Gifts In Disguise

I had a great lift day and just as I sat down to type about it the doorbell rang.

It’s an odd phenomena: I am not a people person, I keep to myself, avoid most people, trust almost no one, and ask no questions. And yet people of all ages, ranging from stranger to acquaintance to friend, often turn up on my doorstep because they have nowhere else to go and need to talk. Tonight it was the neighbor girl, who is now a young lady of 27, 2 years married and living 2 states away. Standing out in the bitter cold wearing a t-shirt and sobbing, I ushered her in and made her tea. She begins “I made sure it was right. We dated 4 years. How did this happen? He’s…” (I won’t compromise trust but it is so horrible that it shocks even me). I told her to just drink her tea and relax. She looked at me and said “Don’t you want to know the details?” and I replied “Sweetie, be prepared. Everyone is going to be asking you for details. When you come here you will get tea and breathing room, not questions.”

Safe shelter is all I have and all I want to give. She took it for 4 hours. As we sat I thought “I am always safe shelter for people. I wish I had safe shelter” and then I remembered, after all these years I finally do. I often worry that my lack of nosiness is seen as unsympathetic. I didn’t know what a wonderful gift I was giving people until I found it myself. As someone who often questions her place in this world, I realized tonight that simply providing space, just space, for people to go when they are at the end of their rope is an important job.

Four hours later I send her across the street to talk to her mom.

And now, for our regularly scheduled program: Deep Barbell
Muscle snatch & OH squat – I love the muscle snatch and my OHS are getting better
Snatch from blocks – Officially the same weight as my cleans…what?
Snatch pull from floor 5×5 – AWESOME!

Bent Over Row 4×8- So happy to see these, I have missed them
Jerk Balance 5×5 – LOVE

I have a new favorite movement. I LOVED the jerk balance work. I started looking forward to lifting when Coach and I were having the reset. But what I liked about it was 1) being good enough for him to consider me his lifting partner and 2) watching a great lifter lift. I dreaded my lifting during this time though. Today was the first day things felt right for me since the injury. There was no dread or fear. I looked forward to doing something new (jerk balance) and I am enjoying the snatch work. I looked forward to being alone and, because I have honestly assessed my post-injury maxes, I looked forward to just loading the weight and not getting frustrated.

Thursday The Professor and I set up a time to workout for Saturday. I had a feeling it would be a rough day for me. When the workout posted this afternoon, my stomach sank: cleans. It is a damn good thing I have to go.

The universe is a funny thing: not always giving us what we want is a brilliant trick. I read the Outlaw workouts daily and every time I feel the pressure of “I have to make regionals, I HAVE TO!” As that feeling rushed in today it dawned on me that even if my hip was at 100% I mentally would not be able to handle this. I would have had numerous breakdowns by now. The pressure is so consuming that even though I am not participating in The Open, I am panicked that I will fail. Yes, you read that correctly: I am panicked that I will fail something I am NOT EVEN DOING!

Thank you, powers that be, for inflaming my hip on Christmas. It was like receiving socks – not what I wanted but definitely what I needed. I hope the neighbor girl someday realizes that all she is experiencing right now is a big box of socks.

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Rest Day Ramblings

Rest day…I was hoping it would end with the upper hamstring/lower back feeling better but I just stood up and twinging followed. Beh!

It was a great day for business though. The Young One (new name for the teen girl), The Professor and I were talking about running last night and how fun 5ks are for mother-daughter’s to do together. The Professor mentioned that I should put a team together and suddenly I expanded this idea to offer mother-daughter training sessions through the summer (shorter sessions and 2 for 1 pricing – what a deal!). This morning I overslept and got to the gym just in time to discuss the idea with The Professor and The Mother (of The Young One). They both loved it, offered help/use of their connections and I have been sorting out the details throughout the day.

