12 minutes Muscle-up practice
3 Rounds For Time:
21 Kettlebell Swings (53#/35#)
12 Handstand Push-ups
Greg M. won our Stop the Slop Essay challenge. Here’s his story:
“I think we’ll call it…” by Greg M.
“I think we’ll call it…” Those 5 words concluded my first CrossFit WOD
– a DNF after 19 minutes of ‘Baseline.’ I
only completed the first round, plus the 400m run, 40 air squats, and 5 of 30
sit-ups in the second round. Tom mercifully
ended the debacle at that point. Thanks
to my cramping abdominals (a brand new experience for me) there was no chance I
could continue. I embarrassed myself
countless times before that night and plenty of times since (teeth-to-bar
pullups anyone?), but the 20 minutes I spent in the fetal position on the floor
of the box, choking down some Vita Coco coconut water and trying to coax my
muscles to stop spasming are among the lowest moments I can remember. I spent the subsequent 90 minutes on the floor
of my living room, back in the fetal position, alternating between tears and
curses towards CrossFit in general, my wife for convincing me to try CrossFit,
and myself for allowing my physical
conditioning to deteriorate so terribly.
Regarding my CrossFit
journey, “I think we’ll call it…” practically
dead on arrival.
Coach Glassman and Dave Castro
would have labeled me a deconditioned athlete.
I think “deconditioned” is my least favorite word in the English
language. It was the perfect, miserable
description of me just before I began CrossFit.
Growing up, my entire identity revolved around being a highly
competitive athlete – multiple sports per season, multiple teams per sport,
travel and select teams alike, and accolades and trophies to fill my
bedroom. After choosing academics over
sports in college, I no longer had the forced discipline of practices and games
to maintain my fitness. Natural ability
kept me competitive in intramurals and pickup games, even when stamina and
strength began to wane. The pounds
packed on, but there was no motivation to change things.
my fitness just before finding SRCF, “I
think we’ll call it…” a lazy, lethargic descent to deconditioning.
I would guess I fit one of the most
common stereotypes for people who wash out of CrossFit boxes after trying it
for a short period of time – former athletes who overestimate their (long
dormant) abilities and underestimate the brutal “fun” of CrossFit. In my mind, I was the same skilled, fit,
accomplished athlete that I was at 18.
In reality, I was a career corporate desk jockey who hadn’t trained for
anything physical in over 10 years. After
the first 2 OnRamp WODs (spoiler alert! Yes, I did drag myself back), I can
only describe my mindset as wholly discouraged.
I wasn’t sure I could overcome the pain, embarrassment, and fear before
giving up on CrossFit. My pride and
arrogance almost led me to miss out on a life-changing physical transformation
over the past 10 months, culminating in amazing gains (for me) over the past 30
chance to return to fitness, “I think
we’ll call it…” nearly a missed opportunity.
Thankfully and fortunately, due to
the encouragement of my wife and coaches and the community of the kind folks at
SRCF, I downed a healthy dose of humble pie and kept coming back. There are continuing low points – typically
involving long metcons, movements (nearly all of them) restricted by my
legendary lack of flexibility, and any WOD with lots of bodyweight movements. I’m pretty sure just about every movement we
do at SRCF is still on my “goat” list… especially those damn bodyweight
movements. But I also started to
experience some glimpses of progress and encouragement – especially when I felt
my long dormant athletic abilities re-emerging.
A PR on a strength movement here, an unbroken set of wall ball shots
there, a progression from green to blue to red bands for pull-ups, a first Rx
WOD, or max effort shuttle runs (my freakishly long arms and legs give me an
unfair advantage on those shuttle runs – the only non-goat I’ve discovered so
far). I keep hoping to walk into the box
and see “100 free throws for time” on the whiteboard. Alas, Tom hasn’t read my mind on that yet
(though it would be interesting with the 20 pound medicine ball!).
outlook on CrossFit, “I think we’ll call
it…” a corner turned.
More than the physical lows and
highs however, the greater revelation to me has been the intense mental battle
that accompanies each WOD. Despite working
in the Internet and technology industries my entire career, I’m still not a
subscriber to Beyond the Whiteboard. I
have the marble notebook on the box bookshelf to prove it, 143 workouts and
counting. My fear is that I’ll see
workouts posted early in the day and mentally convince myself that I can’t make
it to the box. So I’m sticking to the
old paper and pen tracking method for now.
Everything on the whiteboard seems overwhelming at first glance. But through a focused warm-up, consistent,
impactful coaching cues and encouraging compatriots, the mental battles become
easier and easier to fight even as my lungs and muscles scream for relief.
challenges posed by CrossFit, “I think
we’ll call it…” more mental than physical.
lessons led to this past month, the “Stop the Slop Challenge.” It’s been a fascinating opportunity for me to
learn about and test myself – in what I eat, in how I perform, and in how I
respond to the cravings and challenges from temptations (I have a world
renowned sweet tooth, which wasn’t going to be satisfied by the Whole30). 30 days didn’t seem untenable though, so I
signed up. On the eating side of the
challenge, I won’t hide the fact that it was a struggle and was interrupted by
a couple of birthday-induced cheats. The
first week was an awful, detoxifying experience as processed sugars worked
their way out of my system. I couldn’t
tell if I’d succumbed to the latest zombie virus going around, or if I’d really
eaten that much “poison.” I can honestly
say though, that after 30 days I notice a clear difference. I’m now at a weight not seen on my scale
since high school. Despite struggling
with headaches my entire life (I carry Excedrin with me at all times), I’ve not
had one in weeks. And I’ve also
discovered that, under the facial fat that melted away, I have actual
cheekbones (also not seen since high school)!
On the performance side, I had a chance to revisit my old friend
‘Baseline’, who brought along her friend ‘Grace’. As an indication of how far I’d progressed
from last April to early January, I finished the entire WOD faster than when
Tom called time on my failed, first WOD 9 months earlier. After the re-test this week, I improved the
time by another minute and 17 seconds (but who’s counting?). Not enough to take home the Performance
portion of the Challenge (did I mention I was formerly an athlete, and highly
competitive?), but a clear indication that fitness was returning.
my CrossFit journey now, “I think we’ll
call it…” an amazing, frustrating, challenging, encouraging, and humbling work in progress, thanks to a
tremendous community of friends and coaches at SnoRidge CrossFit.
PR Bell with Debra: