Help. Monday’s Workout. Coach v Little Brother

The Mentor assigned me the task of finding out how other independents built clientele. Speaking to everyone I know, they started by working elsewhere and left with a full client load. A little demoralizing. If anyone in blogger land has a great idea, or have been in this position and can simply offer words of encouragement, please share!

Minutes of sleep Monday night: 0

Except for the near-blinding headache, I feel pretty good considering. I am prepared, and saddened, that this is my last big day with deadlifts before we “get my numbers” and I am in less than ideal condition for it. Better now than next week I suppose.

How did this happen? I have no idea. I’ll let you review my Monday and maybe you can tell me.

It began with clients and the sessions were fine. I ran around printing promo material – why does paper with a few words cost so much?! – and working on updating my business site and Facebook page (seriously, check out my FB page – the client pictures are amazing). Coach arrived on time and in a good place.

In fact, our time together Monday was a top 3 kind of day (beating it is my first birthday workout by a hair and, in a landslide, Christmas Eve workout 2013). For lifts, I had bench and Coach had shoulders. I am pushing respectable weight again. I can see my old numbers on the horizon. Far away but finally within sight. I have been learning to relax, to walk away, when the lift starts going wrong, so when I lost the last rep of the last set, I accepted I was done. Coach told me to get back under the bar, I would get the last one. It’s good to be getting back to me with a calm presence instead of a crazy one. We laughed a lot, and he sent me into fits while I was at the bottom of a dip. Not a good place to lose focus because of giggles. One would think he would know better but I accidentally do the same to him on a regular basis. In the end, the calm we have and the less pressure I have put on myself, the better my progress has become. I’m glad the fun has returned.

I once wrote, a long long time ago, that someone beat the joy of running out of me and that I wouldn’t let Coach do that to my lifting. We certainly lost it for a little while but the joy was still out there and, amazingly, he helped me look for it and nurtured it back to life when we found it.

After session we worked on some paperwork for the tennis camp attendees. And then the big discussion of how to manage the accounting of training partner/mentor/Coach time. I had put together such a nice little spreadsheet, which I of course forgot, and he didn’t keep a journal of one moment. We both winged our calculations (and somehow I was lower than my spreadsheet so I said “plus $20 for something important”). I have been saying I recently “I think I sell myself short. I don’t take enough credit for my contributions” and I repeated that as I looked at my number. Today Coach said “that’s a fact” as he revealed a reasonable rate and then threw in a “sister discount”. I am sure I will throw in a “brother bonus”. And I finally get why I am worth fighting for…more on that in a later post.

I finished with a strength session and a weight loss session of clients. They both set records for themselves. Good programming on my part, hard work on theirs. And then it was back to the paperwork and promo work. I know I will be losing a few client sessions in the next couple of months and I am working night and day to get ahead of a major-minor financial collapse. I have been making enough to pay the important bills (goal number 1) but I haven’t been able to set aside anything yet for a rough patch. The slow build is giving me solid, loyal, and successful clients but I desperately need a bump for a couple of months even from short-timers.


Whose Life Is This? It’s Too Perfect To Be Mine


It’s been an exciting few days.

For living in the Middle of Nowhere, imagine my surprise upon learning a college-level tennis camp will be held at our local raquete club. I learned this when I was approached by one of the colleges to give their ladies team strength and conditioning sessions for the week. My response “I would have to talk to Coach. He will have to be in on it due to the number of girls” and between anonymous blogger-land and me, I simply don’t have the background or experience (yet) to handle such a serious opportunity all on my own. I never thought he would agree.

Already having written this opportunity off, I went in Thursday and we did our lifting. I was on bench, Coach was on shoulders. My bench was solid, though I did need an assist on my last rep of the day. I spent last weekend watching Dave Tate instruct benching form and made some slight adjustments…they felt good. Since this is the one category that I will be doing in competition (if I can’t get my squat up to speed I will have to do category specific lifts), I want to get these things down now. I said to Coach that I felt like I lost the “pulling the bar apart feeling” to which he replied “once you nail the form and are used to it, you won’t feel it as much. How do your lats feel?” They were cramping the whole set. “Then you were pulling the bar apart”. Got it. The day ended with leg lifts which later that night made my hip scream with pain. Yay…squats on Friday.