The Young One has also admitted to not doing her work outside of me as of late. After explaining that the fun stuff (cleans, jerks, etc) will have to be put on hold to use session time on other fun stuff (sarcasm – she has a hate-love thing with those) courtesy CrossFit Kids and my knowledge of her, I think she gets it. I spent much of my rest day on revising her program.

Then I got to coach Coach (still working on the new name). Or rather watch him push through pain. We are running different programs, I having gone to Deep Barbell and he switched back to Outlaw. Both of us are technically scheduled for a rest day today but he is not following the switch, his hamstrings were destroyed by the end of Tuesday and decided to stick to Wednesday’s off. I, as you know, follow the rules until told otherwise. I like routine more and this week feels all wrong now. This morning, as we were comparing calendars, I said that I understood why they made the shift (in case you are one of the few not participating in The Open, it is because The Open workouts start on Friday’s) but that the training week feels off balance to me. Coach agreed and I am back to my normal schedule. Whoop whoop!!

The woman who months ago pointed out I wasn’t making the most out of my intelligence and how tiny I used to be came in and Coach came over, sat down and said “still bothers you? It’s ok, it probably always will.” And I looked at him and said “the thing that bothers me most is that she gave an entire list of my loser qualities in front of you. You! And you only knew me as awesome before that”. He smiled and said “the good news is you could probably break her in half with one arm.” Why yes, yes I could.

I didn’t post on my last two workouts. I did them and experienced personal growth – love personal growth sessions. I had based my calculations off my pre-injury maxes. Horrible idea, I was frustrated and angry so I stepped away, had a long talk with myself, and retested, recalculated myself. I have lost 100# on my squat, 45# on my jerk, I figure 50-60# on my bench, I will find out my bb row tomorrow. Over a year’s worth of work gone. Vanished. No matter what Coach says, Spencer’s program is not better than his and I have no idea how long it will take me to rebuild. But, as I have finally stopped living by pre-injury numbers and have honestly assessed the situation, I can rebuild. And the program may not be as good as Coach’s but it is good and I have already seen improvement on my cleans and snatches.

The weird things that emerged from my calculations: my back squat and front squat are the same, my snatch is 5lbs less than my clean (think it’s a form issue on the clean…shocker!).

If you are The Mentor, the post I referred to is here.

The Love of Lifting

It was a late night of training for me. My last client asked me a question about a lift and as I was explaining, she interrupted me to say “you really love this don’t you? I have known you for a few years now and, don’t get me wrong because you are so sweet and always smiling, but I have never seen you have joy. But here, here your eyes sparkle, I feel your joy when I walk in the door, you are so excited and happy and proud. When it comes to anything related to lifting you’re like a teenage girl in love.”

And with that, I realize I often come to my blog with my heartache, my struggles, my frustrations and limitations and maybe I have forgotten to share my joy.

A teenage girl in love though? I don’t know, I’ve never been in love and the way I have been loved isn’t really how it’s supposed to be. So how do I feel about lifting?

I feel about lifting the same way I feel about my nephew/godson, a feeling that I never had before him. It is a pure, beautiful, gentle and sweetest feeling. The first time I held Ben and the first time I touched the bar, I knew my soul was forever changed. Newly broken yet forever healed. Both times I felt like I was touching eternity. If that describes love, then yes, I really love lifting.

Hafiz, one of my favorite poets, wrote:

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being

The bar, lifting, has done that. When I see people executing a good lift, I am breathless with the beauty of it. To think that I can be a part of such a beautiful act…well, I am in awe. I am the most blessed person in the world. I am existing in eternity. I am in love.

Hit The Pocket And Painful Squats

Today’s Deep Barbell workout with my weights listed:
Weightlifting:
A) Snatch from blocks @ top of knee (50#/3, 60#/3, 65#/3, 70#/ 3×3)
B) Snatch Pull to hip (elongate 1st pull) 100% 2 x 4 sets

Strength:
A)BS 135#/6, 145#/6, 155#/6
B) Good mornings into Push Press 4×5
C) Strict TTB 3×8

So I spent last night studying the snatch. Times were set up today to workout but I didn’t see why I couldn’t divide up the two, I am experimenting with what is best for my hip and, honestly, I didn’t want Coach around my snatch. So I went in early to work the snatches. I hit the pocket every time…EVERY TIME! This means, as much as I hate myself for losing so much strength, it is a chance to fix my form issues. Sadly, if this keeps up, I foresee my snatch numbers exceeding my clean numbers. Just one more anomaly for everyone to make fun of.

