It’s A Miracle: My First Real Injury

October 2011: I was dangerously thin (had been for most of the last 16 years). Wanting to “tone and lose weight”, I received my first introduction to a world of exercise that was not running.

April 2012: My (previous) trainer finally understands: I want to gain weight on the bar. I finally begin strength training.

July 2012: I joined forces with my coach.

February 2013: My coach said “Your bones have been destroyed. Your tendons, ligaments were trashed. Every expert in fitness, nutrition, medicine would say you should not be at this level. You should physically not be able to do the amount of work you do. You should have been injured ten times by now, your joints should be giving out, things should be tearing. But instead you just keep improving”. What I heard was “imagine how good you could be if you hadn’t f*&^ed yourself up so badly for so long”. But after a while I realized this was not at all what he meant and I took pride in, gave gratitude for, the fact that I am a medical wonder.

June 2013: I have my first put-me-out-of-commission injury. I immediately thought: would this have happened if I hadn’t destroyed my body so badly for so long. What my coach said was “welcome to normal. The way you work this should be happening a couple of times a year”.

I am losing my mind. I have been out of commission exactly 6-1/2 hours and this Warrior Girl is lost. I have never so much as taken a break.

My hip has been an issue for a while now. Today was Smolov day 3 for me. I have some irritation during my first set. On the first rep of set 2 something happens. I knew something happened but I got the bar up. Going down with rep 2 I collapse. There is nothing I can do to stop it. I can barely crawl away from the bar. I see the looks of concern on the faces of the others there but not my coach. He simply asks “how bad?” I lay there looking up at him, not wanting to say what we both know. I consider lying but if I do he will say “then get off the damn floor and squat”. He would say that just to get me to admit I am injured and that would make me angry. So I decide to skip that scene and simply say “I want to puke from the pain”.

I once hiked 5 miles through the woods on a sprained ankle and broken foot without blinking an eye. I have a high tolerance for pain.

I hate showing weakness, especially in front of my coach. My first concern is getting off schedule, falling behind. He says “I’m sure you wondered about doing Smolov when your hip was still a problem”. I had wondered but, in the new dynamic we have developed, I knew he had a plan, I trust his judgement. “We’ve been struggling with the hip for months. It wasn’t getting better, wasn’t getting worse. You need to go through Smolov anyway and I knew something would give. Either the hip will be forced to progress or give out. And now that it has gone, it can start to recover”. I reply: but tomorrow is day 4, the heaviest day… “Not for you. Tomorrow is ice, study, sleep”. I turn away because I can’t stand the thought he might see the tears welling up. He sees them anyway.

I always think of myself as a quitter. I watched Kristan Clever fight through her injury at regionals and I thought “I wish I had that. I wish that I had the heart and strength to fight through pain until the end”. I tell this to my coach and he laughs. And then I say “I guess I have been fighting through it for months. I knew after the first set this would be it, the hip was going to tear but I went for it anyway. I guess when I can’t stand, have to crawl away from the bar, it means I fought to the end. I guess I have the heart to fight through pain”. He hates, has always hated, that I don’t know this about myself, that everyone who sees me knows it but I don’t.

6-1/2 hours later I am lost. I want to work but cannot. I have too much energy to study for any length of time. This Warrior Girl met a dragon above her level and is injured. I am tempted to stay and fight until death, that is who I have always been. But my training is making me aware that injured Warrior’s are wise to step back and heal. Live to fight another day. I don’t think I believe it yet but this has been a year of firsts, a year of growth, so I will AGAIN trust my coach.

On my way out the door he says “Warrior Girl, you know how to work hard. It’s time you learn how to recover hard”. Whatever that means… I simply reply “yes, Joel”. My little code that translates to: I don’t understand this moment but I trust my coach.

Advertisements

Twitching, Apologies, & Burpees

My hamstrings have finally stopped twitching after yesterday – my first day of Smolov and Outlaw. Thankfully my job keeps me on my feet and moving, no time for my muscles to get too rebellious. And while one day of Smolov has made me a believer in love at first sight, I had my first relationship issues with burpees. I hope they don’t break up with me.

I show up early, having realized that the Outlaw workouts will give us no time to talk during my session, and proudly report on my day. I apologize for the down attitude on Friday. I point out the downs are better than they were but I will continue to work on hanging onto my enthusiasm instead of my anxiety. I then remind him that, while he said he doesn’t understand, I have witnessed his frustration when he is lifting and his tantrums when he loses. We like to win. He laughs, he gets it, we are too much alike for him to be able to lie about such a fundamental part of our personality. I will say he has either mastered it better than I have or, as I see fewer of his workouts than he sees of mine, it is possible most of his moments occur when I am not around.

