjoying. I’m thankful for that too.