Well, here’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.
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.