All posts by neilonanhst

Spring update

Well it’s been a couple of months since I wrote about what’s been happening with CrossFit and my fitness in general, so an update is due.  I’ve still be going three times a week (down to two where work has got in the way, as it often does), and we’ve been through another of our coach’s 12-week cycles.  Last week was a test week, where we went for the big one-rep maxes.  Because of the way the programming has gone, I’ve only been able to test a few of these things recently:

  • Back squat – 85kg (+12.5kg, and I’m pleased with that)
  • Clean and jerk – 50kg (although I did clean 55kg once)
  • Front squat – 60kg (it’s probably more though)
  • Snatch – 32.5kg (up from around 20kg)

The snatch has been the most troublesome movement for me, due to my shoulder mobility. I always feel as if the bar is going to fall one way or the other as it goes overhead, and it stops me from really going for it.  When I get 40kg I’ll know I’m onto something. Until then I’ve been going to some one-on-one sessions with the coach to improve on the mobility, and it seems to have helped.

I have also finally managed to equalise my clean AND jerk weights, so I can now do the whole thing at 50kg.  I did manage to clean 55kg in one session, but couldn’t get it overhead.  I’m aiming for 75kg in three months, although that might be a bit ambitious.  The back squat of 85kg was helped along by borrowing someone’s belt – it gave me loads of support, and I wouldn’t have done it without it.

Pull-ups – still can’t do them, although I have some exercises to practise to help in that area, and I’m getting closer to the bar!  Ditto toes-to-bar.

One area in which I have improved massively though is running.  When I started CrossFit I could barely run the 400m route without feeling like death afterwards.  I was getting better slowly just by running during workouts, but what really helped was deciding to go to Parkrun one Saturday morning.  The furthest I’d run at CrossFit until then was one mile (and that was a struggle), and Parkrun is 5K.  I decided to just simply turn up and run the bloody thing, and not worry about building up to it.  The course is challenging in places with half of it in a muddy field, and a steep hill halfway round, but I completely surprised myself first time out by running 27 minutes dead.  I was expecting something in the region of 35 minutes or slower.  Spurred on by this, I have now done seven runs, and my times have tumbled:

  1. 27:00
  2. 27:07 (bad conditions; wrong shoes. See below)
  3. 26:34
  4. 25:15
  5. 24:24
  6. 24:20
  7. 25:02 (no idea what happened here – I thought I’d aced it)

I did those first two runs in my Nike trainers, which have zero grip on the bottom.  It was the middle of January, and the field was so roughed-up and covered in icy puddles that it was impossible to maintain any kind of speed without falling over.  So I bought myself a pair of proper trail shoes, and in week three I simply flew through the mud, overtaking loads of people who couldn’t go faster.  Since then, I’ve been getting better each week, working out where to gain time on the course.  I am considering going to the Exeter course at some point in the near future, as it is all flat on gravel paths and firm grass, and is suited to a fast run.  I can really go for that sub-24:00 PB there.

Last week, at CrossFit, we had to run 1000m at the start of a workout.  Having just failed to improve my clean and jerk PB, and having got very annoyed with myself, I decided to take it out on the run.  I smashed it, beating everyone else back to the box in four minutes, 23 seconds.  I had been dying to do that for ages – caning everyone else in what is essentially a running race (we’re all so competitive!), and it proves that running longer distances really helps you at the shorter ones – I would recommend 5K running to anyone who can run, or anyone who wants to take it up.  It’s fun, trust me!

As for future expansion, Id quite like to do orienteering at some point, and I’ve been thinking about taking up some sort of martial arts for at least ten years now.  As usual, I never get round to it, but watch this space.  I’ve surprised myself many times already in the last six months.

New Year, New Me (oh shut up)

It’s been almost a month since I posted here.  I think I made a sub-conscious decision to stop posting about every day, and restrict myself to periodic updates.