After lifting we talked about the opportunity. I gave him all the information I had (which wasn’t much) and he said “we will have to divide the girls…” Wait, this kind of sounds like a yes but I didn’t get excited. He didn’t actually say yes. We hammered out the preliminary details, possible issues, how much we would charge, how the work would break down. And in the middle of that I said “Stop. Give me a second. I am being perfectly calm but I get a moment. This isn’t how I pictured us. My future was supposed to be working for you. But this is better than I could have ever wanted. We’re…” Long pause in which he filled in with “we’re a team.” And he gave me a high five. Back to details.

Later that evening I contacted the mother in charge of the particular college that wants to work with us and we discussed the preliminary plan. She’s setting it up. This afternoon was spent e-mailing the coach and the mom. Until this moment I worried I wouldn’t be able to pull my weight or hold my own. I’d set this all up and Coach would get all the work dumped on him simply because he has more experience. But this moment revealed to me: I am holding my own. I am good at networking, coordinating, organizing. Besides being Coach’s partner on the training end of things, I’m doing all the detail work, the social work, the paperwork. I AM AN EQUAL MEMBER OF THE TEAM! I have still felt the sting of being fired. This isn’t the dream he planted, the one I fell in love with, but it is so much better. For one week I will be Coach’s equal partner, as strength and conditioning coaches for college athletes…Whose life is this?! Because it is too perfect to be mine.

Thursday evening Coach got to coach My Girl on cleans. Oh, to be 15 and have this opportunity! I am beyond happy for her. I know she was nervous going into it but they worked together beautifully.He is so gifted and she has such potential, I can’t describe how I felt being a part of this moment. She started a new adventure, the first real step of something she will be building on for years, he was laying the foundation for her. My little brother, the best coach in the world, and My Girl…just writing about it makes my heart overflow.

Her mother, however, doesn’t understand the many years, thousands of attempts it takes to master cleans. She talked to Coach and I and texted me several questions: Did she get them down? Why isn’t the weight higher? Why didn’t she do better? (and more!). I replied she did awesome, I don’t remember what Coach said. And we all know that with cleans the more pressure there is and the more frustration that builds up, the worse they are. I had a long talk with My Girl this afternoon and let her know that even though mom pays the bill, my number one priority is my athlete. I will have her back and if she needs me to, I will have a talk with mom. “She’s just on me about the weight. She thinks I should have done more”. Technique, technique, technique. Form, form, form. “Your weight was exactly where we want it. Let me know if you need me or Coach to talk to mom.” She thinks mom means well (and honestly so do I) but mom may need a little guidance back to being supportive before she becomes overwhelming.

Today Junior came early and the boys got their lifts done and goofed around while waiting for me to finish with clients. They really didn’t have to wait around or stay for all my work and I knew this. I must confess to feeling a little left out. As my client was on a rest, we looked over in time to see Coach’s barbell bend as he pulled up his deadlift. Even though I know they are under no obligation to stay, I started getting anxious that they would cut out. After my last client, when I was practically jumping out of my skin to get to my work so that I wouldn’t hold up the team, the boys, from getting back to their lives, my client tells me the funniest story I have heard in years. She had me in tears with the laughter and unable to breathe. In my laughter I found myself returned to the present, less anxious, less fragile.

Front squat day. My hip still hurt from the leg lifts but it didn’t interfere until the last set. On the second rep I put all my weight into the right hip. The third rep I got to bottom and, as I started going up, I came back down and landed on my butt. Coach grabbed the bar and I rolled out from under. And through every lift, even the basic hamstring work, the team stayed and goofed around, entertained me on my rests, encouraged me on my lifts.

I have a team, a family (even if we aren’t related), nothing to be afraid of, and dreams too big for me to dream are coming true. Tell me again…Whose life is this? It’s too perfect to be mine.

