Friday, March 22, 2013

On Being a CrossFit Newbie

A little over a month ago I completed (barely) my first Spartan Sprint obstacle course race. I knew that I was completely unprepared for it both the running and strength aspects. I hadn't been to the gym in months and had only been using our home gym occasionally. I hadn't been training for my runs or preparing for the Bataan Memorial Death March like I should have been...yet I decided to run the race. After miserably failing (on my own) at the monkey bars, log hop, traverse wall and rope climb I decided that I needed to do something to build up my upper (as well as lower) body strength. I had been thinking about trying CrossFit for a while but had just never gotten around to it. Finally, the Sunday prior to the Bataan Memorial Death March I attended a CrossFit Fundamentals class on base for most of the late morning/early afternoon. 

My Spartan Race partner in crime (SRPIC) and my husband went with me to the fundamentals class so that they could start doing CrossFit as well. Now, mind you, I'll be 49 years old this year and the hubs will be 50...however, my SRPIC is just barely 20 years old! I had read on the Spartan Chicks Facebook page how one girl described her upper body strength as that of a T-Rex...that's me too. Absolutely no upper body strength so I already knew that the day was not going to be any picnic. 

The class was scheduled to be 5 hours but because there were only 6 of us in it we managed to finish in about 4 hours. We got the basic instruction regarding form and safety in: rowing, air squats, front squats, overhead squats, push ups, sit ups, med ball clean, kettle ball swings, box jumps and clean lifts in about 1-1½ hour increments that were broken up by short workout of the days (WODs) that utilized the exercises that we had worked on. By the end of the session we did the final WOD which for us newbies would be considered a "chipper" workout (multiple movements at a high volume...for us anyway). This is what it looked like:

For Time:
  • 50 push ups
  • 40 box jumps
  • 30 AbMat sit ups
  • 20 wall ball cleans
  • 10 overhead squats
  • 10 burpees
Now for someone who has been regularly working out this probably doesn't seem like much for for two people close to 50 who haven't been in the gym regularly in months this was a killer. For me, the push ups were certainly the worst. I'm not even sure I got to 50 because I actually lost count and just kept going until the instructor told me to move on in the workout. Both the hubs and I were the last to finish. I don't even know how long it took us but we just kept going until we finished. I finished a bit before the old man so I went through some of his last exercises with him just to cheer/egg him on. We all got our fundamentals certification making us "legal" to attend the regularly scheduled workouts that the gym offers. 

Since I was going to be doing my first full marathon at the Bataan Memorial Death March the following Sunday, I opted out of attending any workouts the following week but after a 2 day post race recovery my SRPIC and I headed out for our first official workout. He had heard that it was going to be an active recovery day which I was thankful for because my feet, ankles and hips were a bit sore still from the marathon. When the WOD was posted it looked like this:
  • 1600 meter row or run (I opted for the row)
  • 5 x 5 weighted pull ups
  • 100 push ups
  • 100 AbMat sit ups
  • 100 air squats
  • 5-8 minute plank
My first instinct was to run...seriously, this was an active recovery WOD?!?! But I stayed and I did it although I did have to break up the push ups/sit ups/air squats into 10-20 reps a piece to get through them I said, upper body strength of a T-Rex!! The only exercise that I really kinda wimped out on were the pull ups because we hadn't covered them in the fundamentals class so one of the leaders (a friend of my SRPIC) showed us how to do some beginner band assisted pull was pretty ugly! ;) I'm sure that it'll come with time and practice. 

I was supposed to join my SRPIC for another workout the next day but between being sore in my upper arms/shoulders, 20-50 mph wind gusts (the CombatFit Pad on base is open walls at all) and allergies kicking my butt I wimped out and took a real rest day. I'm taking a second rest day today because we are traveling to do The Color Run 5K tomorrow and I really don't want to be exhausted or in pain since I really want to have some long as the wind cooperates. 

I'll try to begin doing 2-3 workouts each week for the next couple of weeks just for what little training I can get in before Super Spartan in Nevada on April 6th. I'll struggle through that as much as I need to and possibly through Military Spartan Sprint in Colorado in May, but I'm really hoping that the functional movements in CrossFit will help my upper body strength and coordination for some of the obstacles at Spartan Beast - Utah and Tough Mudder - Tahoe Fall.

So, as someone nearly half a century old just getting into Crossfit how do I feel about it? Well, it is fun! It's hard and I don't have the cleanest of mouths when I get tired, but I do enjoy it. It pushes me to go past what I think are my limits and doing more, something that for some reason this year I've embraced. It's just gonna take me a while to get to the point where I'm totally comfortable with it and to learn all the movements without having to start from the beginning. But I think that once I get the hang of it, I'll be one of the many that get addicted and hopefully I'll remain injury free so that I can continue it on a long term basis past this crazy year of obstacle course racing.

Personalized shirt that I want to have printed for a little fun...
maybe one each for CrossFit, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder...
just change the wording?!? LOL!


