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

Encouragement

The choice of title for this post came to me in a flash of inspiration as I was driving home from the WOD.  My train of thought led me to think about all the people who have given me encouragement since I started CrossFit.  It seemed as though the whole world and his dog were doing it today.

Helen looks like she wants to be beaten
Helen looks like she wants to be beaten (soundly with a barbell)

This is the last week of this cycle of strength work (the presses, squats, clean and jerks etc.).  After that it’s going to change a bit from next week, with emphasis starting to be placed on what we would like to achieve in the way of individual goals.  As I’ve already decided I’d like to try out the beginners’ Olympic weightlifting sessions, this seems to have been timed just right.  I’m already looking forward to Monday, which makes up for the fact I can only go twice this week due to my shifts.  Late weeks really mess it up.

But meanwhile, more front squats.  I’ve got a twinge in my left groin/upper leg area, and it hurts a little when I squat.  So I warmed up with 40kg, before doing the five sets at my personal record of 45kg.  I didn’t feel as if I could go up to 47.5kg or 50kg today, but that didn’t matter as the coach (who’s been away for a week) came over and said, “That’s the most I’ve seen you do.  You’ve really improved”.  I don’t know how he notices, what with all the people he has to keep an eye on, but it’s appreciated.  To be fair, I do talk to him a bit about where I’m up to, so he probably remembers me more than other people.

He also noticed my push press PR of 35kg, which I stuck at today.  I was sharing a rack with a girl who has been coming to CrossFit  for about the same amount of time as me, and she took great interest in the myWOD app on my phone (which I use to record my weights, as I’d never remember them all).  She also liked my wrist wraps, and I let her borrow them as she has a niggle in her left hand.  I told her where to get some for herself.  Finally, on mentioning that she wanted to get a skipping rope to practise double-unders, I showed her the Amazon link to the one I bought.  All in a day’s work – do I get commission?  She mentioned that she’d noticed I’d improved a lot since I started which surprised me a little, as I had no idea people were actually taking notice of what I was doing.  She even told me how long I’ve been doing this!  We also discussed the differences with traditional gyms, and were both of the opinion that the CrossFit system encourages you to work, and MAKES you do it – you can’t just sneak out when it gets tough like at LA Fitness (other identi-kit gyms are available, should you be interested).

To finish off today we did another named CrossFit WOD – “Helen” this time.  Three rounds of 400m running and swinging stuff.  Once again, I had to scale back the pull-ups to ring rows, but I’m going to start practising my kipping soon as a build-up to getting pull-ups.  I can’t scale back forever.  We all headed out on the first run, and I was one of the last back.  But I was the second person out for the next run, but that’s more to do with the fact that ring rows are faster to do than pull-ups, especially when your arms are fresh.  As usual, the coach was out in the car park, shouting at us as we ran back in.  I was ahead of everyone except one young guy who is just lighting fast at running, and as I came back in behind him the second time, the coach shouted, “THIS IS AWESOME RUNNING!  MUCH BETTER THAN TWO WEEKS AGO!  YOU’RE FAST BECOMING MY FAVOURITE ATHLETE!”  My response as I ran in: “It doesn’t fucking feel like it”.

I was in the lead from the third round onwards, and I got the fastest overall time of ten people, but I’m not feeling smug about it due to the ring rows and that some of the guys were using 24kg kettlebells to my pathetic 16kg one.  But I don’t think that 10 minutes, 17 seconds is a bad time considering the “world record” is somewhere between seven and eight minutes.  I was hardly sitting back, drinking tea during this.  Once we were done, I was congratulated on my fast time by the same girl who had been impressed that I kept up with her on a recent WOD (I beat her by two minutes today).  She’s British, but lives in San Francisco and goes to CrossFit there (she’s visiting relatives).  The coach was a little in awe of that, as he borrows a lot of his mobility exercises from the people who work there, and expressed an interest in going over to train with them.

So, not a bad session, but I won’t be back until Friday, by which time hopefully this groin ache will have gone away.  And I will hopefully have a nice new pair of Inov-8s to wear.  More on those later.

Another session of personal bests

A better frame of mind last night, despite my inner thighs killing me from all that 200m running last time out.  But there’s no rest with CrossFit – you must always keep going, so with that in mind:

Thrusters - eurgh
Thrusters – a bit of a killer after the strength cycle part

I like the way the strength part of our WODs go in cycles.  It gives structure to the training, and means that we’re not just aimlessly lifting stuff with no clear aim in mind.  This is the main reason I joined CrossFit over a “normal” gym.  I prefer to have my routine laid out for me to start with, so I can then work out the way to go once I’ve got some experience.