So with that in mind, where am I up to now?  Well, this was the state of play on the 31st of October, the last time I posted a progress report:

  • Back squat – 35kg
  • Power clean – 25kg
  • Clean and jerk – 30kg
  • Front squat – 42.5kg
  • Overhead squat – 15kg
  • Push press – 35kg
  • Strict press – 20kg
  • Power snatch – 25kg
  • Thruster – 25kg
  • Dead lift – 60kg

After much running, jumping, skipping, throwing, and lifting, my improvements over the last 79 days are:

  • Back squat – 72.5kg (+37.5kg)
  • Power clean – still 25kg (haven’t worked much on this)
  • Clean and jerk – 37.5kg (power clean, push jerk, +7.5kg)
  • Front squat – 55kg (+12.5kg)
  • Overhead squat – 32.5kg (+17.5kg)
  • Push press – 42.5kg (+7.5kg)
  • Strict press – 36kg (+16kg)
  • Power snatch – still 25kg (ditto power clean – I can do more)
  • Thruster – 25kg (yeah, whatever – nasty things)
  • Dead lift – 85kg (over 100% of my body weight, +25kg)

In addition, my split jerk is now 50kg, although I haven’t tried cleaning that weight up yet (I did the 50kg jerk from a squat rack).  If I can clean it, then my C&J weight will be 50kg.  At the moment my squat clean max is 40kg, so I’m almost there.

In addition to this, my best times for the runs are:

  • 200m – 0:59
  • 400m – 1:41
  • 800m – 3:52
  • 1 mile – 7:15

AND, on top of that, earlier today I took part in my first ever 5K Parkrun, coming in at a reasonable 27 minutes dead.  I’m quite chuffed with that, and I know I can go much faster as the ground conditions were terrible (mud, ice, streams).  Once the ground dries out and hardens up, I’m going to start aiming for 20 minutes.

As for things like pull-ups, toes-to-bar and double-unders, they’re proving harder to come by, although I did manage ten double-unders the other day, but only one at a time.  Oh, I also bought some new Nanos, so I suppose they’ll do for this posts’s obligatory picture. 🙂

New Nanos
New Nanos (nearest the camera)

I think that’s everything.  As you were.

Eleven thrusters thrusting

Just a quick update today, outlining Christmas Eve’s “12 Days of Christmas” WOD.  Most CrossFit boxes do a variation of this every Yuletide, and they’re designed to make you work hard, with the incentive of being able to eat more food the following day. 🙂

On the face of it, the work to be done looks easy enough:

Christmas punishment
Christmas punishment, to make room for all that shit food

Anyone can do six box jump burpees – even YOU.  But of course you have to do this in the style of the Christmas song, but going up the list rather than down it.  So you start off doing one power clean, and then you do one power clean followed by two front squats.  And then you do all that again, but followed by three muscle ups/pull-ups/ring-rows.  And then you do all THAT again, followed by four handstand push-ups/normal push-ups.  And then … well, you get the idea.  The final round is everything on the board in the order shown.  You could choose any weights you liked for the various lifts, and we were advised to go light, as we’d be knackered by the end.

The long and short of it is that you perform the following:

  • 12 power cleans
  • 22 front squats
  • 30 ring rows
  • 36 push-ups
  • 40 kettlebell swings
  • 42 box jump burpees (20-inch box)
  • 42 box dips (in lieu of ring dips for me)
  • 40 knees-to-chest (can’t do toes to bar yet)
  • 36 power snatches
  • 30 lunges with a plate held overhead
  • 22 thrusters
  • 12 dead lifts

A total of 364 reps in a row.  I managed the first five rounds with my Santa hat on, but I had to take it off during the first set of box jump burpees as the bobble kept smacking me in the face (and my head was bloody hot).  I was the first person of eight to finish the whole thing, but that’s because a lot of the other people could do muscle-ups and HSPUs, and they take longer to do than the stuff I was doing as substitutes.  I was also going at quite a pace at the start as there was a 45-minute time limit, and I didn’t want to be timed-out as I inevitably slowed down towards the end.  As it was, I was finished in 32 minutes and three seconds, feeling quite pleased with my efforts.

