Fear And Failure

Since Coach and I are also training partners, I sometimes joke and call myself his trainer. I offer feedback when asked but rarely comment otherwise. When form check is needed, I record him and we analyze together. It’s a better way for me to learn as well, not only about what to watch for but how he handles critique.  I have come a long way but sometimes I still let frustration win.

Today I had 10×1 bench at 185#. I need to be consistent here but today was not the day, set 8 was the best, set 9 was the most terrifying failure I’ve had in my 4+ years of lifting. It was so dangerous that Coach, who usually lets me bring it down to my chest, jumped in and ripped the bar out of my hands. “Shit! How does your shoulder feel?” I jumped off the bench and said, a little too loudly and high pitched “that was terrifying” to which he said “that was dangerous. you almost tore out your shoulder. How’s your shoulder feeling?” “I dont know! I’m drowning in adrenaline, I feel on warp speed and slow motion at the same time.” He ended my day.

With a clearer mind I can tell you that I lifted off decently but as soon as the bar began its descent, I lost all the lat engagement on my left side pushing all the bar weight into my left shoulder. I couldn’t stop the momentum. Bench is my solid lift and all I can say is that the lack of sleep is making this journey dangerous. We have a “no excuses” agreememt so I tell Coach another truth “I momentarily lost my focus”. He knows that (lack of) sleep is behind this but I still need to take responsibility for the consequences.

I have bags of frozen peas strategically placed around my shoulders. Unfortunately, this happened to my healthy shoulder and my crappy one is hurting just because it does. I can’t afford the massages nor the mobility work anymore so I do what I can and will just have to learn to work with it.

The big fun of the day came from Coach. He had heavy wide stance squats. I recorded the 405# rep so he could check his form (I wish I could post it but I didn’t ask permission and I’m sure he’d say no). Prior to his 425# he said something I never imagined he would say about anything, ever: “I’m scared of failing on these. When you fail at a normal stance, its no big deal. There’s no good way to fail on wide stance.” I’ve watched a lot of video recently of wide stance squats and I know he’s right. I’m scared for him (and his poor hips). In the end he didn’t fail but he stayed too upright. 450# wasn’t nearly as good as 425# so he ended it there.

Coach said he was scared. This was good for me. 1) I occasionally need reminding that he is human, 2) when I am afraid, I tend to think of it as a character flaw. When Coach said it I thought he was smart and sensible. I need to cut myself some slack as some fear is sensible, 3) as someone who is still a little nervous  about back squatting after my injury, I watched someone work successfully with their fear. 

I just chalk this up to a strange day. I will head back soon for workout number 2. I don’t know if its still the shock of that bench press,  but I’m not looking forward to lifting on my own tonight. Usually I like the solitude of the second workout but tonight I’d like to have someone around.

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The Right Direction

“They (deadlifts) are a little better than they were 3 months ago” I said. Coach gave a grunt and a smirk. I walked away from the bar, head down, and said “they’re not? Not any better? It’s not possible they are worse! They feel so good today!”

So that’s me in a nutshell: I read between the lines and when there isn’t anything to read I apparently make up the worst possible scenario.

“No grunt, no smirk. 3 months ago you were consistently inconsistent. One day you’d pull 200 and the next you couldnt get 135 to budge. Today things are consistent, the weight is increasing exactly the amount we want it to. So…”
So he made a face and a noise in response to my understatement.

My hip doesn’t hurt. It has ached occassionally in the last few weeks but it occurs to me tonight that I haven’t had pain in a while. I had plenty of “brain games” going on today that could have gotten to me but didn’t. At one point Coach said “that was a 6 second rep, I think your almost done”. I didn’t argue because at the top I thought “why the f%!* did I decide to deadlift in December?” That’s usually the time I am supposed to walk away from the bar. But we return and, to both our surprises, I have several more good reps.

Both of us are nearing collapse with the lack of sleep.  Sadly, as little as I have gotten, Coach has had less. Long time followers know the wonderful yet stormy relationship we have. The storms are usually preceeded by one of two things 1) emotional exhaustion after time spent with our families or 2) physical exhaustion creating short fuses. Seeing that we are getting close to a snapping point, and as we are both making an effort to effectively communicate,  I said “if you don’t sleep soon I know you will blow. This time try to remember I am on your side, not the enemy”. If he needs a day away I can spend the day working form and technique with lighter weight.

As for my new used car: I love it! I can’t wait for that 15+ hour drive to North Carolina. The husband has offered to put in heated seats. I bet I could sleep in it just fine…

Exhaustion, Attitude, and Two-A-Days

When I woke up this morning (sans alarm) my first thought was “that was the best night sleep I have had in months”. I looked at my phone which read 1:12 AM. So really I simply had the best hour of sleep I have had in months and a horrible night of sleep. 3 hours of sleep is a decent night for me (I rarely have below 2 hours) and Coach, knowing this is an impossible battle to win, finally instructed that the rest of the night hours are supposed to be spent resting. No cleaning, laundry, reading/studying, gaming, thinking…just rest. I am getting pretty good at that but last night my rest was full of thought and tossing.

