Jump Rope Challenge, Final Week

So you may remember that I challenged myself to conquer double-unders by the end of May with daily jump rope practice.  Well, here we are at the end of May, and I have to admit, I failed miserably at this challenge.  I was not at all consistent with practicing, so needless to say, I’m still working on double-unders.  But I am improving!

I took my rope outside today for a final practice.  This is what happened:

I was fairly consistent with hitting a double with every other jump, but I really wanted to get a string of doubles before calling it quits today.  We had quite a few days of double-under practice in CrossFit this month, and during the last few sessions I was able to get 3-5 consecutive double-unders.  So I took a deep breath and tried again.

See the frustration?  I hit a couple doubles in a row, and one run of 4, but then it was miss after miss.  So frustrating.  So I took a break and pulled some weeds from places they shouldn’t be.011Feeling sufficiently rested and quite determined, I decided to give it one more shot.  (I’m a pretty stubborn gal!)

Boo.  Hiss.  No better.  So frustrating.  But I can only blame myself for not practicing regularly.  So I’ll keep working at it.  I think 15 minutes a day was a bit daunting, so I’m going to continue my quest for double-unders throughout June, with a goal of 15 minutes a week.  Maybe that’s 5 minutes on 3 different days or one 15 minute session, but hopefully regular practice will finally get me those double-unders!

So what’s the moral of the story?  Don’t give up!  Whatever your goal is, whether it’s weight loss or mastering a new skill, don’t give up!  Keep working at it.  Even if you’re not as consistent as you want to be, keep plugging along.  Even with my lack of consistency, I was able to at least hit 3 or 4 consecutive double-unders a few times, a record for me!  Let’s see where another month gets us.

Talk to me:

What are you working on today?

What was your workout for today?

 

Week 1 Jump Rope Challenge

Well, week 1 of my jump rope challenge was a big, fat goose egg.  I jumped one day.  One lousy day!  Fifteen minutes!  What?!  I’m not going to meet my goal like that, but life happens and that’s how it went.

Monday night, bleary eyed from a night shift that ended that morning, I got myself out on my patio, determined to get in my fifteen minutes of jumping.  Fifteen minutes of jumping doesn’t sound like much, but it’s such high intensity exercise that it wears me out quickly.  That quarter-hour felt like an eternity.  I had to actually pause my timer and take a water break for 1-2 minutes.

I had good intentions of keeping up my jumping, but I’m not sure what happened.  I had a couple of tough CrossFit workouts (Well, let’s face it.  I’ve never done a CrossFit workout that wasn’t tough.) that made me pretty sore, and truthfully I just lost my motivation for jumping rope.

But, today’s WOD had double unders again.  Coming home with red jump rope bites on my arm has renewed my determination to get back at it.

Anywho, here’s how last week’s jump rope session went.  My goal was to jump 200 times consecutively without missing the rope.  Over and over, I’d make it to around 150 jumps and miss.  I won’t lie.  I might have said some curse words.  Finally, I was down to the last few minutes of my session and this happened:

So I hit my goal for that first session with 200 unbroken singles.  My goal for this week is to work on jumping higher and twirling the rope faster. I’ll let you know how that goes (wink).

Here’s to whatever your fitness goals are!  Let’s do this!

Talk to me:

How do you keep yourself motivated to do hard things?

What’s a goal you met recently? (Hey, even if your goal was to eat a salad one time during the week, I’d love to hear about that!)

Double-under Quest

I came home from CrossFit a few days ago looking like this:

IMG_1529No, they aren’t cat scratches.  They’re jump rope bites!

We jump rope a good bit at CrossFit.  If you’re like me, I hadn’t picked up a jump rope since I was a little kid, so when I started CrossFit a little over a year ago, I was severely out of jump rope shape.  Over the course of my short CrossFit “career”, though, I’ve improved on the jump rope.  I can jump 200 times without missing the rope–on most days.  You know how it goes.  Some days you just can’t do anything right, right?