Monday:

5×1 3 position clean + 1 jerk,
4×5 split press
4×5 barbell row

2 minutes ME pullups, 2 minutes ME Dips (original program must have had muscle ups)
then
6 minutes AMRAP
150 jump ropes, 15 burpees
then
2 minutes ME pullups, 2 minutes ME Dips

I think I prefer this clean work over my old programs. There really isn’t time to pick everything apart, begin to over think, adjust everything until everything falls apart. This is clean-clean-clean-jerk-rest. The rest is 1 minute of “missed the pocket on the low hang and did you read Spencer’s blog about…go”. I can improve this way. If my head is my major problem and there is no time for it to become engaged I will be able to just lift.

My pull-ups were still all over, a left-over head game from last week. Dips, what’s not to like. But the 6 minute AMRAP illustrated how quickly conditioning can fall off. I haven’t had a full on WOD in over a month, and the “easy” conditioning work I did have was on my own. While I can push myself pretty hard, it is still not to the degree as when my coach is there. When I paused on my jump ropes my rope twisted and I cursed it. The Warrior Girl that loves slaying burpees did not enjoy them as much as usual. In fact I was thinking “Please don’t puke. How many more? I hate myself for liking these”.

Second group of pull-ups were done one at a time. By the end I am not sure reps counted. I have no idea how many of anything I completed. When it was over and I could breathe again I asked what we learned today. I answered my own question at the same time as my coach “conditioning needs work”. Yeah, I kept warning him it was falling and fast. He reminded me it will come back, and fast.

He said pretty soon we will be able to work out together for real, as opposed to our sporadic head-to-heads…Level up again Warrior Girl. I am putting bonus points into strength though.

Now that I have rested after my workout (thanks for the reminder) and an extended break from studying (as ordered by my coach) I feel rejuvenated. Time for some protein then back to the books and maybe a little daydreaming…

Bouncing Back

My coach has told me many times “don’t hang onto the bad days. After your worst ones you usually have your best. It works that way for me too”. I did hang onto Friday through Saturday, my day of rest for the week. I spent it worried because I didn’t have work to do.

But today came with more perspective. Of course my coach believes in me: he has taken me under his wing as I pursue my certification. He is not difficult to read and he would not have agreed to this if he had doubts. He put me on the Outlaw program. He does Outlaw workouts, this means I am better than I was. It just dawned on me today that when he said “better get to work on your swimming” it was a reference to the games which isn’t even on my radar but he is betting that anything is possible, not betting against me. I have been pulling all-nighters, going to work, maxing, and returning home to pull another all-nighter. When I study I forget to eat (setting my timers now) and the sudden onset of heat has made it impossible to stay hydrated. No wonder I took a little teasing so much to heart, I had no strength to understand. The next six weeks will require me to remember this isn’t life or death and people don’t often speak in literal terms.

I had my first Outlaw workout today. I have had mixed feelings about Outlaw but when he announced this is my new program, I immediately felt like I accomplished something. We are running it a week behind because there are tweaks he is making to the programming due to my need to develop certain skills and whether or not my hip is working. My original program had this week as totally off, my hip would have recovered, but he wants to get moving on Smolov ASAP. No week of vacation for me.

The five things I took from today’s workout:

1) Day 1 was solo and I loved it. I enjoyed the workout, it kicked my tush, and I loved starting it on my own. It reminded me of my strength and independence. It was a calming and empowering. It gave me perspective.

2) This is going to require less time than I have been dedicating to my program. I will be working just as hard but more efficiently. These workouts will challenge me in such a way I will rarely finish a workout and think “I should have worked harder/done more/stayed longer”. I will miss a lot of things from my old program but I will have more time to study, recover, and eat.

3) I am going to love, if my hip stays active, squatting multiple times a week for the next 3 or 4 weeks of Smolov.

4) The hottest day of the year, from 2-2:30, I was sprinting the trail along the river, and I loved it. I wasn’t stuck inside surrounded by metal and, while I love that too, I miss feeling the sun on my face, the wind, the smell of wildflowers. A walker mentioned that the college track would be easier on my legs but I said it is too beautiful along the river. I hated to leave despite the misery of 90 degrees and oppressive humidity. The rest of the week will be in the cave and outdoor work takes place in the parking lot. (Note: today was supposed to be airdyne or row. Subbing sprints was just what I needed.)

5) Ice bathes are much more enjoyable when it is incredibly hot outside and even hotter in the house.

Squats Hit Bottom & My Spirit Almost Stayed There

Max week ended in a mass of confusion. Leg day went as I anticipated. My squat had the most beautiful form. My ass was so close to the floor a casual observer would have thought I was sitting. Depth is finally at bottom and this is exactly what I wanted this cycle. I am back in love with squatting – a good place to be the day before beginning Smolov. Deadlift went down but my hip wasn’t firing and even while maxing we were making changes in the form. I still don’t understand how my deadlift is 40# less than my RDL. I am told it makes sense and it will catch up. So I just keep working.

