By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
October 13, 2016
Earlier this year, just about everything was going well for me. I was reaching some good heights in regards to my weight lifting, looking forward to the days where I would lift some 185 pounds on a regular basis while also doing 340+ pound deadlifts. My running on the other hand, had reached an apex, for I was about to attempt double digit mileage on a biweekly basis and shoot for sub 10-minute mils in the process. It looked like everything was going great for me and I really believed I was going to turn the corner I had so desperately sought. I did well at Ragnar Del Sol, running at a 9:30-per mile clip during my 19 miles despite having to run in some pretty nasty heat on my final leg. And then everything just kind of went to hell at that time. I didn't run for a week after Ragnar, which turned into a month due to the heat encroaching on the city a little earlier than normal. There was a malaise so to speak, and I got bogged down in it pretty deep. I got a little lazy, and with the encroachment of the heat, it made my laziness a little worse. I then suffered some little injuries on my feet, mainly because I was trying to go faster than my body could really handle. And then I started wearing down, almost to the point where I really hated running. I had set up an 800-mile goal for the fiscal year on my RunKeeper App. I had gotten so lazy and inconsistent with my running that I barely made it half way. It was a disappointment since I ran some 700 miles the previous year. And then I injured my foot at Chuze, dropping a damn 45-pound weight when it slipped out of my hand. I had been showing off so to speak, leg pressing a 1,000 pounds and doing it like it was nothing. The injury I suffered was a deep bruise and possibly a hairline fracture, and it knocked me out for weeks. And then I tried running in the heat and hated every second of it. Then I aggravated the foot injury again. All the while, my body was breaking down to the lack of proper, well rounded nutrition and the lack of body maintenance. I was a mess. I had so many things I wanted to do with my body and my weights that it all went to hell. I was disappointed in myself, mainly because I hate the idea of resetting and starting over. But it was a necessary evil so to speak. It needed to be done.
The past couple weeks have been the first real forays into change, the return to the momentum I had so many months ago. I have started a 5-mile per run program to start building up my endurance and maybe tackle an eventual marathon (I was a little inspired by a friend that had run the Chicago Marathon last weekend). With new shoes on the way next week, I feel confident I can get this done. The electrical work I had busted hump for and thought looked awful the previous week was spruced up a little and made to look perfect by Jon and Christa, and I was able to hook up another circuit for them when I found a breaker that we had not accounted for on the day of the original job. So yes, things have been looking rosy lately, even though the Arizona state government thinks they are going to extract all of the unemployment money I collected from them, even though they took my money away due to what they labeled as an “administrative error” (I’ll probably lament about that some other time). Either way, I have been trying to stay positive in spite of this adversity, for it just seems to be standard operating procedure for me these days. But I am slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things. You see, one thing I was hoping to learn before the setbacks, the small injuries and the problem with diet and maintenance, I was on my way to learning how to do snatches. Now, the snatch is a pretty tough little move, one that requires a lot of body positioning, movement and force. You really have to have a fine tuned machine to do it. One of my favorite channels on the internet is the many times mentioned Fail Army. They have dozens of videos of people trying to do the snatch, often times dropping the bar on their head and becoming yet another reason why doctors love Crossfitters all over the world. It is not something you can learn overnight, especially for an old fart like me (I get this way because of my workplace, which is littered with primarily younger people). Anyway, the first step back to the movement is being able to do overhead squats. This is a much tougher thing to do than you can really imagine. I forgot to do a set last week, but I made up for it this week. You see, I am just using the standard 45-pound bar and this is still a challenge to get through. The reason….my shoulder, wrists and arms just aren’t ready for such things. The toughest thing you need to learn about the snatch is flexibility, and that is not something you can learn in a few courses. You have to really get in to the groove of it, conditioning your body to handle the sudden weight that will go over your head. Your arms have to be able to handle the weight, your wrists have to be strong enough to stabilize the bar and you have to be flexible enough to get under it without letting the damn bar land on your neck. If you do fail, just use an escape route by pushing it backwards or you will be on Fail Army. And if you weren’t taking a video, then the neck pain and headaches will serve no consequence to your learning. But on the other hand, I think a lot of people take video in the hopes they do become a future Fail Army addition. Or maybe this is just a Crossfit thing…taping yourself doing crazy stuff that might get you hurt.
