It’s been two weeks since I hurt myself and I think I’ve worked through most of the grief stages. I’ve done the denial stage and the anger stage. I spent a lot of time on the crybaby stage, the whiny stage and the impatient patient stage. I think I’m ready to look at why this happened, what, if anything I can learn from it and how this recovery process might make me a better X-Fitter.

I’ve developed a few scenarios:

Scenario #1

I am a klutz and my snatch form sucks.

Scenario #2

The world can be a tough place and sometimes random things happen for no good reason.

Scenario #3

I am too old for this stuff and need to act my age.

Scenario #4

I’ve been making more than my share of progress and something needed to slow me down.

Scenario #5

I needed new material for my blog.

Scenario #6

I was chronically under recovered and low on sleep and something was bound to happen to make me get some rest.

After much introspection and examination of the facts, I’m gonna go with Scenario #6, though all the other scenarios may hold some truth (except the sucky snatch form and the act your age parts).

What can I learn from this?

Lesson #1

Even though CrossFitting can make you feel superhuman, you still need rest – get it.

Lesson #2

There comes a point when it would be better to skip a workout and make sure you’re fully recovered than to grind out wod after wod when your tank is empty.

Lesson #3

Work with your body, not against it.

Lesson #4

Remember the law of diminishing returns – you’ll make faster progress if you pay attention to rest time.

I wish I had thought about all this a month ago. But I know all this stuff, so do you, we all do. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the workouts. Posting good times, doing the wods as prescribed, working on weak points, learning the Oly lifts – it can all take over and become too important. I know it did for me. I ignored aches and pains. I didn’t get the rest or recovery I needed. I wasn’t listening to my body. My workouts had become a fight against myself. We all know better than that. When you fight your body you will always, always lose. Eventually you will be forced to rest.

And if you don’t know how much fun that is, join me at the gym, with your arm in a sling, sitting on the sideline coaching your buddies through a workout.


T-shirt winner

May 25, 2009

And the winner of the Hey Lauren t-shirt is – Jen. Congrats, way to go, nice use of the secret word. Jen, email your address to bernet.rob@gmail.com and I’ll ship it out.


Today was a good CrossFit day. I could feel it the minute I woke up, which was good because today’s workout was Grace, something I hadn’t done in a long time.

Now Grace is always challenging – no question, but today I was equal to the task. I felt heroic and epic and grabbed that bar like I meant business. Weight on the heels, good back position, push off the ground, good shrug, stomp under it, stand up, breathe, dip and drive to full extension. I took small breaks (three breaths) at 10, 9, 6, 3, and 2 reps and finished in 3:57, which is a PR for me. My gym doesn’t have bumper plates so I couldn’t just drop the weights at the top, which I think makes 3:57 a little better.

And then it was a bad CrossFit day.

After a rest, I thought I’d do some snatching. I started slow and worked up to a one rep max. The last rep of the day, the one I almost didn’t do because I was tired and the gym was beginning to fill up, that rep I wish I could take back. The pull off the ground felt good, I was in the groove through the middle, I dropped under and caught it in a good squat and thought “Right on!” until I heard this crackling, Rice Crispy sound in my right shoulder. Now I know it was just a second, but that sound, (I can still hear it) went on and on. Like someone taking a newspaper and crumpling it up page by page. Then I felt a blinding pain as my shoulder joint disintegrated and the barbell bounced off my head.

I tried to stand up but unless I bent over and held my arm out to the side the pain sent me to my knees. Things felt weird in my shoulder – things were vibrating and tingling and bouncing back and forth that shouldn’t bounce back and forth. I couldn’t move without bringing up Pukie level pain. After a few minutes bent over in a stupid scarecrow position with a giant goose egg growing on my forehead, I heard a faint pop and my arm felt better.

And then the throwing salt in the wound part: you know when you hurt something you move it around, kind of test it out? That’s what I did. Same crunchy sound, same blinding pain, same scarecrow position until it popped and stopped hurting. I went to see my physical trainer buddy – he said I probably tore my rotator cuff, which resulted in a subluxation (that’s Latin for mini dislocation or piss-yourself-painful).

