Karate practice, mile run

Today is Sunday. Tom had to go to work so I was home alone for a while. I moved furniture out of the way and practiced two katas for a really long time, in the living room. It was compulsive but felt great to spend the time doing them over and over. I took breaks but not for long. I watched a couple of videos a few times to see if I was doing them right. I must have spent more than two hours. Tom came home and I showed them to him and of course blanked out once each.
We both went outside and stretched and squatted for a while, then I went for my mile run here in the neighborhood. My time today was my fastest yet, 8:48. I didn’t feel any specific discomfort but didn’t think I was going faster. In fact, I set out from the start to NOT try to go faster. Except when I got to maybe 100 meters from the finish (home), I ran that last part faster. I was really surprised at being so much faster over all. This was day 6.

Time Flies

I’ve worked out plenty in the past month and intended to blog each time. Usually I have lots of strenuous activity at the beginning of the week that includes CrossFit, lifting, karate, and yard work; then usually I’m more lazy on Wednesdays and only do karate; then often I work out during Open Gym on Thursdays.

Last Saturday Tom and I drove to Stormking Dayspa and Resort in Ashford to stay overnight and hike on Sunday in Mt Rainier National Park. Tom picked out a hike we could do on Saturday night, so we did that too, starting at the Comet Falls trailhead at 5:15. The sign said hiking time three hours, but we got to the beautiful falls in one hour, took our time coming back, and got back to the park entrance around 7:30 to go find dinner.

The next morning we drove up to Paradise and hiked a loop — a Mazama Ridge trail down towards Reflection Lakes, to the lakes and across (partly on the road), then back up to Paradise. It was great. The wildflowers were rampant and colorful in the high open spaces. From the trail, with binoculars, we could see climbers coming right off the summit, and lower, crossing a snowfield. We had gym friends up there on that same morning, and the climber we saw in the bright red jacket may have been one of them.

Monday was my new day off, and I did three hours of yard work. Tuesday, up at 4:45 to start my new schedule of teaching the early-morning classes on Tues. through Thursday. Tuesday is now my heaviest day — I’m in the gym until at least 1:00 PM. I can’t remember whether I worked out that day! But I did go to karate that night as well as Thursday (last night). After a big nap, that is. I had a nap on all three of my early days, which helped. It is relaxing to be done at some earlyish time of day and not have to go back. Even though it’s hard being tired.

Today I front squatted up to three sets of five at 145, then around 2:30 I rode my bike up to Office Depot near U Village to get some small office supplies. It’s a great sunny cool day for a bike ride. I also stopped by the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Sometime last week I did a shoulder press workout up to 5+ at 75%. And on Thursday last week I did a workout I was slow at with running in it. It was a 12-minute ascending ladder of 80m run and (jumping) bar muscle-ups. You had to add one more of each every round. In 12 minutes I got up to 5 runs, 5 muscle-ups, and 2 more runs. Afterward, Mike said I ought to also do the previous day’s workout that everyone said was such a puker. So I did one round of it. You had two minutes to do two rounds of “Cindy” and then finish the remainder of the time doing doubleunders. The score was how many doubleunders you got, and I got 32. The previous day’s class had done five rounds of that, with prescribed rest in between. I would not have wanted to do that!

For karate I’ve been practicing my roundhouse kick stance on my own, and practicing parts of my kata on my own, and I do find that both are improving. What I love about karate is how it makes my legs work independently of each other, as if they are arms. Only of course I’m only at the most simple level and I’m too tight to ever really whip my legs around. Still, I love getting that feeling of “prehensile legs,” as I call it.


Catching up again

It’s been a long time since I updated. Last time was July 3 after squatting 225 x 3.

July 14: Shoulder press, up  to 78 x 7 followed by a WOD:
Two minutes each of: max reps inchworm, max reps overhead walking lunge with a 35 lb plate, and doubleunders, followed by one minute rest, three rounds.

