Harder

I have started to notice a weird phenomenon happening at CrossFit. I am getting comfortable. This is the opposite of what CrossFit is about, and I’m not sure how it happened. I’m not sure how the word “comfortable” can be associated with things like box jumps and wall balls, but on Sunday we did a Hero WOD called “Blake” (which included LOTS of box jumps and wall balls), and I noticed that the amount of discomfort I was in almost felt normal.

My awkwardly circular kneecap bruises from lunging down a pebbly sidewalk during “Blake”–I was very dedicated to touching my knee down every time!

At first I was kind of relieved, like hey, this is getting easier! But the more I think about it, I don’t think this is a good thing. CrossFit is supposed to be about pushing yourself and breaking through boundaries. On Sunday it felt like even though I was pushing myself, it was a comfortable amount of pushing. Does that still count? I’m not sure, but if my vague feeling of cheating myself out of my full potential is any indication, I would say no. I don’t get nervous driving to the gym anymore, and even though I went heavy and actually did a WOD fully prescribed on Friday (holy 45# kettlebell!), I am feeling more and more at the end of WODs like I could have gone a little harder.

Maybe the problem is that I am still working with the same intensity that I did when I started–which at time, was almost more than I could handle. But over the past almost 6 months (what!?), I have gotten a lot stronger, a little faster, and learned so much more about what my body is capable of, that doing 30 box jumps in sets of 5 isn’t my limit any more. Sure, it’s hard, but maybe I should be going even harder.

If you had asked me in April if I felt like I would ever get to a point where my then-maximum effort would feel like a cheat, I would have absolutely said no. At least I would have tried to say no, but it may have been tough with all the gasping for breath, trying not to vomit, and choking back tears because my body was so wrecked.

But I think that in the past week or so I may have reached my most meaningful (and unexpected) CrossFit milestone yet: I am ready to go harder.

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Day 74: More Fitspo!

It’s been a while since I did a gratuitous fitspo post. First up is a video that I’m sure most of you have seen if you have been doing CrossFit for any length of time, but I just found it recently and am a little obsessed with it right now. So.

Pretty sweet, right? Anyway, onto some inspirational looking people! I tried to include some dudes this time, too. I mean, can you really have too many pictures of shirtless muscley guys in one place? I mean what?

Are you serious.

And, last but not least, THIS exists… so…

Day 60: More Truths for CrossFit Beginners

I’ve definitely used this image before in this blog, but I love it, so here ya go.

2 months down, folks! I can’t believe I have been doing this for only 2 months, it feels like CrossFit has been a part of my life for way longer. I did a post like this at the end of Month 1 and I really had fun with it, so I thought I would do another one today! So here ya go, round 2 of Truths for Crossfit Beginners.

1. This was in my first post but is worth repeating because I hear about this all the time: The concept of getting in shape before starting CrossFit is ridiculous. You are going to get your butt handed to you no matter what. Just get in there and get going already.

2. Linking double-unders is a myth.

3. Despite the infinite number of ways to incorporate bacon and sweet potatoes into every meal, paleo is not for everyone.

4. If you can move all of your body parts with full range of motion the day after a WOD, you didn’t try hard enough.

5. Looking at a WOD and thinking Oh that won’t be so bad is the best way to guarantee that you are about to begin the hardest hour of your life.

6. Progenex is worth the money.

7. I am borrowing this point from the wonderful blog of another woman who goes to Crossfit Jai because I think it’s great: “If you go to a CF gym that makes you feel bad about your fitness level RUN far FAR away!” CrossFit should be a supportive community that makes you want to be a better athlete and a better person. Not a place where you feel judged by your stinky gym shorts or inability to do a single pull-up (by the way I am guilty of both of those things).

8. In many situations, putting chalk on your hands does actually make you stronger.

9. There are 2 types of CrossFit athletes: Those who have cried after a WOD, and those who haven’t cried after a WOD yet.

10. It is not about whether or not you can do something, because you can do anything. It’s about what it is going to take to get you there, and whether or not you’re willing to believe in yourself enough to get started.

Ok, your turn, you CrossFit savvy folks! What did I miss?