  1. Supper cute tee...I would tonally wear that,and great Fitness Friday post too. It looks like we have something in common I was diagnoes with biporlar in 2012..curenty take lithium but it has been a battle running while on that drug..not giving up..has the medicine affected your running? luv @runningbloggers

  2. Hi Caroline! Thanks! I've been on lithium so long that it doesn't really affect me when I run...just be sure you're well hydrated because it can increase the blood levels in cases of dehydration. Then again...I haven't been all that too compliant with my meds for several weeks, that's what happens when I start to feel good. I know better after dealing with this for 15+ years and specializing in Psych/Mental Health nursing but my brain just doesn't listen to itself and I apparently don't have the common sense to force myself to follow through. Med adherance has been a huge issue for me the whole time. The only med that does seem to affect me is if I have to take Xanax to fall asleep the night prior to a run...I have to guesstimate the dose I need between 0.5mg - 1.5mg depending on how I've been sleeping the past couple of weeks and hope that I don't result with a Xanax hangover the next morning! However, a hot shower usually wipes that away fairly quickly. Thanks for commenting! :D

    1. So happy I'm not the only bipolar runner out you think there is a stigma still?

  3. Most definitely!! People are still scared/uneducated about mental illness...bipolar or otherwise. That was my primary goal when I was teaching psych/mental health nursing...I wanted to help my students over the generalization that the mentally ill are "crazy" or "dangerous." It can easily be seen in news accounts of violence...the media still jumps the gun saying that the majority of shooters or violent offenders are mentally ill even if there is nothing to back it up. We, as a society, have been programmed by all types of media going back as far as the earliest of media that the mentally ill were deranged. I wouldn't have had a successful nursing career for over 22 years if I was deranged or crazy! lol! I haven't killed/harmed anyone, except for attempting to kill myself. Aside from teaching my students that the mentally ill can be successful individuals they needed to also understand that these individuals are people...with an illness like any other except that the majority of the problem is focused in on chemicals or damage to the brain itself rather than any other body organ. I considered myself successful if a single student said to me..."I see things a bit differently than I used to now." During my time teaching the content I had approx 250 students and I'd say a good 1/3 of them (at minimum) had made some type of comment like that to me. It's not a huge dent in the big picture, but any dent is better than none.

    If you click on the Stop the Stigma - Stand Up for Mental Health Campaign has a lot of information about stigma, public awareness, information about different disorders and such. A good resource to start with. If you're comfortable with your diagnosis and sharing, heck...join the campaign, it's as easy as adding the button to your side bar, writing a blog post and sharing it with them, adding a cover page to FB/Twitter/Google +, etc. The more we talk about it, the more familiar mental illness becomes to the general public and hopefully they'll get educated and eventually...probably not in my lifetime we'll finally eradicate the stigma built after centuries of misconception. *OK...getting off soap box now! LOL!*

    Yeah, I do feel quite strongly about the continuing stigma of mental illness, it's better than it was in the 60s-70s but it's still there. Sorry to be so winded! lol! Thanks again for commenting!

  4. on the Stop the Stigma - Stand Up for Mental Health button in the side bar...ugh, I should still be asleep! lol!

    1. I had information on my blog and twitter that I suffered from bipolar illness but took it down because I don't know if it will affect me getting a job if they read that and also I would like to make female friends but the women blogger friends in my area are not so accepting. My only salvation Is my husband. He has been there for me through I all..his mom is bipolar so he understands me. I am involved in communities should I be more forthcoming with my illness?

  5. At this point if you're job hunting and have a public blog, yes I would recommend limiting information just because of how prospective employers are now doing searches of blogs and such. While they cannot, by law, not hire you because of any illness if they have that information there is the chance that they will find a reason not to hire due to the stigma.

    I was in a little bit of a different situation being in the nursing field. Once I got the diagnosis I told my employer at the time, the V. A., and at every position I had after that once I felt comfortable with the key people (usually less than a month)I let them know of my diagnosis. I actually worked with the military doc that sent me for eval for Bipolar so that was kinda cool...was working a military clinic at the time. About 60%of the people I worked with as a nursing instructor went to school with me when we got our Masters degree so they were already aware of my diagnosis since the diagnosis happened during my last semester of our program.

    It all depends on your level of comfort as to when/if you disclose your diagnosis. You are not bound to disclose at all.

    As far as online gets a bit difficult to call. If it's a private community where posts can't be seen by anyone other than members it *may* be a safe place, but others can be Googled by your name and posts may appear to the general public. So that's your call.

    There is one thing that I would recommend though. You stated "his mom is bipolar," learn to restructure your thought process (not easy to do as I still sometimes do this)...try to always state that you "have" or she "has" bipolar. We have a disease process going on, just like any other illness. You don't often hear people say "I am heart disease" or "I am liver disease"...We are NOT our illness, we have the illness but we are NOT bipolar disorder, we are people who happen to have bipolar disorder.

  6. Hi Caroline, if you could please follow me either with @runningbloggers or a private Twitter account I'll share any posts about my bipolar struggles with you when I post them...I'm @MouseRN. In fact just posted a bipolar post last night...

    1. Thank will make sure not to say is bipolar but use has or have.

  7. :) It's hard, even I still do it but do your best! Good luck!