July 15: back squats, up to 180 for three sets of 7, followed by a two-part WOD:
(1) five-minute AMRAP of 10 KB swings and 5 chest to bar pull-ups. I got 5 rounds + 11 reps.
(2) Rest 3 minutes then a descending ladder from 10 reps down to 1 of doubleunders and V-ups. This took me 3:41.

On July 16 I left for a trip to Chicago that was very sedentary, except on the second day, Mary Beth and I spent seven hours biking (slowly) on cruiser bikes in Rogers Park and on the lake shore. It was really fun.

Today: back squat up to 155 x 12 reps. I didn’t want to go heavier because it’s my first workout back from a sedentary vacation with a lot of driving and flying. I had done the WOD prior to the squats: 10-minute ascending ladder of ring rows and overhead KB swings (16 kg). I finished with 12 rounds + 21 reps. Tonight I’ll go to karate.



Catching up

My last post was on June 7! I have no idea what I did between then and June 15.

Sunday June 15: back squats up to 3 x 5 at 190 lbs.


But before I back squatted, I tried the old RKC snatch test, the version I took in August 2009: 100 snatches at 16 kg in under five minutes. I used the clock to help me make sure I did 20 or more per minute, and I finished at 4:28 with 15 reps in that final 28 seconds. I had hit 50 reps at 2:00. This was really gratifying! But it about killed me! My glutes didn’t know what hit them. I was afraid to lie on the floor or sit down for fear I would not be able to extend my hips one more time to stand up.

I waited a while before doing the squats. When I started on them, I got out of breath and tired on my first set — with the empty bar. I rested a lot between sets and felt normal by the end — normal for heavy squats, that is.

Monday June 16: bench press up to 115. I wanted to do several sets of five, but after all those snatches and squats I was too tired. My sets were 4, 4, 2+3, and 3+3. The ones with the + mean I did not get off the bench but only rested 30 seconds or so to break the set.


Thursday June 19: weighted pull-ups. We were doing them more as stunts than as a workout during the 5:30 PM class, doing one and then making it heavier. I did manage to do one full pull-up with the 24 kg kettlebell attached to me, to the astonishment of the men and to my tremendous satisfaction. Perry got it on video.

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Saturday June 21: karate.

Tuesday: Front squats up to 2 x 5 at 155. I wanted to do that day’s workout too, but I have a cut on my ring finger from Sunday night the 22nd that was still easily aggravated on Tuesday evening.

Yesterday, Weds. June 25: karate class with sensei Aleeta. I’m slowly getting better at a lot of things though I wouldn’t say I’m good at anything. I like practicing under supervision.

Today, Thursday, June 26: Shoulder press to 82 lbs. I managed one set of five unbroken, which was my goal, then did 3 smaller sets not to failure for a total of 18 reps. This is towards my June goal of pressing 100 lbs for 1 rep. I may attempt that on July 1 or 2.


Squat PR!

Yesterday in the gym with Kyle, Mike, Sam, and Taylor, I decided to try a 1-rep max squat. I was tired this week, but I always get inspired when I’m in the gym with other people. It’s especially fun to be in the gym with guys because as a kid I never had fun in gym class or played sports. So, I did some warm-up sets, then set a PR at 225 lbs. Previous PR was in spring of 2008 at a CrossFit Total in Lynnwood, 222 pounds. Yesterday’s 225 was easy, so then I did 230, 235, and finally ended at 240. Kyle got a video of the 230 one.


My final 1RM of 240 is the same as my recent 1-RM deadlift. This isn’t right, but I can’t explain it. Tom points out I need deadlift videos so I (or someone else maybe) can see if I need to change my set-up somehow. Tom thinks I used to stiffleg it, and maybe I still am. Now I want to deadlift 300… maybe late this year.


Saturday – Monday

Last Saturday, karate. Yesterday, Monday, with the 7:30 AM class I did cleans and a WOD that had running, box jumps, push-ups, and 33 lb thrusters and cleans. I am not fast. Last night I went to karate and as usual struggled with roundhouse kicks. Maybe a few of them don’t completely suck… but only a few.

