Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting Stronger

I didn't post yesterday because I was extremely absorbed in watching every detail of the CrossFit Games. I will be today and tomorrow as well. I can't wait to see the outcomes!

Today was another lifting sequence, and one that I really enjoyed. We have been doing some similar movements over the past few weeks. I have have learned so much from this series of lifting WODs, yet I do understand the need to keep things constantly varied in CrossFit. Even so, sometimes we who are newer to the sport need some opportunity to just drill our new skills, so thanks to Nick who programmed these past few weeks.

Today was 5 rounds of 3x1 clean + 1 jerk AHAP (as heavy as possible)

95# was the heaviest I could go today.

Gotta go...the games are starting soon...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back Squats and Head Spins

Wow...I think this is the last day of back squats for a while. We've been working on a strength series for the past two weeks, to be concluded this week. Today was 6x6 reps @70% of the 1 RM HBBS (high bar back squat). Since I did not have that 1RM recorded in the past, I had to go with the heaviest weight I could do each time and today I worked at 115#.

Today is not my best day...I started getting a headache near the end of the WOD and was perhaps dehydrated (I was sweating profusely!) I felt a little tired and grumpy. On one of the reps I blacked out for a second and was seeing stars. I very nearly dropped the bar--scared both me and my lifting partner. It's part of the CrossFit life.

Sometimes you eat the bear,
sometimes the bear eats you.

Sometimes you eat the bear,
but end up with indigestion.

that was today.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Power Clean PR

Yep...another PR today.

For the last couple of weeks we have been doing a strength series--back squats, snatches, cleans. Today's work was this:

20 minutes to find 1 RM power clean

then, 5 minute EMOM 1 power clean at 90# of 1 RM

My last 1 RM on cleans was 105#, today I achieved 110#, a new personal best! I was able to successfully lift all of the reps at 90% (100#), and I left feeling good.

It is so hot outside. Every day going to CrossFit is one of those, "just get in the car and go, and work out the rest when you get there." I really dislike the heat, the dripping sweat, the feeling of the thick, humid air, but for the first time in my life, there is something that I love more than my hatred of the heat, and it keeps me coming back for more.

Here's to more PRs next week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Technique, Technique, Technique

The programming lately has been geared toward building strength. There has been a lot of weightlifting and short met-con WODs--my favorite type. Today's WOD was very similar to last Monday's.

10 x 4 reps high bar back squat @80% with 2 minute rest between sets

Interestingly, I was able to do more weight this week (115# vs. 110# last week), and I hit a groove in the squat that I have never felt before. Today as I squatted, I was able to go lower, bear the weight in my heels, and bounce out of the squat in a way that felt so much better than it has in the past. It's the THING with all things CF--rarely or never is it best to just muscle through something. There is always some technique that,when strength, coaching, and experience meet, makes the move almost easy. The reps that I was able to accomplish in the perfect squat position with the weight in my heels felt strangely  easy. This shows me that honestly, I could probably be lifting even more, but I must get to the point where I can consistently move the weight correctly. It's all in the technique.

Let me give you a little tip, however. When doing high-bar back squats, take your necklace off. The pain of lifting heavy weight is nothing in comparison to the pain of having the loaded bar press a small metal chain deeply into your flesh. Ask me how I know.

A similar thing happened with snatching yesterday (not the necklace part) when I attended the skills class. After many reps of pulling early and missing even light lifts, I put my full concentration on the "scarecrow" move, late in the lift. I flew under the bar and stood there shocked and how low I received the bar as well as how light the weight felt. It's all in the technique.

Another area where technique has proven itself is in rope-climbing. When the coach says get your legs up as high as possible, they mean it. It is the difference between depending on your arm strength and grip to get you up the rope, and powering up feet at a time by using your legs and core. It is the difference between an exhausting 7 or 8 pulls and an easy 3 to 4.  It's all in the technique.

I have to remind myself constantly that these "techniques" are brand new to me and that "Rome was not built in a day." Why it took me 8 months to understand what it meant to have the weight in my heels is a mystery, but today I felt it and I can check that off the list. I know that one now. On to the next thing, while continuing to practice that blasted squat!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Still Snatching

So after my tutorial with Dan last week I was sure that I would be a whiz at the snatch today. Not so much. It is still the most difficult move in CF and the one that intrigues me the most. I would so love to perfect it.

I hit some, I missed some. I came within 5 pounds of my one rep max, mainly because I really wanted to focus on my form. I may have managed to muscle up my 1RM, but that was not the point. I am really starting to feel the pull from the floor, and when I sneak myself under that bar, it feels good...but it's hard.

Today I snatched 70 lbs, with 3 push presses from the back rack position.

I want more, but I'm going to take this slowly. All in good time.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

White Challenge

Ready to go!
Warming up
Warm-up climb
I hope I never do this WOD again. I did what I set out to do. I joined the class so that I could learn to climb the blasted rope. I did. Here's the WOD I did in 90+ degree blazing sunshine and lived to tell...

5 rounds
3 rope climbs ( I got 1, did walkups the rest of the way)
10 toes to bar (knee raises)
21 walking lunges @25# (15#)
400 m run

Time: 42:08 (it took me 7 minutes more this time due to the heat. I ended up walking almost the entire 3rd lap)

3-2-1 (Sorry, Jen, I tried to crop it!)
Getting it done... 
So glad my family was there to cheer for me...
bar work... 
my nemesis...running...
one of the many painful moments

My friend Emily, who has been affectionately nicknamed "Gymily"

I wish I had the picture that my friend Candace took of all three of us, Emily and Candace and myself all together, because we really did this TOGETHER. It was so very hot out there today--the redeeming quality of it all was having such great people to do this with, not to mention those who just came out to support us in this effort.