Day 58: Tears

I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Is it possible to get whiplash from a jerk press? Ok, how about from 49 of them?

Last night’s WOD was 7 rounds of 7 jerk presses, 200 m run, then 7 front squats. My bar weighed 65 lbs. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t even link the first set of jerk presses, and it really only went downhill from there.

By the end I was only able to do 1, maybe 2 jerk presses at a time, and 3 or 4 squats between rests. I was running almost entirely with my eyes closed just to concentrate on moving my feet (a dangerous activity due to the constant presence of small children riding tandem on scooters at the end of the block where our 200m turnaround is). At the end of the 5th round, I dropped the bar and left for the run with tears in my eyes, and by the end of the 7th round, with TJ and the BF standing next to me coaxing me to pick the bar up just one more time, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I was at muscle failure 2 reps before the end of the set. I ended up counting a 3/4 press and a 1/2 press together to create my 5th rep. When I did finally somehow make it through the last 2 reps, I dropped the bar, walked outside, and started crying.

I am not a crier. I get a little choked up occasionally, but it usually takes a significant personal tragedy before I actually cry. But last night it just felt like my body was out of options. It was a feeling I have definitely never experienced before, where all my resources were totally exhausted and my defenses were totally gone. I have had some really hard WODs in the past few weeks, but last night’s was the first where I was staring down the final set and thinking I don’t know if I can physically do this. It was beyond pushing myself and beyond convincing myself to go for it. And it apparently took every ounce of emotional stability I had in my body to get through it.

Even though I finished feeling like I had definitely accomplished something significant, it also made me think: When do you reach a point where you have to say “This is too much”?

Day 53: Good Enough

There is this funny thing that happens when you start to do something that you previously thought you wouldn’t be able to do. It shifts your whole perception of yourself, turning thoughts of I can’t do this, into not just I CAN do this, but I WILL do this. But there is a lot that goes on before you even take that first step into the gym, and in a lot of ways getting yourself to the gym in the first place can be harder than the actual pain of the workout.

I have experienced this to some degree with myself, but especially with a number of my friends, who see my active lifestyle and my drive – which has always existed in some form or another- to get outside and be healthy, and immediately say, “I could never do that.” When I try to get them to come hiking, running, or even to CrossFit with me, their immediate reaction is, “You don’t want me to come with you, I won’t be able to do it.” They disregard the fact that I am an extremely slow runner, love to stop for water breaks, and am always the first person to run out of breath. They know this about me, but have still convinced themselves that it’s not worth even trying. Instead of trying to get better at something, they would rather sit at home than let another person witness them struggle. And I get it. Have I talked enough about how I am almost always last to finish a WOD? And everyone else in the gym is standing around me, and even though they are saying “You can do this! Keep going! You’ve got this!” I can’t help but sometimes think, “These people must think I am so slow.” And that feeling sucks.

Somewhere along the way, and for a lot of people I think this happens really early in life, we reach a point where we are convinced that we aren’t worth the time and effort that it takes to be healthy. Not only are we told that it’s selfish to take personal time or to advocate for ourselves, but for most of us it gets to a point where we’ve neglected ourselves for so long, we feel like it’s not worth it to even try. And the concept of putting yourself out there is terrifying. For me, this happened in the weeks leading up to my NOLS trip, a month-long canoeing and backpacking trip I took in the summer before my senior year of college. I had never canoed before, and I was (am) a ridiculously slow hiker. I had been all excited when I signed up for my trip, but in the days leading up I was so anxiety-ridden by my thoughts of how I would slow everyone down that I almost dropped out. When I got on the plane to head to the Yukon, I was so nervous that I was crying. Not scared of bears, or worried that I wouldn’t be allowed to use toilet paper for 30 days, or afraid of breaking my leg 100 miles from civilization – I was worried that people would think I was slow.

The picture at the top of this page made me start to think about people’s perceptions of what they are capable of, but also of what they are worth. “You are good enough” can mean two very different things. It can mean, stop trying, you are as good as you are going to get. But I hope that if you are reading this and thinking, This sounds like me. I want to be that healthy person, but it’s too late/hard/ridiculous to start now – I hope that “You are good enough” can mean something different. I want it to mean, You are good enough to advocate for yourself, to trust that your friends will be excited to wait for you while you sweat your way up that hill, to get up early and go to yoga even though you can’t touch your toes (I can’t!), and to start believing that you’re worth the effort.