Surprisingly my lifting went well. Speed bench and we are adjusting little things (little things make big differences) and I always feel like it is progress when we can focus on new topics, tiny details. It means we are no longer focused on what is bad (because my form is now good) and we can look at what is good and make it better. I thought my anxiety would begin to spiral out of control around this time but oddly enough, exhaustion and all, I think I am calmer about this process than I have ever been. I am even having fun.

After my injury and upon realizing I would never do a WOD again, I remember  writing “I wish I had remembered to have fun”. So many of my memories of CrossFitting ended in tears, beating myself up in every way, even when I was amazing. This time, I am having fun, enjoying the process, noting what work I need to do but loving my work (and myself) a little more. Oddly enough, my progress is faster and smoother with this mindset.

Giving credit where credit is due: Coach, whether in response to my attitude change or independent of it, isn’t destroying me anymore. He certainly isn’t coddling me (it isn’t who he is nor would I respond to it with anything but a swift kick) but I get analysis without judgement and I even hear a “better” or “good” sometimes.

I have my second workout to do, I am too tired to nap but too tired to move. It must be done, if there is one thing I love it is hard work and I truly enjoy my second workouts. Even with exhaustion, attitude is everything. So I will forget that I am tired and remember what I love, throw in the earbuds with Bowling For Soup blaring, and do what I do best: lift.

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Westside Extended

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I have been studying Westside programming for close to a year now. I am certain the studying of Westside (and all varieties of programming) will never end. I study Westside with special enthusiasm because it is the best and produces great lifters. I have loaned Coach all the books, ordered the webinars for each of us. I was supposed to be his “test subject” but my recovery put that off. He became the test subject. I have to admit I was pretty jealous. He’s been incorporating elements of Westside for years but I was the one to get us both seriously studying it as a doable program for us unto itself. I wanted to be running it. Besides, I watched him progress by leaps and bounds and ever since we first crossed paths I just wanted to be as good as him. I didn’t know how I would ever catch up.

I was running Wendler after rehab as a re-entry into heavy lifting. When I was ready to start training with Coach again and I had a competition picked, he set up my program with mixed cycles of Westside and Wendler because a straight up Westside set-up would be too much for my hip. Two months ago deadlifting twice a week and workouts twice a day would have done even more damage to my hip.

This cycle was my first Westside. It took me a week to get in the swing of it. After day 1 he asked my thoughts and I was, surprisingly, disappointed. “I thought this was a program I would love but I am sad to say that I don’t think it is for me”. Three weeks later I don’t know what my problem was. Coach had said “get through the three weeks” and I suspect he knew that it was an adjustment thing, that after time I would realize this program is perfectly suited for the type of person I am. It is my favorite of any program I have run in the last 4 years.

Today was to begin 3 weeks of my last Wendler hybrid. I wish I could stay in Westside. “Where’s my program, Coach?” “You’ve got one more week on Westside.” And, while this news made my day, I like to know the why’s and wherefore’s. “When we calculated weeks out from competition, I missed a week. The best place to make that up is to add a week here and honestly, I think you like it enough that you won’t argue.” I haven’t argued with his programming in ages but I certainly am not going to argue with this.

Speed deadlifts 12×2: Finally!!! I am consistent across sets and reps. This is an accomplishment years in the making. We both credit Westside being the right program for my personality to establish consistent form. Consistency is what we have been working on for years and we managed to find it in weeks 3 & 4 of this cycle. I finish up with back extensions and RDLs. My second workout, which I will do this evening, consists of lat work and rows.

Coach has reached out to a lifter and trainer in the area who has years of competition experience. This is just to make sure we have covered everything, that nothing obvious is missing in these last two months of prep. He hasn’t heard anything back. I was surprised at his gesture and, as Coach always has a maddeningly confident air that he is all-knowing, I admired the fact that he was humble enough to admit he could benefit from a second pair of eyes. Coach is the best, I know this without a doubt, and his ability to say “this is new for me too, we both have a lot to learn” just adds to my faith in him.

Change Is In The Air

Friday: the return of Coach.

Due to transportation issues I had to cancel most of my morning clients and as I neared the end of my last/the beginning of mine, Coach had a client walk through the door. Since he failed to tell me he give away my time I was a bit angry: I could have rescheduled one more client. I desperately need the money.

I left for the hour to cool off, after all I am more relieved to see him upright than I am angry. When we finally do connect I am able to remember his healthiness is my priority but after the concern is put to rest I say “I’m important too. You can’t continue to take me for granted.” I don’t get an apology but I do get acknowledgment that he took it for granted. My step-father would say it’s the same thing but it is not. Sometimes Coach is wrong and needs to say he’s sorry.