And that was that.  I think I made enough room for all the food I ate yesterday …

“Total CrossFit”

I’ve had a few days off updating my exploits, mostly due to a sporadic attendance record due to stupid work shifts.  I’ve done a bit of running, jumping and lifting in the last week or so, but today was all about lifting.  We had 15 minutes each on three disciplines in which to reach our 1Rm weight (one rep max  – the most you can lift for one rep before having to drop it).  The total weight we lifted in all three disciplines was added together to give a “total” for the session (dubbed “Total CrossFit”).  No picture of the actual work tonight, as I forgot to take one.

The first thing was strict press.  I’ve been stuck at 35kg for a few weeks on this, and I’m still stuck on 35kg.  I tried 37.5kg but I could only get it halfway up before I ran out of strength.  I had three goes at it, but it wasn’t happening, so I got grumpy and gave up.  There’s not much more to say about that.

Next it was back squat.  We’ve been doing these quite a bit of late, so I was confident of getting past my PR of 55kg.  I started at 55kg and quickly passed through 60kg, 65kg, and 70kg with ease, finally hitting the wall at 72.5kg.  That more than made up for the strict press failure.  Where on Earth is all this extra strength coming from?

We haven’t done much in the way of dead lifts over the last couple of months, and when we have they’ve been part of a timed work-out, so I’ve always been working light at 40kg, for speed.  I did lift 60kg previously, but that was also over a number of reps, so I thought I could probably go past that for a one-rep max.  And again, I whizzed up through the stages – 60kg, 65kg, 70kg, and 75kg.  There was just enough time at the end of the 15 minutes to try 80kg, and up it came – just.  The magic 100kg can’t be too far away.

At the end I did a few 20-second handstand holds (facing the wall, of course as I’m not confident in being able to kick myself up into a traditional one yet).  I might surprise myself and try a standard one next time.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

So, here are the scores from today.  I’m the Neil at the bottom, and not the one who was in at 06:00.

A range of scores
A range of scores from people of all abilities

“You’ll notice a difference”

This is the start of week 12 for me.  They said that after three months I’d notice a difference.   Well, I’ve noticed that I’m a few hundred pounds poorer from membership fees and the equipment I NEEDED to buy (no, YOU shut up).  Weight-wise, I’m the same as I was when I started – around the 12 stone, nine pound mark.  I’m glad I lost two stone over summer before I started doing this, as I’d probably still be above 14 stone otherwise.  I have no idea how much fat has magically turned into muscle. I assume a certain amount has, or I wouldn’t be able to lift as much as I can already.  This belly could still do with getting a little flatter, mind …

Anyway, enough of that – back to work:

Simple, stupid
Simple, stupid

The coach described today as “simple, stupid”, as a few people had been to the CrossFit Christmas party on Saturday and were probably still feeling the effects.  I had to work, so I wasn’t feeling anything except seething resentment at my shift pattern preventing me from going too.

Overhead squat holds are easy enough, but they start burning after a while.  The OHS is one area in which I am improving slowly, having had poor mobility and technique when I first started.  Part A was five sets of three push presses (from behind-the-neck) followed immediately by three overhead squats.  There’s no way I can OHS my best push press weight of 42.5kg yet, so I went for my OHS best – 30kg to begin with.  I then stuck another 2.5kg on for the final set.  I was a little wobbly, but I managed it without getting that feeling that the bar was going to fall forward as I so often do with the OHS.

So a small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.  No chance of that for part B – lunge walks with the bar in the front rack position.  You may remember that last time we did these I put 35kg on the bar and destroyed my legs.  Despite the board saying “add weight from last time”, I went down to 25kg.  As it happens I think I would have managed 30kg, but I’d rather drop back and start building up again with these buggers.  Anyway, I had my eye on the WOD at the end of the session, and I wanted my legs to be able to do 20-inch box jumps!

