"You train just as hard as the men"

Someone actually said that to me in the week. I found it a bit of a strange statement … I mean, obviously the weights are lighter and some things are can be relatively harder for women in some ways because we have many fewer muscle fibers and a higher proportion of essential body fat … but in terms of pushing yourself to the max, why must there be a gender difference? Societal expectations perhaps play a role, and South Africa does seem to me to be a bit more patriarchal than the parts of America I have lived in. However, it does come along with some nice aspects like male chivalry.
It’s a mental game, this matrix we live in. Sometimes you keep getting the same message over and over again, and either don’t notice, choose not to listen, or sometimes you do. Weird things like you hear from your acupuncturist (who is, of course, a qigong and kung fu master, and expert in Chinese medicine), your BodyTalk practicioner, and then your co-worker who has been reading up on the latest neuroscience … and they are all saying essentially the same things? How memories are not stored in the brain, but are distributed all around the body? How illness, disease, and healing are all as much affected by your mental state and perceptions as by ‘reality’ (whatever the hell ‘reality’ is, right??).
Well I said one of my goals for myself was to come out of the gates hard for the three weeks of training before Regionals. So far, so good. On Tuesday night I could barely keep my eyes open enough to cram food down my gullet, brush my teeth, and collapse into bed. Wednesday wasn’t much better; I was sore all over my body, I hadn’t actually ever felt that sore that I could recall except for post-competition. And the workout that evening was an absolute killer. The details aren’t important, what is important is that it was five rounds and involved rowing, and significant rest in between each round.
After round #1, one of the other guys in the class said something along the lines of “…. And there are four more of these?” About 100m into the row on round #2, I seriously wanted to quit, and beg off because I was feeling sore & tired from the day before. After round #3, I kind of fell off the rower. With about a minute left before the next round started I went to get chalk and could barely move my legs. After round #4, I was trying to talk to one of the other guys in the class (one I don’t know very well) and I couldn’t even string a sentence together. He probably now thinks I’m a complete idiot. After round #5, it was literally all I could do to get my legs up against the wall to drain some of the lactic acid out. So, I can quite fairly say that I didn’t leave anything on the table in that workout, even if I did have to pace myself a little bit on the rower so I didn’t completely burn out. My body was sore & tired coming in, and wrecked coming out.
Very interesting lecture in the qigong class. Again some interesting parallels to CrossFit where I was recently reminding myself that I need to take every opportunity to work on form …. No sense muscling through stuff because I can, if all that does is build bad movement patterns in my brain. And here I sit and we hear about how you can practice for 20 years and not get it, if you practice wrong, and that it all starts from the posture and attention. CrossFit, yoga, qigong …. I guess whether you call it training or practice, it’s all the same. I also never thought about meditation as being dangerous before, but that stands to reason too. You start to open up more mental pathways and if you’re not conscientious you can get into trouble I suppose.
Some of my co-workers were apparently discussing having a drinking contest and then one of them said if it was any sort of competition, Ellie would win. I thank them for not putting me in a situation like that, because I would probably die. But this level of competitiveness (and I am not alone in this by any means) combined with peer pressure can be deadly. Like when you don’t want to let your teammates down and agree to train even when you’re feeling overtrained. It’s like anything I suppose; if you compromise yourself you suffer and become resentful. But training while overtrained is letting the team down as much as training while injured, I’d say.
The rest of the work week went relatively smoothly. Some financial recon, interviewing some potential marketing interns (and scaring the cr*p out of one of them …. Poor thing!), and introducing Dean’s new timesheet system to the masses. Anton closed a big deal, and it’s been a while since my protein shake has gone mysteriously missing (I think it was last week that my passport took a walk … and I didn’t even notice, lalala….).  
Except it wasn’t actually that smooth. I think as a result of Tuesday & Wednesday’s training, I made myself slightly ill and Thursday was one of those days where your brain feels like it’s going to come out your nose and you feel kind of like you want to scream or cry, but don’t ACTUALLY want to do either because it seems like far too much effort. I don’t think I had ever needed a rest day quite that much.
