Disciplined, not driven

My back felt fine today, but my left wrist hurt with pushing or with hanging from the bar. So I deadlifted, up to a set of 5 at 190 and another set of 5 at 175. These felt normal/good. Then my workout of the day was: 15 kettlebell swings 24 kg, 15 butterfly sit-ups, 6 fist (knuckle) push-ups (because these didn’t hurt the wrist), 4 rounds. This took me 6:48 and felt good.

I didn’t feel like working out today. I often can too easily spend too much time in the gym working at the computer or cleaning. Daily I tell myself that if I don’t work out, I’ll be sorry when it’s time to go home and I did not work out when I was between things and had the time. I tell myself that either I’m a lifter and a CrossFitter, or I’m not. You are what you do. “How long ago was your last workout?” is a fair question for a trainer. My expectation is to be able to say that either my last WOD or my last lifting session was within the past two days, unless I had a really compelling reason not to have worked out. Also, saying I worked out in the past two days doesn’t include karate or going for a run — it has to be lifting or CrossFit or both. Running is just a little supplement, and karate is in another category altogether.

I don’t always force myself to do whatever’s on the whiteboard that day or to lift with a certain volume or intensity. I always write out a plan for my workout, on a whiteboard, but on a day like today, with recent back weakness and with current wrist pain in at least two positions, I’ll plan something that doesn’t make me nervous about conditions like those. I can always come up with something challenging enough, and once I get started, I go hard and I never quit unless something hurts in a significant way. For example, I’ll stop doing pull-ups if I realize my palm is going to tear, or I’ll stop doing handstand push-ups if my wrist suddenly hurts.

Sometimes I feel that I’m not fit enough because I’m not as fit as I was five years ago. But it’s not just a hobby any more. That really changes things, even though it’s not an issue of having enough time. I do have time, so I insist on maintaining most of my chosen benchmarks most of the time, but I refuse to try to maintain a standard of some imaginary, impossible perfection.

I was at my fittest in late 2009. Six months after “going paleo,” my weight was down to 123 and I was muscular, skilled, and fast. I clean and jerked more than my body weight and I could do bar muscle-ups. I felt that I looked my best. Today my weight moves between 132 to 135 although I’d like it at 128 or 129 (but really, WHO CARES) and I can’t clean more than 120 or do a bar muscle-up (though I can get those things back if I choose to focus on them). I’m not very self-critical about those things. I have plenty of abilities, I’m a good teacher who helps others, and I maintain my own personal benchmarks so that I’m a good example.

What are my benchmarks? Deadlift and squat over 200 pounds (and deadlift heavier than squat); press 90+; plenty of pull-ups such as 8 dead-hang and able to do at least one weighted pull-up with 35 pounds; cartwheel and handstand, not perfect but confident and competent; brachiate/monkeybar ladder/swing one-handed from ring to ring; pistol on each leg with some sort of weight, though I do have to wear weightlifting shoes or otherwise slightly elevate my heel. I may think of other benchmarks after I’m done here. In general these are the benchmarks I feel are “strong enough.”


This weekend

Friday night: covered for Kyle. Yesterday: taught the 7:30 class, the 8:30 intro class, then with Tom ran a CrossFit total that took two hours. It was really great, with 14 people lifting and some spectators, including two new women clients. Jules helped us judge, along with Marcus, and Ernie took pictures. We’re so grateful that people help us run a good gym! Jules said our people had particularly good squat technique, and she’s seen a lot of people squat in different gyms. That was nice to hear. We do get a chance to pay close attention to people because of our small space and classes. This all feels like a successful business and I’m very proud of it.

I went home and had steak and kale for lunch, then pretty soon after that we went to Brendan’s graduation party up the street, which was very nice.

After that we went to see a movie, Twenty Feet from Stardom, a documentary about background singers, then had dinner at a Thai restaurant where we were rushed through an appetizer and dinner in about 30-40 minutes even though the place wasn’t full. It was OK because by that time we were really ready to be home.