The coach said the WOD was “Ship”, which is one of the “Hero WODS” that CrossFit do.  I looked it up afterwards, and it turns out that what we did today isn’t quite the same as the official definition of this one.  The real WOD is nine rounds for time with heavier weights and taller boxes, whereas we did a seven-minute AMRAP with less of each.  It was still one to make your heart beat just a little faster – three power snatches (bar from floor to overhead in one fluid movement, remember), followed by six box jump burpees (our box’s standard punishment exercise for people who leave equipment lying around, or who don’t book in for their sessions).  Repeat for seven minutes and do try not to collapse, there’s a dear.

I started with 30kg on the bar for the power snatches, but my right arm had developed a little niggle, so I quickly knocked the 2.5kg plates off after two rounds, and it was a little less troublesome.  The box jump burpees were actually quite enjoyable.  I really have no idea why I love box jumps so much, but I just do.  Every burpee was just about perfect too – I could hardly string three together at the on-ramp course, but now I can knock them out like there’s no tomorrow.  I managed a total of six rounds plus three box jump burpees in the seven minutes, and it would have been more if I hadn’t taken the time to reduce the weight of the bar.

And that was it.  I suspect Wednesday will be more strenuous, especially as it’s usually “running” day.  Bring it on.

How hard is it?
How hard is it to spell “Neil”?

Important gainz

Not much to update from last week as Wednesday was the Olympic weightlifting beginner’s class, and I was away for the rest of the week.  The class was mostly stretching, interspersed with doing overhead squats to see if the stretching was changing anything.  Suffice it to say I learned some new stretches, and made real improvements in my technique by the end.  I could have stayed on for the 19.00 WOD but, to be honest, I didn’t fancy the look of it.  Too much running for my still-aching glutes, and I had to drive the car over 250 miles the next day.

Anyway, fast-forward five days, and we’re at the start of another week of the current strength cycle.

Time to smash those PRs!
Time to smash those personal records!

The 20-second overhead squat holds at the start were slightly easier than before, especially as I did a bit of thoracic spine mobility before the session started, as suggested by the weightlifting coach last week!  And there’s nothing better than almost pulling your shoulder out of its socket by stretching the bugger with an elastic band if you want some extra mobility.  It may hurt, but it’s supposed to.

So to the main event – slinging heavy pieces of metal with rubber plates attached over your head.  The idea was to build up weight over six sets until you got to the maximum you could manage.  Each set comprised a push press, a push jerk, and a split jerk, all performed one after the other.  This was the first time I’ve done a split jerk (the split leg technique that you see Olympic weightlifters do when lifting the bar from shoulders to overhead – one leg forward, the other behind you in a sort of lunge position).  The idea is to get lower under the bar than you do with the push jerk, thus allowing you to lift a heavier weight.  We could scale it to two push jerks, but I reasoned that if I was going to get near or over 40kg then I was going to have to use the split jerk.

My previous best on the push press was 35kg, so I started with that, just to get my split jerk technique right at a weight I knew I could manage.  Having done all three moves with no problem, I then added 2.5kg to the bar with each set.  I sped through 37.5kg and 40kg with no trouble, and then I put 42.5kg. on the bar.  I dropped the bar during the push jerk in set four, and lost it attempting the split jerk in set five.  But after a couple of pointers from the coach, I nailed all three moves in set six.  So that’s one PR completely smashed.  Hopefully, I’ll have 50kg over my head before long.

What better way to proceed than to try to better a movement which I struggled with when I started CrossFit, mostly due to weak legs.  But the quads have taken a good pounding in the last nine weeks, and have started to repay me.  We were working up to a 4RM with the front squat (the maximum weight at which you can do four reps before dying).  My previous best was 45kg, so I started there (as is my usual practice when trying for improvements).  It felt good, so I went up through 47.5kg, 50kg, 52.5kg, and just about managed four reps at 55kg in the fourth set.  That’s my absolute maximum for the front squat, and I’m very impressed with legs for managing it.  Another one smashed.

