The strength and power of decision

I read a blog post from one of the coaches at my gym a couple of weeks ago that really impacted me.

Crystal Nelson, who used to be my assistant coach in Zach’s class, wrote about how the simple act of deciding to do something can make the difference in whether you accomplish what you want or you don’t. Read her post here.

What she wrote about isn’t exactly new to me, but it set off a light bulb in my head — an epiphany I guess — about how to approach the really tough stuff in my life. If I think about it, everything I’ve ever accomplished has been because I decided firmly that I was going to do it. There was not waffling or wishy-washiness. I got double unders because I DECIDED I was going to practice and learn. I finished the Tough Mudder because I decided I was going to persevere and see it through to the end.

That’s not to say that the simple act of deciding to do something is some magical elixar. I don’t yet have the strength to do an unassisted strict pullup, so deciding I’m going to do a pullup isn’t going to make that happen. But what I can do is decide it’s important to me to develop that strength and from there things can really start happening.

I’ve been thinking a lot about decision and my mindset this week, particularly in Olympic Lifting. I am still deciding what to do beyond developing my strength. Do I want to be an Olympic Weightlifter? Is not making that decision holding me back in class? These are really good questions that I’m not sure how to answer right now.

I am loving my morning Oly class. I feel more in my element. I’m more relaxed — partly because I’m not rushing back and forth from work, but also because I’m also not interrupting work and my thoughts, so I’m not struggling to keep my head in the gym. I also feel stronger: I’m a morning person. It’s just my time of day.

Drop Snatch + OHS 2+3×4 → 45/55/55/60
Cleans off Block 2×3, 1×4 → 65/75/80, 85/90/100/100
Jerk Push Press 3×4 → 55/55/65/65
Front Squat 85% of max 3×5 → 110/110/110/110/110

Hip Power Snatch + Push Press (BTN) + OHS 3+3+3×4 → 50/55/55/65
Snatch off blocks 2×4, 1×4 → 50/55/55/55, 55/65/65/65
Snatch 1×4 → 65/70/70/70/70
Snatch pulls off bucket 3×4 → 70/70/70/70
Heavy Push Press 5×4 → 65/70/75/80 (4 reps only)

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!

“Wanda” made me crabby

I’ve been putting off writing about Thursday’s WOD because I walked away from it pretty crabby.

You know how you have certain expectations of yourself?  Well, I didn’t do as well as I expected.  And as a result I was kind of crabby the rest of the morning (until work completely distracted me and I was able to step away from my disappointment).

The WOD was named after one of the women in the Crossfit Women program.

For Time:
200m Farmer’s Walk (M 55# / W 35#)
45 Wall balls (M 20# / W 14#)
200m Farmer’s Walk
45 Burpees

Time: DNF

That’s right.  I didn’t finish.  There was a 15 minute cutoff and I didn’t finish.  I was four burpees away.  I ended up doing the rest of the burpees after time was called, because I’m just like that.  But I didn’t finish.  And that really annoyed me.

You know what slowed me down?  The wall balls.  I struggled to toss the ball above my head.  I used the 14# med ball, and it wasn’t going any higher that the top of the white board.  I think I took too many breaks.

I used the 35# dumbbells for the farmer carries.  That’s definitely the heaviest I’ve used so far, but my grip was lacking on the second walk, and I had to stop and readjust several times.  I wish I had grabbed kettlebells instead, because I think my hold would have been better.

I must not be rested, because I also felt pretty weak on the strength portion of the morning.

Power Clean

Results: 55-65-75-85-(no time)

I know I can power clean 85 –possibly 90 or 95.  But it just wasn’t happening Thursday morning.

I blame my crazy busy week.  With work all day and meetings every night after work or during lunch, I’m spent.  I’m exhausted.  I can’t wait to rest.

Word of advice: Manage your calluses

I got beat up a little this morning.

The workout beat the hell out of me. I went home torn, bleeding, and covered in welts.  Of course, it’s really all my own fault.

  • I never wear socks, so when we do deadlifts I always drag the bar up and down my bare shins.
  • I haven’t mastered the kettlebell clean, so when the weight comes up it slaps the back of my wrist.
  • I didn’t manage my calluses, so when it came time for kettlebell cleans and pullups, my hands were just asking to be ripped.