Today we had the women’s self-defense course, then I had a couple of errands, on my bike and then with the car.

It was a good weekend but I have had very little quiet time. Focusing on the positive, I feel like there was really a ton of success in this weekend. And I’m interested in possibly starting to learn karate from Joanne, the teacher of the self-defense class today. That could be a cool new interesting set of skills to start learning. I think a martial art would be really great for agility.

Snatch today plus a workout

After getting inspired at Regionals over the weekend, I want to set some slightly more ambitious baselines, reach them, and then maintain them.  I’m working on planning workouts that will help me. So far my goals are:
225 deadlift (1.6*bodyweight)
190 squat (1.4*bodyweight)
105 push jerk x 5
135 clean (bodyweight)
75 snatch should be easy (what should I be able to snatch that’s hard?)
Consecutive toes to bar – 10?
Muscle-up on demand when warmed up
Run faster

These are all things I think are in pretty close reach. I want to meet them and then maintain them. It seems like good fitness. I picked them not based on their percentages of my weight but based on thinking I can reach them within three months IF I practice.

I didn’t know what snatch weight would be just out of reach, so I decided to see what I could do, thinking I’d probably fail at 90. But it turned out 85 was easy, 95 was not very hard, and I felt great, so I did 97, 98, 100 for singles. I failed on 101. So I guess my goal for snatch is 105 for now; and that means my push-jerk should be a lot closer to body weight…

Then I did three rounds of: 15 toes to bar, run 250m, 12 chest to bar pull-ups. This took me almost 19 minutes. I learned something at Regionals about how they string together the toes to bar, and I feel like I understand what they’re doing but am not strong enough to do it. I can do about five at a time, slowly. I’ll keep trying to master the thing I’m missing — it has something to do with keeping the chest or grip engaged on the down swing.

Lurong Wrap-up

Over all, I ranked:
15 of 40 in women’s masters Northwest
155 of 628 women’s masters overall
For workouts (benchmarks phase 2) I ranked 13 of 40 and 152 of 628
For diet I ranked 9 of 40 and 93 of 628
Overall I ranked 1165 out of 7183 total participants who finished.
I took a first place in my region and division in two performance WODs: the max pull-ups in 6 attempts in 8 minutes (86), and the max double-unders in 5 minutes (303). And I lost two pounds, and I got my first muscle-ups. The latter was the big surprise!

Deadlifts and rings workout

Yesterday I deadlifted up to 6 reps at 230 lbs. I feel good about making my goal of 260 this year. I had planned to do four reps at 230 because that’s what is indicated for 88 percent of the 1 rep max (ie, 260). Like last time, when I lifted 204 x 10 instead of 8, lifting two extra reps yesterday helps me feel confident about the next workout that will be heavier.

On heavy deadlifts, before I start the lift, I mentally cue myself to push the floor away with my feet. Thinking this explicitly, as if saying it aloud, really helps me start the bar off the floor. Yesterday I found myself continuing the “silent but verbal” self-talk, and it sounded like this: “Push the floor away AND KEEP PUSHING. Keep pushing. Keep pushing. You can do it!” The length of time it took to “say” all this in my head was how long it took to finish the lift and lock it out. On the way down I was thinking, “You’re not hurting yourself. You did it.”

My set of six was a broken set. I reset normally for rep 2 and 3 and missed rep 3 on its first try. I then took a few more seconds between reps (breaking the set a bit) to relieve any lightheadedness or chalk my hands. Next workout I may lift the same 230 for just the four intended reps, and try to do it without breaking the set.

I’m happy, though, with the determination I summoned to finish each of these lifts. I would feel my legs shaking and had to override the temptation to drop the bar. I had told myself before starting the workout: you have to make all these lifts. If you don’t, you won’t reach your goal. Do it. Then when I missed my first attempt at rep 3, I cursed a little bit, because it’s very rare I’ve ever missed a deadlift and then succeeded with the same weight on the next try. I just really had internalized that I had to do it, and I did.

