Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I have met the enemy

The battle to win back my health will not be easy, it will not be fun and it will not be pretty.

Day 2 at CrossFit started off relatively easy. It was a personal workout day, to make sure I knew the basics necessary to join the group workouts. And I started off strong.

A 400m warm-up run/jog to start, and there was no mistaking me for a hero today. I jogged it out, working up a nice base sweat but not gassing myself. Then it was on to a progression of body weight squats (standard, front and overhead) presses (standing, push and jerk) kettle ball swings, sit-ups and back extensions.

I was genuinely surprised when my squat form was corrected. I wasn’t surprised that I needed correction, but was surprised at the correction made. I have never been good at going deep enough, but that wasn’t the issue. It was my foot placement. All my years of training for football, you set up to squat with a football related base, so that you worked the muscles the way you would when firing out of your stance.

Zeke, the owner/head trainer, had me widen my base, and point my toes out. Years of muscle memory screamed in protest, but I was immediately going deeper, but still not below parallel. This will take some getting used to.

From there it was on to my private session; A brief introduction to the Olympic movements. Cleans and Jerks are nothing new to me. These along with squats and bench presses formed the basis of the explosive training that I went through years ago, so I was feeling pretty confident. The snatch would be something new for me, but the start of the movement was familiar, so I guessed I’d be able to figure it out.

I have to say, my trainer, Chris, was excellent. There was quite a bit of rust to be knocked off to begin with, but he broke down the movements in a way that had never been done for me before. The coaches I have worked with in the past would be well served to spend a day with him, and learn how to teach the movements. I am confident that had I ever been instructed in this manner, I would have been putting up a hell of a lot more weight. I’m looking forward to getting my strength back and putting up personal bests 10 years past my playing days.

And while I quickly picked up on the corrections being made to my rusty form, I was shocked at how I was already tiring just moving a wooden dowel and a 45lb bar. I knew coming in that getting my wind back would be one of the hardest parts of the process, but this was nuts.

Then things went wrong. While I put the dowels back, and grabbed some water, Chris consulted with Zeke on what workout I would be doing today. Apparently Zeke hates me already, because his answer was “Fight Gone Bad”.

Yeah, this was the workout that had originally peaked my interest in CrossFit, but my mind screamed “I’m not ready”. Chris reassured me that it would only be 2 rounds, not the prescribed 5. But the damage was done. I tried to put on a good face, and aggressively attack the workout, but it had already defeated me mentally.

Wall Ball was 1st, and I did fairly well, but I was pushing too much with my arms, wasn’t using proper squat form (still need to get that base wider) and I think I was set up too far from the wall (based on watching a video of FGB online to explain to my wife why I was swimming in sweat when I got home).

That was the only positive of the 12 minute workout. Sumo high-pulls were just a sad excuse of going through the motions. My confidence and wind were shot by the time I addressed the box jumps, and only managed some half hearted step-ups. Push press would have been adequate, had it been the 5th round of FGB, not the 1st. And rowing was yet another example of me going through the motions as I gasped for air.

Round 2 made round 1 look inspired. This would have be bad enough, but then came the last 30 seconds of the workout when I went back on the attack on the rows. I put more heart and effort into that last 30 seconds than I had the previous 11 ½ minutes. Prompting Chris to exclaim “where did that come from?”

I was too winded to reply, but deep down I knew. It came from me getting pissed off at myself. Not because I had failed to do the workout, but because I had failed to give it everything I had. There had been plenty of times during the workout that I felt that I could puke, but rather than pushing through that feeling, or puking and rallying (a gift of mine according to my old drinking buddies) I had caved.

If there is one thing that I can take from day 2, it is that I completely overlooked one area that needed serious work. I knew that when it came to endurance and flexibility I was woefully unprepared. I knew that my strength had waned, but had faith in muscle memory helping me through. I had no idea the depths that my mind had slipped.

Looking back at the years of excuses, and the way I quickly faltered in workout #1, I can’t believe I missed this. I have been losing the mental game for years. Pushing through has been getting it’s ass handed to it by rolling over.

I have met the enemy, and it is me.

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