Schedules and Opportunities

Last week I rearranged my schedule in order to place lifts that don’t require a spotter on the days that I am solo. It made sense at the time but I soon realized I placed certain lifts on certain days for a reason. I am simply more effective on that schedule. And now I have a training partner on those formerly solo days so…I desperately want to change them back but I retest my lifts in less than two weeks and how much screwing around do I really want to do?

My hip is still preventing me from doing good old-fashioned conditioning work (and by that I mean a WOD or sprints). And I, the most dedicated hardest working person I know, has been assigned – for the last six months – slow, steady elliptical work. It didn’t happen. When the shoulder and hip felt amazing – or when I didn’t care and would just push through the pain – I would row. I don’t know if having chosen a lifting competition has snapped me back to reality or if I am just normally this stubborn before I admit Coach is right. This week I have returned to the elliptical. Nothing says Warrior Girl quite like 90 minutes of maintaining a 120 heart rate while pretending to be a hamster in a wheel.

And that statement is actually a worse attitude than I really have. I have found some good shows to stream, I am setting a good example for my clients, I won’t be the reason I don’t do well in my comp, I am re-dedicating myself to all of my work, my team, myself, and Coach. Even Warrior Girls need to be able to walk away from battle at a moderate pace.

But I am a little bitter that Wednesday, a rest from lifting day, is the only day I felt good and refreshed and all I could do was elliptical. I had hoped it would last into today but I didn’t sleep last night and I have to decide, very soon, what lift I will do today. Which one do I want to be sub-par.

Monday was a cluster…did I blog about that? I don’t know. Tuesday was great. Deadlift Day (for now). I finished my 3 sets of 3 and felt so good I asked for a bonus round at higher weight. I got 2 reps at my estimated max and then I gave myself a deload round. So…maybe Tuesday is a good day for Deadlifts.

And now it is Friday. I got caught up in organizing what – for me – will be a pretty cool opportunity for Coach and I. Things may not be turning out as I originally envisioned but – get this – they may actually be turning out to better than I could have ever hoped for. Even when we think we are dreaming big, we sometimes still sell ourselves short…we aren’t dreaming big enough.

More on that this evening!

A New Normal

Second to lifting with Coach, this is my favorite place to be (even when I am wordless). One can imagine then how busy I must have been in order to have missed several days. I have been sleepless for many nights, Thursday had 12 hours in-session and my own lifting to fit in. In my normal life I would have melted down but I didn’t even come close. And I realized this: when you are doing something you love, building something you believe in, and given an extra special bonus of finally believing someone has your back if the world crashes, the world doesn’t crash that often. Meltdowns aren’t so catastrophic but more like a gentle thaw.

This is the first Wendler cycle where I am beginning to feel I am doing serious work. I like it, I am a worker after all, but it is a grim reminder that I have a lot of work to do to be who I was a year ago. The positive: I am not manic. I had a lot of fails this week but they didn’t get the best of me. I reset and continued my work. This new way of being, new attitude, scares me a little. I am working hard, am more consistent than ever, but it seems to lack spark or drive – I am used to living in extremes, this normal is uncomfortable. But I am staying in this uncomfortable space because it feels pretty sane to me and it seems to be working for the team.

Thursday: Bench 3×5. My First set was great. I had no concern increasing the weight for set 2 but I failed the last rep. And then I get to decide: keep the weight there for set three and get all five reps or increase weight and see how many reps I get. I decide to increase weight, push myself. I got all 5 reps and honestly, as hard as the last one was, I thought it was a clean rep. But apparently I pushed it forward so far Coach was on his tiptoes trying to reach the bar to pull it back in line. Whoops. Accessory work included single arm rows, dips, more rows and leg lifts.

Friday: Front squat 3×5. Because I haven’t had a break from soreness and my hip was still irritated from the previous Friday, I took an extra long dynamic warm-up. I planned to take some extra warm-up sets as well but once again my math was off and the second warm-up set was my working weight. I really have to double check my equations. After the first working set with working weight, I looked at Coach and said something is catching and “popping” in my hip. He is not surprised as he observed my knee diving in and out. My second set I focused more on maintaining my knee position. I had to break after rep 3 in order to reset my head and body. Set 3 I again struggled on that third rep and as I was coming out of the squat Coach said “every week gets heavier from here on out” and I don’t know if he said the following or if it was in my head but I heard “so how badly do you really want this”. I am tempted to ask him because I see this entering a fight someday and I would like my facts straight but I don’t think it matters. The facts are: from here on out the weight gets heavier every week and I really want this.

