Wednesday, July 28, 2010

10-07-28: 5K Run

CrossFit WoD for July 28th, 2010

Run 5K

Seems simple enough.  After a little time loosening up on the old exercise bike, did some active stretching, then walked up to the Central Park reservoir.  Total circumference = >1.5 miles, so two laps equals 5K more or less.  So, that was the plan.

Kept a good pace for the first 3/4 miles, took a short walk break to get my breath back, then ran another 1/4 mile.  Another short walk, a much shorter run, and another walk brought me back around to the start.  Ran for about another 1/4 mile, putting me at the 96th street(?) entrance to the reservoir, and had to stop.  My knees, especially the left, were acting up a bit since yesterday's Air Force WoD (mostly due to hamstring and adductor tightness) (Note: did you know its apparently impossible to find a single muscle diagram on the web that shows both the hamstrings AND the adductors? Seriously!)
You'll notice on the hamstrings image how the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus both stretch around the back of the knee to the kneecap?  Yup, that appears to be the source of my knee aches and pains: Short, stiff hamstrings yanking on the kneecap, screwing up the patellar tendon.  Whoo-hoo!  Which is why stretching definitely eases the pain significantly.

So, I decided to call it at about 1.75 miles.  I felt GREAT during the first stretch...far better, and far more able to deal with any sort of distance than I've felt in a long time.  True, it was a fairly short distance, but for someone who almost never runs any sort of distance, it was great proof of concept.  Unfortunately, my concerns over my knees definitely made me a tighter runner, as I can also feel that workout throughout my shoulders and back right now, which definitely made it harder overall to cover distance efficiently.  Which is obviously the name of the game in a 5K!

Me, I want to be like these guys...just not necessarily for the insane distances:
Tarahumara runner Arnulfo Quimare runs alongside ultra-runner Scott Jurek in Mexico's Copper Canyons

Read more:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

10-07-27: Air Force WoD

This guy is front squatting far more than I can, and with
WAY better technique. Weight on the shoulders, not the
hands, and butt all the way below horizontal with the knees.
Perfection. (© CrossFit)

For time:
Here are the rules: Each athlete must do 4 burpees at the beginning of every minute (including at the start of the WOD) before moving on to the barbell work. The athlete is allowed to move to the next barbell skill once he/she has completed all 20 reps. If the minute clock beeps during a repetition the athlete will complete their rep and then start their four burpees. There is a 20 min time limit.

Altered rules: Due an inability to time the minutes (shy of trying to do the workout while staring at the clock, which never works for me), I opted to alter the workout substantially.  Instead of doing burpees every minute on the minute, I just did the first set of the workout with the bar, took the time from that, and did a burpee for every minute.  This no doubt led to a far faster time than I would have had otherwise, for two reasons: 1) obviously, I didn't have to do burpees in the middle of the workout. Yay!  2) I forgot to keep the timer going while doing the burpees at the end, which would have forced me to do even MORE burpees for those earned while DOING burpees! This would have actually made it far more accurate, but as I was barely able to complete them without that, I'm not feeling too worried.  I was impressed I made myself do 4 burpees per minute, rather than scaling that down along with the weight (from the Rx'ed 95#. Pshaw!).

Total time: 11 minutes, 44 burpees (sets of 10/12/12/10)
Music playlist: MegaSlayThrax - randomized selection of Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, in honor of their concert coming up on October 8th or 9th (I should figure that out) at the Nassau Coliseum.  \m/

Thursday, July 22, 2010

10-07-22: Power Snatches, Pull-Ups, Push-Ups, Squats

CrossFit Football WoD for July 20, 2010
Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes:
Not sure I really know my 1 rep max snatch, since I really have never focused on the lift.  I chose to make the best guesstimate at a heavy enough weight to make this difficult. 125#  Snatches are a beast of a movement...not that it's difficult to get the weight overhead, but it's hard to do so safely, and in control. I know I can start an attempt with MUCH heavier weight than I can actually control on top, so this seemed like a pretty smart place to start, given that the repeated-triplet following the snatches was only going to start fatiguing all the most important muscles!