Unfortunately, that’s where the awesome stuff ended, as today’s WOD was “Jackie”.  They’ve got nice names, but they all kick you in the balls.  You’re actually supposed to row 1000m at the start of this, but we don’t have enough rowing machines for everyone, so we had to run 1k instead.  I should have commandeered one of the rowers for this anyway, as I have a chest cold (I was hacking like a 30-a-day smoker in the car on the way home).  It’s a good job that the thrusters were using the 20kg bar only, as I was well out of breath after that run.  I am onto our coach and his practice of making us do max-weight squatting stuff before WODs involving squatting, in the same way he made us do those front-rack lunge walks before a WOD involving KB thrusters last week.  Evil bastard.

Naturally I did ring rows instead of pull-ups, but they still hurt like hell after 50 thrusters.  My time was 10 minutes, 33 seconds.  Not spectacular, but I tend to see these “for time” WODs as a necessary evil to get through.  I’m not after any records with them at this stage.  Anyway, I got two important PRs today, so Jackie can bugger off.

Bigger numbers next to my name
Bigger numbers next to my name now …

Heavy, man …

I woke up this morning, and my glutes were on fire.  I walked downstairs like an old man (well, I *am* 41).  I was like the morning after my induction session all over again, but at a much reduced level.  And what had caused this discomfort?  My own stubbornness.

Hard on the legs
Hard on the legs, this one

In fact, the whole thing was a body-breaker for me, as the behind-the-neck push presses came with their own health hazard.  The idea here was to do four push presses starting with the bar behind your head, and then hold the fourth one and go into two overhead squats.  I was in a bit of a dilemma as my push press weight is 35kg, and my OHS is 25kg.  So I went right down the middle, and put 30kg on the bar, hoping to at least improve on my OHS best.  The problem wasn’t the overhead squat – it was lowering the bar down behind my head after each push press.  My right arm was hurting during this move, and the bar came down right onto to the top of my spine, causing some nice bruising.  I had to get my rack partner to spot the bar on the way down after a few of those.  It’s more than likely a shoulder mobility issue that’s preventing my arms from bringing the bar down further back than I could manage.  As for the OHS, that was fine – just about.  More on that later.

With that out of the way, I then had to make another decision about what weight I was going to choose for the front-rack lunge-walking.  I can front-squat 45kg, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do ten walking lunges with that weight, and I was right.  I could barely do four sets of ten with the 35kg I went with.  I think I went too heavy with that, to be fair.  I took 5kg off for the final set and it was a lot easier, but my legs had gone by then, so my form was still rubbish.

The last part of the session was a 21-15-9 involving kettlebell thrusters (both hands) and box jumps.  At least I can do box jump properly, but guess what – once again I went too heavy on the kettlebells.  I had a practice go with a couple of 16kg kettlebells, and I could barely get up out of the squat, so I dropped to 12kg.  As it happens I should have gone down to 8kg.  The coach even said we should go for speed instead of weight here.  It was a real struggle getting the damn things overhead after the pounding my legs had taken from the lunges, and I have to admit that I didn’t do the full 21 or 15 on those rounds.  I didn’t really care by that point; the whole session had been a complete disaster so far as weight choices were concerned, and I was cursing myself for being too stubborn to go lighter.  My time of 7:01 meant nothing, as I’d cheated the WOD, which is one of the cardinal rules of CrossFit one must not break.  I’m going straight to burpee hell.

Back to the overhead squat.  The Olympic weightlifting coach is running a beginners’ session on this tomorrow evening, concentrating on flexibility, mobility and stability.  On seeing this I immediately signed up, as it’s one area where my form and strength is lacking.  This means I won’t be going to the WOD tomorrow, but to be honest my legs don’t feel as if they’d be up to it.  I also need to speak to the resident physiotherapist about my shoulder mobility in general, as I feel it’s affecting too many things at the moment.