I couldn’t contain my excitement over the pocket (bruises developing as I type) and I had to text Coach. Who replies he won’t be coming in at all but then follows with “Fucking awesome work though”. Thanks but don’t congratulate me until my work is done and I don’t want to finish it.

My first client of the day arrives and she is a bundle of uncontrollable energy today. It took all the energy I had to get her to pull it together, I don’t think she ever fully did.

Now, totally spent, I need to finish mine. I debate not doing it, I have lost my motivation and I have developed a pure hate mixed with fear of back squats, but I will be seeing The Professor and she will ask how it went. Above all else, I am an honest person and so I either do it and tell her it sucked or I don’t do it and hate myself for having to say the words. I am supposed to hold her accountable and I must act in a way that is worthy of that role. I keep a copy of that post Another Random Post where she lectured me and I read it to force me into the squat rack.

My back squats have fallen apart. I probably should not have based my numbers off my pre-injury max but I have no idea what my number is now and I knew 135# was doable. Probably should have been my end weight. Got some reps of 145# to bottom and then something in my left hip snapped. Hobbling around, I load 155#, because that’s just the stubborn and angry dumbass I am. No repped through both sets.

Good Mornings to Push Press was the best part of my day, simply because they were fun. As for TTB, we all know that I honestly love TTB, as I was going up for the last set I thought “wait, why do I love these so much?” Whatever I have done to the good side of my hip was clearly not enjoying them as much as I do.

Looking at tomorrow, anyone want to tell me what the hell I am supposed to be doing? I’ve had two protein shakes and an apple today, maybe I just need more food to fix this mood. Icing my ass would probably help too.

Mountains and Maxes

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The last few months of hypertrophy were technically my starting over point. I could ignore the numbers easily since the reps were so high and my support system was doing it with me. At points I would think “but I want to know what my max numbers have fallen to”, knowing I didn’t really want to know how far back the injury and clusterfu*^ rehab set me back.

Yesterday I was mentally prepared but the hip was not. Yesterday I could have handled this better. Today the hip is fine, I am fine with the exception of 2 hours of sleep, but I just don’t want to know how far I have fallen. I know there is a mountain in front of me, why do I want to know the exact height of it? It crossed my mind to balk at making up this missed workout.

I want to list all the reasons why these numbers are so low, I want to give you excuses and justifications, I want to protect my ego. I don’t want to put them in this post at all. I know I am no longer great but I was never the amazing one before and it was nice. It physically pains me that I have to hand over my title. Not just hand it over but step to the back of the line and fight for every little gain AGAIN but this time…this time I will have to work around recurring injuries and no coaching. This time I am scared. Last week Spencer wrote a piece on the 3 priorities to be successful in this lifting life (and it is my life): 1) consistent coaching; 2) positive and success driven environment; far behind these, 3) programming. I should have skipped that post. Recalling it, I feel like the mountain just got a hell of a lot bigger and steeper.

This sounds like a battle custom-made for a Warrior Girl doesn’t it?

It is with great humility that I deliver my starting (over) weights:

Snatch 85# (got 95# up as a power snatch and lost it as I went to get a delayed squat)
C&J 105# (lost it on the jerk…2 days in a row…wtf)
3RM Front Squat 125#

Tomorrow I get to work the basic movement of the snatch. Tomorrow I have a scientific number to put on the bar. I like formulas, maps, plans, and clear trajectories. I like to have things to work on, after all I am a worker. This Warrior Girl loves a good fight.