Definitely watch the squat video, as there are amazing pointers in there for proper form.  Remember, if someone tells you to only squat to about a 90 degree angle, not only do they not understand the physiology of the knee, they don't understand the point of squatting.  Yes, at that point, the hamstring, hip flexors, abductors and adductors ALL come into play.  But if you're still trying to isolate your quads, you're reading the wrong blog.  Save that for the Mr. Universe competition. CrossFit is about functional strength, and unless you have an injury or a serious flexibility problem (that you are hopefully addressing), your ass should be nearly hitting your heels at the bottom.  To be fair and honest, my ham-string flexibility is crap, so I can't get that low either, but I'm at least aware of it, and working on that flexibility as much as I can.

Started out with plenty of gas in the tank, but was pretty screwed by the end of round 4.  It was so bad, I thought I had plenty of time to complete round 6, but only got through one of the triplets when time was called...where did the last 90 seconds go?!  No idea.

Total: 5 full rounds, + 2 power snatches, 3 pull-ups, 5 push-ups, & 7 squats.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    10-07-19: "Rowing Nancy"

    CrossFit The Rock WoD for July 19th, 2010

    Active Stretching for Warm-Up

    “Rowing Nancy”
    5 Rounds For Time:
    Total time: 20m

    Inspired by the CrossFit Games held this past weekend, I tried to hit this as hard as I could. The workout comes from a local CrossFit box (CrossFit the Rock, Rockville Centre, NY), which though I haven't visited yet, its nice to know its there. ;)

    (Mens, Affiliate Competition, Womens, and Masters Women CFG 2010 champions - a.k.a.The Fittest People on the Planet.)

    My left knee started out sore, aggravated at some point this morning on the train when I had to stand the whole way in.  Sitting on the subway didn't help (duh), and neither did a walk across Central Park.  Neither did sitting at my desk working.  Active stretching and warming up seemed to relax it a bit, but I started feeling it as soon as I started rowing, and on each and every overhead squat. Glad I scaled the weight back a bit, given that the knee was distracting me a bit.

    That said, if there's room for improvement, its in the rest times after each bit of this.  I could barely move after each rowing segment, and needed a few seconds to shake out the shoulders/arms after each round of squats. Either way, without the recent inspiration of the games, my time probably would have been 10 minutes longer...

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    10-07-15: 400m runs and rest

    CrossFit WoD for July 15th, 2010

    For 20 minutes:
    • Run 400 meters 
    Rest precisely the time of the previous run.  Record total distance.

    Distance: 1.5 miles (2400m).

    This was an awful, awful experience, mostly because I hate running with a passion.  We opted to head up to the reservoir in Central Park, there to endure the 83 degree weather (not that bad), 62% humidity (kind of bad), and herds of tourists on bikes just standing around.  Get out of the way, dammit!  I'm reminded of something I saw somewhere once:
    When I'm driving, I hate pedestrians. When I'm walking, I hate drivers.  But I *always* hate cyclists.
    So, yeah. Nothing changed today.

    After spending some time figuring out logistics for ways to keep this thing trackable, we started running. We marked off 200m, ran there and back, and rested near the water fountain. Genius!  Unfortunately, the first 200m was all uphill, and the second was all downhill, which is probably a good thing if you're an experienced runner who can coast and recharge on the downhills. If you're me, it sucks.

    Post running body-check: Knees seem ok, but they'll hurt more later, if they are going to.  Short-term, my calves are CRUSHED. I'm going to be walking with a hitch in my giddy-up all weekend, methinks. My feet are super sore, as well.  I did this work-out in indoor soccer shoes, figuring that was as close to Vibrams as I could get, and infinitely smarter for city running than going truly barefoot.  I do know that if I were in running shoes, using my 'older' running style (heel-strike) I'd be crippled in both the ankles an knees.  Since that's not that case, apparently I did something right.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    10-07-13: "Fight Gone Bad"

    CrossFit WoD for July 13th, 2010

    Three rounds of:
    • Wall-ball, 20 pound ball, 10 ft target (Reps)
    • Sumo deadlift high-pull, 75 pounds (Reps)
    • Box Jump, 20" box (Reps)
    • Push-press, 75 pounds (Reps)
    • Row (Calories)

    In this workout you move from each of five stations after a minute.The clock does not reset or stop between exercises. This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating. On call of "rotate", the athletes must move to next station immediately for best score. One point is given for each rep, except on the rower where each calorie is one point.

    Add your points and post them to comments.

    OK, first, issues with timing.  Since it was just "J" and I, we had to rely on his stopwatch to tell us when to change.  That being the case, and the fact that we might not hear it when it first went off (over the sound of ragged breathing, clanking weights, and/or the rowing machine), we opted to add in a 10 second buffer between each minute.  So, each round had an extra 40s total.  As a result, our numbers can't be considered "official" as per the instructions above.  Oh well.

