Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back in Action!; CrossFit Session #1

OK. I took way more time for post half-marathon recovery than I really needed. C'est la vie. Now I am back in action! :-)  Yesterday, I huffed and puffed my way through a casual (5K) run-walk in the park as a refresher run. I did not expect my "running fitness" to be so perishable. I tried to maintain a fairly even pace during the running, but I didn't try too hard. I managed an average pace of (15:17).

CrossFit: I recently saw a flyer at the gym for CrossFit training and made a call to ask about it. I read an article in the February 2012 issue of Runner's World about CrossFit Endurance (CFE): "a high-intensity, low-volume training plan that blends CrossFit conditioning (i.e., heavy, explosive strength training) with sprints, time trials, and tempo workouts." (From the article) This sounded really cool. [Thinking back, I believe I actually read an article in Competitor magazine about something similar; I'll have to check and see.] During my phone call to the gym I left my name and phone number and received a call later in the day from the trainer, RJ. We arranged to meet at my gym, MCR, and give CrossFit a try. Wow. I did not expect it to be so thoroughly exhausting.

RJ had me run three (3) laps around one of the empty racquetball courts as a starting warm-up, picking up the pace on each lap, then we did some stretching for torso (using a straight PVC pipe), arms and wrists, legs and ankles. During some of the leg stretches RJ pointed out how I needed to keep my knees above my toes, not in front of my toes, and my weight on my heels. This made a noticeable difference in the hamstring stretches.

Next we tried some push-ups on the floor. I mentioned how I used to get sharp stabbing pains in the sides of my biceps when I tried doing push-ups on my own back in high school, so he had me execute the push-ups slowly, all the way to the floor, then lift up my hands for a couple of beats, and push back up. I think I managed between five (5) and ten (10). During the last couple I noted a a bit of tension in the muscles below and to the right of my right pectoral/rib muscles, which is where I injured myself in January during a free Aikido class (I was sloppy and fell incorrectly, and landed on my arm; I was sore for a couple of weeks after that).

Squats with body-weight only was next on the list. It's a good thing I do these as a warm-up before most all of my training runs, because I was at least prepared for these. The difference in doing these squats was, again, keeping my knees over and above my toes, not in front of them, and keeping my weight on my heels during the squat.

After that was the jump rope. I never mastered this skill when I was younger, but I do recall trying it on more than one occasion. Needless to say, I am still poorly coordinated when it comes to jumping rope, but I did manage to get in at least ten (10) total jumps, just not consecutively, and certainly not smoothly. It's a good thing that improved coordination, agility and balance are benefits of this exercise, because I can really use those.

Following the jump rope, I tried out the Kettlebell swings with a (15) lb. 'bell. Later after the class, and now today, I can still feel the comfortable ache of using that Kettlebell in most all of my muscles. :-)  RJ demonstrated how to start off with getting your hips into the action with the Kettle Bell, then moving up from the squat position up into the full upward swing, and back down again. I think it was during this phase that I first started to get seriously winded, and more than a bit dizzy, from the effort.

We moved on to wall-to-wall sprints for a couple iterations, then we put it all together: Wall-to-Wall Sprints, Push-ups (15x), Squats (15x), Kettlebell Swings (15x), then repeat for (12x), then (9x). This is where it got much harder. I chose to do standing push-ups off the wall rather than on the floor, which was a good decision, since I was able to maintain those throughout the workout. I was able to execute the squats without much difficulty, but the Kettlebell Swings got to be a serious impediment. After each iteration with the Kettlebell, I had to stop and get back my breath. I'm glad I wore my Garmin and the heart-rate monitor strap so I could keep an eye on my heart-rate. I should have set the watch to log the workout time and HR, but I didn't. MY HR got up between 165-178, or so, which was probably more than it should have been, but it didn't kill me, even if I did feel like I needed desperately to hurl, hurl, hurl. *Whew* That was a mighty vigorous workout!

During my own gym training and running I workout solo, and I keep the tempo fairly slow. Last night's training had much higher tempo once we combined the different exercises and that is something that I obviously need to keep improving and the gains I have made so far. I am really looking forward to next weeks session.

The New Plan: I'm a little fuzzy on the new training plan at the moment, but I think I want to do CrossFit training at least once a week, add bicycling back into my workouts during the week, set-up a new half-marathon running plan with SmartCoach targeted at a half-marathon on May 20th, 2012, (which is actually the Bay to Breakers, but I think this will give me some room to try improving my pace times up to race day), add a weight-training day in the gym (with stair-master work for Half-Dome), and that should probably be about it. We'll see how that goes over the course of a week and modify as needed.


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