Posts tagged ‘presence’

May 5, 2013

Looking back at being a CrossFitter

I wrote this as a post in an online group that I belong to, and I felt it might be good to share in this space as well. It’s sometimes hard for me to describe why I no longer do CrossFit, and I think that this short essay helps to explain why.
Over the last 12 weeks I have been doing the Starting Strength novice linear strength progression. Basically my program focused on the squat, bench press, and military press for 3 sets of 5, and on 1 set of 5 for deadlift. Each session I added weight to my sets of 5 for each exercise. There were also some assistance exercises mixed in there, like pullup, pushups, hollow rocks, dumbbell rows, and dumbbell bench.
During this program, my strength numbers went up as follows: squat +65#, press +12#, bench press +20#, deadlift +70#. At the end of this program, I am solidly in Category 4 for my body weight of 165#, as ranked by the Starting Strength standards table
During this program there were maybe 5 instances where I suffered from noticeable soreness, and 0 instances where I was so sore I could not go about my normal activities without pain.
I did CrossFit on a regular basis for almost 3 years, from 2008-2011, until transitioning to a “mostly Olympic weightlifting with some CrossFit mixed in” routine during 2012. 
During my years of CrossFit, my strength numbers climbed into SS Category 3 and stalled there. I would often experience intense bouts of muscle soreness and feeling like shit from DOMS due to the extremely high volume of some CrossFit workouts. But despite putting myself through all of that, I did not get as strong as I wanted to be. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I wasn’t doing it right. I was miserable and felt like shit during really long and really heavy workouts, and hated them. And I thought it was because my mind or body wasn’t right.
In short, I blamed myself because CrossFit didn’t work for me like it worked for others.
Sound familiar to anyone? Replace the word “CrossFit” in the previous sentence with the word “the diet”.
The point I’m trying to make here isn’t that CrossFit is good or bad. Or that you should or shouldn’t do it. 
My point is that you need to stay present with your own intuition about what works for you, and how your chosen form of exercise makes you feel. Are you doing it because you really and truly love it? Or are you doing it because it’s “supposed to be” the best thing, or “it works for everybody else”, or “Susie So-and-so does CrossFit and loves it”?
My close friend Stephanie has a true love for CrossFit. She honestly craves doing a metcon, and the feeling she gets from a “classic” CrossFit WOD. Her body and mind vibrate with excitement and passion in the heat of the moment while she is doing a WOD. And I love that she has found something she loves!
But I have never been happier since I decided that CrossFit wasn’t what I loved — the barbell is what I love. I love scientifically designed workouts with enough volume to produce adaptation, but without too much volume to counteract my body’s ability to adapt. I absolutely hate randomness, and workouts that are long and difficult for the sake of producing a mental challenge. I love the science of progressive overload, and finding the delicate balance between work load, recovery and adaptation. And not only do I love that, it’s also the type of activity that MY body responds to. That lesson hit home to me very clearly as I observed my body’s reaction to spending 12 weeks on the Starting Strength program.
What I want to communicate to the other people in this group is that you don’t have to learn to love the sore muscles, mental challenge and physical soreness that come with CrossFit. Be OK with not enjoying CrossFit if you honestly don’t. Be OK with trying it and saying “this is not for me.” Because there will be many out there who love it, and want to encourage you to keep going with it. And you may find yourself trying to force it to work for you, just like I did.
I will end this on a positive note. I loved CrossFit intensely for 2 years, and could not imagine my life without that time. It catalyzed the process of change within me, in terms of how I see my body, and what it means to me to be healthy. CrossFit made it possible for me to find weightlifting, the athletic love of my life (not an exaggeration! :)), and I will be forever grateful. And maybe CrossFit is a necessary step in your journey as well. Be open to it, and give it a try! It could change your life too. But don’t be afraid to keep evolving and to keep searching for the way of moving your body that is magic to you.