Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Supposed to Hurt

"Are you alright?"

I get the question occasionally at the end of a brutal metcon, as I make myself comfortable on the floor of the Y. The looks that you get doing CrossFit workouts are priceless. Nobody knows quite why you would punish yourself that way on a daily basis, but they know that you're obviously training hard. Then, there are those whose world view is simply too challenged to accept the fact that intense CF workouts are a good thing. While I was doing a bunch of DB swings in a short metcon the other day (a great time to talk, I might add), I was engaged in conversation the other day by a women taking a break from her tricep kickbacks to say, "I'm a paramedic, and that's a good way to hurt your back."

"Not if you do it with good form," I grunted.

She wasn't done. As I was finishing up, she decided that my concern for my fellow man might be a better avenue to my conversion to her enlightened path. Referring to my workout partner, she flatly stated that "He's going to hurt his back doing that." The best diplomacy I could manage was "You don't know what you're talking about," and the conversation went nowhere. Clearly, she wasn't about to accept the radical notion that back injuries are prevented by making backs stronger. She obviously thought her routine of 20 minutes of cardio followed by moving some light weights around was a better path to fitness. She wasn't interested in challenging herself. We know better. We know fitness only comes through hard work.

It's easy for us as CrossFitters to accept the basic principle that exercise consists in challenging our bodies to do things to which it's not accustomed, that we need to push ourselves past our current limits to get stronger. But getting stronger does not mean things will get easier for us. The truth of the matter is that improving at CrossFit fundamentally means you have to be willing to suffer more. In fact, the better you get the more it hurts. We see superstar athletes and assume they have it easy when they succeed, but there's no denying the suffering of elite CrossFitters when they finish first in a workout. This is something I understand when thinking about a workout, but the concept isn't quite as clear when I'm in the midst of a gruelling metcon and my instincts are screaming at me to stop and breathe. Today's metcon was a reminder of that. I did roughly as well at it as the last time out - not bad, but no apparent improvement and I did stop and breathe and grab a drink in the middle. If I want to do better, I simply have to be willing to accept more pain. This is not a reassuring thought.

Jump rope 6:00 (never got my DU rhythm going, after my rope exploded and needed repair)
Shoulder mobility (dislocates, wall slides)

Heavy stuff
Shoulder press 45x5, 95x3, 115x1, 115x5, 120x4x2
Push press 3 x (95, 100, 105, 110, 115)* 115x3, 45x8, 95x3, 95x3, 75x5

* Density style - reps on the minute until form breaks down. By 115, it was clear my form was awful. I've got a fairly fundamental fault here of driving off the ball of foot that needs corrrection, which means practice, practice, practice. Even 95# may be too heavy for this practice, as that's where things seemed to start to slip.

I've lost quite a bit on the shoulder press since this summer. It's on the list to work on a weekly basis, thanks to the CFSB article. Now, I'm sure that's a good idea.

5 rounds:

    5 burpee box jumps, 20"
    5 DB snatch, each arm, 55#

This was 16 seconds slower than the last time I did this. However, I did squat snatches in the first round, which really put the hurt on. My work capacity for this is probably improved from last time. However (and this is the kicker), I didn't push this as hard as I should have. I was again asked if I was alright, but laying there I knew that I shouldn't be able to get up and so convincingly say that I was.

Core work
3 rounds:

    10 KTE
    10 hip & back extensions
    5 cable cross-chops each side, 60#

The gym mercifully closed before I could get in the last round of hip extensions and cross-chops. I was done anyways and ready for my rest day.


Jay Ashman said...

you and those burpee box jumps, they are death in a workout.

Evelyn said...

Priceless exchange w/ the paramedic. You handled that well, sounds like. I might have been tempted to hit her over the head with a 5 lb purple dumbbell and tell her to go back to watching the Oxygen channel. Good work on the wod!

Patrick Haskell said...

The crazy thing is that after this incident watching me positively bury myself doing 2,000m on the rower and rolling off on the floor to die that she felt compelled to talk to the management that she thought we were going to hurt ourselves. The fitness director, to her credit, wasn't hearing it. (I've been trying to get this Czech fitness director to remember the ways of her mother country and join us for a couple of CrossFit workouts. Perhaps it will help if I program one of her spinning classes as my metcon one of these days.