I wonder if I’ll have learned my lesson about choice of weight by the next WOD …

A gymnast I am not (yet)

I don’t normally do Thursday WODs.  My three-a-week are usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with the odd Tuesday thrown in if I can’t make one of the others because of work.  Thursday is usually more gymnastics-based, and I have deliberately avoided a couple of them in previous weeks when I could have gone.  A look at the work involved beforehand put me off, mostly due to the fear of having to do handstands and all sorts of hanging things involving the overhead bars.

But for some reason, I decided on a whim that I was going to go to this week’s Thursday WOD, and miss Friday.  I looked at the WOD on Facebook and told myself that now was the time to stop being a pussy and go and try it.  Mind you, what exactly I’d be trying wasn’t too clear from this:

What?
Er, what?

It wasn’t as complex as it looks, although someone has gone a bit mad with the acronyms here.  Translation follows:

Part one was skipping.  I had brought my lovely new skipping rope along for today, as the ones provided by the box are in varying states of decay and are all different lengths.  Some are adjustable, but if you want to get good at double-unders you really need to practise with your own rope all the time.  So we had 10 minutes to skip, the idea being to get as many double-unders in a row as you could if you’re a skipping ninja, or try to get 100 singles if you’re crap at it, like me.

Ironically, having got myself a nice new piece of equipment, I found that I couldn’t even string together 20 bloody singles, despite having been able to do 40 or 50 in a row with one of the box’s ropes during an intense work-out a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t made any better by one the girls taking it from me and immediately performing 10 double-unders in a row.  At least I know it’s me, and not the rope!  She then made me feel better by telling me that it had taken her six months of practising every day to get that good.  Pffffff.

Stupid skipping.  Let’s do something else:  handstands.  I’ve never done a handstand in my life, and the usual procedure at this point should have been to make excuses and try to get out of doing it.  But this is the new me, so I backed up to the wall and walked my feet up it.  It felt very weird at first – the feeling you get is that you’re going to tip forwards into a heap on the floor.  Once I was vertical, I walked my hands back towards the wall until they were as close as I dared get, which wasn’t close enough according to the coach.  They were a good 12 inches away, but come on – this was my first ever handstand.  It was only once I’d been there for about 20 seconds that I thought about how I was going to get back down again.  I had an image of slowly un-straightening my arms, tucking my head in, and falling into a graceful forward roll.  I then decided that was a completely stupid idea, and opted instead for the “move your hands away from the wall and collapse into the gap behind you” method.  Well, it worked …

The coach suggested I try the kicking-up method to do the next one (the way you see most people doing it), but I didn’t feel confident in having enough strength to stop myself collapsing if I did that, so I’m sticking with the backward method for now.  Between each of the four handstands we did some 30-second hollow holds (lying on your back with legs and arms raised in front of and behind you, keeping the small of your back on the floor).  This is something I’ve done before, and can actually do properly although it plays murder with your abs.  *clenches*.  Yep, they hurt.

Right, that’s handstands sorted.  What’s next?  Four one-minute rounds each of ring dips, arch holds, handstand push-ups, and L-sit holds.  That’s what the level 3 people should be able to do, anyway.  I can only do the arch hold (the Superman, remember?), but the rest required scaling.  For the ring dips I did box dips.  I was wondering why these were a bit easy, until the coach pointed out the correct form to me, and then they bloody hurt.  “Two of those will do more for you than 20 of the way you were doing it before”.  I don’t disbelieve him – the fronts my shoulders ache nicely right now – I just did a dip on a kitchen chair to check.  He kept pointing out that my left arm sticks out more than it should, until I showed him where I broke it over 30 years ago, and that it refuses to go perfectly straight compared to my right!