Cindy displays her hands for the cameraThat lovely look on my face is me being mad at myself for not taking care of my hands.  I didn’t finish the workout in part because it was so painful to complete the pullups.

Sumo Deadlift

Results: 95-135-145-155-165

On a positive note — I was much stronger with these today than I was the last time, when I scratched at 160.

3 rounds
15 KB Clean – Right arm (M 2 pood / W 1.5 pood)
15 KB Clean – Left arm
35 pullups

Completed 2 rounds in 12 minutes @ 1 pood (2 purple bands)

I neglected my hands for too long.  I’ll be laying on the Aquafor for a while.  But you don’t have to.  Here are some good resources to make sure you don’t rip ’em.

Work out like your life depended on it

Sometimes, in my reading, I run across a statement that kind of clings to me.  At least it does for a while.  And it keeps coming back to me.

This week’s statement: Work out like your life depended on it.

I may have read it on Facebook.  It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the sentiment.  Work out like your life depended on it.  Give it everything you have — because there are no other chances.

I thought about that a lot during Tuesday’s WOD.  There was a sprint in it, and I tried to imagine myself running from some crazy monster.  There’s been a lot of talk about zombies lately, but zombies aren’t my thing.  When I imagine a monster, I’m thinking this guy:

I know I’m a goofball.

4 rounds
200m sprint
5 cleans (M 155# / W 105#)
5 Muscle Ups
5 Handstand Pushups

There was a 15 min cutoff, but at the end, Zach said the WOD needed 20 minutes.  I don’t think anyone finished.

As far as I was concerned, I wanted to work as hard as I could, particularly strength-wise.  I hit all of the sprints as hard as I could.  I loaded my bar with 85#, dropping down to 80# for the WOD only because my form was REALLY off,  (It improved at 80# and yet it remained extremely challenging.)  And I did the muscle ups scaled from my knees on the ground.  I think next time I should try a box.  It might be time.

Results: Completed 3 rounds + sprint @ 80#

Crush your leg, crush the WOD

I always wear pants.

Well… I should say that it’s rare for me to wear a skirt or dress.  It’s not that I’m against the girly thing or anything.  In fact, I love dresses and skirts.  But I rarely wear them because of how my legs look.

I used to think they were fat.  I was embarrassed.  Over the past two years the size of my legs is no longer what bugs me.  It’s the bruises.  It’s the scrapes.  It’s the scars.  I bang up my legs on a weekly basis WITHOUT FAIL.  Sometimes I don’t even notice until days later.

Today I noticed.

We worked on an unfamiliar lift this morning — the snatch grip deadlift.  It felt awkward.  And on top of it.  It was hot.  Zach warned us we probably wouldn’t be able to lift as much as we usually deadlift because of the mechanics of the lift.

Snatch Grip Deadlift

Results: 95-115-125-135-145

I got the first rep of that 145# round, but I ran into trouble on the second.  My hands were sweaty, and I needed to chalk them, but we were in a hurry to finish, so I forged ahead.  I lifted up and had the bar almost all the way up when my right hand slipped and the bar fell.

It hit my knee, which I was trying to pull out of the way.  It left a scrape, and I hopped around trying to shake it off.  Zach had seen, and he questioned me about it, but I assured him I was fine.  I was more embarrassed than anything.  My knee stung — but I could still put weight on it.

I’m glad I kept going, because I think it helped.  Although it caused even more nasty bruises on my wrists and forearms.

For time:
400m run
30 KB cleans (M 2 pood / W 1.5 pood)
60 GHD situps
30 KB cleans
400m run

Time: 13:07 @ 1 pood

I probably would not have bruised up my arms so bad if my form were better on those cleans.  And I don’t even want to see what my lower back looks like, because instead of GHD situps we did ab mat situps — 120 of them.

I didn’t start to feel real pain until I got home and everything started to stiffen up.  I iced my knee, but I didn’t notice my arms until Andy spotted them at lunch and winced.

Well, now I’m starting to get annoyed with myself for complaining so much. All in all, I’m really happy with how this workout went, despite the marks it left on me.  What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, right?

Free time

I have spent most of the past 24 hours wondering what to do with my time.  Free time.  Something I rarely have, and because of that, I have forgotten what to do with it.

Luke and Andy are camping.  That means Mads and I had two nights and an entire day to ourselves.