So to the back squat, and I finished my last set at 50kg seven days ago.  I started at 45kg, as I wanted to see how my aching legs took the squat.  It was surprisingly easy, so I went immediately to 50, and then did what the coach suggested we do – went up another 5kg from my best.  I’m beginning to see the benefit of all this regular squatting.  I could never have dreamed of approaching 60kg when I first started.  The 15kg bar on its own was bad enough, but I am now realising that it’s all in the legs.  If you squat regularly, you will build the strength.

But no amount of squatting can improve your strict press – that’s all in the upper body.  The fact I can now do seven or eight press-ups in a row without cheating tells me I’m getting there slowly.  Again, when I started I was barely able to get the 15kg bar from my shoulders to overhead (no dipping, remember – arm movement only for the strict).  My improvement at this press has been the slowest, as with most people I think.  But I stuck to my aim of improving where I felt I could, and started at my best from last week – 30kg.  Two sets in I whacked another 5kg on, and up it went.  A huge sense of satisfaction, although one rep was a slight cheat because I bent my legs slightly.  The very last rep was a complete failure, as my arms were shot, and it only got halfway up.  But the 40kg strict press is not too far away …

And as if my limbs had been through enough for one week, there was just enough time for a crazy five rounds of punishment in the form of dead lifts, press-ups, ring rows, and thrusters.  I went for 40kg for the dead lift, and 25kg for the thrusters.  My technique for the latter was dreadful.  Not squatting down quite far enough for some, variable grip positions, elbows too low on the squat, not enough power to get it overhead.  Regardless of that, I posted the second-fastest time of 18 people, including the super-fast girls.  Ten minutes, 22 seconds wasn’t as fast as some of the morning WOD people managed, but I’m happy to no longer be the slow coach struggling to keep up.  Mind you, had I done pull-ups instead of ring rows, I would probably have been a bit (a lot) slower.  But I’m working on those, I promise.

Now that might be a good idea …

I don’t know what it was but I didn’t really feel in the mood for this last night.  I was so disinterested I couldn’t even be arsed to write this post about it:

Overhead squats - bloody evil things
Overhead squats – bloody evil things

I felt even less like it when I spoke to one of the girls I regularly work-out with, and she told me she was going to do the beginners’ Olympic weightlifting class instead (these weekly classes run alongside the Wednesday early evening WOD, at the far end of the box).  I started thinking that replacing the Wednesday WOD with that class might be a good idea, as it would give me more of an insight into how to string together all the individual lifting movements that we do in the WODs.  I mean, one doesn’t do “Olympic Push Pressing”, or “Olympic Overhead Squatting”.  They are, inter alia, component parts of the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk, the two Olympic and World Championship weightlifting categories you see on the TV.  The reason we practise the component parts is, I assume, to make us better at the finished product.

So why not do some beginner classes to start stringing it all together?  After all, I’ve been at it six weeks now, and I have a good idea of what is required to perform a decent snatch or clean and jerk.  I just need to hone the individual parts.  And it won’t cost me anything extra either, as it would count as one of my three-a-week sessions.  The only annoying thing is that when I’m on a week of lates I won’t be able to go, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

That said, back to the business at hand – overhead squats and some good old running.  Up to now, I’ve been stuck at 15kg for the OHS while I sort out my technique and improve my shoulder mobility.  I decided this was the time to start ramping it up, so I took the 20kg barbell and put 2.5kg on each end.  No problems there, and my posture was good throughout (no leaning forward as one tends to do with more weight), although by the last set my legs were shot.  I wonder how many squats I’ve done since I started CrossFit.  It has to be around a thousand or more.

Talking of squats, I can’t say I was filled with joy by the prospect of running 200m and then doing as many squats as I could do, all in a minute.  Or that we had to do it ten times with 45 seconds’ rest between runs.  I knew that with a one minute time cap I was only going to get one shot at the squats on the first run, when I was “fresh”.  So I blitzed the first run and manage two squats on my return.  On the remaining nine runs I was between 20 and 30 feet from the door when time was called.  Some of the young lads were absolutely caning the running, but I’m too told for that sort of shit so I was happy just to take the cardio benefit after my first banzai effort.

