Should have used a bigger bell….

Don’t you hate it when you start a workout and you realize your should have chosen a different weight? That’s what happened to me in Thursday’s workout. The clock started, and suddenly I realized my weight was wrong.

It was too light.

AMRAP 10min
10 pushups (Games standard)
15 KB swings (M 2 pood / W 1.5 pood)
20 squats

I had chosen a 1 pood kettlebell — that’s 16K or 35 pounds. It was sitting in front of me while two of the elite girls in my class conferred with each other that they had chosen the 1.5 pood KB, which is 24K or 53 pounds.

I watched them thinking, “Twenty-four K is a lot to put over my head. If they were Russian swings, no problem….” (We were supposed to do American swings.)

Well, I’m kicking myself for not trying. I’m getting stronger. I’ve noticed that I can use the 1 pood kettlebell in my Oly warmups now. I can push it over my head a lot more easily.

I wouldn’t have been as fast, but I think I could have done it.

Completed: 6 rounds @ 16K

I’m reminded of a tweet I saw earlier this week, and it made me think.

Does that ever happen to you? Does thinking of how you USED to be keep you from reaching your potential?

You don’t win the warmup

My poor Google reader is feeling so neglected. Twitter has become my news feed. I find so many interesting posts and articles related to my different interests.

Wouldn’t you know, most of the people I follow talk about health, Crossfit or Paleo. I should REALLY branch out a bit.

But one of the feeds I follow is @CAthletics, and I love the quotes and blog links the post. One that really interested me is on warmups, and how they are meant to warm you up — for real. They’re not supposed to rival your workout in intensity.

I’ve been thinking about that on my warm up runs – both in class and at home. I used tear out of the gate, trying like hell to get back before everyone else. OK — I tried not to be last. That was my big worry.

Then Andy told me, “Cindy, you don’t win the warmup.” And I realized racing in the warm up is kind of silly if it wears you out before the workout. So I dialed it back a bit. It’s no JOG. I’m still running. But it’s not a max effort run. I save that for AFTER the warmup.

After this morning’s warmup, it was time for another benchmark!

20min AMRAP
5 pull ups
10 push ups
15 squats

Results: 10 rounds + 5 pullups + 10 pushups + 4 squats w/ strict pullups on blue band & pushups on knees

I was slower this month, but that’s because I changed up my pullups. I’m going for strength — not speed — so I did strict pullups with the blue band.

Ow. I’m going to hurt tomorrow. I’ll be rolling out in the morning.

Where now?

Mads and me look at the camera
This is me & Mads one morning after a workout. I was sipping coffee, she was chowing on a banana. Love my girl!

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering lately over my next set of goals.
I have this one big, broad overarching goal: Be strong.

But the steps I want and need to take to get there have been less clear and so far undefined.

Andy and I have been discussing some of the things I want to accomplish, and he made a very accurate observation — some of the things I want are divergent from my other goals.

On the one hand I want to finally nail that unassisted pullup. (How long have I wanted that?!) But on the other hand, I have goals I want to achieve in Olympic Lifting that are less about strength and more about technique and form.

I guess, right now at least, I’m not really sure where to go from here. But I need to figure it out of I risk stagnancy and training in an unfocused way that could land me in the situation I found myself over the summer — burnt out and tired.

Zach has offered to sit down with me to help me work out my goals. I’m going to take him up on that offer, but first I’d like to have a more specific idea.

How strong is strong? Do I want to compete? If so, will it be as a Crossfitter or lifter? Do I just want to be able to do the Crossfit WODs RX, or do I want to focus on a new sport and enjoy the side benefits of getting strong?

There’s a lot to think about. In the meantime, here’s the WOD I did Tuesday. It was pretty grueling:

AMRAP 25 min
21 calorie Row
12 Front squats

Results → 5 rounds + 6 cal @ 80#

Those front squats were challenging!