I have a program, not a master program but it’s a start and with a few more clients of my own I can afford coaching. I will get up this damn mountain if I have to start at the bottom 100 more times and cut myself on every rock I climb over. So today I was handed the exact height of this mountain but I was also given a map.

Today I officially started climbing.

Maxing Snatches, Rowing, and Peace

And I rowed. And I rowed. And I rowed.

Today’s Deep Barbell workout:

Weightlifting:
A) Snatch to max (3 misses allowed)
B) CJ to max (3 misses allowed)
c) Front Squat to 3RM

Strength:
A) Snatch grip deadlift 5 +5 pulls from hip 4 sets @100% of max
B) DB Bent over row with 3 sec pause at sternum 3×6

When I saw this posted yesterday, my first thought was “this sucks. I missed all the prep and now I have to max”. But after a moment I realized this would be good, a starting point. Even when I was healthy, Coach and I rarely spent session time together on barbell snatches, our snatch focus was on single arm dumb bell snatches. I actually only recall one session where we did a couple of reps with the bar, I was always on my own to work them. Bar time with Coach needed to be spent on cleans and I am not going to complain about having a lift in my repertoire that is free of Coach’s voice.

The last time I snatched with the bar at all was during last years’ Open. I guess when all is said and done, today is the perfect day to begin again. I even found myself looking forward to today. Then I woke up with an inflamed hip. Go me! If I were still in prep for competition I would have sucked it up AND then I would be sidelined for at least a week after. I know because I have done this before. The last time was on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 when I did WODs back-to-back and ignored this exact same pain. With that fresh in my mind, I decided to change my pattern. I didn’t push it. If it feels better tomorrow I will max.

So I went in and row, row, rowed (my boat…sorry, it’s a compulsion) for an hour. We all know how much this will pain me to say so I will whisper *Coach was right*. Rowing isn’t hard on my hip. Yeah, I’ve been trying to tell myself the rower would jar it and walking/running/sprinting is easier. I know it’s a lie but until Coach called me out, it was a lie that fit my agenda.

I have been on rowers many times beginning in college. I actually like to row but it has never given me the calm that running does. Today was my first experience, EVER, on a rower that I had a few moments of what I call my “running peace”. Maybe because there was no one to compete with, no time to beat, no plan in place, I was open to the experience. It took a long time to redevelop a peace with running, to get rid of the constant voice that beat the joy of it out of me. Today I found a possibility that I want to explore. I think if I devote enough time to rowing I can cultivate more and longer moments of peace just like I did with my running.

Which means I will eventually need to get one for home. The nice thing about running, when not under a Polar Vortex, is that it can be done in the middle of the night when peace is needed most. I don’t think breaking into the gym at 1 AM to get to a rower is a good idea and I am pretty sure the hubs isn’t going to buy me an actual row-boat (I do like to be outdoors). I need a rower at home for when I can’t turn off my brain.

I finally (again) concede that running does increase the pain in my hip. I promise (again) I will not run.

I figured out what was wrong with yesterday’s jerks. I dreamed about them and discovered: I never straightened my wrist. I can be such an idiot sometimes. Another lesson, be careful what you wish for. When Coach followed me back to the rack, I looked at him suspiciously (possibly with a little glare), and asked “why are you here?” he simply said “no criticism today. I will not critique.”. I am sure there was plenty he was holding his tongue on (I know most of it as I missed the pocket plenty) but oh, how his shouting out “WRISTS” may have helped. But then I probably would have spazzed on the clean and I wouldn’t have dropped the bar so, all-in-all, it was a successful plan on his part and I eventually figured out the problem. He knew what he was doing.

I am relieved that I am beginning to accept the loss of CrossFit. Today I actually watched some of the competitions going on this weekend and there was no bitterness or sadness. Of course, who can be sad while watching Lindsey Valenzuela do anything? But I was worried I would forever be too angry with my fate. My only example with losing such a serious dream is my brother: 25 years later he still can’t stand to watch a baseball game (but he still knows everyone’s stats). I was afraid that would be me. I am glad that I can be a part of something I love so much, even if it isn’t in the role I had planned.

