Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A couple PRs in the gym

Where did this come from?  We've been doing some work on power snatches and power cleans with push jerks the past few Tuesdays.  Last night was a testing night on those lifts.  To be honest, I'd missed more of the sessions than I'd made, and I still had a decent night last night.

I do have to admit that I think my vacation helped me out a bit.  I had been to CrossFit 15-17 days per month for the past 6 months before October.  I think my October total will be at most 10 days.  I did put in 4 gym days last week, but only 2 the week before, 1 the week before that, and 0 the week before.  So, I'm somewhat rested, but also under-trained.

I was active while away from the gym, but spending 6 hours in a river chasing trout does not exactly elicit a training effect.  I also slept poorly on Monday night because my right shoulder was bothering me for no apparent reason.  I tend to sleep on my right side and I had a poor night of sleep and wondered if I should even try the Olympic lifts, especially going for a 1 rep max.

I had a pretty good warm-up at the gym.  We started with some dynamic stuff - mostly body weight movements, but we also did some mobility work to get the shoulders working.  By the time we were done, I'd decided to approach the first part of the workout slowly, and just see how it felt.

I started at 53# for power snatches.  Yep, that's not a typo.  I worked on some shrugs, hang pulls, and eventually hang power snatches.  Things felt OK, so I moved up to 73# and repeated the work.  Still OK, so I moved to 93#.  At this weight, I did a single hang power snatch and one power snatch.  Still OK, so one to 103#.  A single power snatch felt OK, so I moved ahead, planning just single reps at each weight.  I hit 113# just fine and went to 125.5#.  Until late summer, that would have been a PR weight, but I got 133# late in the summer.  I hit 125.5# and added 10 pounds for a new PR attempt at 135.5.  I was actually surprised at how easily I got this weight for a new PR.  From there, I moved to 138 and I got the weight overhead, but I didn't get the full arm lockout needed to call it a valid snatch.  I thought about trying again, but instead, moved on to the power clean/push jerk combos.

I started at 113, 133, and 153 - all weights I knew I could handle, and I did multiple reps at the lower weights.  My all time best clean is 195# and my best C&J is 185#.  From 153#, I moved to 163#, 173#, and then an attempt at 185.5#.  I hadn't cleaned that much in quite a while, and I wasn't sure if I could even pull that off.  I was very surprised when the weight came to my shoulders fairly easily.  The push press was a little shaky, but I got it - a second PR.  But, I still felt like I had more in me, and I moved to 188#.  This time, the clean was a bit tougher but the push jerk was smoother - another PR.  I was pretty sure I could have cleaned 200# or more, and I might have gotten over 190# overhead.  But, the second part of the workout was 100 burpees for time, so I needed to save something.

For years, I've wanted to break 10 minutes for 100 burpees.  We have guys in our gym - young, skinny guys - that can go sub-5.  I just want sub-10.  My previous time doing 100 burpees solo (I'd done it as part of a bigger workout on the 4th of July) was last July, and I'd done 11:05.  To be honest, I didn't think I had a shot at that either.  I also hate this workout because I'm always the last to finish, and everyone is encouraging me as they finish, and I feel pressured to push harder.  When I push hard on burpees, I have a tendency to go too hard and end up puking.  So, for most of the day, I'd told myself that I'd just do 80 and call it a good workout.

I did 13 in the first minute, 9 in the second minute and 8 in the third, giving me 31 for 3 minutes.  Right then, it was clear that 10 minutes was not going to happen, but I kept pushing.  By the time I started my 51st rep, 2 guys had already finished.  I muttered a bad word under my breath.  By the time I was approaching 80, almost everyone was done.  But, about rep 75, I had decided I was going to finish the 100, no matter how slow I was.

If I exclude the person who didn't really do 100 reps, by the time I did my 82nd rep, everyone else was done.  We were in a big circle in the main part of the gym, I was tired, and I had 18 reps to do solo.  I was not happy, but I just kept plugging away.  Every 2-3 reps, I'd take a short breather before I hopped back to the squat position.  I tried my best to ignore everyone else in the gym.  Just do one more.  One more.  One more.

Finally, I got there in 11:55.  I was slower than a year ago.  I'm heavier and older now, but to be honest, I was pretty happy with my time.  I know I can improve.  If I lost 30 pounds of the excess fat that I carry around, sub-10 would be automatic.

All in all it was a good night.  I've had more good days than bad days at the gym since my vacation.  I really think the rest helped my body to recover a bit, and I'm having more fun now than I have had in a while.