But when it comes to double-unders…

Most CrossFit workouts that include a jump rope include the skill of double-unders, having the rope pass twice under the feet with a single jump.  To me, it’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.  Somehow, I just can’t seem to keep my jumping rhythm while speeding up my twirling rhythm.  It should look like this:

But I’m not there yet.  I can usually get a double-under with every other jump, but I’m having a hard time stringing a run of doubles together.  IMG_1536CrossFit jump ropes tend to be a slim cable, so when I miss, the rope really packs a wallop.  Hence, the lovely whelps on my arms. But I am bound and determined to get this skill down.  I’m done with letting the jump rope beat me, literally.

So, starting Monday May 1, I’m challenging myself to a month of jumping rope.  For the month of May, I am challenging myself to at least 15 minutes a day (except Sundays) of jumping rope and working on double-unders.  My goal is to do ten     double-unders unbroken at the end of the month.

Will I meet my goal?  Check in and follow along on my quest for      double-unders!

Talk to me:

What’s a goal you’re working towards?

When’s the last time you jumped rope?

 

From the Back of the Pack

For the first time in over a year, I skipped a Saturday run today.  That shin pain that developed after my last marathon has been bugging me again this week, so I decided it would be best not to run 16 miles today.  Plus, Saturday runs have not been so much fun lately.

I’ve been feeling discouraged about running and CrossFit and fitness in general lately.

Two weeks ago I ran the Sweetheart run double–a 5K followed by a 10K.  I was okay with my 5K time but 158disappointed in my 10K time.  It was almost 2 minutes off my PR.

Then we had a benchmark workout on the schedule at CrossFit.  It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves to see that we’re progressing in our fitness.  Our score was the total number of repetitions of several different exercises completed before the final buzzer.  Of the girls, I finished last by quite a few repetitions.

And after running with a group for a year where I could easily run at the front of the group, I moved up a pace group where I’m lagging way behind everyone else, crying inside, the coach plodding along beside me, encouraging me so I could just finish the run.

What is going on?  Why is everything such a challenge?  Why can’t I do better?  These are the questions I’m asking myself as I mentally berate myself from the back of the pack for not keeping up with the others.

As I’ve mulled this over, thinking about my performance in the various activities I participate in, it came to me.  Things are harder because I’m pushing myself.

148The Sweetheart Run with the disappointing 10K time?  It was actually a 15K PR.  So it wasn’t a consecutive 15K, but I understand now why my 10K time wasn’t better.  For a total of 9 miles, I made myself run raster than I did during my last 15K.

And that CrossFit workout that I’m bummed about?  I actually completed more repetitions than I did last time, and, unlike last time, I did not scale the workout.  I used the weights and distances that the workout is meant to be done with.  Gains!

And maybe I am bringing up the rear in my running group, but I’m running at a faster pace for a longer distance, something my body is not yet used to. 159Perspective.  When I stop comparing myself to others and look at the gains I’ve made, I’m doing okay.  Things are hard now because I’m making my body work hard, but that’s how fitness gains happen.  And that’s really what it’s all about.  Whatever you do to keep yourself fit, it’s not a competition (unless you’re a professional athlete in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading my little blog!).  It’s not about comparing yourself to others; it’s about pushing yourself to be the best, the strongest, the fastest, the fittest you can be.

156So I traded in my running shoes for dumbbells today and got my glisten on.  Hopefully, next week I’ll be back with my running group, trying to remember that my place at the back of the pack means I’m getting stronger!

Talk to me:

How are your fitness goals coming along?

How are you feeling about your current level of fitness?

 

Why CrossFit?

I’m sitting here with sore shoulders from the CrossFit workout yesterday, so I decided today would be a good day to answer the question my sister asked me a while back:  “So why do you do CrossFit?”

It’s a good question when I come home sore, feeling like a noodle, and just downright exhausted.