Work. I asked again how I can work harder and was, again, told if anything I am working too hard. Then later I am given a list of the people that are catching up and soon to surpass me. He laughed. I panicked. When I was at my thinnest, I would only eat 1/4 cup of homemade granola and a 1/2 glass of milk spread throughout the day. My brother told me, in the joking way brothers do out of concern, “you’re getting too chubby better cut something out”. I stopped putting almonds in my granola. I am not a joking sort of person when there is work to be done.

I have so far to go and am about to be overtaken by people that don’t work as hard or care as much but I am not allowed to work harder? And if my coach doesn’t believe I can catch up or keep up, why is he here? Why doesn’t he find someone who believes what I know: I will make the leaderboard, not next year, but in the years after. Put me with someone who believes this as well. I have enough people in my life telling me I can’t, I don’t need to hear it from the one person I look up to, believe in, have guiding me. And just where is he guiding me if he doesn’t believe in my destination?

This Warrior Girl will do better slaying dragons on her own if her only other option is listening to her guide telling her there is no way to survive the battle.

I used to be a runner. I loved it. But someone beat the joy out of it for me. Even when I won I was doing everything wrong and heaven forbid I lost. But I kept running because it was who I was and I always remembered that I used to love it, hoped I would find that joy again. It took 10 years of being away from that person, still running but hating it and hating myself, before I discovered the joy of steady movement, peace in the solitude, the quiet after I finally silenced his voice. I don’t want this to happen here. I don’t want the joy of lifting to be tainted with panic, fear, disappointment and failure even when I accomplish something.

Maybe my name will be last on that leaderboard but I will be on it. It will be my most amazing moment. If my coach can’t believe in my dream, the least he could do is avoid becoming yet another obstacle for me to overcome. He doesn’t need to join the voices telling me I can’t.

I think so highly of him, it just might hurt a little when I prove him wrong.

Max Week and Star Wars

I said in Monday’s post that I was all good with maxing 6 weeks early even though the end numbers would be less than what I wanted (ya know, because I had 6 fewer weeks to be ready). Tuesday proved me a liar. Guess I still wanted those numbers even if the numbers I did get proved that I was on track.

The numbers so far: Bench 205# (up 10#), 45# weighted push-ups 11, RDL 295# (up 30), BB row 185 (up 20), Push Jerk 165 (up 20), Cleans, well, still working on form at 115# which I’ve been doing repeatedly for many, many, many weeks. Gotta love developing lifts!

Tuesday: I was hoping for 10# more on the row and RDL. Repeatedly, I would start up with the 305# RDL and lose it just before completion. I was angry. My final attempt was so close. I took my wraps off and whipped them across the room. And it wasn’t the right moment to give into anger because I still had pull-ups to attempt. That didn’t happen. It was a bit like Luke Skywalker going into the cave to fight Darth Vader and after cutting off Vader’s head Luke realizes he cut off his own. I cut off my head. I have been so proud of my strict pull-ups. I spent months developing them, I help other people and give advice so they too can feel the achievement of a strict pull-up. I knew I haven’t used them all cycle as I was learning to kip but I still expected them to be there when the time came. But I went and got angry over “just a 20# gain on my RDL in a shortened cycle”. How stupid am I?

So I ended Tuesday by quietly yet clearly (through clenched teeth) asking my coach “why, oh why, did you make me worse? I don’t go backwards and now I can’t do pull-ups. I only did what YOUR program told me to do so this obviously is NOT. MY. FAULT.” Have I mentioned I am not the easiest person to train?

No answer and Wednesday was a rest day.

In a better frame of mind, and the knowledge that I was indeed at fault, I went in to max shoulders today. But first I had to know, where did it all go wrong and what exactly am I sacrificing on the lifting side, my #1 love, to do crossfit. Coach’s assessment: “1) you can still strict pull-up its just the muscle memory – this whole cycle has been focussed on kipping, it has been months since you have done a strict pull-up. Eventually they will be worked together and this won’t be a problem. 2) you didn’t take your break between RDL & pull-ups so you went into them all pissed off and you can’t do anything when you are in that head space. You still have to learn to focus your anger or else let it go. 3) your row will decrease, your RDL will decrease, your bench will decrease, your squat will take off, especially after Smolov.” True, true, honestly, how much do I need to bench?, true.

All right, we are good. See, I am not really that difficult to coach.

Legs tomorrow and I won’t be surprised if I struggle, we have changed the form of my deadlift and squat, but I will avoid a temper tantrum.

Max Week and Star Wars

I said in Monday’s post that I was all good with maxing 6 weeks early even though the end numbers would be less than what I wanted (ya know, because I had 6 fewer weeks to be ready). Tuesday proved me a liar. Guess I still wanted those numbers even if the numbers I did get proved that I was on track.