Day 44: From Cheez (and a new blog layout!)

Editor’s Note: First of all, apparently the blog theme I was using has been deactivated in some fashion, so I hope you like my new look!

More importantly, yesterday after I posted about feeling inspired, Cheez (who is sadly no longer a trainer at CrossFit Jai but keeps up with my life via my blog and Words With Friends) posted this as a comment on my Facebook. I loved it and wanted to share it with all of you fine people. I hope you enjoy it, and have a great Wednesday! 

What inspires me has been an ever evolving thought rumbling around this dome of mine ever since I started CrossFit. What is it about this pursuit of fitness that drives me every day? Is it something external…watching the Games and seeing seemingly super human feats of fitness, strength, and mind over body? Is it from the countless articles and websites around CrossFit that I read daily? Is it something internal…the personal goal setting and achieving those goals, PRs, and complex movements? Is it the memory of what life was like before CrossFit and the fears that way of life brought me for my lifelong health? Is it the progress and lifelong health that CrossFit has already brought me?
As I sit here today and reflect with a fresh perspective on all that fitness and CrossFit has brought into my life I am completely, totally, and many other “ly” ending words worth of humbled and thankful! However, what I find myself going back to when thinking about this is not how much all I’ve listed above fulfill and inspire me, but how much THE PEOPLE AROUND ME DO. Our CrossFit family is one not easy duplicated, especially at our CrossFit Jai box here in Denver, and the culture CrossFit has bred continues to astonish and inspire me every day. So with that in mind I can now clearly speak to what it is that inspires me daily…
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM watching new members dive head first into something very foreign and downright scary at times and NEVER making up an excuse as to why they are struggling and failing time and again to hit those first milestones!
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM seeing people work continuously to achieve seemingly unattainable goals just weeks earlier and witnessing the joy and sense of relief when that first kipping pullup, set of double unders, muscle up, etc. is finally under their belt!
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM those same people discussing minutes later the next goal or PR they have in mind!
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM not only from those around me killing PRs but also from those that are the last to finish their WOD just under the time cutoff drenched in sweat and/or tears, body trembling, and pulling through the workout with nothing but pure heart and determination!
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM seeing seemingly machine-like athletes struggle with lifting movements and break down their ego to ask for help from an athlete half their size.
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM hearing fellow members cheer on people they met less than an hour ago to push them through a WOD.
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM coaches that put other’s fitness before their own, often to their own detriment and setting down of their personal goals.
MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM hoping I can inspire.
What inspires you?…

Day 43: Feeling Inspired

 

the pain face

This morning TJ posted a link on Crossfit Jai’s Facebook page to a story about Chris Spealler, one of the athletes who competed in this past weekend’s SW Regional games and came from behind to snag 3rd place and the final spot in the SW to the CrossFit Games. The article didn’t really say much about his actual performance at regionals – what his times were or how many reps he did – but talked about how inspiring Chris Spealler is as an athlete, and how his 3rd place finish was, in some ways, even more remarkable than those who finished 1st and 2nd.

I have talked about how CrossFit pushes and redefines your limits, brings you to places physically and mentally that you didn’t know existed for you, and surrounds you with a community of support and encouragement. All of this from a few hours a week in a gym with no fancy machines that doesn’t boast the secret or the solution to anything, that doesn’t ask anything of you except that you try your hardest and do what you can to encourage others to do the same. With all the hype in the fitness world about silver bullets and magic powders, what could be so great about CrossFit?

The author of the Chris Spealler article poses a similar question (paraphrased): How can we find so much inspiration just from watching some guy lift weights? Even just 6ish weeks into what I now know is going to be WAY more than just 90 days of CrossFit, her answer inspired me and resonated with every experience I have had since that first round of Tabata squats.

Because of this crazy CrossFit thing. Because CrossFit inspires us in ways we never dreamed of before. We go to the gym and we become better athletes … and then better friends, better parents, better people. And it all starts in the gym, doing CrossFit together.”

To read the rest of the article, go here.