When people find out I do CrossFit, I get a variety of responses.  Some people are like, “Wow!  I could never do that!”  Other people frown and say, “I’d never do that.  It’s not safe.”  I even had one person tell me CrossFit is too cult-like.  What does that even mean?!  Some people feel intimidated by CrossFit.  Other people think they’re not fit enough to try or are scared to try because of some physical condition.

True, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before you start an intensive exercise program.  And I totally get that CrossFit isn’t for everyone.  Just like running’s not for everyone.  But today, I want to tell you about my experience with CrossFit and why I keep going back for more.  You can decide for yourself if this is an activity you want to try.

I was informally introduced to CrossFit about 9 months into my weight loss journey.  I was exercising at least 3 hours a day, wearing myself out, but not losing any more weight.  You can read about that here. Desperate for help, I signed up to work with a personal trainer at the gym I belonged to at the time.  My trainer was a CrossFitter and so the workouts he designed for me contained a lot of CrossFit moves.  In my whole life, I had never sweated so much that I left puddles of water on the floor, but after one workout with Manoah, I was dripping on the floor.  His workouts were intense and pushed me past limits I’d never crossed before.  But I felt amazing after the workout was done, and I saw my weight start to decrease again.

When Manoah moved away (sad day for me), I thought about his workouts, his own strength, the change in me, and I decided I had to try CrossFit.

One workout later, I was hooked.  Here’s what I love about CrossFit and what keeps me coming back for more:

  1.  I love the community.  That’s right.  CrossFit gyms feel like a community.  The coaches know your name.  You get to know the members in the gym, and they become your friends.  So going to CrossFit for me is more than just getting in a good work out.  It’s about seeing my friends.  It’s a social outlet of sorts.
  2. I love the camaraderie and friendly competition.  I’m not super competitive, except with myself, but a little competition keeps me motivated.  CrossFit workouts are usually set up to do as much work as possible in a specified amount of time or to do the workout as quickly as possible.  Obviously, no one wants to finish last, so that drive to not be last keeps me going hard.  But what I love about CrossFit is that those who finish first cheer on those who are still working.  I’ve been the last place finisher, and to have the rest of the class cheering me on as I struggle for one last thruster or one more power clean gives me strength I didn’t know I had.  It’s competition, yes, but it’s more about celebrating your effort and the fact that you completed the workout.
  3. Everyone can do it.  CrossFit is totally scaleable, meaning if you can’t do a certain move, there’s an alternative.  The coaches will find a movement that you can do that will serve the same purpose.  I have a curve in my spine between my shoulder blades.  It’s caused a lot of upper body weakness and mobility issues.  When I first started CrossFit about a year ago, I couldn’t even pull an empty barbell (35 pounds) much above my waist.  The coIMG_0686ach helped me scale the movement, and now my strength and mobility have improved to the point that pulling those 35 pounds up to my chest feels like nothing.  I still have trouble with overhead work.  It’s taken me a lot longer to progress with those moves because of my spine, and I may never be able to lift as much overhead as other girls in the gym, but I’m doing more than I ever thought possible.
  4. One workout is a full body workout.  When I was going to a traditional gym, I usually had workouts broken up into cardio, leg day, and arm day.  What I love about CrossFit is that every workout targets the entire body and because of the intensity of the workouts, you get a cardio workout as well.  Plus, CrossFit also incorporates balance and agility work.  So in one workout I get everything I need.
  5. The challenge is limitless.  I think this is the thing I love most about CrossFit.  It’s what I like about running.  In running, I can always challenge myself to run farther and faster.  In CrossFit, the workouts are always different.  The moves are similar but because they are done with different weights, different number of repetitions, different speeds, and in varying combinations, my body is constantly challenged.  And there’s such a sense of accomplishment when I finish the WOD.  It makes me hungry for more!
  6. Workouts are planned.  I don’t know about you, but in a traditional gym, I just kind of did my own thing, and because I wasn’t sure how all the machines worked, I tended to do the same exercises over and over.  In CrossFit, the workouts are planned.  All you have to do is show up and do the work.  And the workouts are coached.  I love that there is someone there, a CrossFit expert, encouraging me to pick up the bar, to keep going, to correct my form or technique when I need it.
  7. It’s as safe as any other exercise.  I know that a lot of people think that weight lifting is dangerous, but what I’m learning is that technique makes all the difference.  At my gym, the coaches demonstrate each lift before we do them in the WOD, and then have us demonstrate the lift with a PVC pipe.  During the WOD, I’ve had coaches guide my technique, helping me to get proper form so that the lift is safe.  I appreciat116e that they will tell us to go down in weight if needed to not sacrifice technique.  They are focused on safety.  And just for the record, in one year of running, I lost 3 months of training and spent over $1000 in medical care because of a severe case of iliotibial band syndrome, developed bursitis in my shoulder from lifting weights improperly in a traditional gym, and sprained an ankle when I stepped on a rock.  The most that’s happened to me in my first year of CrossFit are some bruises on my shin from hitting my legs against the barbell and a few blisters on my hands that are now callouses.IMG_0243
  8. I am strong!  I think the thing that makes me excited to go to CrossFit every day is that I see my strength increasing.  When I run hills, I usually pass other people now, and it’s not because I’m a better runner; I’ve just gotten stronger.  Every day activities that involve moving and lifting things are not as difficult.  And that right there is what CrossFit is all about–functional movements.  I like what the owner of the gym told me as my face was in contortions during a WOD, “Remember.  This is so you can do a cartwheel when you’re 90.”  CrossFit is not about looking good, although toning is an inevitable result; it’s about overall body fitness and conditioning to keep you strong and healthy into your latter years.  003So there you go.  That’s why I do CrossFit.  Strength training is an important part of overall health and a great way to bust through a plateau, but whether you decide to take up CrossFit or not is not important.  What’s important is to find an activity you love, something you look forward to doing, and just do it!

