It’s “Coaches Build the WOD Week,” at Crossfit Durham. Based on my experience the last two days, I’m starting to think the coaches don’t like us much. 😉 The past two days have been two of the toughest back to back WODs I can remember.

Warm Up – I was the first person to arrive at the gym this morning. Since the building was locked, I took the opportunity to loosen up and use my self imposed extra 800M run with each WOD as part of my warm up. I like meeting this goal this way. I like knocking out that extra run before the rest of the day’s business even gets under way. By the time I got back from my run, Coach Paul had opened the gym.

He lead the crew through a series of stretches using lacrosse balls and then kettle bells. Given the exercises of the day, the goal was to warm up the shoulders, hips and legs. I’m thankful to have relearned how to roll the lacrosse ball into my shoulder to loosen that up. It’s one I’ve tried to replicate at home and haven’t been able to piece together. Now I’ve got it. When you read what we went through today, you’ll understand why it’s important.

Push Press
Establish 1RM

This was another one of those times where I got excited when I saw the strength segment of the workout. I last worked push presses for a 1RM on October 10. I was very eager to get in the gym today and see if I’ve progressed on this lift. That day I established 135 lbs as my 1RM. So I went to the gym today with the goal of doing or exceeding 150lbs.

I talked about that briefly with my lifting partner Jonathan. Coach Paul overheard us talking and agreed that getting from 135 to 150 sounded aggressive, but was supportive and encouraged me to go for it. He also pointed out jokingly that it was only slightly more than his body weight. He thought I should certainly be capable of pressing that. I let him know that of course, that was exactly what I had in mind and why I chose that weight. Just so I’d be able to say that “I pressed the coach today!”

We pressed 95lbs easily to refresh ourselves on form. Then we moved up to 115. Coach Paul observed this lift and noted that I was pulling my head too far back to create the window necessary to push the bar straight up. The result was that I was leaning back and compromising my strength. While it didn’t hurt this lift, it could cause problems later. I took a second shot at that weight. Coach Paul observed and said it looked better.

After 115, we moved up to 135lbs. It went up very smoothly. So I was eager to move forward. We jumped to 155. It wasn’t intentional. I thought we were taking the bar to 150, but Jonathan pointed out that it was 155 and asked me if I still wanted to do it. I told him, “Well, leave it on. We don’t know where the limit is until we can’t do it any more.”

I tried to focus on doing this lift quickly. I ran through all the mental checks before even stepping to the bar and tried to regulate my breathing before I took the bar off the rack. I tend to waste a lot of time prepping with the bar off the rack resting on my chest. Knowing that I was nearing the top of my range, I wanted to be more efficient. It worked because the weight went up pretty cleanly. Coach Paul was observing and called out, “neutral neck” before I lifted. I appreciated the reminder because I was looking up and already arching even before starting the lift.

Coach Paul congratulated me and and confirmed that it was a new PR at 155, exceeding my goal for the day. He rang the PR cow bell and announced the PR! It really does feel good to get that cheer from the group. It also really does feel good to celebrate other athletes’ PR’s with them as they occur. And there were a bunch today! When folks first talked seriously about adding the cow bell I thought the idea sounded really goofy, but I’m a fan.

After Jonathan lifted, we went up to 165 and I was able to lift that successfully! So we took the PR even higher than expected. That was a great feeling. Coach Paul also observed that lift and rang the cow bell a second time. So it was a good day for strength training.

21-15-9 Wall Ball (20/12) and Pushups
Then, Run 800m
Then, 9-15-21 Wall Ball and Pushups

We moved into the METCON and the coaches are on a mission this week. It seems the gym owner tasked all of his coaches to develop their own WODs, submit them to him and they’re discussing and modifying them, then putting them into effect. Today’s little slice of Heaven was Coach Jack’s entry. It’s another one of those cases where I really need to stop trying in my own head to predict how long a WOD will be. I’m no good at it. I never figured to be toiling through this one for 15:54.

By the first round of 15 pushups, I was already working from my knees. There was just no way I was going to do 90 reps over the course of the morning. The thought that went through my head was, “Crap, there goes your shot at Rx today.” But I let that go pretty quick and just settled into pounding out the required reps.

I’m not clear why, but we all ended up running 2 x400m to get the 800M run in. In hindsight, I would have much preferred running the 800M loop. Doing circuits up that hill twice to the second tree and back weighed on my brain. I would have much preferred to go from A to B. But ah well. That’s my issue.

This is the second straight day where the METCON has gone beyond 15 minutes for me and my body is tired! I preferred this METCON over yesterday for one reason, less pain in the hands. Moving yesterday from deadlifts to pull ups was very wearing on the hands. So in addition to the focus on the exercises, there was an accute pain management aspect to Monday’s WOD that got to be a distraction. Late in the WOD, I was spending more time thinking about my grip for the deadlifts than anything else.

The WOD today didn’t have that challenge. I mean there was pain. My arms are tired. My hips, knees, legs and shoulders are all fatigued and ache as they should. There’s also the pain in my slightly swollen lip because I let the 20lb wall ball get between my hands again and I caught it with my mouth on more than one rep. But there isn’t the same element of pain that I felt leaving the gym yesterday. Of course, I’ve learned that for a WOD like yesterday’s I’m going to have to be proactive and learn how to protect my hands. That’s my responsibility. All in all, two great days of exercise, but I am REALLY looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow.