So for a while now, I’ve been looking at fitness through different lenses and from different perspectives. Tracking lifts hasn’t felt very satisfying lately as I’ve plateaued on many of the lifts we test most frequently. I’m seeing gains in other areas of my fitness, but they’re less quantifiable. They’re no less important, just not as obvious. So I’ve been looking for new ways to frame things. Today I got some answers to some questions that have been gnawing at me for a while.

Erin, a couple of buddies from CFD (Greg and Nat), and I took on the Army Physical Fitness Test(APFT). Why the APFT? For them I suspect it was simply a benchmark test a bit different from the standard Crossfit WODs. For me it was a bit more personal and I appreciate their willingness to indulge an old soldier.

I served active duty in the Army from 1993-1997. Taking the APFT today provided a unique opportunity to see not only how I stack up now against the standards for my current age, but also to compare at least theoretically against the man I was 20 years ago, at what was presumably the fitness peak of my adult life.

The APFT is simple, 2 minutes max push ups, 2 minutes max sit ups, then a timed 2 mile run. In most situations when taking the test in the service, you’d be testing with your military unit and everyone would test one event, then move on to the second, complete that then the third. We all agreed that for our purposes we’d wait a minimum of 10 minutes between exercises. The other thing you need to know, a passing score is 180 points, with a minimum of 60 points (on a 100 point scale) on each event.

So, I did 50 push ups (82 points, for my current age bracket), 52 sit ups ( 80 points), 16:14 run (81 points). Total score 243.

I went digging through my old files. I don’t have a detailed record of any of my actual APFT scores from my time in the service. I was never a stud. I never took it all that seriously at the time. As I recall I was a 210 sort of scorer, with a pretty even 70-70-70 point distribution. Based on the information I have a 70-70-70 points score for a 22-26 yo male translates to 50 push ups, 58 sit ups and a 15:14 run.

So, “Could Crossfit PK, the man I am today, compete against the kid I was a 20 years ago, LT K, in an APFT? Could Crossfit PK match LT K step for step and rep for rep?” No, not today. But it would be a fun contest to watch. And here’s the thing, Crossfit PK is not done yet. Not by a long shot.

Missed a couple workouts late last week as circumstances found me living the solo parent life temporarily. I missed the workouts, but I missed the people more.

WOD for Monday 110412
Snatch
Establish 1RM

I was looking forward to the snatch today. Don’t remember ever saying that before. It’s been a bit over a month since I last tested for a 1RM. My body felt well rested with the time off. I had every expectation that I’d set a new 1RM today. Yeah, well, not so much.

Warm up sets of 2 reps each at 95# felt slow. Seemed like I was landing well, but I was slow getting under the bar and I was not squatting deep in the catch.

Coach Erin observed and encouraged me to work on snatch balances for a few reps at this weight to practice getting down into a deep squat and moving quickly. It helped to a degree, but for whatever reason, I just wasn’t putting the whole package together very well today. No big deal.

After a few more rounds alternating snatches and snatch balance at 95# I moved up to 115#. The heavier weight actually felt more comfortable than 95#. Go figure. After a few singles, I moved to 125#.

Those were not great lifts. In hindsight, I should have retreated back to 115#. By the time I got through those I had a bit of time left and more than a bit of attitude. For no sound reason other than curiousity and stubbornness, I threw another 20# on the bar and went to 145#. Let’s just say I had a couple of decent snatch pulls at that weight. It was obvious that it was time to move on to the METCON.

METCON
AMRAP in 12 minutes:
5 Push Press (65% bodyweight)
10 Pushups
15 Double Unders

Coincidentally, 145# is 65% of my bodyweight, so I was ready to go. Craig and I confered for a few minutes and I told him my intent to go Rx. I should have known better when he questioned me with that. He’s got more experience at this stuff than I do. I didn’t expect the push presses too be too difficult. Having completed “Grace,” 30 clean and jerks at 135# for time, in under 5 minutes recently, push presses at 145# didn’t sound so bad. And again, today was another shining example of how poorly I understand my own capabilities.

The first round went FAST! Second round went even faster because even the double unders went unbroken! Now I could be way off the mark here, but I’m reasonably sure I finished two rounds in under two minutes…then reality set in.

