Friday, August 26, 2011

11-08-26: Skill work and why running sucks.

Elm City Crossfit WoD for Friday, August 26th, 2011
Coach Jorgy demos ring handstand push-ups. A bit out of my league. A bit. (
How I ALWAYS feel when I run. (
How I'd LIKE to feel. Herschel Walker setting the Falcons straight. (

Buy-in: Skill Development
  • Handstand Push-Ups
WoD: Time Trial
  • 1.5m Run
 After the warm-up, but prior to working on the HSPU progressions, I check with Coach Vin about the on-going soreness and weakness in my forearms and wrists. He had me try to roll out my forearms on a bar placed on a squat rack, and what do you know?! Huge, monstrous knots in my upper forearms! Because knots don't always hurt where they are, but often make things at a distance sore (think of pulling on a rope. The first place to feel the tug is at the OTHER end, where the rope is anchored.) That constant tightness makes everything ELSE hurt... especially if the other end is all the little niggly, fragile bits that make up the human wrist. So, yet another thing to keep working on. Rolling out the knots helped tremendously, but they tightened right back up pretty quickly.

On to the gymnastic movements. At some point a few years ago, I suddenly realized that gymnasts were basically the most usefully strong people, pound for pound, on the planet. I think it was watching John Roethlisburger move from a push-up planche type position to a hand stand by just raising his legs. To me, that's STILL magical. That amount of core stability and overall strength is just... beyond. I don't know if I'll ever get there, since it seems more like the kind of skill you start working on when you're 4-5, and manage to keep for only a few years past your ultra-prime stage.  Either way, I have nothing but respect for gymnastic type movements, especially for being so bad at most of them!

To work the progressions for the handstand push-up, I did several wall-climbs, where you start in a push-up position with your feet to the wall, put your feet on the wall, and slowly walk your hands backwards while moving your feet up the wall. Ideally, you should go from belly on the floor to belly on the wall. After doing a few of those, I started experimenting with trying to pull one hand off the floor, and readjusting my body over the one remaining arm. This was NOT very successful, so I changed tactics, and began doing lateral wall walks, along the wall. This still works the single arms, but doesn't focus on how long each hand is off the ground. Similar work, different trigger, different measurement.

After rolling out my wrists again, it was time for the time trial. 1.5 miles. The longest single run I've attempted since starting at ECC. Actually, probably the longest single run I've ever attempted. (Not true, just realized I've attempted 5K runs around the reservoir in Central Park on at least two occasions, which would be double today's run.) The "course" involved running to the right out of the parking lot, going down to the traffic light at the end of the road, and coming back. The worst part of the run is in the approach and return from the light itself, where the road drops down on the way out, requiring a bit of a climb on the way back. If I wasn't already gassed, the hill wouldn't be too bad. However, it was on the hill where I managed to go from third to second place, which I managed to keep to the end.

I walked twice during the run, neither time for very long, maybe 10-12 paces while I tried to reset my breathing and my thinking. What I hate most about running, and the reason why this entry has "why running sucks" in the title, is that there's almost no distraction from the sound of your own labored breathing. All I can ever think about is how much it hurts to breath, and am I breathing too loud, do I sound like I'm panting, do I sound like an idiot, should I be breathing faster and shallower, how do runners do it, how do marathoners keep this up for hours at a time, how do ultra-marathoners do this for days at a time, this can't be normal, oh god, there's a stitch in my side.... and on and on.

What I have discovered over the years is how to avoid developing a stitch. When I start breathing heavy (you know, 3 steps in), I try to remember to inhale for an odd number of strides, then exhale for an even number of strides. The upshot is that it takes an odd number of strides overall for the full cycle, which means if one inhale starts on the left foot, then the next inhale will start on the right. I find that having the breathing alternating with the footwork means I'm not always inhaling when my left foot strikes, and always exhaling on the right foot (or maybe all the breathing is tied to a single foot, it doesn't really matter for this discussion).  With an odd number of footfalls, the inhale/exhale cycle alternates feet, keeping any given muscle/impact stress from building up. Maybe its all in my head, but when I can focus on that for a bit, I get WAY fewer stitches.

Running still sucks. Unless you're a running back, in which case its the greatest thing ever. I wonder if there's a way to integrate running back-style workouts into crossfit. I wonder how much the cage with the heavy pads in it that you have to run through costs... that would be AWESOME!!!

Total time: 12:38

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