Tuesday, February 24, 2009

AMAP 24 hours

The clock is always ticking these days, it seems. Whether it's work, workouts, family, or that stupid commute, I never seem to have enough time. Finding time for proper recovery, whether it's eating, sleeping, or SMR is almost a joke. My wife doesn't consider it quality time when we're talking while I'm on the foam roller. Might be the involuntary gasps of pain I sprinkle into the conversation. (I can see how this would be disconcerting.

Margaret: "I signed Cassidy up for dance today."

Me (in anguish): "Oh my god, that sucks."

It sort of spoils the free flow of ideas.)

So when work had me down in CT for the last couple of days, I figured I should take advantage of what little time I did have to check-out CrossFit Central Connecticut. I've got a job site around the corner from them and keep meaning to stop in, but I've never managed to drop in for a class. Of course, when I arrived in CT, the combination of two hours in the car, a poor night's sleep, and the weekend's sets of 15-20 squats and DLs on consecutive days left me in a less-than ideal physical state.

Things took a turn for the better, however, as soon as I arrived. The sign greeting me as I entered the lobby of our CT office building said "Chair Massages, Monday 10-2." Salma Hayek could have been there to greet me with a hug and a kiss, and I wouldn't have been any happier. So, 15 minutes before the dry run of our big Tuesday presentation, I snuck out for a quick physical therapy session. I didn't have great hopes for the chair massage, figuring on a gentle, user-friendly once-over. However, I was pleasantly suprised by the masseuse's willingness to inflict pain. Elbows were driven into spinal erectors, traps were pinched mercilessly, and fingers pried there way under my scapula. Before long, the lacrosse ball I use for SMR seemed like a cottonball. It was just what the doctor ordered.

A bad night's sleep later, where I woke up before 5am to go over my part of the presentation, I got myself out to CFCC with a bit too much caffeine in my system. Tuesday is my long metcon day, so it was only natural to throw myself at the programming mercies of Tom Taylor, the owner of CFCC. Add some nervousness regarding my afternoon presentation, and it was clearly the right choice to start my day off with the mental flossing of a brutal workout. Still, I got there and wanted no part of it.

Maybe it was accumulated nerves between work stuff, not knowing what WOD lay in wait for me, and the normal jitters associated with visiting an new affiliate. I've mostly worked out on my own and spend an inordinate amount of time talking CrossFit with like-minded people in the virtual CrossFit world, so when I make a rare affiliate visit (this is my third), I want to put in a good showing. I walked in, said hello to Tom, and scanned the wall of white boards for the one that would tell me what flavor of suffering I'd get to enjoy.

Before I get to that, let's quickly review the CrossFit recipe: "Constantly varied (if not random), functional movements, performed at high intensity (and practiced with virtuosity)." (That first aside is Coach G's - the second is my own addition as the takehome message from my Level 1 Cert.) The whiteboard showed a recent mainpage WOD:

4 rounds:

Row 500m
115# Push press, 21-18-15-12

Totally random, my ass. The hopper knows. It sought out my weaknesses and issued me a swift kick where it counts, or actually, it issued a butt with the horns of my two worst goats - push presses and mid-length metcons. Like I said, I wanted no part of it.

Thankfully, nobody else showed up for the 7am class. I don't get much coaching, and I was happy to have an experienced coach see if they couldn't cue me to a better push press. As I warmed up the movement, Tom had no magic bullets, but after some time with me, he did see deeper into my issues with the PP than I caught in my video self-analysis. I'm fighting both quad dominance and shoulder inflexibility, while trying to learn a new motor pattern. It works OK up to about 95#, but beyond that my form issues shine through. I dip, leaning forward too much as I push my weight onto my heels, I tip back to get my head out of the way of the bar, rocking me forward onto the balls of my feet, and I drive. The solution isn't magical. It's just more practice at light weights, like I've been doing. Thankfully, having Tom's focal points, and a new shoulder mobility drill to take home, I expect the battle will be won in the next month or so.

The actual workout looked like this:

Row 500m 147ish
Lunges with sampson and psoas stretch
10 C2b pullups
10 pushups
Shoulder triplet
(10 each of
PVC press with emphasis on pushing elbows forward,
behind the head press with emphasis on active shoulders,
dislocates with emphasis on a tight full-hand grip.

Push press 45x10ish, 95x10ish, 115x10ish

115 was inconsistent, so I scaled weight on the WOD.

4 rounds:

    row 500m
    95# push press, 21-18-15-12


That rep scheme is mean. It doesn't drop off fast enough. I held form together pretty well for the first two rounds, but things started slipping later on, as I tried to work faster through the shorter rounds, despite being gassed. For the record, if you're unclear on the notion, rowing on the front end of any metcon is quite simply nasty. Tom gave me some pointers on that, but he was shy about coaching me through it, because I'm an experienced CrossFitter. If you're reading, I appreciated it, Tom. I was just too busy and too gassed to offer much thanks midworkout.

Tom was also kind enough to point out that a bunch of the reps toward the end wouldn't count at the qualifiers, but I knew that already. After 50 or 60 reps, I was really struggling to get to lockout, even at 95#s. Spending another 5 minutes standing around trying to get the reps right when I was already cooked wasn't going to help yesterday, but now it's practice, practice the push press.

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