Saturday, February 19, 2011

My CrossFit Style: Feisty Old Lady

Adding to the list of OBloggers who have posted on their CrossFit styles (Jenn and Kelly, Diana Hsieh, Trey Givens), I am herein exposing the ugly truth about mine.

While I am a big weight-lifting fan, and an extreme advocate of my CrossFit gym, I am not above playing the old lady card for personal gain.  Not to be confused with Old Maid, the old lady card allows me to sit on the couch between lifting work sets, wait for an inquiring look, and order the manservants to load up my bar with the appropriate weight.  Okay. That happened only once, but I think I could get used to it.

Actually, I am a bar-loading maven – and I can do mathearly in the morning, even!  As every weightlifter knows, this is a valuable skill to have when figuring out weight distributions for every person using your weightlifting platform. Occasionally I get it wrong, but such a mistake usually comes to light before the lifter is crushed by the bar or cruises through the lift.  (Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I did forget the product of 8 and 6 one morning, but I have no idea why I would need such information at CrossFit anyway.)

I write everything down (that’s how I finally figured out the answer is 48) in my CrossFit journal: All the warm-up work – which has happily been reduced to a standard warm-up that I can now remember without looking at the board more than four or five times. Warm up includes 2-3 minutes of rope jumping, three rounds of ten pass-throughs alternating with overhead squats both with a PVC pipe, push-ups, sit-ups, and stretching. I have long been able to do real push-ups and so I sniff with a little air of superiority when doing those. Twenty is my record for push-ups in a row – not great, but not bad for an old lady. I include between 40-70 push-ups within the entire workout period. As of this month, I have been trying to do a similar amount of ring rows in each workout period as well. I tally them all up in my CrossFit journal.

Because I write everything down, including brief notes about how I feel about the work, I have discovered that the second to last set of repetitions I do in any progression of lifts seems like it is the heaviest set I could possibly do. Why this is so, I’m not quite sure, but knowing this helps me get through both that set and the heavier one to come.  I know that no matter how nervous I am when standing on the mat waiting for a timed MetCon or Fight Gone Bad to begin, soon, it will be over and my life will be normal again. In fact, I know that within a few minutes of time being called, I will be able to peel myself off of the mat and breathe normally again.

When I am eating well, I feel strong as I approach the rack. When I eat crap, I feel weak standing in front of the rack. This is not about nutrients ingested immediately prior to the workout – most often I go to the gym before I eat, NOT before coffee – but for the few days leading up to it. While I am at the gym, water is my best friend and I drink it like a beast: spilling it well beyond the limits of my loose water bottle-mouth connection.  Then, most likely, I’ll pick up the bottom of my shirt, wipe off my mouth, and not care. Hey, I figure we’re all lucky I’m not a good spitter!

My biggest weakness is that I give up well before I think my body will explode. Oh, and that I’ll rip your head off if you’re spotting me and take the weight off too soon. Because of the first, it seems that maybe I don’t try hard enough at times and so, when seeing me actually struggle, my spotters have been known to assist me.  Yes, I used italics because let’s face it – assistance at the end of a lift means you failed that lift. I don’t like to fail.

Despite this, I still can’t do a pull-up to save my life (although, oddly, I can do 1+ chin-ups), and doing negatives caused a nasty little injury in the chest-side of my armpit recently (apparently there is part of the pectoralis muscle there). Also, while I can do five double-unders in a row (in a pattern that includes two regular jumps between each double-under), I can’t jump rope like a boxer, and I struggle jumping on one foot.

My CrossFit goals for the upcoming year are to do the Grace work out with 75 lbs. – last year I did it with 55 lbs.—and to own some pull-ups.  Okay, one, even. One pull-up would be satisfying. 

I’ll never be a fast runner. I’ll never enjoy the box jump (it scares me because even though I don’t particularly care for my teeth, I prefer them where they are to anywhere that missing the box jump due to exhaustion may cause them to relocate). But I really do like to lift weights and the way it makes me feel: powerful. 

Here are my personal records:

Squat 150 lbs. x 6 (this week!)
Deadlift 165 lbs. x 1 (work weight 160 lbs. x 5)
Press 65 lbs. x5 (gave up too soon because I was so damn happy to hit the 5 – this week!)
Bench 85 lbs. x 1 (we don’t do this often; work weight 80 lbs.)

I’m not super strong, but I’m pretty strong—for an old lady.

The entire purpose of CrossFit is to work on functional movements and therefore help you get better at life.  As getting older is unavoidable, I’m happy to take the feistier power route along the way.

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