I’m not sure exactly what happened. Maybe my brain did the conversion and said, “12 min =12 rounds?! No way!” Maybe the extra 10 pounds per push press was more taxing than I accounted for. Maybe I was just too fast out of the gate and not very strategic. Probably it was a combination of all of the above. I’m honestly not sure, but things slowed WAY down after round two.

The push presses got VERY heavy in the third round. Push ups slogged down dramatically and double unders from then on out were done in runs of 5-ish.

I dropped the bar after two presses in the 4th and 5th rounds. Funny to think that doing an extra 145# power clean was a “break.” All push ups were strict pushups, but after the second round were done in micro-sets ranging from 3-1. I had to take a knee periodically between them too.

When the 12 minutes elapsed, I’d completed only 5 full rounds, 5 additional push presses and 10 push ups (Rx). I was spent!

The very short time off helped me learn a bit about myself. I still don’t have the discipline to consistently exercise on my own. I was a solo parent from Thursday through Sunday. While the kids and I were busy, there were windows where I could have thrown down a quick METCON.

Hell, I even had one picked out from the CFD travel WODs. I kept telling myself I wanted to do the 10 rounds for time of 10 push ups, 10 sit ups, 10 air squats. “No equipment. No running. No excuse not to.” But I never did it. I’m disappointed in myself for that. I thought I was more disciplined.

On the flip side of that coin, I’ve also come to understand that while the workouts at CFD are important, the people are more important. What I really missed most was the disruption to what’s become my morning routine. I missed the chance just to catch up with folks who have become such an important part of the majority of my mornings.

It felt really odd not to be able to connect with them even just for a moment to share a laugh or two and to see how they were doing. 6:15 crew, I really appreciate all of you! It’s a special kind of lunacy to share this stuff that early in the morning with enthusiasm!

Battling a case of the “don’ wannas.” You know that place where you “don’t wanna” do much of anything? It’s been one of those days. Didn’t sleep great last night and it feels like an end of Summer cold may be sneaking up on me. No big deal. It’ll pass.

Can honestly say that if Jess hadn’t been expecting me for a lift to the gym, I’d have taken a pass this morning. Even “Funky Shorts Friday” was pretty subdued today.

Which is a bit of a bummer. On paper I really liked the look of this WOD.

WOD for Thursday 081712
“The Durham 150”
20 Pullups
25 Deadlift (135/95)
15 Floor Wipers
25 Pushups
20 Box Jumps (24/20)
25 KB Swings (52/35)
20 Pullups

This is, I expect, the last of the retro week wods, where CFD has been reliving the programming from the very first week the box was open 4 years ago. In spite of my case of the blahs, this WOD was still pretty entertaining.

Floor wipers are an ass-kicker of an exercise. If you want to see a video of how their done, go here.  Basically, lie on your back under a bar and do a floor press. Now with the barbell locked out over your body pike your body and swing your extended legs around and make your toes touch the bar on one end. Trick is the bar’s not supposed to travel to meet your toes. Once you touch one side of the bar swing your legs down and around so that as they pass straight out in front of you your heels pass as close as possible to the floor with out touching. Swing the feet up to touch the opposite side of the bar. Repeat. One rep is complete when you return back to the side you touched first. These are TOUGH for me.

I did the deadlifts Rx, but set up the bar with a 25#, 15# and 5# plate on each side. I was certain that I wanted nothing to do with holding that 135# bar locked out over my chest while trying to get through the floor wipers. Thinking about it now, this was the only portion of the WOD I did unbroken. I sure as hell wasn’t going to set the bar down on my chest and press it again.

First round of pull ups were done 10, 5, 5 unassisted. Deadlifts were broken up. Should have gone unbroken, but any time pull ups and deadlifts are back to back in either order, that’s always hell on the grip. Pushups were done 10, 10, 5. They should have been much closer to unbroken. KB swings went something like 15, 5, 5. They should not have taken 3 sets. Last set of pullups were 5 kipping, then jumping pullups for the duration.

Finished this one in 10:38 today. Not a great time, but given the funk going into the day, I’ll take it.

I saw this photo today on Facebook

DNF Apparel Double Under Skeptic

Courtesy of DNF Apparel

You can check out their site here or their FB page It kind of stung and simultaneously made me smile. To me it serves as a great reminder to keep things in perspective. Have fun. Celebrate the victories and accomplishments. Attend to the goats and the challenges, but keep it all in perspective. This is still at it’s core recess for grown ups. It’s my chance each day to get out of the house, hang out with my friends and run around like a lunatic for an hour. It’s possible I’ve been taking this all a bit too seriously lately.

