Saturday, January 10, 2015

Running + CrossFit: 10+ Weeks Complete

Hard to believe...Tuesday will start week 11 since I first sipped the Kool-Aid of CrossFit. I seriously could post here daily after each workout but that's way too much time to devote here. Now if blogging was my job like some of those mommy-bloggers out there (and being a mom), I could do that and I promise, those posts would be entertaining. The emotion and feeling of "what just happened" after every workout is always a trip. Good, bad, fantastic, awful and everything in between. Overall, though? Awesome. My last post on CrossFit a week ago was about the top 8 things I learned in my first 8 weeks. I posted that in conjunction with submitting it to Tabata Times...an online article website, mostly focused on CrossFit. I had applied to be a writer for them and was accepted and this post was my submission. Well, they accepted it then blast it out on all of their channels, including Facebook and Twitter, even pulling quotes out and tweeting them. Earlier today, they posted it again and said it was their 3rd most popular article of the week! What's been super cool is clicking on the "shares" from the original post. CrossFit boxes across the country and even the U.K. have been sharing it on their own pages with their members. Like I posted earlier, it makes me downright giddy! :) (image here on the right/above is their Facebook post from earlier today...click on it to read it better...and the photos in the online version of the article aren't mine...they are stock photos)

Back to the actual CrossFit: Last Saturday's 50K in West Virginia was another good test of where and how CrossFit is impacting my endurance and ability to go long in ultra running. After cutting my monthly mileage by far over 50% since September, I was rolling the dice with that mud-pie of a 50K. Finishing 10th overall and under 6 hours and a recovery nearly non-existent is enough of a confirmation to me that I'm on the right track. I was back in the box on Monday morning and had a great 10th week. One thing I learned big time was post-race. I did several squats and really stretched myself out. I could barely touch the ground after the race but after squatting next to the car, I stretched everything out and I recovered that way. Come Monday morning, my flexibility was awesome where in the past, that's been a problem...especially post race.

2015 Goals: I ran these by one of my trainers and then wrote them up on the board at the gym, more for accountability than anything else. There is a large dry erase board dedicated to nothing but annual goals (see right). To let you know where I am now, I can't do a single kipping pull up...but I'm practicing almost every day. For the back squat, I'm at 195 right now. Double unders? I can do ONE. I just can't get them going and it's costing me a lot more work in workouts where they are prescribed because I have to triple the number and do single jump ropes. Hand stand push ups? Nada. That's why the number is so low. :) Lofty goals and I will have to apply myself and work hard to get them. So different than setting a goal to do "x" number of races or whatever. That's easy. This? Not so much. But, I know I can do it.

10 weeks in and physically, I can't prove it but I'm feeling in some of the best shape of my life. It has always boggled my mind how I can consistently run over 200 miles a month, lots of ultra marathons, have many, many days of calorie deficits, eat pretty good, and never lose a pound or an inch around my waist. Strong legs but those darn love handles around my waist? Permanent...or so I have always thought. While you won't see me posting half-naked photos of me on my blog like others, I will share this one selfie from yesterday. This is the Navy's khaki uniform...an all-polyester uniform that has zero give. It is the ultimate truth-teller in my closet full of uniforms. It has always been snug since I bought it some 7+ years ago and more so in the last year. So yesterday as I buttoned that internal button then hooked the front, I had play...I had room...slack...like never before. Dang, I was happy. Now THAT was confirmation...maybe even more than the respectable 50K finish. From talking to others and reading several articles, my understanding is this: Over time, our bodies simply get used to what we're doing and when we do the same thing forever and ever, the results just fade away. I didn't fall out of shape, but I wasn't burning any fat off my body. One of the principles of CrossFit is "constantly varied" and always changing. Every day is totally different and different muscle groups are always being used...and muscle is being built. This growth of muscle increases the metabolic rate and the end result is the building of muscle and burning of fat...in places there has never been a "fire" before! I've never washed a pair of jeans hoping they'd shrink...until this past week. Yea. I got into a size 33 from American Eagle a month or more ago (a first for me) and they are quite loose. That spare tire is going away, abs are appearing and my upper body is developing for the first time in my life. It's just more motivation to keep charging forward.

One of the coaches at All Heart suggested a rowing competition recently called "Row'd Royalty." It's being run by Diablo CrossFit way out west and is an online competition. The only requirement is to be a member of a CrossFit affiliate which I am. It's a 4-week competition on the Concept 2 rowing machine and the workout is posted at Noon each Wednesday and right now, we're in Week 1. I joined a few days ago (13 bucks) and the first workout was 1 min on, 30sec rest and do that 6 times...a timed interval workout. After setting the machine up yesterday afternoon after a deadlift workout in the morning, I did it. The image here shows the results. For each interval, you can see the meters rowed. I have asked several people to critique this and the glaring problem is the s/m column. That number is way high. The goal is to be under 30. S/M is strokes per minute. For one, I had the resistance too low on the rower and I'm rowing wrong. I got a lot of help from my "unofficial trainer" in Pittsburgh and I'll be practicing next week what she taught me. More power from my legs and how and when I pull is what I'll be changing. This Wednesday, workout #2 will be posted. I'm pretty jazzed to be doing my first competition, even if only online. My blood flows even better through competition so I'll take it!

Overall, I love it. I'm eating it up and trying to learn as much as I can. It's not dominating my life...heck, I'm only there an hour a day, but I do take some time to watch YouTube training videos and read articles here and there about getting better, improving form, and other miscellaneous stories. There is so much to learn and I'm a dry sponge ready for it. I've done a whole lot better on the comparison front as well. I quickly identified that comparison in the CrossFit box is death. So when a fellow female athlete at the box is lifting the same or MORE than me, I often joke about it because I know she sees it, too! Heck, we're family, right?! I have been focusing much less on how much weight I'm moving and more about my form. That doesn't mean I'm going "light" on purpose but I'm putting on the most weight I can withOUT compromising form. The last thing I want to happen is injury so I'm often one of the last people finishing a workout, especially when it involves lifting the weighted bar over my head because I am weakest there and form is critical. While many fly through those movements, I often reset myself and do my best to properly execute the movement...as fast as I can while maintaining form. In time, the weight and speed will come...I am confident. Speaking of family, there is definitely something special about building friendships early every day and going through the grueling workouts together. Everyone is a different age, different shape, has different goals, has different stressors in their life, is physically endowed with more/less than the other, but in there, we're on equal and level ground. When we all give 100% together, it's awesome. It's awesome to root each other on and motivate each other to not give up and charge on...and give some kudos after it's over. This hand photo above is from yesterday. It was dead-lift Friday and a fellow CrossFitter snapped our chalked hands and growing callouses. The "soft" hands at the top are mine. :) "Thanks for the pic, Laura!" (Laura kicks my butt often.)

To close out this post, I thought I'd share this post from the WOD Nation Facebook page from earlier today. It is SO true and this is something seen quite often after a workout...not every day but often. It made me chuckle.

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