New move added to my repertoire: Weighted glute bridge 135#. One of those awkward questions when your Coach is male and Junior is there – if it is this painful for me across my pelvis, how the hell do men do it? Message received and Coach was more careful when loading me and I was more careful to keep it in line with the iliac crest. Hamstring work included good mornings.

I love Friday training especially with Junior being a regular participant now. He doesn’t have classes on Friday which makes it easier to plan with Coach and I having sessions in the morning. Junior had back day (with a bonus shoulder lift) and Coach had deadlifts with some squatting thrown in.

My afternoon was scheduled with The Mentor. Things are going well and on schedule. My homework: keep doing what I am doing, continue to report in on my eating, continue to work on my many relationships with Coach.

Tonight I am having a bonfire, going for a midnight hike, and evaluating this new normal. Those who are religious will be giving thanks for renewed life and I…I will be giving thanks for yet another chance to get this one right. Thanks Coach.


Gifts, Deadlifts, and Wall Balls

I was the recipient of so many gifts today it is overwhelming. I am grateful beyond words for all the positive energy but if I could only pick one to remember it would have to be the ninja kicks of my Mother-To-Be’s baby. How wonderful to be invited into the most intimate space of mother and child and receive such a ‘hello’ from this little stranger to the world. It is a magical experience and words cannot convey how I am feeling. Thank you MTB!!

Deadlifts today. After my second warm-up set I thanked Coach for Friday, I needed something big, but I decided afterwards that I can’t go to the farm with the big lifters. I won’t keep my promise to safeguard my hip. Coach nodded and said “I knew Friday would hurt but it was pretty fuckin’ awesome”. And here I thought he didn’t even notice? “Normal sized lifters can’t do that. I wouldn’t have been a good coach if I let on. Someone needed to be calm”. Because I’m pint sized? “Mini-pint-sized and pretty fuckin’ awesome.” Well ok then.

We then did the math and realized my second warm-up set was equal to my working weight. He threw in an extra set at the end to make up for it. “Legs then hip. Legs then hips”. “You know I’m 5′ right? There is no bend in my legs so if I straighten I lock the knees”. “Well, for you they can move an inch before they lock so we have to get you used to hitting that spot just before lock”. Last set was good. I had to drop the accessory work (squats and ham curls) in order to give my hip an extra day to recover.

Somewhere in this day I mentioned a growing concern I have “You won’t be there. I’ll be competing and you won’t be there. I am already preparing myself for that”. “I will be. I can’t let my sister down. And if there isn’t any money for a hotel, there’s room in the van to sleep. I will be there.” I promise not to worry about it any more.

Coach had shoulder day. He is in lighter weight, higher reps. Ahh, the joys of rugby season.

With the farm out I officially declared the end to all summer fun (summer? ha! We’ve had snow two days in a row). But Coach disagreed and gave me the all clear for my hiking trips and the ropes courses that I love to do. A ray of hope. I couldn’t do those last summer.

I had an afternoon of back-to-back clients (which included the MTB) that ended with My Girl. Strength work was bench and rows.

Her WOD:
6 rounds for time
12 Wall Balls
12 HSPUs (modified: 30 sec handstand holds)
200 M row

Since this was her first time on the wall balls I didn’t put a height requirement but they were respectable. She smiled like a princess through the first two rounds and slowly her angelic face turned to a deathly expression. On her last pull she got up from the rower and said “that went fast. I really like wall balls”. And this is why she is my inspiration when I struggle with my work.

Then there was a lot of chatting, rescheduling, and potential new clients to meet with. But before I left for the day, My Girl’s mom wanted a go at wall balls and she did between bickering with each other.

