Friday, December 12, 2008

To Slog Or Not To Slog

**Last-minute reminder - the Brew and Stew is tomorrow, starting at 2 (but you can show up later). No need to RSVP at this point, you can just show up. It turns out we do get Spike TV, so we will have the UFC fight on at 7. I'm making a ridiculous amount of stew, so bring your appetites! Leave a comment or email me if you need party info/directions.**

Yesterday's WOD: Fausto

5 rounds for time of:

10 pull-ups 2 bands
15 burpees
20 boxjumps 20"
25 wallballs 14-16#

My time: 38:56. This was an improvement on the last time I did this WOD (I think it was 42 minutes, but I don't have it recorded), and I increased the height on the box jump and the weight on the wall ball. I decided to be a big stickler on form and to go heavy on weight (for the wall ball), and I ended up taking more than 10 minutes longer than most of the others. Which basically made me feel pretty terrible about myself and ruined my evening (and Mike's by extension - sorry Mike!).

This leads me to a question: how do you decide when to slog through a workout and when to make it a little easier on yourself so you can match the times of other people doing it? I would love feedback from other CrossFitters on this. Both Margaret and Mike pointed out to me that sometimes it is about the sprint, and you need to decrease weight/difficulty to keep the spirit of the workout. When I take almost 40 minutes for a workout and someone else takes 25, I'm essentially doing a different workout than they are.

I decided ahead of time that this week would be my Lift Heavy And Absolutely No Cheating Week, and I stuck to it. But I know that my very strong tendency is towards absolutely no cheating and longer times, and I'm worried that by being so strict I could be limiting my training and not changing the metabolic pathways. With CrossFit workouts, it's a no-brainer that you need to push yourself hard every time. But sometimes the question is how to push yourself.

For example, Mike did the 12 days of Xmas workout with light weight, and even though he could have lifted way more weight, it was very intense because it was really fast and anaerobic, something he couldn't have achieved with a heavier weight. As a contrast, when I did the Pinky and the Brain challenge workout, it was a total slog fest, not because I went heavy, but because of the sheer number of reps. I know that my >1.5 hour workout was qualitatively different from other people's <1 hour workouts.

With yesterday's workout, I think I could have cut at least 5 minutes from my time if I had gone with a 10# medicine ball, maybe another 5 with a short box. But because I have now done workouts with a 14# ball and a 20" box, I don't want to go back to scaling those things. I don't know, maybe I'm overly concerned with cheating, at the expense of keeping the spirit of the workout. Maybe it's because I feel like I'm training mentally too, and using that heavier weight or that higher box is what pushes me the most mentally. I think that this is essentially a speed vs. difficulty tradeoff, and there are different perspectives on how to make that tradeoff. The problem is that I feel bad if I know I could have done more (weight, reps, etc.), but I feel really bad when I'm always the last one done, especially if I'm way behind like I was yesterday.

It's especially crushing to my ego because I'm not a natural athlete, and not one thing that we do in CrossFit comes easily to me. Weeks to get that box jump, months to get a handstand, will be many more months to get a pull-up. At least if I'm doing everything right, if I'm a stickler, if I'm upping my weights, then I have that to hold onto. I'm a very competitive person, and as much as I know it should NOT be about comparing myself to anyone else, in moments of weakness, it kills me to feel like the slow kid in the class, the last one to get things. Maybe this is short sighted, and maybe it's not the best way to improve. My goal at CrossFit is to push myself harder, always harder. It seemed like a clear enough goal, but after enough of these slog-fests, I'm second guessing what that even means. I should not leave a workout like that and go home and cry about not being good enough; this is not what it's all about. These are ups and downs I'm sure everyone goes through. How do you deal with it? How do you stay positive?

On a lighter note, it is Mike Hat Eye Candy Friday:
A microfiber yarn (very non-itchy), standard roll brim recipe.

And here are the promised pictures of tiny outerwear (ornaments). The blue and white mittens are for you, Mom. They match your socks! The other two ornaments are for my two aunts.

With Mike's hand for scale. (Teeny tiny mittens!)

Mike also insisted on doing the "Price is Right" shot.


Jane said...

I love my mittens - and will love my socks as well, I'm sure. Every time I read about how hard you're working at Cross Fit, I think of you as a tiny little girl, insisting on going back to the top of the stairs to "do it right" if you stumbled. I am so proud of you and your determination to do well - in all that you do. Where did you come from???

mtbjune said...

Amy, I know how you feel...I am the same way when we do the lifting stuff. I have virtually no muscle strength so I don't even get close to the rx'd workout, much less even close to what the other women are doing. I've had many a cries because of the blow to the ego but I honestly feel that's part of the whole CrossFit journey. I'm starting to learn what my strengths and weaknesses are...I have good days and bad days when I come into the gym and on the bad days I just have to remind myself that at least I'm in there doing the best I can.

My little dirty secret...if I'm not one of the best performing women, I tend to give up and do something else. Not this time! There is something different about CrossFit that makes you come back for more. You are such an inspiration to the other women in the gym!

claudia said...

It sounds like you are learning alot from your chosen program, both mentally and physically. Some lessons are harder ones than others, aye?

JamesD said...

The easy way to avoid being the slow kid in class is to train with me. I do Cross Fit because last spring I had a triple-overtime jiu jitsu match where I could barely stand when the ref reset us for each overtime. That memory is the only thing I fight in class; I don't care who finished 20 minutes ahead of me. Amy and everyone else who has the guts to do CF without my pain aversion motivation is a hero to me. I think you have to know yourself and decide which battles to fight. I got sick of my right shoulder not working, and I decided to fight the left handed kb snatch battle. A few weeks ago we did some kind of 50-40-30-20 kb snatch workout, and some people were already home by the time I finished. Last summer I scored 104 on my first USSST with two arms, and this week I got 105 left only. In retrospect that was well worth being the last one snatching in previous weeks. I've found that the payoff in Cross Fit can be weeks in coming. I had lacklustre workouts for weeks, then Steve coached me to a PR FGB, and I've all but forgotten my last place finished over the weeks.
I think you just decide what you want out of Cross Fit and trust that you'll get it even if it takes time.

Bluescaptain Joe said...

Dude, you could probably get a forklift or similar machinery to move those weights for you. Save some effort and stuff.

(I'm not drunk, just silly.)

Anonymous said...

Okay guys, the first rule about CrossFit is check your ego at the door. it is not going to be of any use to you training. People with legs half as long ans mine crush me in the running workouts. Fine, I'm just going to keep trying to improve. Amy I think your choice to do the WOD's RX'd is right. At some point you are going to have to step up and it is never going to be easy. When you do the WOD RX'd you have a baseline to start with. If it takes you an hour to complete it then the next time you will do it faster. It can sometimes be frustrating to be the last one done on a WOD you may never see again but doing it RX'd will only help performance on the benchmark workouts. CrossFit is simple, the harder you push yourself the greater and quicker the results. The body adapts to stress. The greater the stress the greater the adaptation. You are doing a great job and your improvements have been huge especially considering the short time you have been doing this. You will find you are good at somethings and not so good at others. Some things will come easier then others and some things you will just not be as good at. CrossFit is all about finding your strengths and weaknesses and training them all equally to try and become as balanced an athlete as you can genetically be. And most people never reach even a quarter of their genetic potential because they only do what is easy for them. Amy I am proud of what you have done at Flatirons CrossFit as is everyone who trains here, you should be very proud of yourself.