Sunday night I started feeling pain in my left calf while wearing heels to a party. I’m taking care of myself, but it looks a little more serious than muscle soreness. I almost skipped class Tuesday morning to rest it, but I went and let the coaches know how I was feeling. I subbed out exercises in the warmup to lay off the ankle, and it was very helpful.

We’ll see, but I will be doing some serious resting this weekend. No running. No Race for the Cure. It’s just not worth it.

Let’s pretend those were pullups


I got a chance to work on my pullups and double unders in class this morning before wearing myself out on the WOD.

Seriously… I hobbled the rest of the day.  And I was so tired by the time I got home I could barely be understood.

I got to class early so I could work on my double unders again.  I only got 3 in a row, but I must have successfully done 10-15 others.  Then it was time for class.

Weighted Pullups

Since I can’t do a pullup at all, we worked on negatives. I managed to have pretty good control for most of them — letting myself down very slowly. If I keep that kind of stuff up, maybe I’ll build up enough strength to get my first pullup soon!

The WOD looked deceptively easy.  Of course… it wasn’t.

AMRAP 5 mins
Squat cleans (M 155# / W 105#)

Zach told us this was a sprint and that if we were resting more than 10 seconds at the bar, we would need to drop the weight.  That’s when I walked back to my bar and dropped the weight.  I knew 75# would be a challenge.  And I knew I wouldn’t be able to go as fast as the WOD asked me to.  So I dropped it to 65#.

It’s annoying to still be using such a low weight on stuff like that. Maybe I should have stuck with 75#. I got a fair number of cleans, which makes me think I might have been OK.

Results: 25 cleans @ 65#

Well, time to sleep.  Big day tomorrow, including preparations for the Iron Belle Challenge with my pals Beth and Steph. The event is Saturday, but we have goal setting and outfit planning tomorrow.  Can’t wait!

The importance of having a coach

Everyone needs a coach.  No matter what you do.

I didn’t always know this — at least not in these words. I left school thinking I was on my own, but in reality, you have to keep working on yourself, whether it’s your writing, career, personality, sport… you name it.

At work, it’s my peers, the blogs I follow, books, my husband.  When I did Kung Fu, it was my sifus (teachers).  They challenged me to reach beyond what I thought my potential was so that I would improve and exceed my own expectations.

It’s no different in the gym.  I can work out in my backyard all day long, but my coach is the person I turn to to help me get better.  Andy’s been a casual coach for me.  He constantly challenges me and helps me rethink my routines (even though sometimes I resist.  Hard.)  But spouses aren’t ideal coaches because they are your best friends first and your coach second.

I’ve found that the most effective coaches are your coach first and your friend second.

RedBlack Gym
RedBlackGymRedBlack Gym

 In this Gym we are your coach FIRST friend Second. Family always. Which gives us a license to break yo’ ass down. Only to build you stronger

15 Aug

I’ve had my coach for 2 1/2 years.  I am fiercely loyal to him.  He is the guy who demands that I give my all.  There are no excuses.  You either do the work or you go home.

I turn to him for guidance.  And what he asks isn’t easy.  But it works.

This morning I was practicing kipping pullups before class like one of the other coaches suggested when he walked up.

“You really want to get better at pullups?  Do negatives.  You’re about ‘this’ far from the bar.  It’s just a matter of strength.”

So that’s what I’m going to do. Because I trust him.  He knows.

Then during the workout, despite my best efforts to keep my core tight, I just couldn’t lift my hips at the same as my chest during pushups.  So he told me to do them on my knees.  Better to have good form from the knees than sloppy form from the toes.  It feels like a demotion, but he’s right.  So I did. Speaking of this morning’s WOD:

5 rounds
3 min AMRAP / 1 min rest
9 box jumps
6 DB goblet squats (M 55# / W 35#)
9 pushups

Results: 10 rounds (+ jumps each round, squats on first round) @ 35# KB

I know it’s not always easy to find that person who can be an effective guide, coach, teacher — whatever.  If you’re looking for a Crossfit coach, I found an interesting post about how to choose a coach, because there’s a ton out there now and not all of them are going to be right for you.