Next time we do 100 burpees, I'm getting sub-10.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Transition Time

After 3 weeks of very few workouts (lots of fly fishing in there, plus an almost-concert and an NHL game), I finally got back to the gym this week.

It seems that things have really changed in those 3 weeks.  Not in the gym, so much, but in the outside world.  I've actually been happy with my workouts this week.  I think the rest did me some good, and I've felt strong and a bit refreshed in the gym this week.  I've been a bit sore but still feeling relatively strong.

But, the outside world has changed.  It's now dark when I get up at 6:30 in the morning.  It's dark again when I leave the gym after my workout.  We had snow accumulations in the mountains last weekend.  My daughter is asking when we are going to light a fire in the wood stove, because the house is cold.  I have an appointment tomorrow to get some maintenance work done on my snow blower.  On Sunday, I'll be at Sugarbush for most of the day, doing my pre-season ski instructor orientation.

It seems that the older I get, the faster each season just blows right by.  It seems like trout season just opened a few weeks ago, on a cold wet weekend in April.  And while I'll still fish for a couple more weeks, it's about time to put the fly rods away and get the skis tuned up.  I need a new helmet and new ski gloves for this season and I haven't ordered them yet.

I need to rent my daughter's skis for the season, something I normally due in early October.  I still have some winterizing to do around the house.

And, I haven't stacked my firewood yet, but that one is not my fault.  I don't even have my firewood yet.  Apparently, the person we buy our wood from got married this summer.  While he was on his honeymoon, the person who covered his firewood business sold a lot of wood.  That included 4 cords of wood that my wife and I had reserved in April.  Trying to find firewood in the fall in Vermont is a fool's errand.

We had reserved 4 cords at a price that seemed fairly high to me - $260 per cord.  All we've been able to find so far is quality dry wood, but at $370 a cord.  So, one person's business error is going to cost me an additional $110/cord for firewood.  While the original seller has been apologetic, he certainly hasn't offered to help pay that extra money.

This weekend, I need to finish the winterizing work - mostly rain gutter stuff.  I still need to take the air conditioners out of the bedroom windows and store them for the winter.  I'll probably sneak in a little bit of fishing.  Snow tires go on the first car next Friday.

Soon, it will be what Vermonters call stick season - that time of year after the leaves have fallen from the trees, but before we have snow on the ground.  Once we hit stick season, the long range weather forecast starts to become important, telling us when we can expect to start skiing.  I have occasionally skied in early November, but it's been a while.  Last year, my first day was November 17th.  I'd be happy to be on snow that soon this season.

And, it will probably seem like just a couple weeks until I'm back in Addison County for the opening of trout season.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lots and Lots of No CrossFit at All

I just spent most of the last two weeks on vacation.  I worked on September 26th, and went to CrossFit after work that night.  After that, I was on vacation, with a primary goal of catching trout.

For the first week or so, I mostly fished with my wife, and the fishing was terrible.  Or maybe I'm a terrible fisherman, because I was seeing posts on Facebook from local guides and fly fishing shops that indicated others were catching trout.  In reality, our streams were really low, and I think that had the fish holding deep and not being very active.

After 4 days of fishing and then a day of work around the house, my wife and I headed to Boston to meet some college friends and see a concert by Bryan Ferry, who we've wanted to see for years.  We were a bit nervous about the show, because he had canceled two shows in DC earlier in the week.  But, the night before the Boston show, he played in NYC.  So, we headed to Boston.  Very late in the afternoon, the show was canceled.  This happened after we'd committed a fair amount of travel money to see the show, and we were not happy at all.  The notice to ticket-holders was sent by e-mail after 5:00 for a 7:30 show.  In DC, the cancellations had happened by noon.  If we'd heard by noon, we probably would have just returned home, having only spent a lot of gas money.

His next show was 2 nights later, and I'm sure the fans in Philly were thrilled.  He added Don't Stop the Dance to his set list, a song he hadn't been playing and a favorite of mine from his solo work.

So, we headed home on Friday, very disappointed and a whole lot poorer.  Saturday, it rained all day, so we basically goofed off. I was optimistic that the rain would help the fishing, but when my wife and I headed out on Sunday, we got skunked again.

On Monday, my wife returned to work, but I had three days left to fish, and I finally started to catch some fish.  After three good days of fishing, I returned to work on Thursday, for my first CrossFit workout in 13 days.  Despite the workout being easier than average (40 ring rows, 30 man-makers, 1000m row, 60 kettlebell swings, and 56 goblet squats), I'm still hurting today.  But, I have a medical appointment today, so I can't get to the gym anyway.