Last night and today I’ve felt pleasantly spent and relaxed. A few heavy lifts don’t make you nearly as sore as a whole conditioning workout.

Afterward I did two sets of all the rings drills on my GMB list for that day. It was my fourth one of their rings workouts. These are challenging and feel really great.

Back from a sedentary week

I visited my dad in Chicago and ended up having about six days with no exercise whatsoever — except for a long walk I took one night in our old neighborhood.

For 2011, I’ve designed five workouts for myself that cover most of the movements (or types of movements) that I want to maintain proficiency in, during this period of time in which I don’t have specific performance-improvement goals. What with running CF 206, caring for our house and yard, playing guitar, and tons of reading both work-related (currently: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human) and not work-related (current book-club book is Faithfull, which is Marianne Faithfull’s very entertaining memoir), I don’t have the bandwidth to commit to a specific improvement in strength or conditioning. My goal instead is to maintain proficiency and respectable strength in the deadlift, squat, press, clean and jerk, and snatch, plus flexibility/mobility improvements.

My five workouts are to be done during each two-week period. Five strength workouts in two weeks is both realistic timewise and adequate to my maintenance goals. Today was workout #1:

– Warm up with jumping rope and mobility work
– Chest-to-bar pull-up ladder to five and back down to 1 (A ladder means: do 1 and rest; do 2 and rest; 3 and rest; up to 5 and go back down)
– 3 x 5 warm-up deadlifts at 135, 155, 165; 5 x 3 work-set deadlifts at 200 lbs (wearing WL shoes and using alternating grip without hook grip–I have a habit of using hook with alternating grip and it isn’t necessary)
– 5 x 3 ring dips
– Chest-to-bar pull-up ladder to 5 and back down once again
– Shoulder mobility from Scott Hagnas

Because my goal is maintenance, next time workout 1 rolls around (i.e., in two weeks), I may do the same deadlift work sets instead of going heavier. During each week I’ll squeeze in other workouts/exercise whenever possible, such as in a class, but my primary commitment is to my specific five “maintenance” workouts during each two weeks.

Kipping chest-to-bar pull-up

Max snatch 92 lbs

Had a great time practicing the snatch at CrossFit Lynnwood today with coaches Jesse and Abi, plus Emily, Lisa, Melissa, Drew, Catherine, and others. Abi’s feedback for me was: Lead with the chest more to avoid the hips rising too high; practice snatch pulls to get more consistent hip extension; and practice drop snatches to get more consistent at finding the bottom when receiving the bar. My max lift was 92 but it was an ugly power-snatch-press-out. My best lifts were around 75 to 85 pounds. We were using a 10-kilo women’s training bar. This lift in the video has 25 lb plates and, I think, 1.25 lb plates, so this is 74.5 pounds.


Deadlift 1-rep max; 2011 goals

Today I deadlifted 215 for 1 rep and failed on 220. This was using alternating grip and wearing my squat shoes.

I haven’t had the focus and organization to work my lifts systematically this year, so a realistic and attainable goal for 2011 is to maintain them. I will find 1RM for the back squat and press next, and work each of those lifts every other week for maintenance. I will work my clean and jerk and snatch with the goal of improving them. Individual workouts might consist of either clean and jerk or snatch, plus press and deadlift or press and squat. I will do two workouts a week, thinking this will let me hit each slow lift at least every other week. For variety and assistance I can mix in overhead squats and front squats.

Other things I will work on in 2011:

  • Improving my backbend and stability in it to lift a leg off the ground. I can do this trepidatiously now, not well. Will also try to find progressions to learn to lift a hand, which I can’t do at all now.
  • Got to get my bar muscle-up back!

Yesterday I worked on overhead squats up to five at 68 lbs. I needed to go up to 75 or 80 but ran out of time before a class. I also did 12 Turkish get-ups per side and a couple of sets of bodyweight back squats while Tom was working out.