Thursday, March 17, 2011

The role of the metcon in lower intensity training

Okay, I'd better replace my last post with something happier before I freak out my entire family. A bit of explanation:
  1. I'm fine! Do not worry.
  2. Sometimes I use the blog to vent.
  3. Sometimes things come out sounding worse in writing than in person.
  4. Just because you're struggling with something doesn't mean you're miserable. Struggle is a part of life and I embrace that. Often it helps to write about it.
Shortly after I posted yesterday, I dragged myself over to the gym with the intention of doing some back squats and push presses. But when I got to the weight room, I ran into two guys who were planning to do a practice run of the first Open Sectionals WOD. An opportunity for workout buddies! And not just any workout buddies but ones who get CrossFit, who I don't have to explain myself to. I asked if I could join in, scaling the workout of course, and they said sure. Keep in mind that this is my first real CrossFit sprint metcon in MONTHS. I was a bit concerned about how it would go, but I figured if I felt bad, I could just rest longer between exercises. I really wanted to DO SOMETHING, even if it wasn't full throttle.

Here's the Rx'd workout:

AMRAP in 10 minutes of:
15 snatches 75/55#
30 double unders

and here's how I scaled it (using this post on CrossFit Mom as a starting point):
For 10 minutes do:
15 snatches 40#
60 jump rope (singles)

40# (20# aluminum bar and 10# bumpers) was the lightest I could go and still go from the floor. I tried some double unders, but I didn't have my rope and I was wearing my lifting shoes, and DU's just spike the hell out of my heart rate, so I figured the 2 for 1 sub was reasonable - 30 singles would just be too fast and it would be all snatches all the time.

I got 4 rounds and all 15 snatches on the 5th round. I didn't go to exhaustion, I stopped between exercises to catch my breath (I did a lot of deep breathing!), and I kept the weight light enough that I could string the lifts together without feeling undue strain. Even though I didn't go all out, I kept a certain amount of intensity and maintained good form and it felt great. It also felt great to have people cheering me through the workout and to be able to cheer them through the workout (we went sequentially - not enough space/weights to go all at once).

I've never been a huge fan of the "sexy metcon" and have always preferred strength work, but I'm starting to understand its role. Motivation. Metcons are fast and fun. They allow you to push and challenge yourself and to cheer and be cheered for. I thought metcons were kind of pointless if I couldn't go all out, but I think there is value in a 70% effort metcon. I don't think it would be a good idea to do them all the time, pregnant or not - a strength bias is still my preference for health and longevity (and cortisol management) reasons. But I think that doing one or two a week, with other people, would do a lot for my motivation and for making workouts fun again. And just making me feel better about myself. Even when I was experiencing some stress at the gym back in the summer/fall, a nice high-intensity workout would be a stress release for me and would make me feel a sense of achievement. I felt that again last night, and I would like to keep feeling it.

If you're on a lower intensity training schedule for any of a variety of reasons - pregnancy, injury, illness, cortisol issues, recovery after competition - don't count out the occasional short metcon. It can keep you motivated, happy, and on-track.

Oh, and the two guys that let me work out with them both smoked the workout. They sure made double unders look easy! They're competing at the Open Sectionals down at Verve on Saturday, and I wish them the best. It's the first CF competition for both of them, and they're going to have a great time. Good luck, Rob and Matt!

Oh, and for something lighter, check out Cappuccino and the Kitty from Pioneer Woman:


June Bug said...


If it makes you feel any better, I completely understand what you are going through (minus the prego thing). And in my situation it was something I 'chose'...I'm not sure if that makes it easier or harder for me but I am floundering none the less.

Hang in there!

Bluescaptain Joe said...

This post freaks me out. Because I don't know what metcon means. Is that some sort of drug the kids are taking now?

Amy said...

metcon = metabolic conditioning

And yes, it is a drug.

No wait, that's methcon...

Greg said...

One thing you will continue to have with those who know you and those you know, is RESPECT. Respect for how you are willing to share your life, for how you attack issues, for your strength and perserverence. Have a great and relaxing week.