So if Friday was aggressive and stupid today’s theme was conservative and cautious. Today was about working through and adapting to the adversity of injury.

WOD for Monday 022012
Front Squat
5-5-5-3-3-3

My wrist is still recuperating from Friday’s mishap and I had to be conscious of that today. I took advantage of the holiday and went to the 11:30 session rather than the 6:15. I figure why get up at dawn AND deal with the potentially icy roads when it wasn’t strictly necessary.Plus I got to WOD under the direction of a coach I don’t normally get to work with and make some new friends.

I was hoping to be stronger in the front squats, but didn’t account for just how much holding a bar in the racked position stresses the wrists. A single set at 95# was all I could manage. Frustrating, but hey it happens. After talking over things with Coach Anna I bowed out of the rest of the squats and prepped for the METCON

3 Rounds For Time:
5 Power Clean (155/105)
10 Pushups
15 Pullups

I was never going to be near 155# for power cleans. That’s more than my 1RM, but I also didn’t plan on cutting it by half, but that’s where I ended up today. Power cleans were done at 75#. Anna asked me if I’d be able to do pushups for the METCON. I told her I planned to scale them back and just do all push ups from my knees. She suggested ring push ups instead.

Anna felt ring pushups would allow me to keep the wrist locked and straight and that might not be as painful. Having smart coaches is the best! I was skeptical. I thought the instability of the rings would be more painful than standard pushups, but decided to experiment with it. Anna was right on the mark. Thanks, Anna!

Pull ups were all done with a blue band.

Total time to get through the METCON was 6:34.

Additional thoughts:

Working through and around this injury is going to be challenging. Figuring out how to adapt will be tricky. I’m thankful the coaches are there to help.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Standard Process Cleanse under Coach Stew’s guidance. I weighed in a 220.5 today. Very cool. That’s almost 18 pounds lost in 21 days! I’m really looking forward to getting my bio-metrics done Wednesday to see how those numbers line up. The next step is to discuss what the process/schedule is for integrating foods back into my diet.

I’m thinking that Sundays are going to become my “cheat day” where I’ll allow myself a coffee and pancake breakfast with the kids again. Otherwise, I really want to maintain as strict a diet as I can here.

Working out at 11:30 was somehow more civilized than 6:15. That’s for sure. There’s just something about coming into and out of the gym in the full light of day that takes the edge off the experience for me. It’s not better or worse and the WOD certainly isn’t any easier at midday than dawn. But the experience is definitely different. Of course, come July when the 6:15 crew is running in 60 degree heat and the 11:30 crew is running in full Durham Summer sun, we can have another conversation about who has the more civilized WOD. ;-)

It was just plain fun today. Working on the rings is always cool, but today was a bit of a break through day. Mostly it was like play and I just love that.

WOD for Tuesday 011712
Rings
Take 30 minutes to work on inversions and skin the cats
–Rest–
10 Rounds For Time:
10 Deadlifts (135/95)
10 Pushups

Jack lead the warm ups and after working Sunday and Monday, my body was aching. My legs felt so tight today. I was cringing through most of the stretches and exercises. I might have whimpered once or twice. I’m not sure.

We moved over to the rings to start that work. One of the rings skills that eludes me are inversions. I’ve tried a couple of times and just haven’t been able to put the motions together. Well, today, Jack showed us a way to scale the inversion, by starting out in a band. Wrap a band between the rings and position it on your back. Hop up between the rings and seat yourself in the band like an elastic swing. Then ease yourself backwards until inverted. This was EXACTLY what I needed.

Once I’m upside down, my form is ok. I have a good vertical line that I can hold. Jack mentioned that I have a good hollow body. I can hang there for an extended period of time. But getting my feet from the floor over my head has been impossible until today. Without the band it still is.

Couple of reminders not to take any of this too seriously. First, I discovered that if I inverted too fast before I had my body rigid, the band slides up my legs behind my knees and my butt would drop too fast. The result I couldn’t get the correct straight line inverted position. More than once I ended up hanging/swinging head up with my hands holding the rings, my butt to the floor with my legs bent and the band behind my knees. We dubbed this the “Ukrainian Porch Swing.” It’s a little known gymnastics move that we’re confident will be showcased at the London games this Summer.