It was my favorite kind of day, family day at the gym. Mother and baby, parent and teen, Coach and I. And in between, heavy weight and serious conditioning. So many gifts I am sure I will be sound asleep long before I finish my bedtime gratitudes.

Lifting, WODs and Solo Days


The Professor, one of my role models, has been skipping. The Trainer commented that it is impossible to workout at the level we do on our own. The best lifter I know doesn’t like lifting anymore and is no longer dedicated. No matter what lift I put on Monday’s I just don’t do it. Are the stars misaligned? Have I entered an alternate universe?

After a long talk with The Professor on Friday I went through some of my old blogs and settled on “Remembering the Why” which oddly enough was written exactly a year ago. I posted it to my business page with an update, keeping The Professor in mind. When she walked in today she said “the only reason I am here is because of your (business) blog. I can’t get your voice out of my head”. Just think how I feel, I live with it all the time. “I wrote it with you in mind. Way to catch on. And from now on, you are in my calendar and I will be following up when you are a no show.” I got her schedule for the week and she kind of hates me right now. She told my client something to that effect even though those two have been forbidden from speaking to each other.

It was supposed to be deadlift day but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I fought with the same voice The Professor was fighting from 3 AM until Noon. I finally did (or repeatedly failed) push presses and military presses. This is the easiest of the next three weeks. Coach sent an e-mail that we are maxing in 4 weeks. Great. He even put a little smiley face in there – highly uncharacteristic. Does he really think I am excited about this?

I used to look forward to maxing, lived for it. I don’t want to do this. It has been a year since my last max and it was a horrible week, I don’t even acknowledge it. It was such a bad week that I tell people my last max was February 2013. I would like to erase May and June 2013 from history.

Anyway, the only person I have seen with any spark for workouts lately is My Girl. I ordered her her very own wall ball and let her play with it. She loved it, grinned from ear to ear and and said “so much more fun than thrusters!” which is what I have been subbing. 3 days a week she does her WOD on her own and she texts me almost everyday with something new and exciting she’s learned about CrossFit or weightlifting.

My Girl is the thing getting me through my slump. She is the reason I keep trying to eat, keep doing at least one lift each day.

I have lost my role models since they have all but given up – don’t get me wrong, I see The Professor putting up a good fight and I love that I can be part of her support team. She may be even more inspiring during this struggle, even when she loses. But I have lost something in my workouts and I find I am not even searching for it anymore.

I won’t let My Girl see this though. She still has hope my own CrossFit days aren’t over, that we will still do a partner WOD and then a head-to-head. She still has faith in her coach and it is a great responsibility. The faith of a child can move mountains, or at least it can get me to the rack to do failed lift after failed lift.

I would ask The Professor this: what is worse – my voice in her head or the look of pure faith in me from My Girl? Yeah, I’d rather hear my voice too.

For Patricia

This is the most basic of knitting patterns. I know my grandmother did it and I know I knitted with her so I am sure she taught me this. I didn’t keep it up.

Many, many years later I asked my mother to teach me how to knit and she pulled out grandma’s pattern. I call it that but she didn’t create it, I imagine it has been around since the invention of yarn.

After hundreds of washcloths I used it as a template to make a baby blanket using different needles, nicer yarn, and tied on ribbons.

I have since expanded my knitting to fancy patterns for washcloths and blankets, learned how to knit socks, shawls, funny looking sweaters with slightly different shaped arms for the nieces and nephews who are too young to care. But when on a trip or sitting by a campfire and have yarn to use up, I go back to this most basic of patterns.

Cast on 4 stitches
Knit 2, Yarn Over, knit to end
Repeat until you have 46 or 48
Knit 1, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to end
Repeat until you have 4 stitches
Bind off

Upon completion the bind off corner always looks a little goofy to me.

Patricia – this one and another pattern are so plain already I don’t worry about matching up the yarns I am using up. If you have avocado green and a pink together perfect for giving it personality! The ugliest ones wind up in the camping supplies though. When adding a different yarn part way through, I try to do it before the end of the first half of the pattern.

Have a great week of CrossFitting!