Vacation has been nice. I’ve mainly chilled out; done a couple of things that really needed to happen like buy a steamer and a washing machine. It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve had access to a washing machine and it makes me remember to appreciate the small things in life.
The water here in Cape Town is cold and the waves can be a bit powerful. This combination makes it challenging to get into the ocean. Compounding this is that after I sprained my ankle every time I approached the water it was with fear that the force of the waves would knock my ankle in a bad way, and knock me over/re-injure me. In the last week I was able to go into the ocean without fear. It was one of those moments when you really recognise a change in how you relate to the world around you. A little thing, but it was important to me.
Another thing to make you appreciate pretty much anything about life is a near-death experience. I had one about a year ago. It still haunts the hell out of me and gives me nightmares on occasion. In this last week my friend, and coach, and someone I care about a lot was hit by a car while driving his scooter. He could have been killed. While as far as I can see he faced this with a lot of bravado, it scared the living hell out of me. You just never know what day might be your last, now do you? And you never necessarily appreciate the people around you for who and what they are until you either lose them or realise you might lose them. Just the very concept of losing Chris (never you mind about Chris’ family losing Chris, or the impact on Chris’ CrossFit Games ambitions, which also crossed my mind!) was so horrifying to me that it really got me thinking.
When I was in high school, I took my stunningly beautiful surroundings for granted until the last two months. But boy did I appreciate them then. I’ve been thinking about who and what I take for granted now, and who takes me for granted (or took me for granted in the past). As much as I do stare in amazement every day at the beautiful surroundings I live in, I also see in the faces and comments of newcomers to town that I am taking things a bit for granted. Similarly, as much as I talk up my gym and my coaches and my work and my co-workers to people, I probably do take them for granted too. You know you can so easily assume that things will continue as they have, because inertia is a powerful thing. But nothing lasts forever, to quote Guns’n’Roses. That’s not actually true, but you get my point. I better appreciate Chris and Jobst and Mandy and Peter while I have them because who knows what could happen next year, next, month, or tomorrow. And that’s not even starting on my less professional relationships.
Speaking of trying to learn lessons, as many of you know and have pointed out (to my face or behind my back but the great thing about people talking behind your back is that you don’t have to hear it!), I have a tendency to overwork and overtrain. I try and use both to balance me out, to varying degrees of success. But one thing I’ve learned is that I can’t continuously train 5 days a week every week because my body can’t take it. I have theories that I can train twice in a day with more extended rest cycles (because if there is one thing my body is REALLY good at, it’s fast recovery). We shall see; I’m going to try listening to my body even more as it relates to training, how I feel and how much I actually want to train on a given day.
Long way of saying, I planned my rest cycles for the next 6 months, to peak for the various competitions we have upcoming. The next thing is to plan my training (CrossFit plus some supplemental Olympic lifting coaching from Mona). We were hanging out a lot in the last week, because we could, and this included two lifting sessions. In one we did sets of 3 hang squat cleans and 3 squat cleans from the floor up to 50kgs, sets of 3 jerks up to 55kgs, and then clean pulls. In the second we did 3 hang power snatch and 3 power snatch from the floor for a few sets up to 35kgs, and then some absurd number of overhead squats, which remain a major weakness for me. Kill your weaknesses, right?
I really enjoyed the first session in particular. It was cool, I was sweating like you wouldn’t believe and it was just from lifting weights and I didn’t even feel like I was working hard. I am really enjoying it though: Mona’s been really into her lifting since she started training for the Olympics and I must say I understand. When I have the time to spend the better part of an hour just on squat cleans or snatches and I’m not rushing through it like I am in CrossFit (i.e. 8 minutes to find your 3 rep max power clean). If I feel rushed, my technique goes which is particularly bad when you get near your max. But there is something so fun about these fast lifts. But this lifting combined with 3 CrossFit sessions in 3 days made me very tired. By the final CrossFit workout my legs were fried and the fact that I finished 12 seconds behind my PR on the workout was I thought quite excellent considering my level of tiredness.
Monday was also the first day my body has really felt like itself again since the injury: we were doing a workout called Cindy: 20 minutes of as many rounds as possible of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats. I got to 15 rounds mainly because I didn’t cheat on the pushups and your muscles just get tired. But the body felt quite ok.
Friday was the annual CCF holiday workout, which I missed last year because I was in the U.S. I actually want to repeat one of the 12 Days of Christmas workouts I did last year with LaaLaa this year, maybe in one of our open gyms. But anyhow the workout is called Linda and is 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of deadlift, bench press, squat clean. The prescribed weights are 1.5x bodyweight deadlift, 1x bodyweight bench press, and 2/3 bodyweight squat clean. This workout obviously was designed for men. I can’t even bench my bodyweight once. However, to be honest, that deadlift would be so close to my 1 rep max that it would probably be dangerous for me even to try.
So the advanced scaling for women was 1x bodyweight deadlift, 2/3bw bench and 1/2bw squat clean. Those weights were (73/160, 48/105, and 36/80), respectively. As expected, the squat cleans were easy and gave me good technique practice. I did the deadlifts slowly because there wasn’t too much point in doing them too fast and possibly hurting myself and I got stuck on the bench press. Not ever completely stuck, but waiting 10-15 seconds between reps to make sure I could lift the bar after the first couple rounds. I remember when I was younger my mother used to brag that I could bench press 100 pounds (I couldn’t). Now I can do it 60 times in just over 30 minutes with a bunch of other stuff. Pretty cool, huh?
Not sure anyone cares to hear about my grocery shopping, fighting for mall parking (holidaze), or other such boring nuances. There were a few times in the week I thought about going out but thought better of it. Hermann once said it best: I am happiest when the sun is out, not when it’s gone down. I had a lovely early morning breakfast with Lauren on Tuesday, and then a couple coffees with Misha, Gary, Mo, and Shirley from FutureFit on Friday. Thursday afternoon (once I finished my 13 hours of sleep!) and kept Mona company while she got her hair done, I went over to Peter & Mandy’s for a braai. That was fun but as humans do we spend most of our time talking about either the past or the future, and I think we are each just waiting for 2012 to begin.
I started off by saying I need a plan, and it’s true. I have a lot (and I mean A LOT) that I want to get done this holiday and I haven’t even started any of it. So I need to plan not only my next few months of planned training, but planned article and book-writing. Which I will do just as soon as we get these holidays over with. In the meantime the rest from work and most things computers has been good.
A while back I posted about how I didn’t much care for goals, because they are transitory. So what if I have a goal of 20 consecutive pullups, that’s just a bump on the road to 30 or 40 or whatever is next, if you’re going in the right direction. Now I finally get it: it’s not about making sure you’re going in the right direction (but it does help to remind you), but it’s about making sure you’re going the right speed, and focusing on what’s important to you. Now the trick will be not to be so conservative that I sandbag all my estimates or so aggressive that I beat myself up for not hitting my goals. Moderation in all things (except arsenic and, soon, wheat!).
At least there was a lot less tequila this week!
- “Openness isn’t weakness.” – Emma
- “I didn’t think it would be that bad!!” – Hermann (his first experience with New Skin)
- “Woman, it’s pathetic to see you try and load weights!” – Mona
- “Want a little cheese with your whine?” – Jo
- “No, yours were legit.” – Grant
- “Can you do what you do and be a vegetarian?” – Misha
- “This is a disaster. You know that?” – George