He mentioned my deadlift accomplishment and I tell him I am ready to acknowledge that I can’t get past the block he creates. “I don’t want a different coach, I don’t care if I never get past it” and he assures me we will figure it out…maybe not before December but eventually.

Bench day. We’ve set my opening weight at 175 but working on bumping it to 185. If I can confidently open there, I may be back over 200# for bench come December. This was my goal, close to my pre-injury PR, I had stopped hoping it was possible but here I am. Anything is possible.

Thursday I wrote I had lost my gratitude but as I was driving the bridge over the lake, the sun came out. The trees that surround the lake were set on fire with the light on the red, gold, orange leaves and all reflecting off the water. The vision took my breath away. The Middle of Nowhere is sometimes the most beautiful place on earth. I am blessed to have this moment.

Saturday was a day of change. As much as I like adventures I don’t enjoy change, even good change. I have the car of my dreams (2011 Honda Civic) and the bomb-on-wheels is gone. I decided to trade in my Apple phone for a Droid (galaxy S5). Monday I start a new cycle – apparently another Wendler hybrid but this time we are keeping the 2-a-days. It’s all good but it’s a lot to adjust to in a short time.

Gratitude level returning to full. Anxiety level about to explode.

Cars, Deadlifts, Unpleasant Emotions

According to my mechanic, my car has had a mini-explosion and the wheel bearing was one drive away from causing an exciting explosion. I have no idea what that means. I should be more upset about this but I hate that car. I hated it the moment I saw it. When I was looking at a decent used Honda 4 years ago, my step-father showed up at school (my last semester of nursing school – as you know I was exhausted with life at that point) and said “grab the checkbook, I found your car”. A Kia. Nobody argues with my step-father.

I’m sure many people love their kia’s since I see them everywhere but I don’t and never have. Within a month of purchase I had to put tires on it because I live in a snowy Middle of Nowhere and a gentle breeze sends it out of control. I hate this car. My mechanic assures me it will be running like new but I’m over it. If it runs like new it has resale value and so I’m selling. I found another Honda. This used Honda will be a newer used Honda than the original and it will have a couple bells and whistles I never had before in a vehicle (like power windows) since I am no longer a student.

It is 7 miles to work and I had 6 AMers today so I walked it. As there was no sign of Coach I went ahead and lifted. I finally hit the prescribed weight for my heavy deadlift this cycle and was amazed how easy it felt. It must have been good form since I didn’t feel one tweak or twinge in my hip and at the top everything was even.

In the middle of this, ten minutes before our scheduled lift time, his text came: still sick but fever reduced. Suddenly I couldn’t lift the prescribed weight. I don’t know what changed in my head, nothing had changed physically or in the environment but there’s something about Coach and my head…

So I dropped the weight ten pounds and continued. I skipped the squats as I had a 7 mile walk home. My hips would have enough today.

I rented a car for the next few days. Got my paperwork in order for my big purchase – the car of my frugal minded dreams! And I sadly said goodbye to my upcoming vacation days which were to be spent playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’d been talking about that for 3-1/2 years. There isn’t a bigger fan-girl than me when it comes to Dragon Age.

I hate growing up. I hate the constant just getting back on my feet to have a set back. Watching everyone else get fun stuff while I work-work-work. I usually have started my gratitude letters by now, I have so much to be grateful for it’s nauseating and my work ethic tops that list, but I just don’t feel it right now. I want that facility, I want to help Coach, I want to play DA, I want a day off, I want people to work as hard as I do before they get rewarded. I have never not felt grateful before and I’m surprised that, as hard as I try, I can’t find one thing to make my heart overflow with gratitude today. I feel like I’m bordering on bitter and this is an ugly place to be.

I have so much to be grateful for: I live 7 miles from my primary work, a job I love and look forward to everyday, I have a roof over my head, food on my table, supportive readers of my ramblings, and the best Coach in the world. I have more than I will ever need. Something unexpected will bring me back to myself, of this I am sure.

I Am An Idiot

I shouldn’t be left alone in public.

So this happened Tuesday: Speed bench day and I was solo, Coach was a no show. I take a couple of breaths and get to work.

On my second set I failed the last rep and started to roll it off me. THE TRAINER ran over and lifted it off. I, socially inept and total avoider of THE TRAINER, repeated “I’m sorry” more rapidly than a semi-automatic fires shots. As he went to rack it, in my panic of being in the same space with someone I don’t know, I said (either in a whisper or a yell, it’s hard to tell when I’m panicked) “just put it on the ground, I can take care of myself” and then I said “I’m sorry” a half dozen more times. He laughed as he walked away and said “don’t worry, we’ve all been there.”

Yeah, he’s probably not been here at 70% weight. I drop the weight 5lbs and complete the remaining 10 sets.

My afternoon lifting was great and there wasn’t a soul in the building. I should’ve saved bench for the afternoon.

Follow up: Coach wasn’t just a “no show” this time. There was a delay in receiving the text he sent: 102 fever. He gets himself isn’t enough trouble for not communicating, I have to acknowledge when he tries