The two-year long CrossFit experience has been revelatory for me. For those seniors who are on this journey, I’d like to relate my experiences.
An Overall Developmental Perspective
Feelin’ good in the neighborhood
The beginning of March 2014 marks the end of two years of active participation in CrossFit for Dianne and me. I can’t speak specifically for her. We have different issues, but we keep each other “in the game”. On days I’d prefer to stay home, she lays the “guilt” on me and vice versa. Once in a while we both agree to skip a WOD, but that’s not too often. For much of this second year, we have been aggressive about going. We only stay home when the muscles (my shoulder; her hip and knees) won’t respond to ice or muscle rub.
I think it is fair to say that, for myself, there was a period of about two months during this past Autumn where I needed to rest two days for every two or three days of participation. A couple of times, I skipped a longer period, to recover. I thought this might be the sign of inevitable aging. I now think otherwise. While the jury (me) is still out on this rest/workout rotation, I seem to have found an aggressive new equilibrium. I’ve now completed several week-long cycles where I don’t take a day off except for other necessary activities: skiing or an extra hour of yoga. Is it possible that I’ve managed, through perseverance, to increase my poor old body’s ability to recover more quickly? I sure hope so!!! Our program designer, Lars, seems to have worked out a set of weekly progressions that is working well for me. This past week we did CrossFit Open WOD 13.1 which is a 17-minute time limited succession of 40 burpees, 30 snatches (45 lbs), 30 burpees, 30 snatches (75 lbs), 20 burpees, 30 snatches (100 lbs), 10 burpees, AMRAP snatches (120 lbs), with those weights in brackets for Masters men over 55. In the days before, including yoga and a weight class, I had lots of opportunities to hurt my shoulders, and they survived. The experience of 13.1 did not cause injury, and I was biting into the third burpee section of 13.1 at the time limit. A month ago, I had trouble with single bar weight snatches. It wasn’t pretty, but this encounter has satisfied me that I have met my objective of fitness gains for year 2, despite all the setbacks. For my year 3 anniversary, I will attempt 13.1 on my own, to see if I can complete the third snatch set in the time limit, AND be more “tidy” in burpees. This puts flesh on the planning of fitness gains measurement.
What has worked
My fitness levels have increased way beyond anything I would have imagined. I can keep up with WODs which could only be described as really nasty: pushups interspersed with other muscle and aerobic challenges, too many combinations to count. When I started 2 years ago, I could barely do 5 pushups and for weightlifting, ground-to-overhead was about 55 lbs. That is now a distant memory. I no longer use a small box to do burpees. They ain’t pretty, but they are getting better. My flexibility has improved to the point that I can now use the stirrups on the rower. I have to work twice as hard to get good rowing times, but I’m continuing to see improvement there as well as an increase in the loads I’m able to lift. My front rack still sucks, but I go there anyways. I’m “in the pack” on reps and times for most WODs, including the amount of scaling I require.
What hasn’t worked yet
There are many things I still can’t do properly. Some of these shortcomings are due to my physical limitations in my hips. A less-than-complimentary “colleague” reacted to my description of “Murph” with my scaling, by saying, rather emphatically, “you DIDN’T do ‘Murph’ then!”. So much for leaving egos at home…… That’s the special package seniors have to be prepared for, and it actually makes me more determined.
My squat is improving. I am likely to get my hip crease below my knees, soon. I still can’t go to the “floor” on weights. I start about 6 inches above the floor, meaning I’m more successful with hang cleans and snatches, but I’ve dropped closer by several centimetres, probably the easier part of that evolution. I’m not rope climbing nor am I “kipping”. I can pick up a kettlebell from the ground now, and I can hoist a bar from the floor as long as it weighs less than 95 lbs (awkwardly). I must deadlift from a short ways off the floor, in order to be able to pull significant weight. I am still working on unassisted pull-ups, using bands, negatives and ringrows. Toes to bar and knees to elbows are a long ways off, but I’m going to get there. Because of the extreme variety of activities to perform in CrossFit, it is vexing to lose ground on a movement like, say, Turkish get-ups. I’m increasingly determined to squeeze in extra gym times to “iron out” activities like TGUs, wall walking, pullups, T2B, K2E, etc.
What I’ll probably never do
Significant numbers of impacts and heavy impacts are out, because of my artificial hips. I’m not supposed to skip, period. I do singles, but on a budget based on the numbers of reps, and double unders will remain verboten. I’m also not supposed to box jump – I step, and can currently step 20”-22”. That’s about it. I do shuttle runs, but I row instead of distance run for the same reason.
There’s no load, I can’t hold
Road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors
Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long