We finished off with some dishes (lie on your back and raise your legs and arms straight out in front of and behind you, while keeping your back on the floor, and hold for 20 seconds – it’s harder than it sounds unless you’ve got a strong core) and arches (lie on your front and do the same, so you look like Superman flying – slightly easier, but it hurts your back).

After that slightly disjointed work-out, I was even more determined that I’m going to sign up for the beginners’ weightlifting classes, especially as I was able to observe what they were doing in the rest periods between sets of overhead squats.  I spoke to the same girl afterwards, and she said it was really good, and that she learned some useful stuff.  In the meantime, back to the running …

Box jumps and burpees and kettlebell swings …

… these are a few of my favourite things.  If those nuns had got Julie Andrews into shape doing this shit instead of faffing over her, she’d have soon got her act together.  She could then have made those privileged von Trapp kids do a few 800m runs, followed by 50 wall balls.  If it’s good enough for me …

The Sound of CrossFit
The Sound of CrossFit

Well, you’ve seen the first two parts of this a few times already.  The new strength cycle begins this week, and the aim is to gradually increase your weight.  My PR for the front squat was 42.5kg, set ten days ago.  So no messing – get 45kg on the bar and let’s do it.  I was only just able to manage this weight, and my chest kept coming forward as I stood back up; It’s supposed to stay as straight as possible.  I wasn’t helped by being told how to do it “properly” by a somewhat opinionated individual with whom I was sharing the rack.  I *know* it’s not right and needs work – you don’t have to tell me EVERY SINGLE REP.  Or remind me how to breathe, bless him.

As for the push press, I’m still stuck at 35kg.  My arms were a bit sore, and a few reps didn’t feel as if they wanted to go all the way up.  At least I didn’t scale down from my PR, as with the clean and jerks at the last WOD.

Maybe my body was secretly saving itself for the MetCon at the end.  The 21-15-9 things always look so easy when you see it written down, but then you get halfway through the set of 15 burpees and it starts hitting you.  There were 14 of us at the WOD today, and I wasn’t confident of finishing anywhere near the front of the pack.  But in a shocking development, I finished a few seconds behind the three fastest girls, the ones who are the fastest at everything.  Had I not had a little rest in two of the burpee sets, I reckon I would have “won”.  Not that anyone’s getting competitive or anything …

A girl who appeared to be at our box for the first time (but who has done lots of CrossFit before) was impressed at my speed given my age and complete lack of sustained physical training up to this point in my life.  “You’re 41?! Really?”  I sometimes wonder if I’m actually better than I think I am at certain things.  I may well be – I don’t know.  It’s either that, or they’re just patronising the old man with the greying, balding hair.  I should point out that the fast girls were all doing the same level as me, so it’s not as if it wasn’t a level playing field.

Workout 19 results
I would have been nowhere with this MetCon six weeks ago

Oh, and I used my new wrist wraps today, and I felt they made a difference on the front squat, which has now progressed to the stage where the bar is no longer digging into my collar bone.  Progress indeed.

The big 5-0

I arrived at the box today to the sound of a VERY loud band reverberating around the place.  Our coach was the only person there, doing his own work-out, so he had the volume up.  We’ve got two rather good quality PA-type box speakers at our place, into which the coaches plug an iPhone containing mostly typical gym-type dance music, and you can hear them at the end of the car park with the door shut at this level.  I did a few stretches, tried to ignore that stupid song by System Of A Down, and checked the WOD.

Is Grace easier than Isabel?
Is Grace easier than Isabel? She is if she weighs 25kg.

The warm-up was weird.  A 600m run, a bit of jogging up and down the box with high knees and similar, and then a partner thing involving jumping over and crawling under each other.  Then 40 shoulder taps in the press-up position with a partner, a three-minute squat hold, and we were done.  Today’s coach always does different warm-ups to the others, but I suppose it mixes things up a bit.

Onto the strength part of the WOD, and my back squat best was 35kg three weeks ago.  I’ve had a few kilos on my shoulders since then, so I decided to push the boat out and start on 40kg.  I did one set of three reps, then another set at 45kg, and then (wait for it), three sets at 50kg.  Fifty kilos?!  That’s 110 pounds (seven stone, two pounds), and the most I’ve done in any discipline except the dead lift.  I was kind of encouraged along by the guy sharing the rack with me.  He reckoned I had more in me but I was happy to stick where I was, as I still had to do the ever-difficult strict presses.