Handstand push-ups are off the menu for now, so I substituted a version where my head and arms are almost in the same position as a full handstand, but my feet are up on a box behind me instead of against the wall.  You still have to push yourself up from the floor so it works the same muscles, and hurts every bit as it probably should.  As for the L-sit, you hang from the bar and hold your legs horizontal.  I can’t do that, so you could bring your knees up to your chest instead.  That was a hard enough hold for 30 seconds, but I managed OK.  I had to release and reset on a couple of occasions.  I could do with being a stone or so lighter – it really pulls down on your wrists.

After we’d done all that, there was just enough time for a quick five-minute AMRAP of hand-release push-ups and box jumps.  The coach suggested I do the box dips instead of the push-ups, which was fine as those push-ups are deceptively hard after a few.  I’ve stopped doing box jumps at 16 inches now.  I’d started at that height just to get used to it (and to get over the fear of smacking my shin against it, which I have yet to do I hasten to add).  I’ve now progressed to using the 20-inch side.  I quite enjoy box jumps now I have the confidence to do them properly.  I remember standing in front of a 20-inch box a few weeks ago and just freezing, assuming my leg would come into contact with the sharp edge at the top if I tried to jump onto it.  Utterly ridiculous.  Having got over the fear of box jumps and handstands, I suppose I’m ready to try anything.

I didn’t keep count of what I did today, like we were supposed to.  I think I was concentrating too much on what I was doing, as a lot of it was new to me.  I’m not really bothered if I got five box dips or ten; it was all worth it just for the handstands, which I think I will now practise as part of my pre-WOD warm-up, along with the bastard skipping.  What was it she said, every day for six months?

So, day one …

Running more tests

Wednesday usually involves running, but even I wasn’t expecting a whole WOD of it.  But I suppose it is “test” week, so we needed to record some times to aim for in the future.  Rather than work up from 200 metres to a mile, we worked down and then back up again, with the delightful prospect of burpees at the end.

Oh fuck
Oh fuck

So after a warm-up comprising hip and ankle stretching, followed by some sprints in the car park (we ditched the “light” 400m run), we set off on the first mile run.  The first 700 metres of the one-mile course are up a steep hill, and it was bad enough running up it once, but I knew I’d be much slower up it second time.

Round some rather attractive chemical plant silos, a smelly water-treatment plant, and a Turkish car repair garage, along the Kingsbridge Road for a bit, and you’re done!  The 800m run is up less of a hill, but uphill nonetheless, as is the 400m route.  Even the bloody 200m thrash is devoid of level ground.  I wonder what my times would have been if we were on a perfectly flat piece of land.

I suppose I could find such land and run those distances in my own time to find out, but on the undulations of this stupid city, this is how I did:

  • 1 mile – 7:15
  • 800m – 3:52
  • 400m – 1:41
  • 200m – 0:59
  • 400m – 1:54
  • 800m – 4:07
  • 1 mile – 8:40

I was quite happy with my time for the first mile, especially as the four people at the 06:15 WOD earlier this morning were all slower than that.  I finished in third place on the first two runs, and then dropped to fourth in the next four, before coming in fifth after the second mile.  Mind you, I had nothing left by that last run, and I was minded to go slower due to the max burpees in the remaining 12 minutes allowed.  Still, I knocked out 25 of the bastards before collapsing.  I really couldn’t be arsed with them.  Does ANYONE enjoy doing burpees?

And that was more or less it for today.  I’ve got some times to aim at now, and they’ve been entered into the aforementioned “PB board”, which really needs to be a lot bigger, although I’ve chopped the bottom three-quarters off here. It’s all a bit haphazard at the moment.  You’ll notice that only the most anal person at CrossFit has filled in all of his stuff …

Need something bigger
We definitely need something bigger than this for the wall

Those columns labelled “TEST 1” and “TEST 2” don’t look too promising, do they?  I suspect they might be tomorrow and Friday’s WODs.  Just leave the running out, eh?