Who is your coach?  What do you like about him/her?  How have they helped you?

Never cleaned a 95# nuthin’… till now

I hit a PR tonight.

I worked on hang power cleans before doing a “retest” workout.  I surprised myself.  I  hang cleaned 95#… twice.

Hang Power Clean

Results: 65-75-85-90-95 (only 2 times, but that’s better than nothing!)

The last time I worked on hang power cleans was back in December.  That’s when I PR’d at 85#.  In fact, looking back through my journal, I couldn’t find any other time when I lifted 95# doing any kind of clean.

It feels pretty good reaching a PR.

I followed it up with a workout I’ve done twice before: in May and in March.  (You’ll recall I was so annoyed with how I did in March I vowed to keep testing myself.)  I didn’t do as well as in May, but Andy pointed out that I had just set a PR on hang power clean, so I was already pretty busted for the WOD.  Plus we ran/walked Sunday morning, so my legs were pretty fatigued.

AMRAP 12 min
3 HSPU (knees on deck)
6 Power cleans (75#)
9 box jumps (on deck — about 20″)

Results: 6 rounds

Luke’s birthday party is Sunday, and Andy baked Luke a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  It looks and smells absolutely incredible.  I’m not supposed to go near sweets right now.  I’m not even supposed to eat fruit. I’m not sure what I’ll do, although the Whole 9 approach to cheats is appealing.

Swimsuit season is upon us

Where, oh where did the past year go?

It’s only the end of May, but every parent of a school age child (and school kids) knows that the end of school is here!  Summer camps will start up soon.  Vacations.  Lazy days by the pool.

OMG!  The pool?  Holy cow, Batman!  I need a swimsuit!

Duh, duh, duh…. DAHHHHHHHH.

SIGH.  It’s such a pain buying a swimsuit.  But I better head out this weekend to get one if I’m going to spend time with the kids at the pool.  They both have at least one swimsuit to get them through the summer.  Now it’s my turn.

I better lay off the sweets, I guess.

Fortunately I have a little muscle definition, even though my tummy still sticks out.  So at least I have THAT going for me.

See… THIS is why I get my butt out of bed at 4:30am twice a week — so I can wear a swimsuit.


Results: 134-145-155-165-175

Felt good!

AMRAP 12 min
6 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (M 95# / W 65#)
9 Pushups (Crossfit games standard)
12 Box jumps

Results: 6 rounds + 6 SDLHP + 9 PU + 9 BJ RX

Almost finished 7 rounds — sooooooo close!

Dealing with disappointment

I made the mistake of checking my voicemail at 5:15am — which is when I was on my way out the door to my Crossfit class.

Let me just say, it was not a smart move, because the voicemail left me feeling disappointed and my head was in another place when I showed up at class.  I may have even looked like this:

Because I hadn’t had time to fully process my news, it was hard to be there this morning. (I’m OK now.  Really.)  At least… at first.

AMRAP 20 min
400m run
Max rep pull ups

Results: 5 rounds + run / 51 pull ups

This is one of those “damned if you do” workouts — and I’ve done it before.  Now, before you point out that I haven’t improved at all, I would like to point out that I did all of the pull ups this time with two thin purple bands.  And in 2009, all of my pull ups were jumping.  Also, this time I never dropped below 10 pull ups.  One round I even pulled off 11.  So I’m REALLY happy with my performance.

I like to think that the WOD actually helped me handle my disappointment better; although, the look on my face told a different story (Zach told me to leave it all outside when I walk in the gym, but he then he gave me a pep talk and hug.)

Still, I could have totally stewed all day over it.  Instead, I was able to work out my feelings physically, and that was so helpful.  So it was only a few hours later I was feeling much better and positive.

Thank goodness for kick-your-ass WODs.  I can’t imagine what I ever did without them.