Talking of which, this is the thing at which most people have the lowest weight, as there is no momentum from the lower body – you simply stand still and try to lift the bar from your shoulders to overhead.  My previous best was 20kg, but that was three weeks ago, so I was hopeful of making an improvement.  I started at 25kg with no problem, and then notched it up to 30kg.  I just managed it, but a personal record is a personal record.  I don’t think 40kg is out of the question in another three weeks’ time.

Just like “Isabel” a couple of weeks ago, “Grace” is another of the many named CrossFit WODs that people do at boxes all over the world.  All you have to do is 30 clean and jerks as fast as possible.  It sounds so easy, huh?  I wasn’t sure whether to go with my PR weight, as it’s 37.5kg and I was worried that I wouldn’t do the 30 reps in the four to five minutes in which the coach suggested we should be finishing.  So I wimped out and went for 25kg.  I should probably have gone for 30kg, as I found it relatively easy to bang out the first 15 reps without a break.  I was done in 3:26, which was only five seconds slower than the guy lifting 60kg in front of me.  It may have been fast, but I feel as if I cheated myself there.  I should have gone heavier, and I will do next time.  But one thing I did notice was that the bar is now coming straight up past my chest and onto my shoulders, instead of swinging outwards.  Technique sorted!

If the current work-out cycle continues, we’ll be doing this sort of thing again in another three weeks, by which time 25kg will hopefully be a distant memory for just about everything except maybe my overhead squat.

A running theme (running 400 metres)

I impressed myself tonight with my running.  The last time we did 400m runs with something else on the end in a certain amount of time, I didn’t get back in time to do even one of whatever the thing was.  Squats, burpees?  Something like that.  Tonight we had two minutes to run 400m and then do as many kettlebell swings as we could in the time remaining.  Times five.

When did Wednesdays become so arduous?
When did Wednesdays become so arduous?

My overhead squat still needed work tonight, and I had a little advice on my posture.  I tend to lean forward with my knees when squatting with a bar over my head, whereas I need to stick my arse out backwards instead.  As for the floor press, I did 25kg last time out so I decided to be ambitious and start with 30kg for a couple of sets, which then became 35kg for the remainder.  My arms felt ready to fall off by the last rep.

As for the running, we had lots of young men at this evening’s WOD, so plenty of competitive fast runs between them.  I kept up generally for the first two runs, and then tailed off over the last three.  I had a conversation with someone afterwards, and I mentioned that one guy said he was “saving himself” for the last run.  We couldn’t work out why – we both agreed that you may as well do the fast stuff when you’re fresh at the start.  That’s how you improve, apparently, according to one of the veterans I spoke to, so I’m going to stick with going fast at the start.

I managed 26 kettlebell swings over the five runs, as I was back at the box with between 10 and 30 seconds to go each time.  And I did the full American swings too, not just the Russian ones (look it up).  The coach noticed my running has improved quite a bit, and said so too.  I feel quite smug. 🙂

Phase two – engage!

The start of a new month, and my second at CrossFit.  Having had three days off, it was time to get back into it and see how much my muscles remembered about repetitive movements.  As it happens, they didn’t do too badly at this little lot:

A stiff work-out
A stiff work-out to start a new cycle (the bit at the bottom says “50 air squats”)

Warm up consisted of lots of shoulder, chest and hip stretching in impossible positions, but it always does – you have to get the bits that are going to do all the work warmed up nicely.  A quick check of my poncy phone app revealed that the last time we did clean and jerk, I managed 30kg.  So I started at 35kg for three sets, and then went up to 37.5kg.  I managed fine with that for the remaining five sets.  I discussed the possibility of doing the split legs for the jerk with the coach, but he suggested there wasn’t much benefit in it at the moment, and I could work on that later.  The girls in front of me were doing it though, and with lighter bars!  Given the heavier weight I’m now lifting up, I found myself muscling the bar up on a few reps, instead of lifting with high elbows and getting underneath it.  Perhaps I should start squatting down into the clean, to enable me to catch the bar earlier, instead of remaining upright.  That would be a level 3 move (squat clean and jerk as opposed to power clean and jerk), so I’ll try that next time.

As for running – I’m getting better despite all my moaning.  I felt a lot more comfortable with the 400m runs tonight.  It’s just all those 50 reps of stuff you have to do when you get back that did for me.  Despite finishing my last run before six other people, I still finished my squats after them.  My legs were shot though.  Must go faster …

Should have gone faster
I should have gone faster than this, to be honest.

Still, not too shabby.  I remain a faster runner than the Captain, and he’s been doing this for six years now.  He’s more of a weightlifter though, if I’m being fair.