To WOD or not?

This post is REALLY LONG.

Ok, I know I have mentioned in the past that I’ve been in a bit of a workout rut since we moved to Raleigh. I haven’t really connected to the Y system here, and some other options are just a bit too pricey or not at all convenient with my schedule.

A lot of my friends have been doing CrossFit for quite a while. See, e.g. “Lisa” P, “Daaron” H, and “Harry” Q. I didn’t know much about it, other than a) it appears to be cult-like, b) it’s expensive, and c) the people who do it are freaking RIPPED. With all the shoulder issues I have had, and generally my fear of change, I have resisted the urge to delve into the world of WODs (workout of the day). Until last week.

Disclaimer: in Athletic Conditioning and another class at the Y in Cary that I have taken sporadically, we did a lot of the classic CrossFit exercises, like dead lifts, snatches, double unders, pull-ups, kettle bell swings, etc. Obviously no crazy heavy lifts, but overall, between my base fitness level and my cursory experience with the core exercises, I got the blessing from my OB to give CrossFit a try, with the ever present reminder to gauge my heart rate and not do anything I was uncomfortable with.

I have a free one week trial at a local gym, which offers CrossFit, Performance endurance classes (think WODs that involve running, obstacles, kettle bells, and endurance based moves rather than mainly strength), weightlifting, and other special skills classes. It’s not your traditional box though it is a CrossFit affiliate.

On Wednesday night, I drove to my first CrossFit workout, scared out of my wits. I had no idea what to expect- would we be doing ropes climbs and pulling sleds? Would I have to do 100 unassisted pull-ups or else I would get laughed out of the gym? Everyone was super friendly as soon as I walked in. The coach walked me through the warmup, which was finding our power clean max. We had 10 minutes to basically do a few sets of five reps. I had the least weight on my bar, but could care less. I wanted to make sure my form was good, and I did not want to overwork my back. The coach helped me with my form for most of the warmup time.

The main WOD was 6 minutes long. I thought “6 minutes? I shower for longer than 6 minutes. This can’t be a workout.” False. During that time, we had to sprint a 400m (which by the way, after doing 10 minutes of power cleans, was not super easy), then do 4 dead lifts and 6 burpees for as many rounds as possible (AMRAP). The 400 was only the “buy in,” so it was just the dead lifts and burpees we were repeating. The recommended weight on the deadlift to Rx the workout was 55kg and I actually lifted that comfortably. I was pleased to complete 6 rounds plus the first four deadlifts of round 7. I can crush some burpees.

The second WOD was called Cindy. Although Cindy is traditionally 20 minutes long, ours was only 10 minutes, I guess because of the other WOD. With Cindy, you are supposed to do as many rounds as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats. Doesn’t sound so bad right? Wrong. After about three rounds, I was jello. I used the squats to sort of catch my breath and check on my heartrate each round. I almost got through 10 rounds, with assistance from pull-up bands for most of the rounds. Almost all the women, except for those doing the Rx+ workout (aka “beast mode”) used bands, and so did some men. One day I hope to be strong enough to do a whole WOD without bands, but for day one, I was happy.

I was exhausted by the end, but totally exhilarated. I signed up for the endurance class at 7am the following morning. Crazy, I know. But the endurance class was more running with a few wall ball (okay, 90) shots and pull-ups along the way. We did mobility work with hurdles which was fun. This class is a lot like what I am used to, and I think I will probably take it twice a week, with one classic CrossFit workout one day a week.

I was so unbelievably sore for two days after my 24 hour CrossFit indoctrination. I wavered between “this is crazy” and “I want to do more” over the past 48 hours. Also, “how do I pay for this addiction?” Much like the thought process someone on the show Intervention may experience.

I have had friends point out there are a lot of pros and cons to CrossFit. Ok, one friend whose name rhymes with Hameron Womens who pointed me to this article which scared the crap out of me. We all know the benefits are the community, the overall workout you get, and an incentive to push yourself harder. But pushing yourself harder can lead to injury, which is very prolific in the sport. I am very pretty injury prone, and obviously, being pregnant, I don’t want to sustain any injuries. First and foremost, I don’t want anything to happen to the baby. Secondarily, if I get injured and can’t workout at all, I will get reall REALLY round and really ornery.

So what I want to know is, do you CrossFit? If so, how do you prevent injury? If you used to CrossFit, why don’t you Crossfit anymore? Any runners who use a moderate amount of CrossFit for your strength needs? Is it possible to just do a moderate amount of CrossFit? I just have so many questions before I decide to dive in.