Talk to me:

What’s on your agenda for today?

What are your social outlets?

Being Okay with Uncomfortable

I had a conversation with a friend a while back when the seed of doing a Spartan race was planted in my mind.  A Spartan race is a super serious obstacle course, not like the inflatable obstacles I did last week. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a Spartan race.  I have a lot to overcome in the fear category before I tackle that course, but I’m challenged by the thought of doing a real obstacle race.

As I was reading and learning about Spartans, I heard someone say that those that have gone before us were comfortable with being uncomfortable and that Spartans, too, have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It makes sense.  The obstacles have racers doing things like crawling in mud, swinging from a rope high above the ground, running in the heat, carrying heavy things.  Just being downright uncomfortable.

So I’ve been thinking about being okay with being uncomfortable on my trip to northern Indiana to visit family this week.  On the way I passed through the state of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln country.  Did you know that Abraham Lincoln served in the state house of representatives when he was 27 years old?  Here is a wax figure of what he probably looked like at that young age:

106Then, I visited a replica of the log cabin where he grew up on the actual Lincoln farm.  Talk about being uncomfortable!  Can you imagine 9 people living in this 2 room house with no indoor plumbing, electric, heat or air?

107Yeah, I was dying in my T-shirt and shorts, sweat trickling down my back, as I considered cutting my visit short so I could get back into my nicely air conditioned car.  I’m pathetic.

Then, I arrived in Goshen, Indiana where a large community of Amish people live.  The Amish, if you’re not familiar with the religion, live without electricity, indoor plumbing, or cars.  They make their own clothing (the women only wear long dresses), plow their fields with horse drawn plows, and drive horse drawn buggies for transportation. Indiana-6-2016 003 My mom was raised in an Amish family (yes, I kid you not), so seeing people in 2016 driving horses and buggies was not new to me.  But as I watched the horses and buggies go by, it reminded me of these thoughts I’ve been thinking about being okay with being uncomfortable.  Here, in this day and age, is a group of people who choose not to use modern amenities that would make their lives so much more comfortable.  They are okay with being uncomfortable, at least by my standards.

So what’s the point of being okay with uncomfortable?  As I’ve mulled it over, I’ve realized that all the growth that’s happened in my life came because I was willing to get uncomfortable.  Change is uncomfortable.  It makes us do things we don’t like or don’t want to do.  It makes us choose between sometimes impossible options.  It makes us hurt, sometimes physically or emotionally.  Let’s be honest.  Sometimes change just sucks.

But I’ve only become a runner because I was willing to get uncomfortable.  I had to push past my level of physical comfort to be able to run farther and faster.  And the muscle soreness that follows a CrossFit workout is NOT fun, but lifting heavier weights is tons of fun!

And weight loss happened because I was willing to get uncomfortable.  I had to live through weeks and months of making choices that were hard to get to the point of being able to choose healthy without a battle.  Trust me.  I know how hard, how uncomfortable, it is to stare a donut in the face and choose to eat an apple instead.  I understand the uncomfortable feeling of being exhausted from a day’s work but choosing to be active in some way instead of vegging on the couch.

I have a lot of work to do before I get to okay with being uncomfortable.  I definitely like my creature comforts, being clean, staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  I don’t like being hurt, emotionally or physically.  I don’t like standing in line; just standing there makes my back hurt.  I know; I’m a weenie.

But I do like what’s happened because I’ve faced those discomforts.  I like being able to say that I’ve run a marathon.  I like that the blisters on my hands have turned to callouses from handling barbells and hanging from the pull up bar at the gym.  I like that I can choose apples over donuts without a battle of the wills.  I like that I can even consider the idea of doing an obstacle course.  I like the changes in me that have been born from discomfort.

But, I know that I need to get a lot more okay with being a lot more uncomfortable to reach all of my goals.  If I’m ever going to go parasailing, I’m going to have to get real uncomfortable.  Oh, boy.

What fun historical sites have your visited?

What’s the most uncomfortable thing you’ve ever done?

 

Save

Murph

“Ten seconds!” the coach called, starting the timer on the wall.  Five seconds.  We were lined up outside, eagerly awaiting the command to “Go!”  Three seconds.  Two.  One.  Go!  We took off on a one mile run, and Murph was underway.

I finished the run in about 7.5 minutes and headed into the gym to begin the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats.  I broke them into 20 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats because in the CrossFit world, I’m still a weakling and there’s absolutely no way on this earth I’d be able to do 100 pull-ups in a row.  In fact, I can’t even do one pull-up.  I’m still working on that, so I had to do ring rows.

By my third round and 30 push-ups later, my arms were already threatening divorce from the rest of my body, and I found myself lying on the floor in between push-ups gasping for air like a dying fish.  And I wasn’t even half way to the finish!  Oy!

So I thought about Murph, not the workout, but the guy the workout honors.  CrossFit has different workouts, tough workouts, named after fallen military heroes to honor their sacrifice.  Hero WODs, they’re called.  On Memorial Day, CrossFit gyms, or boxes, around the world do the workout called Murph to honor Navy Lt. Michael Murphy who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.  The actual workout is supposed to be done wearing 20 to 40 pounds of body armor and all the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats done unbroken.  And here I am doing my pitiful little ring rows, 5 at a time, and grunting to keep my knees off the floor during a push-up.  With NO body armor…

Thinking about how tired I was just didn’t hold a candle to the sacrifice of Lt. Murphy, so I kept going, round after round, willing myself to just complete one more round.  Finally I reached the 300th squat, and I headed outside to complete another one mile run, the final component of Hero WOD Murph.

My pace was definitely slower than on the first mile.  Squats have a way of turning legs to wood, and I felt like I was moving through mud.  Then, marathon flashback…I started cramping.  This time is was the side of my belly, a super bad side stitch, instead of my legs.  I had half a mile left to go, and my belly was cramping so tightly I could hardly breathe or hold my upright position.  I’m sure my face was doing all kinds of contortions because fellow athletes passed me, calling out encouragement.  My breath was coming out in short audible gasps.  I was so ready to be done, but that last 400 meters seemed like an eternity!