In order to keep my life a little simpler, I often try to keep the work blog similar to this one (but much more restrained, much less personal) but today’s post was a little different. If you are a long time follower, I am sure you will understand “the lift” in question are my cleans. Oh, my cleans and the life lessons they have taught me. And I am finally able to pass some of those lessons along. Look For Your Reward

One Goal Met, One Barrier Overcome

One of the pretty boys (dripping in sarcasm and eye-rolling as I use this term to describe the “I do 100 kinds of bicep curls” people) came in and asked if I was the secretary. Forgetting that I am representing my brand, my business, I clenched my fists (but didn’t beat the shit out of him) and said “If you saw me lift you wouldn’t ask a stupid question”. “You don’t look like a trainer” and condescendingly asked what I lift. “More than you, I can promise that” (best thing Coach ever taught me). So my people skills may need some work but he isn’t my target market anyway. And since it is painfully obvious he has never squatted in his life, I wasn’t lying.

I am following Spencer’s Deep Barbell programming for now. As I talk to other trainers I am discovering I am not the only one who can’t program for themselves. In fact, The Professor is the only one who has said I can do it but I realized she was just trying to instill some confidence…her declaration was followed by saying she is going to need me to hold her accountable for her workouts outside of Coach sessions. We all have our weak spots.

Today’s workout:
A) Clean and Jerk to max 2 misses allowed
B) Clean Pull 3×3 (add 10% of max C&J)

A) Squat Jumps 55# 4×3
B) Incline DB Press 10,8,6 increase weight each time

Expectations were completely reasonable considering the last couple of days. And, in the end, I am not disappointed with the results.

In October, for my 2 year anniversary, I made a long-term goal list. The deadline: October 2015. I achieved one of them today. I lost a lift and instead of hurting myself trying to save it: I DROPPED THE FUCKING BAR!!! Even better: I wasn’t at my gym with bumper plates and blessings to oly lift. I know this goal may seem silly to most people but 1) I have control issues; 2) I hate to fail; 3) I have no money, breaking plates or equipment is not in the budget.

This huge, epic achievement that I finally reached after 2 years occurred in front of Coach (suck it!) on my jerk. Strange, I could clean today but my jerk – my solid move – was not happening today. So, to recap, the on-going 18-month clean argument has been “you can easily get 135” while I continue to stall after 95. My PR jerk is 165. Today. Cleaned 105 missed the jerk. Not just missed the jerk, tossed the whole damn bar over my head and sent it flying back. I broke the 95# barrier after having not even attempted a clean in months. It’s still not my 135#, but honestly, if I hadn’t failed that jerk I still would not have hit 135#. I have no “what ifs”. I find it funny that the solid is where I got stuck.

Truly, thank god I did. My clean pulls were set at 115# and that was heavy enough. First time for squat jumps and after my first two rounds I asked Coach “what the hell is this supposed to be doing?” So apparently it develops explosiveness out of the bottom of the squat. I changed my approach to them and then I got it. I added a set since I was not getting the intended effect from the first two sets.

Incline DB Press: set of 10 at 35#, set of 8 at 40# (failed last rep), set of 6 at 40#. The inability to go to 45# I am totally blaming on nutrition.

Deep Barbell has one more week of the Bulgarian Cycle. I will just work around it as I need to. I get to row, row, row. Coach (suggestions welcome on his name change) said today that swimming needs to be more arms and less legs because of the hip. This is why I didn’t ask him about the swimming, I knew what he would say. I get it. But the problem is that my legs are the only thing graceful about the pool. The arms are the spastic part. Guess that’s going to change.

And all of this may change when I begin martial arts. I imagine that the hip and the shoulder and who knows what else will act up. Adjusting and Achieving…maybe this is the theme of 2014.