    Also, the rowing machine picked today to have the batteries in the ergometer die, so instead of accurately measuring calories, I decided that four pulls = one calorie.  That's my decision, I'm sticking with it.  Also, so as to not have both of us trying to use the one weight bar at the same time, I opted to start with the rowing, and rotate the workout accordingly.

    Exercise Round 1Round 2Round 3
    Push Press
    Total score: 250 (That's pretty cool!)

    All in all, this was a pretty awful workout, given that the room was (again), pushing 95 degrees or so, and easily 100% humidity.  The number of broken sets skyrocketed in about the 3rd or 4th exercise, much less in the later rounds.  Like trying to suck wind in a bowl of pudding.  Ugh...

    Also, this marked my first attempt at box jumps since my patellar tendonitis flared up all those months ago. I figured I had to go for them... rowing and SDLHPs are both of the known replacements for box jumps and double-unders, so, since they were already worked in, I had nothing to sub with.  So, I did it as Rx'ed. Updates as they occur with the knees.  yay!

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    10-07-12: Dumbbell snatches and Pull-ups

    CrossFit WoD for July 12th, 2010
    3 rounds for time of:

    In honor of Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Whitaker, 23, of Long Beach, CA who was killed in Afghanistan May 15th, 2007.

    Boy, did this ever suck. Doing a workout that kills your lungs in a room bordering on 95 degrees, nearly 100% humidity, and sun pouring in the glass ceiling...not all that smart.  Thanks to early Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, etc for keeping us going.  Oh, and the big stinking fan.

    So, the scaling:  Did the dumbbell squat snatches as Rx'd, though there were a few power snatches that worked their way in occasionally that I counted. For the pull-ups, HA!!  I did them off the top of a smith machine frame, knowing that the L-sit would quickly devolve into a jumping pull-up, which it did.  First round (ie, two sets of 10 pull-ups) were all L-sit, though with feet touching down between every rep.  2nd round pull-ups were all jump-pull-ups with VERY slow negatives (ie, jump up into top pull-up position, and then sloooowly let gravity pull me down, to full extension).  3rd round pull-ups were straight jump pull-ups, with minimal slow-down on the this point, I was lucky i was still holding onto the frame!

    Why?  Because this workout is MURDER on the wrists and on every core muscle between the legs and the fist.  Managed to do the first several sets of dumbbell squat snatches in unbroken sets, but that ended when I lost the ability to breathe the nearly liquid atmosphere.  Fun!!  Typing hurts...let me tell ya!

    All the sets and exercises were done with minimal rest times, though I did take time for the occasional drink or spell in front of the fan.  I was definitely having problems with my face going all red and feeling like it was going to pop from overheating.  I have NO idea how people workout/run/work down south, where this kind of crap is hell of a lot more common.  Ugh.  Either way, hit this one as hard as I could in honor of "Joshie" Whitaker.  It sucks that there's a need to pay these guys homage, but it does NOT suck to actually do so.

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    10-07-09: 21-15-9 Pushups and Squats (and a rant about multi-modal training)

    Well, having gorged myself at the Black Forest Brew Haus today, I knew I had to do something to put a notch back in my favor.  After waiting long enough to be moderately sure Pukie wouldn't visit, I opted for a super-fast metabolic conditioning workout, 3 rounds of push-ups and squats, 45 reps total, broken up as 21-15-9.
    21-15-9 for time of:
    • Push-ups
    • Squats
    Time: 2:51.

    Felt surprisingly good.  My upper body has been amazingly sore since Tuesday's pull-ups/dips/sit-ups/squats workout, so banging out 21 push-ups in one shot in the first round was a nice surprise.  Squats were easy all the way through, though I was definitely sucking wind like a champ by the 3rd round of 9.  At that point, I was doing the push-ups in sets of three, but managed to minimize the rest times as best I could.

    For those of you who might bother to read this (Hi Mom and J!), the theory behind a "metabolic conditioning" workout is fairly simple.  Its the difference between a traditional cardio workout (walk or jog for 30 minutes, 10-20% effort) and a more aggressive variation (sprinting, 100% effort).  Put it this way: consider the difference in body types between sprinters and marathon runners.  One group is muscular and strong, the others (especially the really successful ones) look gaunt and skeletal.  Not all of that is explained by the strong guys being drawn to sprinting, and the skinny guys to distance.  The actual workouts cause that shift in body type, and focusing on a specific distance will tend to cause a change in physiology.  One of the benefits of constantly varied training is that it tries to NOT go too far in any one direction.