But 50 minutes and 33 seconds after this marathon of CrossFit workouts started, I finished Murph for the second time in my CrossFit life, shaving 5 minutes off my previous time.  And when my cramp eased up and I could breathe again, all was well with the world, and I decided that yeah, Murph wasn’t that bad!  It just left me looking like this.  Sunny curled up beside me to comfort me.

016I did Murph on Monday, Memorial Day.  Today is Friday (I know, this post is really overdue.  Blame it on working 12 hour shifts!), and for the first time this week I can unhook my bra without crying.  It’s nice to have arms that don’t protest with movement!  But it’s got me thinking a lot, again, about why I do CrossFit?  Why do I put myself through such tough workouts, endure days of muscle soreness, and go back willingly for more?

Stay tuned for answers to those questions, but doing Murph helps me remember that there are a lot of people doing a lot of things that are way tougher than I’ll ever do.  And they do them over and over, every day.  It’s good to think about that when I start to whine and complain about how tough life is.

Read more about Lt. Murphy and the workout that bears his name here.

Who are the heroes in your life?

What did you do on Memorial Day?

 

 

Losing the Love

Running sucks right now.  So does CrossFit.  It all just seems so hard.  I mean, for crying out loud, I just ran a marathon, and now running 3 miles feels like a long distance.  What’s up with that?  And weights that I used to lift in CrossFit just seem too heavy.  And let’s not even talk about shoulder mobility.  I just feel like I’m not progressing.

As if it weren’t obvious, I’ve been feeling rather discouraged lately.  Running and CrossFit are not things I do because I HAVE to; I honestly enjoy them.  I look forward to running and throwing around weights in the gym.  Or I used to.  What’s happened that what I love has become a chore?

The owner of the CrossFit gym I belong to saw me leaving a few days ago and called out asking how it was going.  I guess my voice betrayed me because he picked up that something wasn’t right and called me over for a chat.  So I spilled my guts.  I ran a marathon, but now I can barely run 3 miles, and I’ve taken steps back in CrossFit.  I’m discouraged.

Jake is a wise man.  The first thing out of his mouth was, “So you ran a marathon.  How many days did you take off after?”  Touche.  I knew rest was important, but I guess my inner teenager thought I was unbreakable and would be good to go after a 2 day rest.

His advice to me?  “Have fun!”  Basically, chill out.  Relax.  Don’t push yourself so hard.  He’s right; I’m not training for anything right now, so why do I have to run that pace or get that mileage or lift that amount of weight?  But I’m super competitive when it comes to myself, and I feel like I’ve let myself down if this run was slower than the last or if I don’t go the miles I had planned or if I still can’t overhead squat more than 20 pounds (Grrr….).

But his advice has been unshakeable.  Have fun.  Run until it’s not fun and then stop.  Or just don’t run for a while.  Walk instead.  And if the CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) doesn’t appeal to you, cheer on your peers and do something else, or go super light that day with the weights.  Just give yourself a break.

As crazy as it sounds, sometimes I just need someone to give me “permission” to let up.  I need to hear that it’s okay to take a break.  Even though my recent vacation gave me a boost of confidence that I can make healthy food choices away from home, I’m still scared to death of gaining weight if I’m not burning tons of calories a day.  I’m still working on finding that balance.

But for now I need to find the fun in my sports again.  I’m thinking maybe I should go running without my running watch.  Forget about pace and distance and just run at a pace that feels good and quit when I get tired.  Same with cycling.  I’m already in that mindset when I get on my bike that I have to ride for a certain number of minutes or get one more mile in than I did last time in the same number of minutes.  I need to just forget about how fast and how far I’m riding and just focus on the wind in my face and enjoy the ride.  And instead of obsessing about the weight on my bar, I need to just focus on the feel of the bar in my hands and the thrill of completing a tough workout, not on “I should be doing more.”

