Weakness Doesn't Have To Be Permanent
Last night, I was presented a WOD that I felt had defeated me before I even started it. There are certain things that come naturally to me, Coach DBJ describes my affinity to movements that involved pulling as my “mutant climbing skills”. However, pushing movements have had me at a disadvantage since Day 1. I have been told by another one of my coaches that I have "cinderblocks for shoulders" - that’s how bad my mobility is. Taking these facts into account, and looking at last night’s Misfit Athletics programmed WOD, you can tell it was just NOT my cup of tea. But…I love challenges and I want to improve in the movements I dread, so I went anyway (with a very heavy heart).
I’m about to hit my 1 Year CrossFit Anniversary, and looking back I can absolutely see how much I’ve improved and how different my body is from what it was pre-CrossFit. All my powerlifts have gone up dramatically in the last year. I can do ring dips, pull-ups, most WODs RXed, and gotten a muscle up (one day I will get another!!). I never imagined I would be capable of these things the first day I walked into a CrossFit Box. When you review your own accomplishments, it’s easier to put things into perspective, but that doesn’t make not being able to do something leave your mind. It almost makes it worse.
I wanted to write about this experience because I’m sure I’m not the only person to go through it and other people out there might be nodding along with how frustrating it is. I knew from the beginning of the WOD it was not going to be good for me. But I ended up adopting a defeatist attitude which turned the whole hour session into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It started with strict press. During the current Misfit programming cycle, we have been working on deadlift, back squat, strict press, and power position snatch practice weekly. During this cycle I Pr'ed the strict press, but that was a few weeks prior. Due to my “cinderblock” shoulders, I have strained my neck numerous times on overhead lifts. Most of the time I don’t realize until after the fact. The last time was when I Pr'ed a few weeks ago, and while not the worst injury in the world, it’s very annoying and takes a few days to get back to normal. Fun fact - It also makes driving more difficult when you are trying to change lanes. I felt like I did okay on it, I did 5 reps of 75lbs and they were difficult to get through. The whole time I was thinking about the upcoming handstand pushups.
I have never been great at HSPUs, and I’ve also strained my neck on them from coming down too fast (If I didn’t do it through the Strict Press, I had another shot at it here). I did them on the box for a long time and wasn’t getting any stronger or more prepared for the real deal doing them that way. I think I’m just not super comfortable upside-down and balance is an issue. I could have modified, or skipped the movement entirely for this WOD, but I couldn’t justify it to myself because I’d never get better if I didn’t do it.
So first came the Thrusters, which are another overhead movement that aren’t easy though the squat portion is. I struggle with doing more than a few reps at a time because my arms get tired of pushing up to bar quickly, and like I said, mobility wise I struggle and end up using more energy trying to get the bar straight above me with lockout. Twenty-five reps weren’t easy, but they were do-able and I got through them with the rest of my session.
Just as I feared, the HSPUs were a big struggle. My kipping is off, so my feet hit the wall too early stopping my upward momentum and forcing me to do the last bit strict to lock out. I then lost my balance and came off the wall, which wastes time when you only can do one at a time. Extremely frustrated and physically tired of pressing, I was getting coached by two people I adore and had to let them know that I wasn’t angry at them at all, just myself, and that I did appreciate their help. By the time I had completed 10 of the 25 reps, the rest of the class was already on their run. I took the advice of my coach; I couldn’t safely do any more HSPUs, so I busted out 15 strict pull-ups and went for the run. Running I can do, so that was the only part of last night that wasn’t a struggle for me.
By the time I was finally done, I didn’t feel like I usually do at the end of a good workout. It WAS a good workout, but it didn’t relieve my stress because of my own turmoil during it. But as I drove home I was able to turn the whole thing over in my head and really come to terms with it. My first thoughts on the subject that this moment, more than any other, is why I absolutely love CrossFit.
This entire session was an internal battle with myself. But, when I look at it, I was never alone in that struggle. Despite what some people might say, CrossFit isn’t about doing stupid/dangerous movements that can hurt you just for the glory of it. CrossFit is all about community and being your best self. In the times I feel like I am failing, the community (my friends) picks me up and encourage me to keep trying. There is no shortage in coaching; most people will stop what they’re doing if you look like you’re struggling. I have fantastic coaches at my disposal that give me alternatives so that I don’t injure myself, watch my form, and give me the stepping stones to get where I want to go.
The other important piece to this is that I need to alter my own expectations. Just because some movements I’m naturally good at, does not, for one second mean that one day I will walk up to that wall and bang out 10 HSPUs. I have to practice them at open gyms and in my free time. I have to lower the weight on my overhead lifts in order to work on my technique. I have to try to give myself time to mobilize my shoulders before lifts. I have to put in the work to get better.
I wasn’t defeated last night; I was just made more aware of what I need to work on. On that day that I can bust out 10 HSPUs, it may be sweeter than any other victory I’ve had.
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