    As a great example, one of my favorite CrossFitters is Rob Orlando, a beast of a guy who's sheer brute strength is phenomenal.  For all that, his cardio-endurance has been severely lacking. Though he's won several strong-man competitions, his showings at past CrossFit events have been lop-sided: top tier in the strength events, and miserable in the distance/extended-time events.  The upshot is that CrossFitting, and really any other multi-modal, constantly varied workouts is that there is an expectation of finding a weakness like that, engaging it, and removing it.  Rather than focus just on his strength work, going into the 2010 CrossFit games, Rob has really worked on his endurance, and will hopefully have a more even showing this year.

    At another point on the spectrum is Chris Spealler, who last I knew was 135# soaking wet, but can run for days, and throws multiples of his bodyweight around like no-one's business.  There's no hiding behind being a "little dude" for Speal.  He pretty much owns all the body-weight events, because he's small, fast, and *efficient,* but by working in the strength domain as well, he's made himself into one of the guys to beat.

    So, to get back to the reason why metabolic conditioning workouts seem to work so well.  Rather than doing a set number of exercises and reps, the focus is actually on doing them as fast (and safely) as possible. Rather than just focusing on strength, a cardio element is mixed in as well. And instead of just focusing on Long Slow Distance (LSD) for cardio, you get *that* while powering through a strength workout.  Now, is 2:51 spent doing push-ups and squats the same as running a 4 minute mile? In most respects, no...unless you wanted to get stronger too, not just better at running a certain distance in a certain time. 

    The other big upshots are the post-workout effects.  Mainly, by pushing your heart-rate up into the sprint zone, you cause a greater and longer-lasting adaptation to take place because your body is forced to recover from both duration and intensity of exercise, rather than just low-intensity duration.  None of this is to say that merely running/jogging/walking won't have an impact...but looking at fitness as a whole, and including strength, ability to generate force, and therefore the ability to actually *do work,* multi-modal metabolic conditioning has a lot more impact than anything rated low- or no-impact.

    That's my 2c, probably badly explained, and any and all errors in the philosophies are mine alone. I know these concepts have been discussed (and are still being hashed-out on various boards across the web, especially the CrossFit Forum), so if anything sounds half-assed or stupid, its almost guaranteed to be me not getting something, not the theories themselves.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    10-07-06: Pull-ups, Dips, Sit-Ups, Squats

    CrossFit WoD for Thursday, July 1st, 2010

    10 6 rounds for time:

    • 10x Pull-ups
    • 10x Dips
    • 10x Sit-ups
    • 10x Squats
    After nearly a week off, I was eager to get back to work.  However, as some of you may know, its been a bit brutally hot and humid here in the NYC the last few days, and yesterday was probably the worst of it.  I was drenched with sweat after a light warm-up!  The nasty, humid kind of sweat that doesn't actually cool you off at all. 

    So, I tore into the workout, finishing 3 rounds fairly quickly... though I was definitely struggling with the bodyweight pull-ups.  However, after the 4th round, between the heat and fatigue, I just felt my strength totally disappearing.  After taking advantage of the craptastic gravatron*, I did the 5th round with 40# of weight assist, which was still not quite enough.  However, by the end of the dips (also with weight assist), I was racked with full-body exhaustion shakes (that said, I could probably have kept going with the sit-ups and squats...).  I rested a bit, drank some water, and sat in front of a fan trying to get my temp down.

    Fought through the 6th and final round with 80# weight assist on the pull-ups and dips.  Spent a good 10-15 minutes just trying to stop sweating and getting my heart rate down before heading back up to the office.  Ended up nearly soaking through my work clothes during the few minutes between sitting in front of the fan and getting back into my AC'ed office.

    *It's not really a gravitron.  It's some other off brand of 'weight-assist pull-up and dip' tower.  In their infinite wisdom, the posts that hold the dip bars come STRAIGHT out of the tower, meaning that they are in the perfect position to get you in the crotch, thighs and knees, depending on your technique.  Kipping is almost completely out, unless its a slow controlled kip motion.  I managed to bash my left knee and right quad on the same pull-up, which also served to demotivate the crap out of me. I'll need to get a pic of this horrific piece of crap.  Great idea, just not enough of it.