001We all know that life’s not a bowl of cherries, right?  And there’s something to be said for pushing yourself.  That’s how you get better, faster, stronger.  But there’s a time for resting too.  It’s hard for me to admit I’m not enjoying running right now, but I’m going to trust Jake’s advice and just have fun.  I’m just going to chill, try to forget about the numbers and do my thing because I LOVE it.

How are you doing with exercise and fitness?

How do you keep that balance of rest and pushing yourself?

 

 

What’s Next?

“What’s next?”  That’s the question I’ve been getting asked a lot this past week.  Now that I’ve run a marathon, what’s next?

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been in a bit of a funk since the race ended.  There’s something about working hard and looking forward to an event for so long that just leaves me feeling a bit deflated once it’s over.  Am I alone in that?  I mean, you pour yourself into training, sacrificing other events for training runs, and then…just like that, it’s over.

It’s got me thinking a lot about a question a friend asked me recently.  “What do you do when you get down?” he asked.  I didn’t know what to say.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about it this week, feeling all down and stuff, you know.

What I’ve realized is that since I’ve made exercise a regular part of my life, I don’t feel down very often.  (Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic about exercise and mood.)  But the tough thing about running a marathon is that it takes a while to recover.  Some people suggest resting one day for every mile you run.  Me, rest for 26 days?!  Yeah, right!  But I also know too much exercise right now is an invitation for injury, so I’m trying to do some active recovery by scaling back the amount of activity that I normally do.  That may be contributing to my funk.

What I’ve also realized is that I need a goal to work towards–a vacation to plan, a mission trip to prepare for, a home improvement project to complete, an event to host at my house, a race to train for.  When there’s something in the future that I’m reaching for, that’s what energizes and motivates me.

So what’s next?  I’ve been trying to set some athletic goals to give myself something to work towards.

  1.  The most immediate goal is a 5K PR.  Coming up on Friday, May 7 is the Cinco de Mayo 5K.  This was the first race I ever ran 2 years ago ancinco de mayo finish, 2d the event that really flipped the switch for me on becoming a runner.  I haven’t run a 5K race in a while, and I’m looking forward to running this race again to see how much speed I’ve picked up.  My fastest 5K to date has been 27 minutes, so my goal is to run this race in under 27 minutes.  This is me 2 years ago, elated at having run a 5K!

 

 

2.  The next goal is consistency in CrossFit.  I backed off of CrossFit a good bit towards the end of marathon training just because of time constraints and trying to prevent injury.  But I’m excited to get back to it.  Two skills that I hope to accomplish by my birthday at the end of July is the strict pull-up and double unders.

3.  Try something new.  I’ve just been riding my bike more or less for recreation in my neighborhood, but I’d like to learn more about the sport of cycling.  I have a goal to find a cycling group to ride with this summer.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll tackle a duathlon at some point.

4.  Run another marathon.  Yep, as hard as that race was, I almost immediately began to think about what marathon I would run next.  I haven’t quite decided, but I’m looking at these summer months, the “off season” of running races, as an opportunity to really focus on cross-training and getting as strong as possible for the next marathon.

I’ll keep you posted on how well I’m meeting these goals!

What do you do when you get down?

What goals are you working towards at the moment?

The Open is in the Books!

WOD 16.5.  21-18-15-12-9-6-3 thrusters and bar facing burpees for time

“What are you talking about?!” You say.  CrossFit speak.  When I first started CrossFit, I felt so stupid.  CrossFit has it’s own lingo, and I didn’t have a fat clue what any of it meant.  I’d hear people talking about a wad, and I’m thinking “a wad of what?”  Then I realized they’re talking about a WOD, the Workout Of the Day.  Thank goodness!  That’s better than wads of nameless stuff!

But then, they start throwing terms around like cleans, and snatches, and thrusters, and doing AMRAPs and EMOMs.  My head was spinning.  And what the heck is a double under?  Or a HSPU?  Good grief.  Starting CrossFit was overwhelming to say the least.