The numbers so far: Bench 205# (up 10#), 45# weighted push-ups 11, RDL 295# (up 30), BB row 185 (up 20), Push Jerk 165 (up 20), Cleans, well, still working on form at 115# which I’ve been doing repeatedly for many, many, many weeks. Gotta love developing lifts!

Tuesday: I was hoping for 10# more on the row and RDL. Repeatedly, I would start up with the 305# RDL and lose it just before completion. I was angry. My final attempt was so close. I took my wraps off and whipped them across the room. And it wasn’t the right moment to give into anger because I still had pull-ups to attempt. That didn’t happen. It was a bit like Luke Skywalker going into the cave to fight Darth Vader and after cutting off Vader’s head Luke realizes he cut off his own. I cut off my head. I have been so proud of my strict pull-ups. I spent months developing them, I help other people and give advice so they too can feel the achievement of a strict pull-up. I knew I haven’t used them all cycle as I was learning to kip but I still expected them to be there when the time came. But I went and got angry over “just a 20# gain on my RDL in a shortened cycle”. How stupid am I?

So I ended Tuesday by quietly yet clearly (through clenched teeth) asking my coach “why, oh why, did you make me worse? I don’t go backwards and now I can’t do pull-ups. I only did what YOUR program told me to do so this obviously is NOT. MY. FAULT.” Have I mentioned I am not the easiest person to train?

No answer and Wednesday was a rest day.

In a better frame of mind, and the knowledge that I was indeed at fault, I went in to max shoulders today. But first I had to know, where did it all go wrong and what exactly am I sacrificing on the lifting side, my #1 love, to do crossfit. Coach’s assessment: “1) you can still strict pull-up its just the muscle memory – this whole cycle has been focussed on kipping, it has been months since you have done a strict pull-up. Eventually they will be worked together and this won’t be a problem. 2) you didn’t take your break between RDL & pull-ups so you went into them all pissed off and you can’t do anything when you are in that head space. You still have to learn to focus your anger or else let it go. 3) your row will decrease, your RDL will decrease, your bench will decrease, your squat will take off, especially after Smolov.” True, true, honestly, how much do I need to bench?, true.

All right, we are good. See, I am not really that difficult to coach.

Legs tomorrow and I won’t be surprised if I struggle, we have changed the form of my deadlift and squat, but I will avoid a temper tantrum.

Max Week Arrives Early, Outlaw on the Horizon

I am maxing 6 weeks early. Needless to say the lofty goals I originally set will not be met but today proved I was on course to reach at least one of them.

Bench Press 205#. And, just for fun, we test how many push-ups I can do with a 45# plate on my back: 11.

I am a highly organized, focused and scheduled person. I have been working on being more flexible (though it is easier when an exciting offer is on the table). The conversation went like this:

“Warrior Girl, did you see that Outlaw is running the Smolov program?” Yes, I would kill to get in on that – when will I be ready to do Outlaw anyway? You said soon but when? “Well, I was hoping you would see the benefit because I want you on it and I’d like to run it a week behind them. We could begin it next Monday.” (Warrior Girl starts jumping up and down like a kid on Christmas morning). How will maxes fall? Do we spread them out or skip them all together? And you can’t punish me for saying maxes because this is a legit question. “We start maxes today if you are ok with that. I want them done before we start the Outlaw workouts.” Yes, Joel.

I wish I had my camera for this moment: my coach’s mouth dropped open, he cocked his head, furrowed his brow and said “Really? You are really ok with going 6 weeks early? No questions, no yelling, no ‘this wasn’t the schedule.’ I know how attached you are to maxes”.

I told him weeks ago I will follow the program and stop questioning every little thing. Whatever he decides will get me to the leaderboard I will do because I believe he is the one to get me there. Judging by his reaction, he doubted I spoke the truth. I may like my schedule but I love to squat more. Get me on that Smolov program. I’ve been itching to be ready for Outlaw programming. If I am ready, let me go. Let’s get my max numbers and get back to work!

And as for the Saturday workout, I asked him what the endgame was for such a write-up. Was he testing my ability to face an impossible workout and adjust/how I handle the head game? Or was he trying to humble me, teach me a valuable life lesson?

Neither one. On most days he said I could handle it but I got it on a bad day and in the end, doing what I could and knowing when to stop was the right thing. So I didn’t quit? My coach replied “Oh, you quit but you quit for the right reason. There is a difference between quitting because you just don’t feel like it and quitting because your recently healed hip is shot after the pistols, the problem in your shoulder is getting more irritated from the thrusters and you can’t stop puking after the rope work. One of those is a legit reason but you fought three of them. There’s no shame in your quit.”

Tomorrow we test barbell row, RDL, and pull-ups. But, if he changes the plan I will adjust with it.