One great thing about the vacation was getting to see my daughter play a lot of soccer.  My wife and I don't get to as many of her games as we'd like, due to working an hour from home, and their early starting times.  They are having a rough season, but it's nice to be there to support her.  I've been to 4 of her last 5 games and I hope to make it to tomorrow's game as well.

So now, it's back to normal.  We are trying to get ready for winter, although we found out this week that our firewood supplier "accidentally" sold our 4 cords of wood to someone else, and we now have no firewood at all for this winter.  A local company that we really dislike (blatantly political company whose politics we don't agree with) has some very expensive wood, and we might be forced to hold our noses and pay up.

My first pre-season ski school meeting is in 2 weeks.  There were some snow flurries in the mountains yesterday.  The days are getting short.

But, I will continue to fish until it's time to ski.  And, I'll probably go to a lot of CrossFit classes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eleven more days of the same

CrossFit, CrossFit, CrossFit.  And more CrossFit.

A little fishing on the weekends.

I'm enjoying college football, especially with Penn State off to a 3-0 start for the first time in 5 years.

Work is busy.

I saw King Crimson in concert last week.

So, life isn't boring, but I'm either too busy to write or nothing seems interesting enough to write about.  I probably should write a review of the King Crimson show.

I'll do it when I have time.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nothing but CrossFit

I last posted early last week.  Since, then, my life has pretty much been nothing but CrossFit.

Well, we made a trip to the Finger Lakes region of NY with some friends for Labor Day weekend.  That wasn't CrossFit.  But, everything else was CrossFit.

I did skip the gym last Thursday.  My wife and I were exhausted and we came straight home from work.  I snuck out for about 75 minutes of fly fishing and caught one fish.

I ended the month of August with 17 CF days.  That was the third straight month of 17 days and the fifth in a row with 15 or more days.  I'm going to continue trying to get to the gym at least 15 days per month for as long as I can.  I should be able to pull that off this month, but next month will be more challenging.  I've got a 12 day vacation scheduled for next month, and I am planning to fish and work on the house for most of those days.  CrossFit might be tough to fit in, but I'll be busy and active.

Perhaps a week or more away from the gym will let my tired old body recover and heal a bit from all of the recent hard work.

Tonight will be back squats and front squats for strength work, followed by front squats and push-ups for conditioning.

Tomorrow will be a rest day, at least from a training perspective.  I have work to do around the house, and I will try to do some fishing, but no workout.

Unless I change my mind.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Still on a roll in the gym

I've had a few really good weeks in the gym, although I have to admit that I am really beat up from yesterday's workout.  We've been doing lots of testing the past few weeks and I've been happy with almost every workout.

Let's go back to last Monday, where the first part of the workout was to work to a 1 rep max squat.  I tend to think of myself as having two PRs in the squat.  Last year, I made a very concerted effort to work on mobility and get my squat to an appropriate depth.  Before last year, I'd done a 375 pound squat, but I know my depth was not OK.  Last year, I re-focused on form and I got to a 350 pound squat with good depth.

We've just completed a 16 week cycle in the gym focusing on squats, bench presses and deadlifts.  But, when we started, I was still feeling less than 100% after my January surgery, so I was somewhat cautious, especially with squats and deadlifts, where the total weight I'm lifting is high enough to cause injuries.

Through the cycle, I'd worked up to 315 a couple times, but never higher than that.  Last Monday, I worked up to 305 in my warm-up and then went for my heaviest reps since late November last year - the day I did 350#.  I got 335 fairly easily.  I got 355, but it was a challenge.  After some rest, I put 375 on my back and stepped back from the rack, but I could tell it wasn't there.  I simply re-racked the bar and called it a day.  So, I was better than my 350 in November, but I'm still not back to 375, and I still need to get 375 with good depth someday.

On Wednesday, we did bench presses.  I had done 200 (a PR) two weeks earlier, so my goal was at least 205 this day.  My warm-ups took me up to 165.  Then, I did 185 and it was difficult but not too bad.  I managed 205 as well on my next lift.  And then, I failed at 210.  I think if I'd skipped 205 and gone straight to 210, I might have gotten it.

Friday was deadlift day.  I'd done 405 two weeks prior, and I hoped to get 410 this day.  My all time best is 440, but I simply haven't recovered enough from my surgery to do the training to get back there yet.  The 405 two weeks ago had been a major struggle.

