So I attempted Open WOD 16.5 on Saturday. It was a redo of Open WOD 14.5

Alternating Thrusters (95# Rx, 65# scaled) and Over the Bar Burpees
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When I did this workout in 2014 with two healthy legs it took me 25 minutes Rx. If you know me, you know I am very conscientious about the language I use. I don’t use the word “hate” in relation to exercises and workouts. That being said, in five years of Crossfit, this is my least favorite workout, bar none. It’s totally punishing. It has left a number of healthy athletes wrecked for days, and in a couple cases hospitalized. I was not looking forward to doing this workout at all.

Between Thursday and Saturday I vascilated between would I do the workout Rx? Would I do it scaled? Would I do it at all? By Friday evening I had settled on running the WOD scaled.

Saturday morning I got to the gym early, warmed up thoroughly and claimed a lane/barbell. My wife was my judge/scorer.

The 21 thrusters went pretty well. I used a descending rep scheme of 8-7-6, so that each time I stepped back up to the bar I had less work to do than the preceding set.

After the 21st thruster, I set the bar down and got into the burpees. That’s when the wheels fell of the wagon, almost literally.

Across the 21 reps, I tried every method I could think of to go from standing to prone and back to standing, then hop over the bar with two feet that didn’t strain my injured knee. I never found the right combination of movements. There was never a rep where some part of the action didn’t strain or hurt my knee.

Stepping back strained the inside of the knee. Same for stepping forward to return my feet to my hands. Jumping my feet back to plank, or forward from plank to squatting rattled the knee and tweaked it. Hopping over the bar jarred it and caused it to pop.

I attempted a couple of reps where I went from prone to kneeling by rocking back to puppy dog pose, then rising up to kneeling. That was worst of all. I could feel things inside the knee grinding together.

I completed the round of 21, then told Erin, “I’m out” and walked off the floor, out of the gym and on the playground behind the building to sulk.

I don’t like walking away from the WOD. As a competitor that disturbs me. Part of my what was running through my head was, “why did you quit? You’re not doing the knee any additional damage. You know that! Get back in there and get back to work!” As I was pacing the soccer field chastising myself, I thought about all of the adaptive athletes who have to overcome far greater challenges in order to compete. I thought about all of the athletes around the world who are far less physically fit than I am who refuse to quit and I got frustrated. Suddenly, all of those videos we see online of all of those athletes with their ‘never say quit’ attitudes that are meant to inspire seemed like they were taunting me.

After a few minutes though, I was able to get my attitude re-aligned and I returned to the gym to cheer on my friends. I have to say, my Intramural team mates were fantastic about understanding my decision and supporting my choice. Thanks, gang! That made a huge difference in setting my mind at ease and being able to reconcile my choice.

In the end, I’m comfortable with the the decision to quit.

It’s true that all of the doctors that I spoke to about this injury have said, “You won’t make the meniscus tear worse by working out.” In the next breath though, when I pressed all of them about what exercises I may or may not do until the injury is treated, the direction was always the same, “If it hurts, don’t do it any more.”

Eighty four total reps for burpees was going to hurt for a long time. If I had seen the WOD through I likely would have spent the better part of this coming week on the couch with my knee on ice. And for what? Just to say, “I did it. I persevered?” By running scaled, I had compromised my ability to do an apples to apples comparison of my 14.5 score to this one. So that benefit was lost. By not entering a score on the Open leaderboard, I’m costing my team a single point in the Intramural competition. However, I’ve earned two points for an online testimonial and donated closed to 80# of dog food to the gym’s drive. I figure I’m still in the black there. The potential rewards just didn’t outweigh the risk.

So what’s next? From here, I intend to really baby my knee prior to the surgery late next week. I want to do everything I can to ensure there’s as little swelling as possible. Probably not going to go to CFD much at all. I intend to stay off the barbells entirely, do lots of mobility and core work and generally rest up. I have a pre-op appointment later this week to finalize everything for the surgery. We’ll see where things go from there.

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