Monday, November 23, 2009

Back to Basics

As I hinted in my last post, I've had some thinking to do - about how I want to approach my workouts and why I want to torture myself workout in the first place. I had some pretty concrete goals at the beginning of the year. I was in full-on CrossFit-for-CrossFit's-sake mode, training for the Games and shooting for some nice round numbers on my lifts. I had 20 - count them - 20 individual performance goals for 2009 (plus an equal number of intermediate goals). Having taken 3 months more-or-less off, it's safe to say that those goals haven't felt threatened much. (I met exactly one - in March, when I was not only in some of the best shape of my life but was well rested on account of getting too busy at work.)

I'm starting this cycle from a very different place. After a summer of playing with the kids, an autumn of Too Much Work, and recently a bout with the H1N1 flu, I'll be building from a conditioning base of not much better than zero. As such, it's too early to worry about how big I can get my squat this winter or how fast I can row 2,000m. First, I need to simply get in the habit of working out regularly and trying to regain lost capacities. It's not as much fun starting over as it is doing something new, when progress comes easily and each workout sparkles with the excitement of new accomplishments. Right now, however, it's time to swallow my pride and put up some sad-looking numbers and let the cold light of objectivity guide my training.

Training for the Qualifiers burned me out on CrossFit for CrossFit sake. It would be one thing if I were training at an affiliate where I had people to push me through each workout, but not being a mainpager, running out to the garage each night and punishing myself to trim a couple seconds or add a couple pounds had lost it's appeal. Still, laying around on the couch at night wasn't exactly the best programming I've come up with either.

In need of a goal, I decided I'd train for the ski season. Skiing is by far my favorite sport, and it was a day of ski touring in the White Mountains that convinced me to take up CrossFit in the first place. Therefore, it seems the perfect object for my current training. To make it more interesting for me, I'm entering a weekly race series (giant slalom) and will enter a couple of randoneering races (climbing and descending a mountain - usually multiple times). I've never ever raced gates before and my alpine ski touring has not been a timed venture, so I don't have a great benchmark for performance, but having quantitative measures of performance will raise the stakes on my training and force me to be objective about my strengths and weaknesses for my chosen sport. Programming objectively for a sport rather than to get better at working out will be a new challenge for me, and I'm looking forward to it.

For downhill racing, squats are king. I became a better skier over the summer when I did Starting Strength, simply by virtue of being stronger in a deep squat. Obviously, then, squats will be a part of the new program, but what else do I include? Backcountry skiing is primarily an endurance sport - cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular stamina. When alpine touring, I have ~9 pounds strapped to each foot and 10-30 pounds on my back. That adds up over the course of day. There are programs out there that cater to backcountry skiers (e.g., Rob Shaull's mountain athlete site), but those are designed for the long, slow haul of mountaineering. I'm not about to load up on hour-long chippers every day to develop improved slogging ability. That would only rob me of explosiveness and pure strength I want for the downhill (and for the All-Important Stupid Human Tricks that make being fit fun).

Still, I'll be doing more of the dreaded AMRAP 20 thing. When I'm in the gym, I vastly prefer programs like Greg Everett's Cathletics program that combine olympic lifting and short, sharp metcons. Those kind of workouts still have their place, because downhill skiing places tremendous demands on explosiveness, agility, and anaerobic work capacity. Long metcons are not my favorite for general fitness, but they fit my needs for now. They'll include power endurance workouts, workouts that simultaneously tax core strength and work capacity (think DLs and running), and sport-specific aerobic sufferfests (timed ascents at my local ski area).

More immediately, however, I need to work the basics. I need to get comfortable lifting heavy weights again; I need to rebuild my gymnastics capacities, and I need to diligently improve my mobility, both to recover from recent and old injuries and to fight off the decline of old age. This weekend was dedicated primarily to the first of those. To accomplish the latter, I'm going to have to get creative and be diligent in using my time away from the gym.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Coming off the flu and not wanting a Fran cough to cause a relapse, I started off with a pure strength workout. The weights weren't great, but I have to start somewhere.

3 rounds swinging Cindy:

    5 Chinups
    10 Pushups
    15 squats
    20 KB swings, 12K

RDL 45x5

Heavy Stuff
Deadlift 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 275x3, 300xx, 310x3

Max strict dips 8

November 22, 2009

I just said that I'm not a mainpager, but today's workout was just the ticket - a squat-centric workout with an aerobic component, but long enough and heavy enough that I could pace myself without taking my flu-abused lungs into the sort of deep respiratory distress that a shorter, lighter metcon would produce.

CFCC Mobility drills
Hip mobility

Strict CFWU

    10 DH pullups
    8 strict dips
    6 strict KTE

10 mountain climbers
3 burpees


    25 burpees
    15 Back squat, 173# (BW)
3 rounds + 25 burpees

Felt pretty bad about this performance as I slogged through it. I carefully worked my way through the squats, concentrating on holding a tight core after a sloppy first squat in round two. I sometimes dogged it on the burpees, but I still felt well spent afterwards. For a post flu metcon, simply lasting 20 minutes is a good enough performance for me, and the soreness I feel today seems about right for where I am in the workout cycle.

Now the part that's been the hardest for me lately - keeping it up during the week.