CrossFit champ and celebrity Annie Thorisdottir is featured in Vogue. It’s a well-written story. But it ends with this: “She also wants to inspire women, especially young girls, to focus more on what their bodies can do than on how they look. ‘I’m not preaching that everyone should try to become a CrossFit champion,’ she says. ‘But I want to show them that training can give them more confidence—and that being strong is beautiful.'” On one hand, strong is beautiful is a positive belief, but on the other hand, what happened to focus more on what your body can do than on how it looks? Teresa observed that Samantha Briggs seems more driven to be a champion at this point than Annie, so maybe the story should have been about her… BUT, she doesn’t look like a model as Annie does. Vogue is about looks, after all, and maybe Annie is planning a career as a model.

Meanwhile recently someone sent me a link to a promo video from a new CrossFit. It featured three extremely beautiful athletic women in tiny clothes, working out, high fiving, and doing some really cool looking training exercises. It was very well made. And for sure, who would not want to look like those women. Yet there is so much smugness in it. People have no perspective on things being a phase of their life that will pass, which is both bad (if you’re talking about youthful beauty and athletic prowess) and good (stressful times).They think women are just “starting to like CrossFit now,” which is ridiculous. Women made up half of CrossFit going back as far as the first affiliate, if not to the original CrossFit, and I have that information at first hand.

And then there’s the statement that “I can be strong physically but can still be feminine.” Duh. What is feminine? It’s everything that makes you a woman. Did you really think, before, that if you were physically strong, you’d be less of a woman? If so, you’re a cliché. What makes a woman feminine is everything that makes her female. Personal style has nothing to do with it. I’ve been training people long enough, looking at trainees as systems of levers and pulleys and shifting loads, that people look different to me than they used to. There’s nothing a person needs to do or not do to be feminine or masculine except, I suppose, refrain from taking the hormones of the opposite sex!

It’s true that CrossFit is extremely empowering for women. I love that men and women train and compete together. One of the good things about this video is that it wholeheartedly celebrates women, even though *some* of the ways it does it made me cringe. The worst is when one of these young, gorgeous women says “At one time, I’d look at a girl and think, oh she’s so pretty, I hate her. But now it’s like, ‘That bitch has got nothing on my overhead squat.'” … betraying that she’s just traded one shallow insecure judgement criteria for another.

Meanwhile it seems almost every strength coach and fitness trainer on social media is trying to differentiate himself/herself by cutting down CrossFit. For most of the past year or so it was very open. Now suddenly in the past few months, it’s very veiled. People talk about methods they don’t like, all their friends and admirers pile on / suck up about how right they are, and in the course of a comments thread it is transparent that they are talking about CrossFit. Recently this has been veiled by phrases such as disliking “metcon” or 5:00 AM “group training classes” (as opposed to personal training, which apparently is fine) or advising followers to “skip the kip” (the kipping pull-up that CrossFitters like). I can understand the frustration of trainers who see CrossFit as a magnet sucking up all the potential clients in the neighborhood (even though it’s probably not), but they should work harder to differentiate themselves positively.

Deadlift, squat, press, WOD

Monday, March 10 (morning), deadlifted up to 215 x 5. Monday night: karate.

Tuesday, March 11 (afternoon), back squat up to 175 x 3, 5, 5. After deadlifting the previous day, my low back was sore and I felt stiff and very cautious, even though I was warmed up. That’s why I stopped after 3 on what was supposed to be the first set of 5. I rested and when I went back, it felt a lot more solid.
(Afternoon) WOD: 5 rounds for time of
12 front squats
Run 250m
12 kettlebell snatch 12 kg
Time: 12:56
As always from WODs with running, I was very tired for about 50 minutes afterward. I was tired from the squats and previous deadlifts until Thursday. On Wednesday I was in the gym 8 hours but wasn’t particularly active.

Thursday, March 13 (late morning): shoulder press 1 rep max test. 33 x 2 x 5, 55 x 5, 75 x 3, 85 x 1, 90 x 1, 92 x 1, 93 x 1, 94 (missed), 94 x 1, 95 x 1. Time was up; Kyle’s noon class was about to start. This 95 matched my PR from March 2008. It went up veeeerrrrry slowly. This is 71 percent of my weight. I rested a lot in between attempts, did 1 push-up, waited about 20 seconds, and then attempted my next lift.