I’m feeling a bit challenged at the moment work-wise and I finally figured out why. I’m a very results-oriented person and  because we’re not fully funded to do things properly and are sort of living hand-to-mouth and operating on a best-efforts basis it makes it quite difficult to measure progress or results. You can’t even set out clear goals if the extent of time you are devoting to various things is so varied. I think that’s one of the things I like about CrossFit is its measurability. So in December I’m not even sure I could do a 35kg overhead squat then on Friday I manage 52kgs and it actually felt easy (once you get the starting position right it’s more a matter of concentration than anything). That sort of sh*t makes me proud, but really mostly because I can attach a label to it.
Even the qigong where I’m getting much better at clearing my mind in meditation and holding stress positions without stress is an area where I can view improvement (of course improvement isn’t hard when you completely suck to begin with!). This led to a very interesting experience at yoga yesterday where we had a standing pose where we had our arms extended out to the side and had to stay in that position for a couple of minutes. At first my shoulders ached, as they do, and then something strange happened …. All of a sudden my arms felt buoyant, literally like I was resting them on something. It was the weirdest feeling ever. That central nervous system is a strange beast!
What I will say is that I’m getting quite tired of being EXTREMELY sore. It took me until Saturday to recover from Tuesday & Wednesday of last week, then Saturday smashed my legs again with about a gazillion 43kg front squats for time (ok it was only maybe 60 … but flip that’s a lot of heavy-ish front squats for me), and today’s workout is a pretty close approximation of what happened last Tuesday that smashed my legs, so I’m going to remain wicked sore a few more days.
And on a related note, one of the things we had to meditate about at yoga was all the things that are broken in our life, which of course got me thinking: there is a hell of a lot that’s broken in my life. I focus on the good things because that’s just in my nature, it is part of what makes me resilient which I think is a pretty positive quality. You fall or get knocked down and you get back up. You aspire to be something greater or faster or stronger than you are and even though you know you’re not there yet, if you believe you one day will be you’re much more likely to achieve it than if you believe you will fail.
One of my friends asked me yesterday if anything scares me. Silly question. But lately I’ve been trying to do my best to ignore the fear and continue on anyway. Sometimes not thinking too much is a good thing. Sometimes it’s a bad thing. Hindsight is 20-20. And I now have a 50kg power snatch in my sights.
All the cool photos? A walk along the Scarborough beach with Vanessa, Jo, and a dog we picked up along the way. How stunning are the colours and textures?
When I first moved to South Africa I had this little joke with a co-worker at the time named Dami. We used to joke ‘If it’s not a little bit dangerous, it’s not South Africa.’ It takes a while to get used to the wide variety of things that are probably an American liability attorney’s wet dream. But in the last two days, after specifically telling Jobst how I was trying to be careful not to do anything stupid while walking and re-sprain my ankle or some such, I nearly hurt myself badly twice, and have my ninja reflexes to thank on both occasions (my ribcage was nearly crushed by a closing gate on the first occasion, and on the second I was driving along a dark and windy road and probably speeding and out of nowhere comes this porcupine. I tell you what, I’m not entirely sure what the end result would have been had I to put that porcupine or the gate continued trying to close with my spine in between it. But I’m just as happy not to know.
So, another day, another week, living life in vivid colour. At least I’m alive, and healthy, and muddling through even if the path forward isn’t always so clear. Bring on squat clean Grace (way to turn a workout that doesn’t scare me at all into something that scares the living daylights out of me).
  • “If you wanna go look, be very careful.” – Tallan
  • “Meditation is easy. You just breathe in and out. But it can also be very dangerous.” – Dr Lan
  • “What the hell is an apostrophe?” – Peter
  • “Uh, you’re nothing yet.” – Jeff
  • “JP, please tell me you ate at home last night.” – Grant
  • “Oh come ON, you’re getting it as high as your eyes! How much higher do you want it?” – Jobst
  • “I like to outsmart people.” – Dumi
  • “Does anything scare you?” – Dumi 

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