Call an ambulance!

But not for me.

Yesterday’s work-out appeared relatively “easy” when compared to more recent ones, but several of our number found it tough-going for a variety of reasons.

Work-out of death (for some, anyway)
Work-out of death (for some, anyway)

So we started out with the ankle mobility and Burgener warm-up (it’s a practice warm-up for the movements involved in lifting weights).  Then we did some lying around in uncomfortable positions followed by some burpees.  All present and correct so far.

Then we started the running …

Two minutes to run 400m (first 200m metres uphill of course), and fit in as many burpees as you could manage.  Rest for two minutes, and then do it all again four times.  The first run claimed the first victim –  a girl who had a breathing issue, and so she was sensibly stood down.  The third run featured one of the new guys performing several spectacular projectile vomit manoeuvres in the middle of the road.  To be fair, he carried on and finished the runs.  By the fourth run, another guy had bitten the dust with back issues.  He disappeared homewards too.

At the end of it a fourth person was down on the floor, looking a bit queasy.  I wonder how I didn’t end up crocked myself, given how unfit I am, running all over an industrial estate in the dark, in a thunderstorm.  Of course, I had the lowest number of burpees, as my runs were lasting just under two minutes, so I only had time for a couple when I got back.  This confirms what I already knew, and what I keep banging on about – I am shit at running.

Still, at least we got the running out of the way at the start.  Those of us who were left standing proceeded to the weightlifting part of the work-out, and we spent 15 minutes ironing out our power clean and jerk technique.  Seventy-five reps in total, with the emphasis on technique and NOT weight.  I managed to fix a couple of issues, namely my starting posture and the tendency to arch my back as I bring the bar up to my shoulders.

I think the Burgener warm-up helps a lot with this, and the coach told us that we’ll be doing it at every session from now on, to get our muscles used to the movements required of them.

Just to round things off, one girl could have done with arching something out of the way, as she lifted the bar right up into her face and almost took her nose off.  NURSE!


Mind games

I’ve been going to CrossFit for a week now, and I appear to have developed an annoying problem.  I worry about what’s going to be in every work-out before I go in.  I worry that I’ll be left behind if there’s a part where you have to do things “for time”, such as running (which I hate).  I worry about the response I’ll get when I tell the coach that I have to scale something back.  Why don’t I just do it and fail at it?

Tonight’s work-out had more running in it.  I couldn’t face it, so I did rowing instead.  I also still can’t do three proper press-ups in a row, and sit-ups are a struggle too.  So to be given this to do was somewhat disheartening:

Enough with the running!
Enough with the running!

I did 600m, 300m, and 100m rows respectively in lieu of the running, and managed a total of 3k before 30 minutes was up.  I still did the press-ups (on my knees), and sit-ups, until I couldn’t physically do them any more, so I substituted squats instead.

As for the first part, the power clean/snatch is the one technique that I struggle with as a newbie to weightlifting.  I get ahead of myself, and end up muscling the bar up, instead of shrugging my shoulders and dropping under it.  I asked the coach to watch my reps, and by the fifth set I must have been doing something right, because he shouted, “Good reps, Neil!”.  I even had some weight on the bar, although tonight was more about technique.

It didn’t “feel” like I was doing it right, and I can’t watch myself side-on to check.  I’ll take his word for it.

Please, no running on Wednesday.

The dreaded “Friday workout”

Friday workouts at our box are meant to be a little more strenuous than the Monday to Thursday affairs.  For the first four days of the week the emphasis is on strength work via the weights.  Friday is more cardio-based, and today’s didn’t disappoint in that area.

I arrived to find this written on the board:

Wow, are you trying to kill me?
Wow, are you trying to kill me?

Five 800m runs?  Can I not just do arm rotations or something?  Sadly not.  The warm-up consisted of a group run up to the 400m point (go LEFT out of the car park, remember?), and then just for good measure we ran the 800m circular route, so we knew where to go.  Throw in a few jumping jacks, air squats, and burpees, and you’re ready to go.

I was in a group with two girls, one of whom I recognised from earlier in the week, and we agreed to take it easy on the runs.  The long and short of it is that I kept up with them on the first three runs, but was back about 30 seconds after them on the last two.  However, my kettle bell swings were fast, as were my pull-ups, which were of the “jumping” variety (stand on a box under the bar, bend your legs down, arms holding the bar, jump up, pull your chin over the bar, back down to bent legs, and straight back up again).  We had to share the reps between us, in rotation, which was just as well, as I was hurting a bit by the fourth round.

As we set out for the fifth run, I was determined to not stop, as I knew I’d never get started again.  And you know what made it worse?  A bloody trashy fast-food van parked right at the end of the run, wafting the sickly smell of grease up the road.  There was a woman sat at it (yes, SAT at it), and I ran past her twice in the time it took her to finish off the shit she was eating.

I did the final ten pull-ups for our team, and we posted a time of 44:49.  Not bad, at all.  To be fair though, we were using lighter kettle bells than the other teams, and the teams of men were also doing strict pull-ups.  As a result, they came in a couple of minutes behind us.  But I’m not going to concede anything on the running.  I did all 4k of it, and I’m sure it was longer than that (I must remember to measure it on the internet).

The second part of the work-out (the back squats) was optional, and most of us dipped out at this point.  My legs were gone from the running, so I think I’ll save them for Monday evening.  But that’s another huge sense of satisfaction at having done a work-out that had the potential to kill me.  See you next week!