Today, Friday March 14: bike ride 90 minutes around Beacon Hill. I saw five bald eagles in the sky at once, hovering on and off against the wind as if they were kites someone was flying. Tonight Dana is treating me to a ballet performance on an extra ticket he has. I feel so privileged.

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I’ve been so susceptible to anxiety lately — possibly I made a habit of overreacting to stress. I’m trying to remember and influence my own thinking: Just because several bad things have happened, doesn’t mean you can’t possibly be in a good mood. Of the several bad things, not all are as bad as each other. Potential financial setbacks, potential upheaval of things I’d like to be solid, being forced to take responsibility for things that I could not have prevented: None of these are life or health threatening, except to the extent the stress gets to me.

Catching up

Last Thursday, Feb. 6: deadlifts up to 175. It felt more solid than the squats a few days earlier. Later on Thursday, in Kyle’s 4:30 class, I did that day’s WOD: 50 kettlebell swings (12 kg), 12 deadlifts (bodyweight was Rx but I used 95 lbs), 21 sit-ups, 3 rounds for time. This took me the ridiculous amount of time of 10:20. I’m slow at sit-ups, and I was winded enough to break up my second and third sets of kettlebell swings. This was my first WOD since pneumonia that had a significant cardio component. I used a light deadlift because I knew I’d struggle with the cardio – maybe not a good excuse.

Today, WOD with the 7:30 AM class. I didn’t try to go fast and I didn’t start right at the beginning — it occurred to me to work out with them once they’d already started. It was 9 dumbbell snatch (20#), 9 push-ups, 9 Turkish get-up sit-ups, 9 goblet squats, AMRAP 15 minutes. I did four rounds. Later, at noon, people did 6 to 8 rounds. After class I also shoulder pressed up to 2 x 5 at 72. After that I kept trying for a 1 rep max. I lifted 87 but failed on 90.

I watched the Seattle Affiliate League competition yesterday. Three of our athletes participated. I was so proud of them! But I was sad that I hadn’t involved myself in it, and we had to use a second female teammate from another gym. Nevertheless I probably won’t participate in the next two, either, nor in the Open. I don’t think it’s because of being sick two weeks ago. That took the wind out of me, but I could participate in any of these things without doing myself damage — I think — I would just be worse winded than I used to be. I have had so much anxiety and stress (which brought on the pneumonia) that I resist doing anything that isn’t required of me. Just like in grade school. I just want to stay home and read.

Also when it comes to working out, who am I supposed to please besides myself? I always found it really motivating to know that if I did well, someone in the gym, like Dave or really anyone, might be impressed with what I could do. Now there is no one to be impressed. The shoe is on the other foot and I’m definitemy impressed by our athletes. But I miss being a “student.” I’m a student at karate but I’ve fallen behind and there’s no reason anyone should be impressed.

Back squats

Back squats up to 135 for three sets of 5. I felt a little weak, less solid than usual at this weight that is routine / medium for me normally. My knees and hips were achy. I’m still coughing but nothing worrisome. I lost two pounds in January: one pound before 1/15 and one pound after I was sick. I was doing the Whole30 all month, so it’s not necessarily because I was sick that I lost two pounds; and two pounds is not a lot regardless. So, how much strength have I lost? Is it torso fatigue from coughing that made the squats feel so much less stable? Or would I have lost strength in my legs? It’s hard to tell.

First WOD since January 16

was yesterday, Feb. 3. A bunch of slowish calisthenics and light overhead squats and KB cleans. I spent about 14:37 on it. It was at 7:30 AM and I felt fine. My chest/lungs are just a little sensitive still, so I won’t try sprinting or jumping for a while longer. Later in the day I was too tired to go to karate, though I did go last Saturday. On Saturday I was more winded than usual but no big deal.

Today I’m doing 5 press/5 pushpress (same set) at 63 pounds. It feels like a reasonable workout.