So why do you do CrossFit?  My sister asked me that recently, and I want to devote more time to that later.  I have such a love/hate relationship with CrossFit.  I usually hate the workouts while I’m doing them, but when they’re over, there’s this sense of accomplishment and “Holy cow, I just did that!” moment that makes me eager for the next workout.  But I do CrossFit because I like what it’s doing for me physically–and mentally.

If you’re unfamiliar with CrossFit, it’s essentially the sport of fitness.  Many people, I think, equate CrossFit with weightlifting, and we do lift weights, heavy weights, but it’s more than that.  It’s overall body conditioning.  I’ve seen my strength increase significantly in the 7 months since I’ve been doing CrossFit.  I’ve become a better runner because of a stronger core and increased glute strength. (That’s just a nice way to say my butt muscles have gotten stronger!).  And I’ve dropped 2 pant sizes just from toning.  That’s a great feeling!

Plus, the mental component has been an unexpected bonus of CrossFit.  I’m learning in long-distance running how much the mind plays a role in a successful race.  There comes a time when you have to forget about how tired you are and just push through.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other.  There’s a lot of that in CrossFit.  Workouts are set up to do as much of the workout as you can in a certain amount of time, or like today, to complete the entire workout for time–do it as fast as you can.  To do any of those workouts, your body reaches the point of just wanting to collapse sometimes, but you have to just push past that and do the work.  That’s been good for me.  I’m one who, for most of my life, just threw in the towel when the going got tough.

So today marked the last workout of the 2016 CrossFit Open.  And I completed it.  My first Open is behind me!  The CrossFit Open happens every year.  A workout is released by the head honcho of the  CrossFit Games, and CrossFit athletes from around the world complete that same workout to the same standards, one workout a week for 5 weeks.  Scores are entered into a database so every athlete is ranked according to other athletes from around the world.

I wasn’t going to participate in the Open.  I had all kinds of excuses.  I’m training for a marathon; I don’t have time to get to the gym at the times judges are available to watch my workout.  At least, that was the excuse I told people.  Inside, though, my excuse was more like “I’m not ready.  I’m not good enough.  What if I can’t do the workout?”  Basically, I was scared.  Fear.  It threatens to derail me Every. Single. Time.

But thankfully, one of the coaches kept encouraging me to participate.  I finally relented and signed up…and I’m so glad I did.  Competing in the Open was…encouraging, motivating, and a great-learning experience.

I learned where my weaknesses are, for sure.  But I also learned that I can do more than I thought I could. Here I am setting a squat clean PR during the second week of the Open.  (I’m totally stealing my friend’s photo.  Hope she doesn’t mind!)  003And finding that I ranked somewhere towards the bottom of the middle of the pack in my age division was encouraging.  Hey, at least I wasn’t dead last!  But that was also good motivation.  Other women my age are doing way more than me; I’m going to get to their level some day.  Not because I need to be number one, but just because I want to be the best me possible.

The workout for the last week of the 2016 Open was the same workout for the last week of the 2014 Open (which is why the video is from 2014).  This is what we did:

And yeah, it totally sucked.  It was so hard.  By the time I reached my first set of burpees, my legs were already shaking (could have had something to do with those 5 miles of hills I ran the night before!), and I wasn’t sure I could even get enough spring in my legs to clear the bar.  By the time I reached the halfway point in my set of 18 thrusters, I was crying inside.  I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to finish.  But I heard the coach’s voice from another day in my head.  “It’s just like running a race.  Push through.  The sooner you get it done, the sooner you can rest.”  So I kept going.  Squat.  Press that bar overhead.  Down to the set of 9 thrusters and burpees.  I was so ready to be done.  Coach is yelling, “Beat the 20 minute mark!” And I went into race mode.  Gotta get my time.  And I did.  18:07.  I beat the 20 minute mark!

So my first CrossFit Open is in the books!  I’m glad I kicked my fear in the butt and went for it.  Now if I could just get my legs to quick shaking…

So what’s your challenge for the week? Or maybe the month or the year? 

I leave you with the words I hear all the time in our CrossFit box:

Come on!  You’ve got this!