Here's a shout out to all the people who I appreciate today:

Candace and Emily--I love WODding with you girls.
Glen, Matty, and Molly--I love you--thanks for cheering and for being proud of me.
Jen, Allison, Lindsay, Amanda, Donna, Erica, and all the other ladies who suffered with us...
Michele for running that last hateful lap with me--you are a star!
Rachel--thanks for dragging me into this mess.
Paul, for talking to my hubs today and winning big points for the community.
Sara, for appreciating the small successes along the way, and really helping us to learn new skills.

U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ashley White, 24, of Alliance, Ohio, assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, based in Goldsboro, North Carolina, died on October 22, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device. She is survived by her husband Captain Jason Stumpf, her parents Robert and Deborah, brother Josh, and sister Brittney.

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's All In Your Head...

So please remove it from your patootie...

Throughout the six weeks of this White Hero WOD challenge I have (as I have posted before) been struggling with rope climbs. I have felt completely silly even when doing the drills, pretty much unable to coordinate the movements or find the strength to do certain things like jump and then hang on the rope. In last Saturday's class, however, things started to click for me. I was sure that I was the only one around feeling like a failure, struggling with these skills, while everyone else around me was scurrying up the rope like lizards up walls.

Today's WOD was very good for us, as tomorrow is the final White challenge. Here it is:

3 rounds for time:
8 front squats (Rx 105, I did 85#)
1 rope climb
8 back squats (Rx 105, I did 85#)

score: 13:01

There are about 5 blog posts I could write from what I learned, observed and felt about today's class, so this may be lengthy, I'll try to be concise.

First of all, one of the top athletes (Shannon) at our box was in the 9:00 class this morning. These girls are such amazing athletes, so strong, so cool. Each one of them has an energy and a vibrance about them, and they have every reason to set themselves apart and act like CF snobs...but they do not. For me, those 85# squats were tough today. I was fully able to do them, but it took everything I had to get through 8 front squats. Shannon parked herself in front of me and cheered me through my most difficult reps, and I could not have been more grateful. It truly helped me to dig deep and find the strength that I needed.

Several girls from the White class were also there at the 9:00 WOD this morning, and we had the chance to practice a bit more and encourage each other as we prepare both physically and mentally for tomorrow.

As I looked around, it wasn't just I who was struggling to get up that rope. Somehow I had never seen it before. There were people there who are younger and stronger and still--the rope was a bully for them. We were there giving each other advice, hi-fiving each others' successes (even the small ones) and cheering for the big ones. I had been so intimidated, so self-absorbed and cranky about this whole thing that I forgot that everyone struggles from time to time, not just me. CrossFit is the perfect place to be reminded of this, and the folks there are so encouraging, you might even be reminded gently, in a good-natured way.

So here's to getting your head out of your patootie, setting aside your fears, and cheering on a teammate. Get up that rope! It's all in your head, and if it's in the wrong place, well...

Oh, and by the way...I achieved two whole rope climbs today. One before class when I was pondering the rope with the other girls, and another in the WOD. I got another 1/2 climb in during the WOD but didn't feel strong enough to continue, so I finished with walkups...Tomorrow, White Challenge final test.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Individual Coaching Session: Snatch Progression

Since I started CrossFit 8 months ago (wow! 8 months?) I had not taken advantage of my individual coaching sessions that come with my membership, until today.

I scheduled my session with Dan, the owner of the box, and the first coach that I ever met at CrossFit Woodbridge. I chose him for the specific reason that I see him working with the newest members of the box on a daily basis, and I felt comfortable with his demeanor, since I would be coming from a definite beginner's perspective on whatever I chose to work on. I gave the one-on-one session a good amount of thought and decided I would work on a move that really stymies me in WODs and on lifting days--the snatch. When he first greeted me, he questioned me in a joking way, thinking I hadn't given the session a lot of thought but in fact, I had--possibly too much! I was a bit nervous, but once we settled in to work, it was all business and burning quads!

The snatch is, put simply, moving the weight on the barbell from the floor to overhead in one movement. Between here and there however, is a series of very technical movements that are not easy to do. Flinging the weight overhead is not the goal, not to mention the fact that it's dangerous to do this lift heavy without knowing the proper technique. The progressions we were doing in class just weren't enough to get this to click for me. 

Today's session started with me warming up with the class, then beginning with what I thought was a snatch but, as I understand now, was far from it. 

We worked on the minutia of the move, the hardest part of which was moving the bar the first few inches off of the floor. As Dan said, "Betchya weren't expecting to spend 40 minutes deadlifting a PVC pipe, were you?", I wasn't. I burned an enormous amount of calories standing in that squat position trying to figure out what it meant to move the bar using my hips, knees, and arms up from the floor into the "pocket" position and keep it all together in my mind. I was sweating profusely, my quads were burning, and I was concentrating on every inch of the bar's movement...and it was a PVC pipe! 

We finally added light weight to a bar and worked on form only--getting the extension of the hips and the snatch overhead. Near the end of the hour it was wonderful to hear him say, "Now you're snatching--not flinging." 

Three things to remember when snatching:

1. Sweep the bar past the knees 
2. Hips and knees move at the same time
3. Once in the pocket, open up and keep the arms straight

I love this video of Chad Vaughn (Olympic lifter) executing the snatch in super-slow-motion. I have always appreciated the technical difficulty in the move, but now I have a slightly more trained eye and can see exactly the things Dan was telling me today in the move. If you have neglected your one-on-one session, definitely take advantage of it...oh, and enjoy the video.