My first sense of achievement

Well, my body didn’t scream at me after my first workout, so I decided to bite the bullet and go to my second workout on Wednesday.  A similar number of people were there, including a girl who was at Monday’s workout.

Two 1km runs? Are you kidding me?!
Two 1km runs? Are you kidding me?!

The warm-up was easier than last time, including the rather comical sight of a line of people all power-lunging across the room, like some kind of fitness Conga.

The front squat should be easy enough (squat with the bar resting on your shoulders, on top of your chest, fingers on bar, elbows out and up), but I have poor mobility in my shoulders, and I can’t quite get my elbows high enough.  When I do get them high enough, the bar is pushing into my throat, making me feel sick.  I was shown an exercise I can do with a band to help with that, so there’s another area that needs work.

Regardless, I was able to front squat 25kg with no other issues (although I started at 20kg), and this part of the workout was gentle enough to prepare me for what lay ahead …

A 1km run?!  Our CrossFit is located in an industrial estate, which is on a massive hill.  The 1km route involves running up a picturesque road (think furniture warehouses and car-repair garages, with the faint waft of Chinese food), along a dual carriageway, and then down a hill past an old railway line.  I had intended to do the “L1” run (600m, and turn LEFT out of the car park) but for some reason, like a twat, I followed everyone else out to the RIGHT, and before I knew it I was running the 1km route.  I was last-but-one to finish (no surprises there), but running’s not my forte, and I was treating it as a gentle jog once I was over the top of the hill.

Once back, it was straight into as many wall balls (squat down with medicine ball, stand up, and throw it up the wall as high as you can, catch it, and repeat) as you could in whatever was left of the seven minutes allowed for them and the run (if you follow).  I did the run in six minutes, so I was able to get 12 balls in before it was straight back out for ANOTHER 1KM RUN!  Well this time, I DID only do the 600m course, along with one of the girls.  We jogged it together, as she was the last finisher on the previous run, and I didn’t want to leave her behind.  Teamwork and all that.

Back into the box, and then it was 30 more wall balls for time.  I was in agony after 15, but I wasn’t going to cheat and call time before I’d done all 30.  And I just about did it too.  I was glad I chose the 3kg ball to start with.  I saw no point in trying to be macho and using the 9kg one!  Technique, not speed …

I turned round, looked at the digital clock, and saw “13:46”.  I was quite impressed.  You may think, “Yeah but you only did a 600m run second time, so you got back before the others”.  Er, wrong.  The fastest 2k runners were back in the box AT THE SAME TIME as the other girl and me, and so I started my 30 wall balls at the same time as them.

I'm pretty impressed with this time.
I’m pretty impressed with this time.

For once, I wasn’t the “worst” performer, but I try not to get competitive with these things.  The fact I wasn’t trailing behind on 12 balls while everyone else was standing there watching me struggle to finish was very pleasing.  My first proper sense of achievement at CrossFit.  And I don’t do running!  What was I thinking?  (Mental note – at a steady pace, and on flat ground, my 5K time would be around 30 to 35 minutes.  I have no idea if that’s good or not.)

Once we were done, one of the more experienced guys took us through some proper warm-down stretching exercises – always stretch it out, people.  I’ll be doing Yoga before you know it …

My first proper workout

So, I suppose you’re wondering if I went back to CrossFit, and how I got on when I did.  Well, I did go back.  As I’m working late shift this week, the 11am sessions have been ideal for me.  As a result, there I was on Monday morning, walking into a room of people I didn’t know, and introducing myself to the trainer (and letting him know it was my first session, so he didn’t kill me).  That, in itself, was a barrier climbed.

Just before we were due to start, the other guy from my induction course strolled in, so I went to chat to him.  This was his second workout, so I suspected we were going to be at roughly the same sort of level.  On the other side of the coin, a man known as “The Captain” was there – a veteran of six years at CrossFit, and a regular representative of our box at the CrossFit Games.  I had no intention of trying to compete against HIM!

The trainer gathered us round, and talked us through the workout:

Here we go then - workout number one!
Here we go then – workout number one!

As you can see, it looks a lot easier than the induction, (see my second-ever post, and it was!  After the warm-up, the first section comprised five sets of three strict presses (lifting the bar from your shoulders to overhead), followed by lowering the bar to below your knees and pulling it up into your stomach (bent over rows).  I decided to start off with the 15kg bar with two 5kg weights on each end, just to see what I could lift straight out of the box.  I was able to do it, so I was quite pleased about that.

The second section was three sets of ten overhead squats (squatting down with the bar held over your head).  For this I used the bar only, as I wanted to work on my technique, as well as wanting to go easy on my legs!  No problems there, although my quads were starting to feel it by the end.  Note to self – remember to keep your arms back throughout!

And then the bastard made us to seven sets of one-minute bursts of burpees.  Everyone hates burpees, and one girl decided against it altogether.  I wish I had too, as I can’t yet do burpees without crashing my knees into the floor, and they are now quite sore from the experience.  I missed the fourth set, as I was knackered, and managed a total of 60 burpees in six minutes.  Not particularly impressive, especially when you consider that a man a few years older than me did 139!  Improvement needed.

However, at the end I felt satisfied that I’d completed my first proper workout, and grateful that my legs didn’t feel anything like they had done nine days previously.

I said "60"; he wrote "70". I was too tired to argue.
I said “60”; he wrote “70”. I was too tired to argue.

Onwards and upwards!