Another lesson learned…ALWAYS wear compression shorts. I’m sure everyone at the 6:15 session (Meghan in particular) was thankful that I did because I pantsed myself on more than one inversion. It can’t be helped! The band starts out taut against the seat of your gym shorts. As you invert the band still with a lot of tension in it slides/rolls the length of your legs and on more than one occasion it took my gym shorts with it. Mind you I’m inverted at this point, so my shirt is now hanging loose down over my head, so if it weren’t for compression shorts, poor Meghan working on the rings directly across from me would have been staring into the glare of a full moon right there in the gym…awkward. So after 20 min or so of monkeying around on the rings it was time for the METCON.

That METCON got in my head as soon as I saw it last night. 100 deadlifts is a lot of deadlifts. 100 deadlifts at 135 pounds, is 6.75 Tons! My legs were very sore from two days of squatting. I wasn’t sure what I would be able to do today.

In the end I decided to scale it back. I went with 115 pounds (5.75 Tons is a solid work out) and stole an insurance policy from Drew. He did the WOD Rx, but rather than use 45# plates, he used 35’s and 10’s. The logic being if the 135 was just too much he could strip 20 pounds off quickly and continue on. Drew is smart! And strong! Like I said, he did this RX and finished in a ridiculously fast time. I’m jealous. I also know a good idea when I see it. I set up at 115 with a combination of 25’s and 10’s, just in case. To my surprise, I did all 10 sets of deadlifts unbroken. Push ups were another story.

I got through the first 5 sets unbroken. After that things degraded quickly. After the 7th set all push ups were done from the knees and no set after 5 was unbroken. Somewhere in the 8th set, Jack called out the time and I realized that I was mostly keeping a one round per minute pace. My spontaneous goal at that point became finish under 10 min. I missed it…stupid push ups. Final time of 10:12.

Today really just was one of those days where I was reminded how much pure play there is in crossfit. At least for me there is. I had a blast. That being said, after 3 straight days of workouts, I’m really looking forward to a rest day tomorrow.

Fun day at the gym today. It’s workouts like this one that remind me why I’m enjoying Crossfit so much. If you’re not familiar with Crossfit and accustomed to more widely recognized fitness programs, you might scratch your head and wonder about it. Here’s why.

The skill/Strength portion was “Handstands and Handstand Pushups. Take 20 minutes to practice Handstands against the wall and HSPUs if you’re able.”

I know some folks in tune with more conventional fitness are looking at that and thinking, “so you stood around for 20 minutes doing handstands? Big deal.” Well if you’re a recovering formerly grossly obese 40 year old, it is a bit of a big deal. I was thrilled to discover today that I was able to hold 6 or 8 (I kind of lost count in my excitement) extended handstands up against the gym wall for quite some time. I honestly wasn’t sure I had that in me. I wasn’t real responsible about tracking how long I did each one for the sake of quantifiable results. I was too caught up in the excitement that I could actually maintain a handstand with my heels against the wall for balance. It was just a really cool realization.

And in terms of the physical value, I assure you, my shoulders are as sore today as they are after any set of presses, snatches, pull ups, what have you. It was a hell of a work out. I’m 235lbs. Some days it’s tough enough standing all that weight upright on my feet. Inverting the process is TOUGH! ;-)

I attempted one handstand pushup during my second to last handstand. I was able to lower my head to the floor very slowly with great control. But I had NO strength to push myself back up. Coach Bea was very generous in her assessment, “Well, that was a great negative rep.” I laughed big time over that one.

METCON
For Time:
Run 400m
5 Rounds:  15 Jumping Squats/10 Pushups
Run 400m

I completed this in 9:52 in the bottom third of the group present. The highpoint of this WOD was that I got to write it in as RX (aka: as prescribed)! I don’t get to do that often. Most days I have to scale back the prescribed weights or need assistance to complete reps of a body weight exercise. It was a nice little emotional “atta boy” to tag the white board “Rx” next to my name and time! The runs were rough! I realized on the drive home that just by virtue of the WODs I’ve been attending I have done very little running in the last 30 days. Plenty of exercise and of course that contributes to fitness, but very little running. As a result, I’ve modified my fitness goals for November. I’m still trying to get to 5 unbroken double unders. I’ve abandoned my goal of 3 deadhang pull ups for now. But I’m tasking myself to run 800M either before or after each WOD for the month. I’m not even going to concern myself with timing it. I just want to get the extra distance in. We’ll see how it goes.

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