I racked my brain over what to do with my young’un.  Ultimately we decided to stay home so she could explore and practice moving around (she’s trying to learn how to crawl).

It was a very slow day.

I did have an hour while she was napping to squeeze a workout in.

5 rounds
5 KB Deadlift (1 pood)
5 Russian KB swings
5 KB Press

Clean 3×3

Results: 65-85-85

I decided to do the strength workout we never got to on Thursday.  I ended up dropping the bar on the second set, so I didn’t count it, and I decided to repeat the weight on set 3.  That time my form and control was much better.

4 rounds
30 Situps
20 Pull ups
10 DB Hang power cleans

Time: 14:31 @ 25#

I wasted at least 30 seconds trying to fix my band on the pull up bar during the first round.  It stretched out and then I was too far from the bar.  Oh well.

My arms were toast following this.  Thank goodness it’s a running day tomorrow.  (Wow — did I just write that?)

In the meantime, baby girl is asleep.  I’m wide awake.  So I guess I’ll have to think of something to do on my own.  I’m soooo not good at this.  What the hell did I do when I was single?  Oh yeah — TV.  ALL THE TTIME.

Things really have changed.

Competitive spirit

I just bought music, and already I’ve decided a couple of songs are destined for my “Run!” playlist.

I’m a fan of Brett Dennen, and his new album was released today.  Normally I could care less about buying music on the day of its release, but this album is fun, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release.

It’s not pop — which is NOT my style — and I’m not sure many runners would add his songs to their playlists.

But I’m not most runners.

Have you ever felt like you need a push to go where you need to go?  I do — all the time.  I get comfortable, and I forget to challenge myself.

It’s easy to fall into a rut.

But lately I’ve been pushing myself more than usual.  My Crossfit friends are getting stronger and faster, and I’ve been feeling a competitive spirit to keep up with them. (I have to — or they’ll leave me behind!)

It’s a really good thing.

I found myself chasing Steph during the warmup this morning.  And while I didn’t win, I had a huge smile on my face that made Zach ask why the hell I was smiling.  “I just like being here,” I grinned.

The competitive spirit also kept me from choosing a lighter weight this morning (just like last night when faced with the dumbbells).  The weight made the WOD significantly harder and I didn’t finish, but I’m damn proud of how I did.

5 rounds
500m row
12 Power clean (M 155# / W 105#)

Results: Completed 3 rounds + 12 PC + 7 HSPU + 100m of row @ 75# (20 min cutoff)

I love having friends who push me to go faster and lift heavier.  All last year, I didn’t really have anyone at my level, plus I was pregnant, and I had to play it safe most of the time.

So this is different.  This is good.

Barbell love

Steak and my barbell.  Those two things totally turned my Saturday around.

I already wrote about the Diva Dash, and when I got home I felt like I had something to prove.  I felt like I needed to do something to make up for how poorly I did.  The baby was asleep, I was already sweaty and gross, and Andy was up for a workout, so we pulled out out my workout log.

Being the total freak that I am, I have Post-its of workouts stuck throughout my log for the next 3 months.  Maybe I knew I would want to workout after the Diva Dash?  Because this is what was posted for Saturday:

30 Clean and Jerk

While Andy set up the bars, Luke and I went on a short warmup run, then I pulled out my kettlebell.  I’ve been trying to work more kettlebell into my warmups after talking to Steph about her warmups in the Oly class she’s taking with Zach (I totally want to take it!).  So I did kettlebell carries in the farmer, clean and overhead position on both sides.

I couldn’t decide whether to load the bar with 65# or 55#.  I chickened out and used 55# — using the heat as an excuse. (I need to cut that out.)

In retrospect, I should have tried 65#, because I totally slammed through this workout.  In fact, I was able to thrust up from the squat clean position, rather than just stand up and push jerk the weight.  My results were quite an improvement from the last time I did this WOD.

Time: 4:49 @ 55#

After a shower and some playtime with the kids, we celebrated my new job (yes, I got a new job and I’m headed back to work full-time) with STEAK!  We haven’t had steak in AGES, and Andy picked two hefty one up from our friends at Fredericksburg Grassfed Beef during his trip to the downtown Farmer’s Market.

Talk about delicious!

I downed my entire steak, which was huge, and covered in sauteed mushrooms.  There was salad and braised kale on the side with red wine.  It was amazing.

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.