Pushing outside your comfort zone

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection over the past few weeks on my comfort zone,  both at the gym and personally.  It’s amazing how fast you can go from pushing past your comfort zone to developing a new one.  And it’s frustrating how easily I can talk myself into staying in my comfort zone.

That’s why it’s good to have coaches and friends to push you.

Yes, I am more driven and motivated than many others, but I have learned I only push myself incrementally.  It takes a push from someone else to get me to go farther — whether it be a coach yelling at me or a friend encouraging (or competing with) me.

This morning I teetered in my comfort zone.

Back Squat

Results: 75-95-105-115-(ran out of time)

I should have tried to go heavier, but in my head I was thinking “I’m sore.  My max is 145#.  I’m sore.  Don’t push it.”  Our assistant coach, Jeff, did encourage us to go heavier. (I think his exact words were “weak sauce.”)  I shouldn’t have argued.

AMRAP 12 min
3 Handstand push ups
6 Power cleans (M 155# / W 105#)
9 Box jumps (M 24″ / W 20″)

I was slow.  And I’m disappointed in myself.  The average on the board was more than 6 rounds.  I finished 4 rounds + 3 HSPU + 3 cleans @ 75#.  That’s pretty pathetic.  As Stephanie accurately pointed out, my box jumps are suuuuuuppppppppeeeeeerrrrrr slow. The fear shows on my face, apparently.  And I took too long on the power cleans.  I did not need to rest as much as I did.

But here’s the positive (because you know me — there MUST be a silver lining): I pushed past my comfort zone on weight (although, maybe I should have pushed more).  At first I planned to do 65#.  But then the competitor in me decided to do 75# when I heard Zach tell Steph to do 105# and Suzette to do 75# or 95#.  I very nearly wimped out and pulled the weight off after my first round when I stalled and could not clean the weight after several tries.  But I persisted.  I did NOT want to wimp out.

I am not going to let this WOD defeat me.  I will revisit it again in 6 weeks on my own.  It’s written down on a post-it in my journal for May 11.  My goal is to add at least 2 rounds to my results.

I can do it.  I WILL push past my comfort zone.

Deep thoughts and an AMRAP

I feel kind of bad today.

At the risk of receiving the same reaction I got from Andy when I told him this story, here goes.

In my Crossfit class, you don’t show up late.  Late means burpees.  So when one of the new guys showed up late this morning, I sorta said, “Burpees!”  The assistant coach didn’t pay attention and Beth thought I was asking to do burpees.

After class I told Zach I was disappointed that the dude didn’t have to do burpees.

Andy says I was mean for finking on the guy.  I guess I have no defense.  It is kind of sucky.  Although, it’s not like the dude actually had to DO burpees.  He’ll only have to if he does it again.

I don’t want to be a fink, but…. well….  Oh well, what’s done is done.  I guess Marsha, a woman I used to work with at Williams-Sonoma, was right.  I am just a little bit evil.

Good workout this morning, though.  We started with strength.

Overhead Squats

Results: 45-55-55-65-65

Gees!  Those are tough!  It’s hard to keep form as the weight goes up.  I’m kind of wondering, too, whether I could have squatted 70# or 75#.

Since it was a balmy 20 degrees outside, Zach had mercy on us and modified the met-con part so that the doors did NOT have to be raised.  No burpee pullups!  Yay!

AMRAP 7 min
7 Sumo deadlift high pulls (M 95# / W 65#)
7 burpees
7 ab-mat sit ups

Results: 4 rounds RX

The SDLHPs were so hard.  They really slowed me down, but I knew I could do them RX.   As Zach always says, you have to challenge yourself if you want to get stronger.  I’m trying to remember that.

You know, sometimes what Zach says is kind of the exercise/physical version of what the @DalaiLama tweets.

It is not enough simply to wish that love and compassion should increase in us, we need to make a sustained effort to cultivate them.

Guess I should have remembered that before I finked on the guy.  I need to work on that.