I just recently passed my one year anniversary at Crossfit Recourse, and thought it worthwhile to take a few minutes to share my thoughts on the ongoing adventure. Amazing how things have changed in one year (142 crossfit workouts).
So… to begin, following the onramp last fall, I slowly fell into the swing of the regular crossfit workouts. As I look back at my journal of the WODs, it’s rather apparent to me that even the regular classes were slowly ramping up throughout the year, as all of the members were fairly new. As we progressed into the winter, my fitness got better and better, and I was able to deal with heavier weights, higher boxes, etc., to the point that I was able to Rx some of the workouts in the winter (Rx is crossfit lingo for doing them as prescribed, at the “big boy” weights.)
I was also slowly getting to the point where upcoming workouts weren’t a focus. I’d go to bed at night and wouldn’t worry all night about what the next morning would bring, and I didn’t worry nearly as much about getting to bed extra special early, avoiding all food after 6 pm in fear of throwing up the next day, etc. Crossfit instead was becoming a part of my day instead of a focus of the day.
As we progressed, Chris also began adding additional classes. The incorporation of a 4:15 pm class made things MUCH easier for me, as I wasn’t having to get up at 4:40 in the morning to make the 5:15 am class, which meant I was around to help get the kids ready for school in the morning, and it was very convenient to leave school at 3:40 in the afternoon, get my crossfit workout in, pick up my girls from school, and head home to get cleaned up and have dinner. It just fit into the routine much better.
And month by month, I was feeling stronger, better, more confident… but it couldn’t just be that easy.
Around November I started having a lot of trouble with my shoulder again. It’s never been good — I had rotator cuff surgery (with some extra “features”) in late ’99 and it had never been the same, but now I was having even more trouble — every now and then my shoulder would lock up or for a short period becoming exceedingly painful. But it was intermittent. Volleyball on Thursday nights was getting tougher and tougher, and I was getting gun shy at crossfit about lifting heavier weights, nervous that my shoulder might lock up at the wrong time and I’d drop something heavy on myself or someone else.
A trip to the orthopod wasn’t overly helpful either. I was sent to physical therapy for a few weeks, with a follow-up appointment scheduled. I did my PT, though the therapist even said surgery was required, this wasn’t going to fix anything. I got the MRI — the doc was much friendlier after seeing the pictures. And shortly thereafter I was scheduled for surgery in April — hopefully just clean things up in the shoulder, as the previous damage was significant and not everything could be fixed.
Surgery was pretty straightforward. I even snuck in a crossfit workout the morning before I had to go in to the hospital. Doc said everything worked out, they were able to pull out a bunch of scar tissue and old sutures that should eliminate the “catching” issue in my shoulder. Based on what he found, however, he wasn’t sure I’d play volleyball again, or do crossfit… only time would tell.
I started back at PT a few days later with a wonderful therapist who worked me hard, realizing I had pretty lofty goals. After a couple weeks she even allowed me to go back to crossfit, though I was limited to one arm for a couple weeks, then light weights on the arm for a couple weeks, etc. At least I was able to keep doing something, in an effort not to regress too far. After a while she kicked me out, said we’d done what we needed to as far as strengthening that shoulder, and I could get back to crossfit and continue my PT exercises on my own.
The next trip back to the doctor wasn’t as promising, however. Following a brief observation, the doc said all was going as expected, and that I could begin to do a few crossfit exercises (things I’d been doing for weeks at this point). Also I could start playing volleyball – I wasn’t going to do any more damage to my shoulder, though things might be uncomfortable, and I’d have to see whether I’d be able to play anymore.
So, a few days later I had my first volleyball tournament of the year. I didn’t hit the ball much, and the few times I tried to stretch were pretty painful, but I made it to the day in a limited capacity. When we got to playoffs, however, my arm was shot. Could barely get it above my head. Shucks.
Since then I’ve subbed on our volleyball team twice, and each time I’ve been left in pretty rough shape the couple days after. I’m going to try it once more tonight, but if things continue the way they have, I might need to take the next session off as well to see what I can do.
I have been getting back to crossfit, however, and have started working back to higher weights again. Hand Stand Push-Ups will never be on the docket again, I’ve been told, due to a missing rotator cuff muscle from the ’99 surgery, and snatches / overhead squats will have to be very light weights, but at least I’m back in the gym. And Tuesday I matched my previous personal record clean of 185 pounds. And in all honesty, thought I failed at my 190 pound attempt, it wasn’t due to lack of strength, but rather lack of form. I’m looking forward to crushing that PR again sometime in the near future.
So some things are working, and some aren’t. Plank holds the other day were excruciating (we modified them to V-holds), yet push-ups, man-makers, and overhead DB lunges worked today (I was weak, but it wasn’t painful). Thankfully, the instructor has been exceedingly helpful in providing modifications to exercises to allow me to continue to push myself without fear of injury.
Since then, I’ve been working on getting back up to speed, even attending a couple extra classes per week. It’s been a bit frustrating, especially as I notice that outside of just shoulder strength, I’ve been struggling more and more with the cardio/endurance aspect of workouts. I’m not sure if that’s due to the forced slowdown after surgery, being worn out in the summer months with all our activities and shifting schedules, or maybe even just an aspect of getting older. Regardless, I’ve now made it through 142 crossfit workouts, and each and every one challenges me both mentally and physically. I still can’t say as I find the workouts themselves fun (well, at least not most of them), but every time I finish I feel a sense of accomplishment, having completed something I didn’t think I could do. There’s a moment in every workout when I think to myself how easy it would be to quit now, that I’m “toasted,” that I’ve got nothing left. And every time the coaching and the community around me convinces me I can give just a little bit more.
So what’s it all mean? I really can’t say as I’ve figured it out yet. I’d love to be able to say that I love crossfit. But I’m not sure that’s accurate. The workouts are varied, and challenging, and good for me… but I don’t really find them “fun” as a whole. I find the coaches fun. I find the other members fun and supportive. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve completed a workout, the slow ache all day that tells me I did something great early that morning.
I do find some of the exercises fun. I love doing cleans — not sure why, but it seems to have just the right mix of strength and form, and I can easily observe that I have significant room to improve in both areas that I’ll be able to see as I improve my personal records. I used to enjoy the kipping pull-ups, though at the moment my shoulder isn’t ready to do them, so I’m relegated to the modified ring rows. Those are frustrating, but they’re my path back to the regular pull-ups, so they have a purpose, so I’ll keep at it. Thrusters make me sad. Dumbbell thrusters are just plain evil. But they’re good for me.
And I can tell I’m getting back in shape. I lost close to 30 pounds last fall. I put close to 20 pounds back on (though I think it’s muscle, and in different places). My shirts fit differently. My pants are harder to buy… though my waist size has come down, my legs don’t fit in my drawers in a comfortable way anymore — may have to start paying more attention to the “fit” as I buy jeans and dockers.
I love how the community is so supportive. I appreciate how the instructor coaches and cares about each individual member, tailoring our work to our needs. I enjoy pushing myself and challenging myself each and every time I walk in. And I know this is what is going to help make sure I can stick around to be with my girls as long as I can. So I’ll keep going, keep working, keep sweating, bleeding and crying. Because it’s good for me.