Lift heavy or heavier?

Finally I can check one thing off my imaginary bucket list – a CrossFit Competition. Last Saturday I went in with no expectations or goals aside from “don’t die” and “don’t fuck your shit up” (a staple phrase at our gym). 

As an in-house competition, it was all members of the gym so for the most part we all knew each other. One of the members works for an organization which helps families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with so many different services. Our donation to compete, along with tons of raffles went directly to the organization. I think nearly double the amount was raised from last year — it was a great showing. 

The event was organized with 6 heats — the coaches, RX men, RX women, scaled men, and 2 of scaled women.  We all completed three workouts. The fourth was not announced til the top 4 in each division were determined, as that would be to find the top 3 in each group. Spoiler alert: I didn’t even come close to competing in the final workout (no surprise there!) Each person competing has a judge watching their movements, and depending on the workout, helping load the barbell. 

First workout? Six minutes to find a 2 rep max hang clean with front squat. 

The thing with lifting for me is that until now, I haven’t lifted consistently to know what my max for anything is. So I usually start low and just kind of go up 10 pounds; sometimes I get a little gold star in the app showing my PR. Sometimes I don’t. 

PR – right before the squat
I started my six minutes at 55 pounds and told my judge (who’s also a coach, and my massage therapist) I’d go up 10ish pounds each try and my max was once at 80lbs for a clean and jerk — last year. I worked my way up to 80 and had two minutes left. We loaded up 90 and I couldn’t shrug the bar up, I knew I was fatigued and at the max I could lift. We decided to wait for :45 left on the clock to give one more go. I managed to clean it up once, knew I had another rep to go and I could likely nail out two squats in the time.  I can’t complain about a PR in the middle of a complex, and for two reps! 

Wall balls
I had about 45 minutes before the second workout, which J came to watch. They got progressively suckier too, by the way. Second workout was for time: 40 calories on the rower, 40 dumbbell snatches (10lbs for my scales division), and 40 wall balls (10lbs).  I love rowing and did fairly well, the snatches were pretty easy at 10lbs when I’m used to 25lbs in class, but those wall balls? Fuck, man. My quads were on FIRE. I was excited to finish well, but sad to realize I wasn’t hitting the mark on the wall so while I finished ahead of people, I technically scaled the scaled and was last. I was frustrated but after watching the video, it wasn’t likely I would’ve hit the mark 40 times even knowing that. And who wants to do more work than necessary knowing the next workout is coming and you’re not even going to finish in the top four? (Not me.)

Final workout? I was thankful to have a time cap on it — as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes: 400m run buy in followed by 10 thrusters at 55 lbs and 10 burpees box jumps (step ups for the scaled people). This one terrified me. I can run. I can do burpees. I can do box jumps. Thrusters at 55lbs? 10 of them? Repeated? Uh, not so much. 

So I ran. Being one of the runners at the gym, it’s like the only thing I really excel at and can finish ahead with ease. Then I got back inside for my thrusters and it suuuucked. Thrusters, if you’re not familiar involve a squat into a shoulder press, back into a squat, repeat. When you’re out of breath from even a slower 400m (probably ran it at 8:00/mile pace) to jump into a weightlifting maneuver that doesn’t allow you to catch your breath is hard. It’s harder when the weight is heavier than you normally lift for this many reps. But I did it. The limiting factor in my rounds/reps was my strength at that movement. I did 2 rounds and a few reps, so two full sets of both thrusters and burpees box step ups, plus a few more thrusters. 

Then, I ate food and died. I finished second to last, so there’s that. Ultimately, the biggest achievement for me was that I signed up for this. I did it. While I’d come to class and was never ashamed at lifting sometimes half of what my female peers lift, I never felt ready to just do a competition. Also, the whole training for races kind of put a damper on that. While CrossFit has been a great tool to keep me healthy while running, you can’t be good at both. You can supplement one with the other, but it’s not feasible to continually give 100% to both. 

Oddly enough, how I felt after last weekend was very similar to how I felt after Chicago. Sore as fuck, but proud as fuck… And yes, hungry for more. 

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Rehabbing and New Goals

In the past six weeks or so, I’ve been focused on rehabbing a little nagging “injury” and setting some new goals for myself that aren’t about running. HELL YES FOR NEW GOALS. 

First, let’s talk about my dumb hip. My hips have always been weak areas #typicalrunnerprobs. My left side has always been the dumber side but this time, it’s my right. After a workout at the gym in the middle of May, I felt a little off. I did box jumps rather than step ups for the first time ever and I’m going to blame that. While training for races, I’ve always opted to do step ups instead of jumps because I’m already stressing my body enough with running.  But I had already started to switch my focus off running and figured now was a good time to challenge myself.  Well, I’m paying for it. 

My last 5k — with Lifting Bae (Heather)
Since that time, I’ve been dealing with a slight pain on the outside of my hip if my walks or runs go beyond 2 miles. If I stop and rest (as in lay on the couch) it goes away. And it literally only hurts during those two activities. I tried the chiropractor for a month thinking things were out of alignment and I did get better, but once I took two weeks off and ran a 5k, the pain was pretty high up there on the “How much does this suck?” scale. 

I just met with my physical therapist yesterday and have some unilateral exercises to do because of the uneven tightness in my quads and hamstrings.  It seems to be I may have some low back issues going on that aren’t specifically an “injury”, but are signs to back off and recover before getting an actual injury. So here I am resting a couple more weeks before I run again and seeing what happens. I’m relieved that I’m in a running hiatus right now because I am totally NOT bummed that I can’t run (and totally happy nothing else irritates it!)

Onto the more exciting thing — new goals!

It’s always been a goal of mine to be able to do a pull up, even since I went to my first CrossFit class 4 years ago. As I haven’t been attending classes regularly, nor have I actually practiced the movement, I haven’t achieved that. But this summer? I’m going to get it. 

I already got my goal a couple months ago of being able to deadlift my body weight, which was a low key goal of mine. I know, I know, so many people can double & triple their body weight but I’ve always been a runner, so this is a big goal for me. Next up? I want to squat and also clean my body weight. I’m only about 30 pounds off it on my front squat, so pretty sure I can nearly back squat it today if I tried.  Right now it’s not in the programming as we’re focusing on front squats and shoulder presses to get ready for Fran.

Also, further goals — my first competition! It’s next Saturday! It’s an in house competition, so it’s not anything too crazy but still a little scary.  I think I now understand how new runners feel at races when they feel “slow” in comparison to the field. I get the “I don’t want to be last!” mentality and just like I tell anyone in that scenario how nobody will care or notice or think differently if you are last… I’m trying to tell myself that as well. 
It feels good to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’m enjoying all the little gold stars I’m getting next to my name at the gym now. It’s funny — I wouldn’t be able to run for a couple days after going to the gym because … ouch. But now that I’m going 3-4 times a week, I could easily come home and go for a run because my muscles don’t feel as dead as they once did. Maybe all along I could balance both running and CrossFit, I just needed to get my body used to this first? Hmmm……

When Running Isn’t Fun Anymore

Last Spring I was burnt out. The month before my goal race, I didn’t want to train anymore. It took every ounce of energy to get myself out the door. It wasn’t the typical “oh I’m just tired from training” feeling, nope. I literally hated going out for a run. Though I’ve trained for a bit since last year, I haven’t loved running like I did training in 2013. 

Yeah, you read that right. Since 2013. Four years ago. 

I loved traing that year. I love every single moment of it. I was PRing like crazy, and yeah, I’ve PRd a couple races since that, but it still doesn’t feel the same. I don’t know what it is. Okay, that’s a lie, I kind of think I do. I’m a little bit in love with CrossFit. Hear me out though… 

The summer of 2013 is when I started that serious rehab for my tendinitis. I met my physical therapist who got me back to 100% and then some. He recommended I check out his new office when it opened — in a CrossFit gym.  Somehow when they finally opened in 2014, I did. For somebody who won’t go to Chipotle, new coffee shops, etc. to order food (because, well, anxiety) I’m still amazed I brought myself to the gym that first day knowing nobody. 

Even though I’ve been a member since then, I haven’t ever been a regular CrossFitter, either. I’d try to make it once a week, sometimes not showing up for a month at a time. I was always focused on running and that damn half marathon or 5k PR (still haven’t gotten it), or the marathon. CrossFit wasn’t the goal, it was a means to get me to running goals. 

Truthfully, I’ve been afraid to really give in like I want to because I’ve been afraid I’m going to totally abandon running. I’m a runner. I like to race. I like to get faster. I’m not a CrossFitter, geez. 

Except I am. And maybe it’s time I stop trying to force myself to continue hard training towards a hobby (because that’s all it is) that I’m not loving. I’ve made a lot of friends through the running social media, some of which are my very best real life friends now. Because of that, it’s always been a little difficult to abandon running. It feels like a best friend I’m slowly kicking out of my life. In fact, I don’t know how to not think about my life in terms of running. 

What’s my next race? What’s my next goal? When will I want to race again? 

I listened to one of Lindsey Heins’ podcasts this summer with Kim Hoban to which I could totally relate.  It’s silly but it kind of made me feel better about wanting to focus my efforts elsewhere.  Kim’s focus was entirely on running for quite a while but, guess where it is now? Uh huh. 

Sometimes I forget why I’ve always run, though. 

I do it for competition. I like to beat myself and I definitely like to beat other people. I never did it for fitness, to lose weight, or to look a certain way. Lately though, and maybe it’s because I’ve been lifting more, but I find myself drawn to exercise for a physical reason that isn’t completion. That’s a first for me. I’m enjoying the lifting because I’m loving what it’s doing to my body. It’s weird to admit that. It feels a little vain, too. But I can’t lie, hello muscles and hello baby abs that running never gave me. 

In the words of my grandma, when she’s done sidetracking and rambling… “Anywhooooo!”

So anywho, I’ve talked a lot about nothing for no good reason other than I have thoughts and I have a blog with a paid domain name I should use more often. Run Fast or Faster might need a new name soon…