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How to live in the present

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever heard these quotes? Or seen the Wikihow page on 7 steps to “live in the moment”? Gurus and philosophers, therapists and motivational speakers; they are always espousing the idea that you can’t live in the past or the future- you have to live in the present. That’s all well and good, but I can’t live in the present unless I can look toward the future.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, as you may have noticed by my lack of activity here. Not being able to do all the things I like to physically has been emotionally taxing on me. I quickly resigned myself to a life of water aerobics, Instagram, and Words with Friends. But I found a way to live in the moment, by spending more time with my family, watching SuperBaby learn to do awesome new things every day, and helping Super Girl with her new blog .

My back isn’t completely fixed now, but it seems to be getting somewhat better. I have been trying to ease back into things but that never really goes that well for me because I don’t like to lose. Although I am not planning on doing any 50 mile rides or 15 mile runs in the near future, I decided that every day I would just try to figure out what I am feeling up to, and then give it a try (so long as it fit into the family schedule of course). For instance, a quick 18 miles on my bike after work last Friday. On Saturday, I did the same insane circuit/Crossfit-ish/bootcamp class that had all the jump roping last time. I know you all think I am crazy and did not learn my lesson, but I reminded myself that the class is different every week and I can modify. The most recent class had five stations, one minute each. After all five stations, you do one minute of shuttle runs, then go back to the first station. Repeat the whole thing six times.

1) modified handstand pushup. The handstand pushup is pretty big in Crossfit. I have no upper body muscles and little balance or coordination, so I did the version where your knees are on a box. No back problems there.

2) Russian Kettle Bell Swings with 20 lb kettlebell. I did more of a modified American swing, becasue the Russian version engages your core and glutes more, and I was concerned it would bother my back. However, with the American version, you go all the way overhead, which is not so awesome for my right shoulder, which I had operated on twice in 2011.

3) Burpees

4) Chest press with 20 lbs dumbbells

5) Wall balls with a 15 lbs. ball

By the end of class, my shoulders were toast.

I also got a spin class in on Sunday and a ride indoors on my road bike on Monday. My parents got me an early birthday present, this sweet Cycelops Fluid2 Trainer, plus some training dvd’s and other accessories. I have been eyeing this trainer for a while, but couldn’t throw down the cash to buy it because I spend all my money at lululemon am saving up for a minivan/the kids’ college/Disneyworld. So far, the verdict is that it’s a great trainer, but riding on it is soooooo boring. I didn’t watch the dvd though, so that’s probably part of the problem. The thought of going for three hours on it makes me want to fall asleep as I type.

Even though I have gotten some decent workouts in and have tried some new things, I just feel like I’m kind of in an athletic rut because I’m not really training for anything. It makes me live in the past, where I think about when I could just throw on my shoes and go knock out 8 miles like it was nothing. There’s no way I can do the Pinehurst Tri as I had originally planned for early October, because my back is not well enough for me to do more than 20 miles on the bike without me having complete foot numbness for 24 hours thereafter. I also haven’t run longer than 2 minutes consecutively since July. Finally, we don’t even want to go into the disaster that has been my swimming training, because once I realized I was not going to be able to do Pinehurst, I just completely sacked my pool time. Why smell like chlorine when you don’t have to, right?

I decided that a reasonable goal would be to do the last Rex Wellness Sprint Tri on October 13. It is super short and a good compromise because it gives me a goal I can look forward to, but I won’t have to kill myself to get the end result of another triathlon under my belt. It also gives me an excuse to carb load on October 12. Plus, even though I have not been swimming at all, there still should be no more than a minute difference between myself and the top female swimmer (my sister-in-law). She has been doing masters swimming, which involves yardage that I would only do if you held a gun to my head. So yeah, if you put us head-to-head in a 1500, she would be showered and blow-dried by the time I got out of the pool. But a 250, I can handle that 🙂 It’s also a short enough bike and run that it shouldn’t be too taxing on my back. I say this now, but I’ll potentially be walking with a cane on Turkey Day.

So there you have it- all it took was me realizing that I just kind of flounder without something on the horizon that I can look forward to (vacation, birth of a baby, Christmas, a race). You may say that I’m not living in the moment, but I need the promise of the future to help me live in the now. Is that cheesy? Yes. Massively queso-fied. But it’s true. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to need goals to help us enjoy each minute of every day, to understand what the purpose is of each workout, or realize that one day your child will start kindergarten so you may want to work on him/her giving up the pacifier at some point before age 5 (not my kid). What are your goals? Do you live in the present, past, or future?