I did warm-up reps through 345.  My first hard rep was 375 and it felt like work.  From there, I went to 410, and I was disappointed to not make the lift.  The bar was still moving when I bailed, but I felt like my back was rounded and my shoulders weren't back enough, and the injury risk seemed too high.  I then tried 395 and failed again.  This was my 5th consecutive day of CrossFit and I was tired, so that might have affected this lift.  But, this is probably my best lift overall and I still need time to return to my previous level.

Yesterday, I was surprised to see that we were testing again - this time for the front squat.  Like the back squat, I consider myself to have two PRs on this lift.  With a cross-grip, I've done 280.  With the correct grip, I've only ever done 250.  About a year ago, I decided to abandon the cross-grip and force myself to work on the proper grip and related mobility to this lift correctly.  I did warm-up sets to 225 and then switched to singles.  I nailed a single at 255 - a 5 pound PR for the proper grip.  From there, I decided to jump to 285, and I got that one as well.  I made one attempt at 295 and failed.  However, if I'd gone straight from 255 to 295, I think I might have made it - still room for improvement.

When I started CrossFit, my best deadlift was 365.  My back squat was 265.  My front squat was 135.  My bench press 175.  My snatch PR didn't even exist.  Those numbers are now 440, 355, 285, 205 and 133, and all but one of those numbers has come in the past two weeks.  Not bad for an old fat guy.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A couple PRs in the gym.

When I last posted, I was getting ready to go after a bench press PR.  But, I also neglected to mention something that I thought was nothing, but became more of an issue.

Two Friday's ago, we did heavy deadlifts and finished the workout with some running.  My left knee (ACL replaced 12 years ago) was sore the next couple days.  I didn't know why my knee was sore, but I had worn brand new shoes, I ran without orthotics, I deadlifted very heavy, and I didn't wear the knee sleeves I usually wear for lifting.

I rested through Monday and then squatted heavy on Tuesday.  No pain at all on Wednesday.  That day, I got my bench press PR at 200 pounds and it was easier than I expected.  I'm sure I can lift 205-210, and I'll get a chance to prove that next week.

After the bench press work, we did a workout that included clean and jerks and 400 meter repeats.  No knee sleeves, my shoes were still fairly new and I didn't wear orthotics.  On Thursday, my knee was sore again.  I pushed through Thursday and Friday and things were no worse.  All weekend, I was sore though.  By Tuesday, I felt good again.

On Tuesday, our workout was simple.  In 45 minutes, establish a 1 rep max snatch, a 1 rep max clean and jerk, and then after the 45 minutes, run a mile all out.  The running definitely scared me.

I was happy with the Olympic lifting.  My PR for the snatch (due to shoulder mobility I use the power snatch rather than a full depth snatch) has been stuck at 125 pounds for 3+ years, and as recently as six months ago, I said that I may never try to snatch that heavy again.  My shoulder mobility is simply not that good and it's a dangerous lift for my shoulder.  But, my mobility is improving over time and my shoulder seems pretty healthy, and I decided to give it a shot.  I warmed up at 73 and then 93.  Then, I did 2 reps at 103 and 1 at 113.  At that point, I added 15 pounds to the bar, putting it at 128, which would be a PR.  It wasn't pretty, but I got it.  For the first time in a while, I got to ring the "PR bell" at the gym.  The coach who watched me lift 128 said he thought I could do more.  So, I went to 133.  At first, I failed when I didn't get my left arm locked out.  But, it had been close, so I tried again.  And I nailed it.  No shoulder pain at all.

Next, my clean and jerks weren't so good.  My best C&J is 185 and my best clean is 190.  I started at 95, and warmed up through 115 and 135.  Those were weights I knew I could hit.  I made 155 as well, but this is still well off my best.  At 175, I made the clean but failed the jerk badly.  On a second attempt, I missed the clean and I knew it was time to be done.

With the mile coming up, I put on my knee sleeves and put my orthotics in my shoes.  I don't even want to comment on how old and fat and slow I am, but let's say I ran the mile with no pain.

Trying to be cautious, I took Wednesday as a rest day (the workout was 150 medicine ball squats with a throw to a 10' line at the top of the squat).  I came back last night with dumbbell bench presses, 3 point dumbbell rows, kettlebell swings and sled pulls.  Again, no pain in the knee.

Hopefully, it won't happen again, but I'll pay attention.  I've had very few issues with that knee since my surgery and subsequent rehab, and I don't want to start a pattern of long term issues either.

Tonight, we have moderate deadlifts (deloading week), stiff legged deadlifts, shoulder-to-overheads, box jumps and toes-to-bar.  Over the weekend, I'm hoping to fish, I have to mow the lawn, and I'll try to get in a little running.