As we draw nearer to my 49th birthday, 18-year wedding anniversary, and a new year, be warned that I will likely be waxing and waning philosophical.
Yesterday morning after dead-lifting 360# but before starting the metcon, I mentioned to Dave that I had achieved a 25# PR. He said something like, “And you did that alone. It must have been difficult doing that without anyone here.” I replied, “No, as I very much like working out alone.” This is not always the case, though, for I generally prefer doing a metcon with others. In addition, I very much like – and want – for a coach to be present during most, particularly when I’m doing Olympic lifts.
I don’t, however, usually need a coach when I’m doing squats of any kind, running, rowing, dead-lifting, etc. Thus, I was perfectly comfortable going for a dead-lift PR yesterday without the presence of a coach – or an audience. I most certainly did not need and/or want to be cheered for.
Which brings me to my next topic: the upcoming Carolina Fitness Challenge. Even though the event isn’t until January, I already have serious reservations about competing. While I can tune everyone out as I’m doing a metcon, I am unable to do so when I’m lifting. It’s a huge distraction, and I find it very difficult to concentrate. Maybe this is the reason I’m not a porn star.
When I used to be a distance runner, my favorite races were those that took place in the middle of the forest without a single person to be seen for miles at a time. My least favorite marathon was Boston, as during almost the entirety of the race, most particularly during the last 6 miles, there was a cacophony of sound. I couldn’t even hear myself breathe! I am also reminded of running the New York City marathon, as for a couple of miles I kept hearing people yell my name. “Go, Paul!” “You can do it, Paul!” At first I thought that I was imagining things. I then discovered that a runner just a few meters ahead of me had written his name, Paul, in large letters on the front and back of his shirt. At least this was motivation to run past him and drop him like a bag of dirt.
I don’t like to be cheered for. Have I mentioned this before? I can’t recall if I’ve done so.
And now my next topic: my strength. Up until the very recent past, I’ve been feeling weak, and some days incredibly so. Was I overtraining? Perhaps. Was I frustrated? Yes. Did I couple of people in particular grate on my ever last nerve? Most definitely. It appears that a change of scenery may have been exactly what the doctor ordered, as in the past week alone I’ve achieved significant gains in bench press and dead-lift. I also achieved a PR on “Helen” and a significant improvement on “Badger”, today’s hero WOD.
Josh led today’s session. He’s a great coach, and I very much enjoyed today’s session. He’s also still wet behind the ears, and I had no idea just what a young whippersnapper he is. He’s the same age as Michael Kelley! Ack!
Josh led us through a great warm up and mobility session, and then reviewed the requirements for squat cleans and pull-ups. He then put me on the spot and asked me to briefly describe proper running form. It’s quite simple: posture, lean, and lift (lift, lift, lift, lift)!
I told Josh that this was my first time doing “Badger”. After a search of this very blog, I just now discovered that I had indeed completed “Badger” way back in June of last year. At that time I was very proud of my time of 37:07. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t recall doing this WOD and that I didn’t know my time, as I may have stayed the hell home today and set different goals. It appears that I had quite a few challenges when I did “Badger”, so much so that I took off my shirt. Faithful readers know that the shirt only comes off when I’m in dire straits. Or near dire straights, perhaps.
Josh mentioned that the WOD should take people 20 to 25 minutes to complete. I thought, Ninety full squat cleans, 90 pull-ups, and a half-mile run. Uhm, I doubt that I can complete this in less than 30 minutes. I’ll set my “A” goal to complete in a half hour or less, and my “B” goal to not have any failed reps.
3 rounds for time:
30 squat cleans (95#)
I was one of two males in the 6am session, the other being Eric, who I’ve had the opportunity to work out with a few times last week. He’s also a young whippersnapper and a strong lifter. I set up my bar at one end of the pull-up rig and with my back to the back wall, and Eric coincidentally set up his bar at the other end of the pull-up rig and with his back to the front wall; thus, we were facing each other for squat cleans. I briefly considered turning around and facing away from him and others, but knew that this might be perceived as rude and standoffish. I thought, As Eric is such a strong athlete, I can gauge my squat clean effectiveness by seeing how I compare to him. And for the first round, that’s exactly what I did. I completed the first 10 squat cleans unbroken and without taking my hands off of the bar. I then thought, This might be a waste of energy. I’ll drop the bar when I stand to full extension, as it takes but a moment to reposition my hands. I rested for a brief moment after doing sets of 5 for the rest of the first round. As I had asked Josh to observe my form and to remind me to push my hips back, he did just that. He also happened to catch me during just about every rest. I very much like when he said to me: “Put your hands on the bar, Paul.” That’s coaching and not cheering, folks. And me likey. Eric completed his 30 reps when I still had about 5 or so to go.
I completed the first round of pull-ups in 3 sets of 10 reps, and with form, consistency, and intensity, i.e., very fast. I barely got my chin over the bar for the 30th rep. The first 800m run was, for lack of a better word, painful. I hadn’t spent enough time loosening my lower back, and I felt a dull pain on the left side of my lower back in particular during this and remaining runs. I had asked Josh if we were to run 400m, turn around, and run another 400m. He said, “Most people just run through the box. It adds another 25m, but since this is a hero WOD it shouldn’t matter.” So that’s what I did. I also ran directly to my bar after finishing the 800m. I will admit to thinking very negative thoughts during the run. I don’t know that I’m going to be able to do another 30 squat cleans, let alone another 60. I completed the second round of squat cleans in reps of no more than 5 and no less than 2. Yup, I was feeling the pain. I completed pull-ups in reps of 10, 10, 5, 4, & 1. Why just 1 rep at the end? Because I wanted to ensure that my chin went above the bar. I did the 30th rep so forcefully that my Adam’s apple hit the bar. Ha! The second 800m run wasn’t as bad as the first, as at least I knew I only had 30 more squat cleans. I ran to the bar if for no other reason than to finish the squat cleans as quickly as possible. I completed squat cleans in sets of no more than 5 and no less than 2 reps. The very last 2 were perhaps the most difficult. I completed the last round of pull-ups in reps of 10, 5, 5, 5, 4, & 1, again to ensure that my chin went above the bar for the 30th rep. And once again I hit my Adam’s apple.
I was gasping for air when I began the last 800m run, so much so that I was inhaling every 2nd instead of every 3rd step. I had my breathing under control within 100 or so meters. I made sure to sprint the last 100m, and Josh is my witness that I did so.
At no time did I glance at the clock, for fear that I would focus too much on time and not enough on quality of reps and control of breathing. I was quite surprised when Josh informed me that my time was 29:44. I achieved my A goal. In addition, I had no failed reps for squat cleans or pull-ups. That’s 7:23 faster than my previous time.