I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good. At best I’m out for a few months. At worst surgery and who knows. Either way, I’ve probably snatched my last snatch.

But you know what the worst part was? The most painful part? Walking around with an ice pack on my shoulder, in obvious pain and seeing people smile and say things like, “I told you not to work out so hard.” and “Well, what did you expect?” and “Maybe this stuff is too much for you.”

To them I say, Fuck You (sorry for cussing mom, but it’s warranted and my arm really hurts). I think they can’t stand it that my gut doesn’t hang over my belt, that I can walk up three flights of stairs and still have air to talk, that I can move about anything I can get a hand-hold on. I think they want me to quit working out so they don’t have to be reminded of how out of shape they are. I think they’d be happier if we all just rubbed our big fat bellies together and shimmied down on the couch to watch American Idol and eat hydrogenated snack chips and drink soda pop till we reach an insulin induced nirvana.

Well they are going to have to find some other company to be miserable with. Our way is the right way and their way is the wrong way. I may have hurt my shoulder, but I’ll come back better and stronger and fitter than before. Shoulders can heal – diabetes and heart disease don’t heal.

Wish me luck and speedy recovery and next time you’re in the gym, do a set for me.

Lumberjack CrossFit

May 12, 2009

lumberjack1Looks like I’ll be working out with chain saw and axe and shovel and pick for the next few weeks. We had some energetic winds blow through town and take advantage of the soft waterlogged soil to push down a few trees in the area (17 just in my yard). Big, beautiful, take a hundred years to grow a replacement type trees. Sad, really, really sad. Oh well, hell of a workout anyway.

The same wind that blew my trees down also demolished the school my kids go to. The roof was blown off and the exterior walls fell in and a few kids had to go to the hospital. I’m not ashamed to say that tears streamed down my face as I listened to my son tell me about the ceiling falling on him and about his friend, who was trapped outside with another student when the winds hit. He couldn’t open the doors to get inside because the pressure was too great, so he pushed the other student into a corner and by bracing against either wall, anchored her and protected her with his own body (Logan, you’re a hero).

Do me a favor – give your wife or kids or husband or parents a big hug and tell them you love them. Hold on for a long time – too long, until they notice, and then tell them you love them again.

Do that for me OK?

Snatching really scares me. There is something not quite right about throwing a heavy weight up over your head as hard as you can and then squatting down underneath it. Kind of like that game my buddies and I played as kids where we would stand in a circle and one of us would chuck a rock straight up in the air and whoever ran away first was the loser, except this rock is a whole lot heavier and I’m the only one under it.

In March I attended a CrossFit Olympic Lifting Certification in St. Louis with Coach Mike Burgener, and you should too. Coach and his team put together a fantastic presentation, and I came away with a solid understanding of the mechanics of lifts, as well as devout respect for anyone who can put hundreds of pounds of barbell over their heads the way those men and women can. The balance, coordination, power, speed and determination required is epic.

The author's non-epic snatch. Note the "Olympic" cable crossover machine in the background.

The author's non-epic snatch. Note the "Olympic" cable crossover machine in the background.

I am a complete newb to this kind of lifting, but am completely captivated and humbled by it. I have diligently been practicing what I learned, and I am slowly making progress. I have gone from my previous PR of a clumsy 45# to solid sets of 5 with 95#. I don’t know which is harder, practicing the lifts, or listening to my bodybuilding gym mates, “Look, I’m curling more with one arm than Rob can snatch.” Course, when I invite them to try it, “Come on you pharmacological hormonal freaks of nature,” they mumble something about their butt still being sore from their last steroid shot and shuffle back to the pec deck.

I may not make the Olympic team next year (or ever), but I did get enough from this weekend to keep myself busy for a long time. We went over the snatch, the clean & jerk, warm up drills and skill transfer exercises in an extremely hands on environment – I was quite sore the next day. Wherever you are in the health/fitness spectrum, this will make you better. Get on crossfit.com, find an Olympic lifting cert near you, and sign up – you won’t be sorry.