Thursday, December 11, 2014

Running + CrossFit: 5+ Weeks Complete

It's been about 3 weeks since I typed up a "debrief" of the progress and new road I'm on. Two days ago began Week 6, amazingly. It's gone fast. Except for the day before a half marathon race, I haven't missed a weekday workout. From what I've read, the recommended schedule for many is 5 days on, 2 days off or 3 days on, 1 day off, and so on. I have stuck to the weekday schedule only and reserved the weekend for rest and my long run(s). It's worked perfectly.

So to sum it up in a few words? I will defer to the title of a book released two days ago and one that I ordered last night called "Embrace the Suck." I'm not much of a reader but I've read a whoppin' two books in the past few months and I kinda like it! :) So, I'm going to give this a spin. I've also been a sucker for CrossFit videos on YouTube. From inspiration to instruction, there are a plethora of them out there. But yea, Embrace the Suck is perfect. Some days, it sucks big time and other days, just a little but it always does in its own, mysterious, sneaky, puddle-of-sweat kind of way.

Going back, let's remember I have been a long distance runner for over 17 years. My first marathon was in 1997 and in recent years, my passion is within the ultra marathon distance. Not a lick of upper body work in there. Basically, my legs have been strong and my upper body has simply existed. Period. This is taking awhile to balance out and because of that, those movements and lifts that are big on upper body strength, I struggle at. Those that directly rely on leg strength, I'm doing well (e.g. box jumps). So, as I look around the gym at folks much younger than me (the overwhelming majority), it is easy to compare myself to them and what they are doing. I have said it before and I'll say it again: comparison will end you in this environment. Ego, etc. must be left at the door and not brought in. It contradicts human nature but it's true. Like a great friend told me two days ago in some tough love, "get out of the way of have met your match at CrossFit." True dat. Regarding weight and seeing progression in the right direction, here is a quote from Steve Madden, the author of "Embrace the Suck," during his Q&A Sports Illustrated interview yesterday:

SI Edge: People I talk to who don’t want to try CrossFit don’t want to try it because they’ve heard it’s easy to get hurt. What’s your protection against injury in CrossFit?

Madden: Sanity. Self-awareness. First of all, you need to make sure you’re doing the exercise properly. You need to make sure that you can do it properly repeatedly. You need to make sure you can do it properly, repeatedly, with weight. And you need to make sure you can do all of that when you’re fatigued. And if you can’t, you’re not ready to add more weight.

The times I’ve seen people get injured, it’s when they don’t do the exercise right to begin with. Some of the guys I started this whole thing with were willfully ignorant of their form, until they got injured, and then had come-to-Jesus moments making sure their form was right, and not worrying about how much weight they were throwing on. If you do all the other stuff right, the weight will come.

Oh so true. That first paragraph just nails it. I am fortunate...I have awesome coaches/trainers that are HUGE on form, safety, and proper execution. Remove that and you have a recipe for injury and disaster.

24" Box Jump
I'm not to give you a play-by-play of the workouts every day. One thing is consistent: surprise. Every day is one. Now there are some predictables: Friday is Dead Lift Friday. Monday is often back squats. For everything in between, blindfold yourself and start throwing darts at the wall and that's about how random it is. If you like muscle/mind confusion, you'll love it! :) So back to the mental game. I'll give you a "for instance" here. On Monday of this week, we did back squats as predicted and I lifted 40 pounds more than ever before...a PR (personal record). I love that lift. The WOD involved running which totally made my morning! This was only the 2nd time that running was involved. It began with a 400m run outside then a round of 5 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 air squats x 4 rounds...then finish with a 400m run. I killed it. (note: I'm not doing pull-ups yet...doing "ring rows" instead) I left feeling awesome. Tuesday arrives and the mystery continues. It involves a flavor of overhead presses along with burpees. OK...remember my upper body woes. In a nutshell, what happened was me not listening to my trainer, letting my ego take over, and suffering because of it...and getting called out. Anger, frustration...all present and rightfully so, but my own fault. I could have listened and still suffered and that would have been ok. But no...I couldn't get out of the way of myself and I left the workout infuriated. Such a stark contrast from Monday, eh?! The nice thing about CrossFit is that once it's over, it's over and the next day is Wednesday arrives and yesterday, it was tough, for sure, but I "got over myself" since Tuesday, talked it out with a few fellow CrossFitters and walked in with the RIGHT ATTITUDE. No ill feelings from my trainer the day prior and a fresh, clean slate to do it again. Mental, mental, mental... it's the name of the game. Like I said prior, I have met my match at CrossFit. As my friend said which is common in this world: "HTFU"...or "Harden the f--- up." :)

Generally speaking, I love it and I love the relationships with my fellow athletes that are new and growing. I love the challenge and I love how my body is already changing. I love the fact that I just bought my first pair of size 33 jeans last week IN MY LIFE!!!! I love how when I do run, it's strong. But yea, it sucks but choosing to "embrace the suck" is key. If it doesn't suck, then I'm probably not giving it my all and let me tell you, it is a cruddy drive home after a workout if I feel like I held back. It is like a barbell around my neck in the form of self-guilt. I want to give it all and no less...and I will be hardest on myself every single day if I don't deliver.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. My goal is a 20+ mile run to remind myself I'm still a runner and get my head screwed on straight for that January race of 50 kilometers down in the mountains of West Virginia. It'll be here before I know it! On to Week 6, Day 3...

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