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Category Archives: 100 Day Burpee Challenge

19 November – 100 day challenges and what they teach me

Well, herecommitment’s what I learned from the 100 Day Burpee Challenge, which coincidentally ran in synch with me reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest – basically a 100 Day literary challenge in itself!

1. There’s a narrow window within which constant practice improves performance before it becomes overtraining and delivers injury.
2. Mental toughness is not a problem for me, apparently.
3. Once you do reach the injury window and it opens wide, you’ve got two choices – flake or force it. I chose to force it, although I had to adapt my practice to classic straight arm burpees without a chest dip, as the injury I picked up was tennis elbow.
4. Burpees no longer frighten me, at all. I even did them in the Cotswold Shop to try out my new hiking boots!

So, what does that add up to?

As the inimitable David Foster Wallace points out, once you become a ‘phenom’, or even aspire to be one, your life becomes totally dedicated to the process of phenomenalisation – making yourself into as much of a prodigy as you can be. This includes things (for DFW’s character Hal) like squeezing a tennis ball all day, every day to develop the arm muscles (I’m considering adding this to my day, as I still don’t have a strict pull up). Hal also takes a nicely balanced cocktail of recreational drugs, which I’m not considering adding to my repertoire, instead I’ve taken out all non-natural sugars, tea, milk and potatoes

In other words, challenges become a way of life, if they continue long enough, and we invest in them fully enough and the habituation to difficulty spreads through other areas of life, so that a step change happens … a step change towards excellence.

I took a week off after the burpee challenge, now I’m doing 100-1 squats and sit ups. It’ll run until February 2014. It amazes me that I’ve embraced all this, and paleo, without any real intent to change my life. I came to Crossfit because I couldn’t run through injury, and 18 months on, I have changed my shape, my size, my diet, my goals, my training programme (entirely) my vocabulary and my view of the world. Most women look a bit skinny to me now, I live in hoodies, have been known to do burpees in shops and on other people’s living room floors and squats in trains, in other words, I am obsessed with seeking the excellence I desire and I don’t let convention get in the way.

WOD – 15 minute A18 nov 13MRAP

400 metre run
5 power cleans
5 push press

I felt like rubbish when I got to the box, and didn’t fancy this WOD at all. In the end I got 4 rounds and 5 power cleans, which was considerably more than I thought I would, given that I had a stitch after the first round and was blowing snot the whole way through. Think I might have a bit of a virus …

Also got 5×3 at 80% of my one rep max in back squats – pleased with that.

• Bruises – back squat
• Wishlist – still the pull up, and to get consistent in more than one double under
• PB – nope.

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Four things that a month of paleo has taught me …

spine musclesWow, a month since I posted. It’s been busy! The big thing that happened was I finally finished writing the novel I’ve been working on for 2.5 years and sent it to my agent. I’m not happy with it but I can still play around with it while she reads it and gives me her views. It feels a bit like a death, sending off a novel …

I’ve done my usual wod/mobility/open gym pattern, except I haven’t had time to post about it. Today is the last day of strict paleo and I managed to get through the whole thirty days. What I learned:

1. I’ve been living in sleep deprivation for decades, replacing necessary and potentially restorative sleep with rich and fatty foods
2. I was a total sugar junkie, and when the cravings wore off, real food started to taste incredibly sweet
3. Even supposedly healthy food is full of unnecessary or unwanted ingredients – I went to Holland and Barrett to buy dried fruit and at least two thirds of what they had on the shelves had added sugar. Why?
4. When you eat paleo for the first couple of weeks, it’s good not to be too far from a toilet!

So … I’ll do my weigh in and measurements tomorrow morning. It will be interesting to see if I’ve lost much weight as I’d actually hoped not to – I was 54.4 kilos a month ago, which is about the heaviest I’ve managed. I was 56k for a couple of months last summer, but that was drinking 2 litres of raw milk a day etc and I just couldn’t keep up the calorie load.

Several people told me last week that I looked really good – which was nice to hear. My back has definitely got a bit more defined in 30 days! Yesterday we did Crossfit Total 1 and I pb’d in both my backsquat and my deadlift, and equalled my one rep max in strict press, which is definitely my weakest lift, so whatever else a month of paleo has done, it has helped my lifting!

And the burpee challenge .. day 97. Still going. Can’t wait till it’s over.

And then there was P …

Paleo. I’m going to try 30 days of Paleo from Monday 7 October.

I feel weird just typing that. No dairy (no dairy!) no sugar, no potatoes, no beans …

I think I might last till Thursday.

I just can’t imagine that radical a change to my diet – which is odd because when I cut out wheat, about ten months ago, I couldn’t have imagined that either, and yet now I don’t miss it or think about it at all. So we’ll see …

allotment cropsI estimate about thirty of us were present for the Plan P chat that Coach Barney gave us today. It was fun and thought-provoking, although the main thing it provoked in me was doubt. Can I really do this? I’m certainly not going to be short of provisions, given the harvest from the allotment this week …

The other thing I’ve started doing is personal training, with Coach David. That feels really weird. I’m just not good enough to merit coaching so I think of it as remedial studies – and having established very quickly what was wrong with my squat (poor ankle mobility) and what was wrong with my bench (poor positioning, poor breathing and no proprioception because my feet weren’t properly on the ground) I got painful exercises to do at home and a 1 kilo pb on my bench in the first twenty minutes of the training session. Bench feels a lot easier now I know to put 2×20 plates at the end of the bench to put my feet on. A very simple thing but it makes all the difference to my position, and my confidence about the lift.

Still only one double under though. Despite skipping for what felt like forever, I can still only get singles! I suspect that double unders will be turning up in my pt sessions for a while to come!

As for WODs, well I haven’t actually got photos of the last few – we’ve moved house and I’ve lost track of a lot of stuff (I didn’t lose track of training, but I did lose track of tracking training, if you take my meaning) and I need to get back on top of it.

• Bruises – loads from double unders
• Wishlist – more than one double under
• PB – 1 kilo bench
• Burpee Challenge – Day 66 – still going.

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