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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Some CrossFit stats

We got to CrossFit 5 days last week.  Weekends are a rarity, because the gym is close to our offices, but far from our home.  After commuting all week, we rarely feel like making the drive on a Saturday or Sunday.

So, a 5-workout week is very good, if it doesn't wipe us out so much that we are at risk of injury.  This was my 3rd week this year going 5 days.  In 2013, this only happened once.  In 2012, only once.  In 2011, twice.

If I exclude the time I missed during this past winter due to surgery, my training has been very consistent this year.  Here is a graph of my CrossFit workouts by month since I first started:

Month
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Total
Jan
0
7
12
10
3
32
Feb
0
1
11
13
8
33
Mar
0
8
6
11
8
33
Apr
0
12
8
16
15
51
May
0
13
13
15
15
56
Jun
0
12
15
11
17
55
Jul
0
9
16
18
17
60
Aug
0
15
14
14
2
45
Sep
0
13
12
10
0
35
Oct
5
9
14
13
0
41
Nov
7
7
14
11
0
39
Dec
6
2
15
12
0
35

18
108
150
154
85
515

It's clear that I get to the gym more often outside of ski season.  And, January through February were low this year due to surgery in early January.  I returned to teaching skiing in early February, and my body wasn't ready for more than a couple CrossFit workouts per week in addition to the skiing for a while.

I am happy about my last 4 months.  With 64 workouts, this was my best 4-month total ever.

I'm still recovering some strength I lost due to the surgery.

Last summer, I did a single rep deadlift at 440 pounds.  Last Friday, I did 3 reps at 375.  I can probably do a single rep at 405 or so right now, but definitely not 440.

My legitimate back squat best is 350 pounds.  I once did 375 pounds, but my depth wasn't legal.  Last night, I did one rep at 315, my best since my surgery.

My bench press has always been terrible.  Years of participating in leg-dominant sports has left my upper body playing catch-up since I started lifting regularly in 2007.  Two years ago, I hit 195 for a bench press.  Last year, I tied that number in June.  Tonight, I will take my first crack at 200 ever.

So, my strength is improving, although I'm still playing catch-up to last year.  Regretfully, my bodyweight work still leaves a lot to be desired.  Last night, we had 8 minutes to do as many reps as possible, cycling 8 pull-ups, 8 box jumps and 8 burpees.  These might be my three weakest bodyweight movements (that I can actually do), and my score was terrible.

So, while I enjoy pushing in the gym, perhaps more of my efforts should be spent controlling what I'm eating when I'm not in the gym.

For now, I'm healthy and I'm improving again.  That's good enough.  And, if I can average about 15 CF workouts per month for the rest of the year, I'll exceed last year's total despite the tough start I had this year.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back at it - whatever "it" is

What do I even call the stuff I do to stay active?  Is it training?  I'm not really planning to compete at anything, so I'm not training for an event.  Is it working out (an odd phrase, if you ask me)?  Just exercise?  Playtime?

I guess it doesn't really matter.  I prefer to use the word training, even though it might be the most inappropriate of the word choices.  Maybe I'll just say that I'm training for "life in general".

When our work at the Vermont 100 was over, my wife and I spent most of Sunday napping and recovering.  On Monday, she went back to work, but I'd taken an extra day of vacation just to catch up on things that had gone undone over the weekend.  But, I also had an ulterior motive.  I got up early Monday and headed out fly fishing.  I had a good morning on a small local stream.

After fishing, I worked on laundry, mowed the lawn, took care of some business in town, and then got ready to go for a run.  But, to be honest, it was hot and humid and I simply didn't want to run.  I eventually waited until about 6:00, when the worst heat of the day had passed and ran for about 45 minutes.

The next day, I was back at work and back at CrossFit, and I made it to class Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  I managed one day of heavy squatting, one day of heavy (for me) bench presses, and one day of heavy deadlifts.  On top of that, we had the normal variety of exercises - power cleans, burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, box jumps, Turkish get-ups, sprinting, rope jumping, mountain climbers, rowing, good mornings, toes-to-bar, etc.

By the end of Friday, I was beat.  On Saturday, I went to the farmers market with my wife and did some other errands.  We went out for breakfast.  And then I took a nap in the afternoon - for about 3 hours.  This is really unusual for me, but my body seemed to be telling me it was tired.  After my nap, I spent a couple hours exploring a nearby stream with my fly rod.

Monday, I was back at work and it started all over again.  Heavy squats on Monday, followed by barbell lunges, power cleans and pull-ups.  Tuesday it was power snatches, clean and jerks (both of these were the heaviest since my shoulder injury last year) followed by toes-to-bar and wall balls.  Last night was bench presses to start and I did 2 reps within 10 pounds of my best ever.  I'm finally going to get to 200 pounds in the next week or two.  Then, dumbbell strict presses, running and lots and lots of kettlebell swings.  I thought my forearms were simply going to fall off during the swings.

I'll go again tonight and tomorrow night before a much more relaxing weekend.  Saturday is my (our) 28th wedding anniversary.  I'll probably sneak out for some early fishing and maybe my wife will come along.  After that, we don't have any formal plans, but I'm guessing there will at least be some Champagne involved.

I'll mow the lawn and do some cooking, and it will soon be next Monday.  And it will start all over again.

Training for whatever...