Anyway, enough of the Crossfit libel, and back to my own struggles. So yes, doing these overhead squats not only makes me feel like I am making progress, but is also making me feel weak at the same time. I mean, who would have thought lifting a 45-pound bar would be so tough. On one hand, I am doing 60 reps, so that might allow me to get my “Fitness Freak” Card back in the interim. Jon is making me do this stuff mainly because he wants me to learn it, but also a way to force me into doing overhead based exercises. I will admit, these are the things I hate the most when it comes to working out. Whenever I submit a workout to him, he always called me out on the fact I was light on the overhead stuff. It wasn’t intentional, or maybe it was? Okay, it was probably intentional. I’m not gonna lie too much about that one. I still have some issues with my shoulders, and of course, avoiding the situation sure as hell ain’t gonna change it. I have been doing a lot of alternating kettle bell lifts, but like I said earlier, it is time for me to start doing some different stuff. With the fact I am returning to the snatch, I have to start building up some more coordination in other areas. So I have started doing clean and jerks again, except on Tuesday I didn’t do any cleans, just the jerks. It had been so long for me that I kind of forgot about how low I needed to go. Right off the bat, Jon started getting on my case about not stabilizing the weights above my head before getting up. Doing jerks with dumbbells presents an interesting issue, for you have to get both of your arms up and stabilized. For me, my right arm was feeling some issues, for I noticed it was lagging a little on the bench presses I was doing. But I managed to do 25 for each leg, discovering that my left leg is much better at launching than my right leg. When I start getting back into heavier weights, I will need to rely on that leg when I start thinking of personal bests. So yes, I kind of made a little comeback with my Olympic style lifting that day, and it was much needed.
Some people might find it weird that I am revisiting this sort of weight lifting once again. It’s not for the aesthetic side of the coin, for doing these lighter weights will certainly push me but not push me in a way that will make me lose some of this pesky gut of mine. It is about remembering the original reason why I started this whole journey. Back in 2012, I just had this blanket statement that I wanted to get healthy and be stronger. I eventually started I had a goal weight of 220 (which is getting tougher and tougher every day) and started working some goal along the line. So yes, I have readopted the old ideal and am just going balls to the walls, seeking out some methods to get strong and return my old workout routine to the forefront. I have been tempted to try other things in my life, but I have to remember this still. I damaged my body for so long, that I have to continue to build slowly and at an even pace. I took such giant strides that I possibly set myself back the first time around. Not this time around. It seemed rather funny that the same day, Jon posted a other telling article about what fitness professionals hated about the weird trends that are all over the internet. https://www.t-nation.com/training/the-absolute-worst-fitness-trend
Ironically, there was no shortage of derision being tossed at people who push Crossfit style workout philosophies. But there were some other ones that kind of made me think a little. One of the professionals hinted at a particular problem I am having with my own thoughts of my fitness. Over quantification is what he described it as, or more simply put…making your fitness a complicated set of Einstein-ian equations and theories. It’s great to count macros and calculate the percentage of what you should be lifting in relation to your max, but sometimes you just have to listen to your darn body. These days I am much better at doing that. While I am building up my running distance, I am trying to keep my time in the 10 minute to 10:20 time range. As I get stronger, I will seek better times. Right now I just need to fix the distance and continue to navigate the often times difficult home course. If I was really concerned about being a better runner, I would probably lose focus on the distance due to the time. I think running 16 miles nonstop at a 10 minute pace is just as good as running a 9:30 pace at half that distance. Call it an adjustment of expectations. The same can be said in regards to my deadlifting, for I am not going nuts as I bring myself back into the fold. Of course, bad deadlift form is another trend that the experts were talking about in the article. One that I also found interesting was the growing “trend” of fit shaming, which is dumb in itself. So I like to post a lot of stuff about my working out, but that doesn’t mean I am a narcissist. Considering I sat on my butt in a previous life and ate myself into a coma every night, doing this is far more beneficial to me. It is also a great way to stay consistent, for if I don’t do something, I will instantly notice and try to make it up. This sort of thing also touches on the crazy term called “Thin privilege,” but I will probably talk about that some other day. Trust me, it is a bag of worms.
Anyway, I’m happy with the idea of trying some new stuff, for the complacency of sticking to one type of workout was getting old. I want to be able to focus on the things that will make me strong and happy once again. Of course, I also have to understand that I cannot keep staying in this holding pattern. On Thursday I will up my weight on the dead lifts and also add some weight on my back squats. I won’t go crazy of course, maybe 20 to 30 pounds, but that will hit the spot. It’s about rebuilding but I don’t want to rebuild too slow. Like I have stated in other blog posts, I don’t intend to stay in a holding pattern too long. I got people to impress and people to potentially piss off. Either way, such is the life of social media.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.