Oh, and I made a determined effort to run more on the flat of my foot today, despite wearing my Nike running shoes for a bit of comfort.  You don’t think I’m going to run over three-and-a-half miles on tarmac in barefoot shoes do you?!  Maybe once my calves have got used to the shock I gave them today, but for now I’m easing myself in gently.  The advantage of having our WODs posted to the Facebook group the day before allows me to plan what I need to wear.  I can only imagine the agony my calves would be in now if I’ve turned up with only my Inov-8s.

Testing times

I have no idea what I did, but for the last week I’ve been nursing a slight “injury” in my left leg.  I thought it was a groin strain for a bit, but I’m not so sure now.  Whatever it was, it hurt every time I lifted my leg while sitting down, and while squatting.  So in the interests of not doing myself in even more I decided not to go to CrossFit on Wednesday or Friday last week.  I couldn’t go on Wednesday anyway, as my shift didn’t allow me time to get to any of the sessions.  I woke up yesterday morning, and the leg thing didn’t feel as bad.  It was almost as if it knew I was going to put it to the test.  And that’s apt, as this week is the first one after the previous eight-week cycle of strength work, and the WODs this week are designed to test us to see how far we’ve come.

Testing times
Testing times

I chatted to the coach about my niggle, and between us we decided that I’d go easy in part A (the back squat), to see how it felt.  The idea was to keep increasing weight for 15 minutes until we got to the point where we couldn’t go any further.  My PR for the back squat is 55kg, and I got to 50kg before I decided to not push it any more, just in case I aggravated it by a display of bravado.  But it held up nicely, and I think I may even have somehow helped it by squatting – almost as if I “ran it off”, to borrow a football analogy.

With that out of the way, it was time to see how many pull-ups we could do.  I can’t do any, even with kipping, so level 1 was ring-rows, but with your feet on a 16″ box, so you’re essentially lying horizontal before trying to pull yourself up.  We had three goes at getting as many as we could before we had to stop, with a minute’s rest between each go.  I did ten on my first go, and that was the most I could do.  But what I did do was practise my kipping on the bar (swinging your body back and forth to generate movement in the hips).  I couldn’t turn any of it into an actual pull-up, and I need a lot more upper body and core strength before I get my chin over the bar.  I WILL do it one day.  You’ll know when I do – I won’t be able to shut up about it.

Part three – clean and jerk, followed by toes-to-bar.  Now if you can’t do pull-ups there’s a good chance you can’t do toes-to-bar either.  But we were allowed to do toes/knees-to-wherever-you-can-get-them-up-to, which suited me fine.  I must have looked like a demented monkey, hanging from a bar trying to swing my knees up into my face.  The idea was to do three of each, then six of each, and so on.  I think I need either some grips or some gloves, or something.  And some chalk.  Shut up, I DO.  I managed 12 of each before the seven minutes was up.

This is the first WOD at which I wore my new Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 shoes.  They sound fancy, but they’re simply a pair of trainers with a completely flat, thin sole – no cushioning, and no heel drop.  This makes them ideal for gym work such as lifting, as your feet don’t wobble around as they do on the cushioning of a pair of conventional training/running shoes.  They are also very light, and  they don’t limit the mobility of my feet during WODs as my Nikes do.  They can be used for running, but you have to adopt the flat-footed style, as heel-striking will hurt after a few strides.  I’ll have to ease my way into that gently, as I don’t think doing five 800m runs in the Inov-8s is going to be good for my calves, having been used to running in “normal” trainers up to now.

Finally, we now have a “PR board” at our box.  The idea is that everyone writes down their PRs for various lifts and running distances, but it’s far too small for everyone and I think we’re going to have to splash out on a huge landscape white-board if we want to get over 100 people’s names down!  I’ll see how full the small one is when I go in again on Wednesday.

No PRs today
No PRs today, but I’ll be trying for some next time out