Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crossfit : From A Runner's Perspective

 A little background:
By March of 2015 I had participated in 5-6 half marathons and 4 marathons. However, I couldn't keep up with anyone in my running clubs and I was consistently missing my sub 2 half marathon goal by minutes. I had ran a 2:05, a 2:03, and ran a 2:02  at the Hilo half marathon. I was beyond frustrated. Everyone kept telling me "you have the fitness to run it, just do it!" But the problem was my body wouldn't let me. Once I got under a 9:15 minute per mile pace, I couldn't breath. How can I run when I can't breath?! After starting Crossfit, 3 month later, I placed in my age group at the Kona Half Marathon running a 1:51 half marathon time. It was a hotter and harder course but yet, I took off more than 10 minutes off of my overall time. I didn't add more track workouts or sign up for a trainer. Crossfit was the only thing that I had changed in my training. Since then my times keep going down and running faster has become easier and easier. Running Boston and New York, things I used to laugh about, are now a future possibility.

The Beginning:

Yelp Crossfit and I almost guarantee there is at least 1 gym in your town. They're popping up everywhere. I believe between where I live, and the next city over, I have 5-6 available to me. Even though they're all individually own, upon inspection they all look the same. They're housed in an industrial area, have tons of equipment , and they're all extremely intimidating. A few years ago I went to try a drop in class . I had such a bad experience,  I swore them off and quickly formed a negative opinion. That was that.

A running friend of mine talked about how much they loved their gym.  I declined invites to the class over and over but went to the yoga class that met afterwards.  After about 3 weeks I finally mustered up the courage and went to my first class of Crossfit . My coaches were amazing. They were extremely patient, slow to instruct, and quick to correct form. After a week I signed up for the unlimited package and was a consistent 3-5 time a week participant.

What is a usual gym session like?

Most gyms have a prefabricated workout from either an instructor, website, or an outside Crossfit program. Most start with a gym/instructor specific warmup. It initiates some type of body warming effect (running/rowing/jump rope?) followed by light stretching or muscle mobility work.

Afterwards is the Weight/Strength Session. This usually is some type of lift or exercise that helps with form or strength in the workout.

Then last is the workout of the day (WOD) . This is usually some type of endurance workout with multiple,multiple ranges and stages. What I LOVE about my gym is that there is a suggested workout for the heavy lifters, then 2 modified versions. We all grab a white board and figure out what we can do to simulate the actual workout given. For example:

I sprained my wrist 2 weeks ago in a biking accident so I can't do pullups but I can do ring rows. So I substitute a ringrow (sometimes doubling it) for the amount of pullups I'm supposed to do.

There are modifications for every workout for every level

Why was this gym so amazing/What makes a good gym?

The first thing that makes a gym one worth going to are the instructors knowledge of lift technique and form. Obviously you want those that are certified Crossfit instructors as well as experienced fitness professionals.  Most gyms I go to have their certificates on the wall, websites, and office . Most can also demonstrate (to a certain level) the workout as well as modifications. Mostly they understand what you're supposed to do and how to do it in an effective manner.

#2 They offer and introductory course/preview week/free day. The one thing that really scared me was the gym I went to first pretty much said "Ok, this is what we're is your weight...go" I couldn't bend over for 3 days. The gyms that seem the most inviting offer beginning classes or what my gym calls an "elements class". They teach the warmups that are standards, form for multiple lifts, and instruction on other elements performed in the class as well.

#3 The instructors are involved in the workout. This doesn't necessarily mean they do the workout their-selves but they are watching the members during the workout. They call out form cues, give motivation, and help with modifications and explanations to the workout.

Some others that are icing on the cake are :

Availability (multiple classes available for an nonpattern like work schedule)
Alternating workouts (legs On monday, arms on tuesday, cardio on Wednesday etc etc)
Good Equipment
Good Music
Extra classes (Yoga, lift technique classes, contest, Holiday get togethers etc )
Payment Plans
 Etc Etc

ALSO, Not all gyms that are good have these and vice versa. To me, finding a good gym is like finding a shoe. You go in knowing what you think you like, you try it on, and if it fits, you stick with it. If not, try another. Most gyms offer their first class for free and are more than happy to assist with anything regarding scheduling, fitness levels, and/or payment methods.

And Now..For the Scare factor...." scary and is only for serious weight lifters"
At least I thought so......

"I pick things up and put them DOWN"

A lot of people I know think Crossfit is scary or is for serious weight lifters only.  One of the things I've loved about my two gyms is there are all sorts of people working out beside me. I've been in a class where the majority of the participants were in the senior citizen category. One lady did the same pull up strength as me every class. She put me to shame and I admire her greatly.  Crossfit is for all types that are wanting a fitness change in their life.

Here is a true fact: YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO HEAVY 100% of the time.
I listen to my body, I know what I can and can't do, and I respect that...aka I don't go crazy.

For the first month or two, for some of the workouts, I wouldn't put any weight on any of my lifts I felt rough on. I worked with the training bar (15lbs) and worked on my form. Eventually I learned to warmup with my bar, add a little weight, and get feedback from my instructor on my form. I never added more weight than I felt like I could control.

For lifts /exercises with weights that I know I can go harder on (aka Lower body , back squats, front squats and sprints) I pace myself. I write down all my weights/times, in a notebook I was provided, and add on weight slowly. Each time it comes to increase weight I sometimes only add 5lbs to the entire bar. If it's still light I add another 5.

Ok, So how is Crossfit beneficial for me?

Things become easier physically and mentally.

Stairs are easier to climb, that heavy breathing thing? yeah, it becomes easier.
You can take more bags of groceries inside and farther (through the parking lot, through the hallway, and up 4 flights upstairs, in my case lol).

 Workout just does that to you. Some of the hardest things I've physically have put myself through have been either Crossfit or my marathons. One time my bike got a flat while I was out riding and I didn't have the levers to pop my tire off and change it. I was a few miles out and realized I would have to walk my bike home. I was so upset but I said "hey, remember running those sprints and then coming in and doing 40 kettle bell swings, you could barely breath! This is walking , you've got this". So I whistled a song and walked my bike home. Or, when I'm doing hill workouts and I have one more hill to push up and I REALLY, REALLY don't want to do it I think "remember that last time you wanted to quit when you have a minute left in the workout but you were able to do 5 more dead lifts? you got this" and I ran up that hill.

Working out changes you mindset from " I can't" to "'ve done something harder, you can do this"...It makes you feel like for once you're in control of your body and you can do amazing things with it.

Roll the Credits:

So, I say all this prefacing that you may not get the same results, you may not like Crossfit as much. It just may not be your thing. I was once skeptical but after being persuaded I fell in love with it and my running has changed completely

If you're ready for something different and you need more than just a regular gym membership I urge you to give something a try. Maybe zumba, aqua aerobics, yoga, or maybe even Crossfit.

I did . Everyone has been asking "where did you come from ?!" I always smile and say Crossfit. 

No comments:

Post a Comment