Monday, July 7, 2014

Tweaking my training a bit

Sometimes I have a hard time calling my workouts "training".  It's not like I'm preparing for a race or any event at all.  I'm just trying to keep myself in decent general shape, so that on any given day, I am strong/fit enough to go for a run or a hike or spend 12 hours wading in a river in search of trout, or just about anything else I might want to do.  I want to be fit enough every fall so that my first day on the mountain in my ski boots, I can ski right to the end of the day and feel good all day.  Those first couple days on snow are always interesting.  I am skiing with other instructors, and many of them are better technical skiers than I am.  But, by the end of the day, when I'm still feeling strong and those who didn't train all summer are exhausted, I feel pretty good about the work I do in the off-season.

A few weeks ago,  I was complaining here that I was really struggling with my training, especially CrossFit workouts.  I decided I needed to change some things around.  But, instead of taking more rest days, I'm actually taking fewer rest days right now.  But, I've changed my approach to CrossFit workouts.  I've decided to let go of the whole competitive/ego side of the workouts, and just do a workout that makes sense for me.

That has meant that on Monday squat days, I might lift less weight than specified by the coach.  On our auxiliary squat work (a second exercise to help with squatting), I might do 2 sets rather than 3.  Or, if a particular workout is going to hit a weakness really hard, I change the rep schemes.  When I do that, I don't write a score on the board at the gym, because I haven't done the specified work.  But, I feel like I'm doing the work that is appropriate for me.

Recently, we've been doing lots of burpees in workouts, and a lot of them have been burpee lateral bar hops.  For this movement, you do a burpee beside a loaded  barbell.  After the burpee you do a 2-footed lateral jump over the barbell and do the next burpee on the other side of the bar.  I'm really slow at this movement.  I'm slow on box jumps as well.  So, when it makes sense, I simply modify the workout.

On Thursdays, when we have the first half of the workout to practice movements that cause us trouble, I always include 50 burpees.  Over the last two weeks, things have gotten gradually better at the gym as I have implemented these changes.  I've been doing some sort of training 6 days per week instead of 5, but feeling better overall.

For instance, two Tuesdays ago, we had burpee lateral bar hops in a rep scheme of 5 rounds (alternated with other movements) of 9 reps per round.  I chose to do 6 reps per round instead.  Last Monday, I did back squats lighter than prescribed, and only did 2 sets of barbell box step-ups instead of 3.  On a day off work (to go fishing), I got out for a couple miles of walking with my daughter and the dogs, and then spent 9 hours in my waders in some challenging terrain.  Was it a workout?  No.  But, it wasn't sitting on my butt all day either.

Another night included high box jumps - higher than I typically use.  Instead of going with the easier lower box, I chose the higher box, but I decreased the reps.

One recent night, we had ring rows in the workout.  This movement can be adjusted for difficulty simply by your body angle.  The more horizontal you are, the tougher they are.  The more vertical you are, the easier they are.  I opted for a more vertical position.  Gradually, these changes have been leaving me feeling better from one day to the next.

It all came together last Friday in the gym.  On the 4th of July, we always do a difficult "Hero" workout, named after a soldier or first responder who was a CrossFit member and who died in the line of duty.  Last Friday was Glen:

30 clean and jerks
Run 1 mile
10 rope climbs
Run 1 mile
100 burpees

The prescribed weight for the Clean and Jerks was 135 pounds - too much for me.  I opted for 85 pounds.  For the rope climbs, I substituted 50 band-assisted pull-ups.  And, as the workout started, I decided I would see how I felt when it came to burpees.  I had done 50 burpees the day before in a "work your weakness" workout, and I wasn't sure if 100 would be a good idea.  I paced things well through the workout, but I was still near the back of the pack.  I did start in a second heat, about 5 minutes behind the first group.  But, some people were completely done with the workout before I finished my second run.  I didn't worry about that, and I started the burpees.  They were a struggle from the very first one.  I decided I wanted to cap the workout at about 50 minutes, which gave me 12 minutes to do the burpees.  I can do 100 burpees that fast as a standalone workout, but not after everything else we'd done.  I got to 80, and I was beat.  So, I stopped there.

Again, I wrote no time on the board.  I hadn't really done the prescribed number of reps.  Others in the class who clearly hadn't done the reps not only wrote times on the board, but even bragged about the workout on Facebook later, talking as if they'd done ever single rep.  Yeah, that's still a pet peeve of mine.  I don't care what workout people do, but they should be honest in reporting what they did.

I was tired from this workout, but not destroyed.  I got out for a road bike ride the next day, riding for just over an hour.  Yesterday, I finally took a rest day, only my second rest day in the last 15 days.  Today, I'm working from home, so I'll take the dogs for a run after I'm done working.

The change over the past few weeks has been great.  Less intensity.  Less ego demanding that I follow the workout on the board to the max of my ability.  Plenty of sleep.  And, I'm more active on a daily basis.  Good changes all around!

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