Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vomit Threshold, or I Survived CrossFit Session #3

Wednesday, 2012-04-11

Tonight was my third CrossFit session with my trainer. Whoof! Again I am reminded how little I have actually pushed myself aerobically in the last year of my own self-directed training. First up was jump-rope. To warm up we did some jumping using just feet and calves to spring up and get those muscles going. I brought I my new jump-rope and used that. I was able to complete (12) consecutive jumps before fumbling on the rope, but kept at it. I tried to reach (25) consecutive, but did not. My trainer recorded a video for later review. I got a lot of jumps in, all the same, and my calves know it. Vomit Threshold: Just...almost... right there. While I was catching my breath my trainer demonstrated how double-unders are executed, i.e. two passes of the jump-rope under your feet during each jump. (I have a ways to go to get there.)

Next up was stretching out the arms and shoulders, followed by "Barrel Hugs," a rotational exercise moving from high to low and rotating at the waist, then some hamstring/leg stretches, moving sideways wall-to-wall (short side of the court). Following this we performed walking lunges lengthwise up and down the racquetball court; and then a repeat of this carrying a (15) lb. dumbbell on one side, then switching it on the return. (I like to call these Elmer Fudds, because my trainer mentioned exaggerated cartoon "sneak" motions during the first workout.) Carrying that dumbbell definitely put my hamstrings on notice that they need to "Cowboy up!" Wowzers. Vomit Threshold: Just...almost... right there.

Shoulder presses were next on the list, using (15)lb. dumbbells. I was calling them Rocky Balboas because the reflection in the court window reminded me of the Rocky statue in Philly. My trainer helped make sure I was executing the exercise with proper form: chest forward, hips back; glutes, abs and core muscles taught and "activated/engaged." Actually trying to keep my glutes and abs engaged and flexed simultaneously was difficult to co-ordinate, so that's one more thing to add to the "keep working on it" list.

After those, and catching my breath, and pulling back from my Vomit Threshold, we worked on Pose Running form, "running" in place while leaning forward against the court wall, maintaining proper form while lifting the legs and getting the hamstrings in on the leg action, rather than the hip flexors. This also involved leaning forward and catching yourself with your feet (much like Good Form running, and Chi Running). I had trouble making this work correctly, and not executing lunges unintentionally. After a few iterations of this we tried barefoot running in the hall, which feels like carpet with minimal rubber padding over concrete. I didn't break my feet, or run into the wall full-tilt, so that was a good thing. I got a better feel for the way this style of running form works, and will have to practice that more once my plantar fasciitis is healed.

Also, I still need to put in more time at the gym using the weights, the stationary bike, and getting into the pool, finally, for some lap swims. I want to start doing the CrossFit training twice a week, going forward. We'll see how that goes.

Dinner: My post-workout dinner was leftover sliced beef from Easter, nuked and loaded on warm flat-bread with Pepper jack cheese, diced chiles, and black pepper. Mmm. Tasty!


More Hiking Equipment

I purchased a Kelty Redwing (50) day-pack at REI last week. There is a good video review and overview, (10:24)min,, of the pack here. Another shorter video review, about (5:28)min., is here. The pack is hydration bladder compatible (most of them seem to be nowadays), has nice padding on the back and the hip-belt, and includes an aluminum spine/frame-stay and semi-rigid polymer framesheet (which appears to be removable). I had been pretty set on buying the Osprey Stratos (24), but the lumbar pad at the base of the stay on the Kelty pushed me in that direction.

Kelty Redwing (50)L Pack, Cypress; Image (c)REI, (c) Kelty

The Osprey has an included (removable, replaceable) rain-cover, and dedicated bungees for attaching your hiking poles while still wearing the pack (i.e. you don't have to stop and remove the pack to stow your 'poles, or have someone else stow them for you); this feature is referred to as "Stow-on-the-Go" on the website. This last feature had a lot of appeal for me because I plan on hiking Half Dome solo this year, and I also intend to do several other solo hikes before, and after, Half Dome. The lack of lumbar padding was a ding against the Osprey because, while the pack has a floating mesh support web, the aluminum frame stays seemed to dig into my lower back just a little; over time I expect it would just become worse. Also, the hip-belt was not as well-padded and the shoulder straps were a bit narrow.

Osprey Stratos (24) Pack, Tarn; Image (c) REI, (c) Osprey Packs.

I also tried the REI Lookout (40) day-pack (which is what I believe Dave used on the hike last year), but I disliked that it had only two (2) compression straps (one on each side), rather than four (4) (two on each side). As one reviewer pointed out, this means you can't cinch down the base of the pack as much as at the top, so keeping the pack close to the back (front to back) is not possible. This may be a trivial point, but I will go with the option, rather than without. The REI pack also had an integrated rain-cover; I still wish the Kelty included one. And the REI pack also included an internal frame, which I did not realize it had when I was checking out Dave's pack.

REI Lookout (40) Pack, Grecian Blue & CastleRock Gray; Image (c)REI.

Dave's REI day pack. Yosemite Half Dome Hike, Sept. 2011. (c) Lancer!!

When I was at the REI San Carlos store a couple weeks back, the same day as the San Jose 408K, I tried on the Gregory Z30 pack. It seemed to fit well, and has all the features I was looking for, except the Stow-on-the-Go bungee cords (Osprey is the only one that appears to have them). The salesperson who helped me get fitted for the pack mentioned that some customers had complained that the frame stays had a tendency to dig into their lower back, despite the lumbar padding, so rather than purchase this one on the spot, I chose to wait and try some others at the Stockton store when I had more time to spend on it. Disappointingly, the online inventory checker shows these packs are unavailable in any of the stores, but it is still available online. I really like the deep blue color, Midnight Blue.

Gregory Z30 Pack, Midnight Blue; Image (c) REI, (c) GregoryPacks.

Now, since my pack did not include a rain-cover I purchased one separately: the REI Duck's Back (60). This rain-cover appears to be more than suitable for my needs. On closer inspection of the rain-cover itself, I see there is an attached stuff-sack that can be used for storing the cover, which means the included carry case can be used to carry other items on a belt, or other webbing attachment point on your pack. Nice! The built-in pouch also appears to have a hole in one corner. That is either a defect (possible), or a pass-through port for your hydration bladder hose (more likely?). If and when I need to use this cover, I believe I will treat that opening as a hose pass-through.

REI Duck's back (60)L Rain Cover, Liquid Orange; Image (c) REI.

Mine does not appear to be quite as bright as in the photo, but it is still orange.

That's it for now.


Update: Proof read and made corrections. Added another video review link.

Sputter. Cough. Wheeze.

Tuesday, 2012-04-10

Foot Pain: OK. So I finally got to attend the Heel Pain class held at my local Kaiser facility. Based on the descriptions provided by the podiatrist the needle-sharp stabbing pain in my right heel (bottom) is indeed plantar fasciitis. Phooey. And the pain under the ball of my left foot, specifically at the base of my second toe, is in fact metatarsalgia. I was able to self-diagnose these two issues with the help of two publications:
1.) "Fixing Your Feet: Injury Prevention and Treatments for Athletes," John Vonhof (5th ed., 2011, Wilderness Press),;
2.) "Foot Owner's Manual: A Guide to Good Foot Care," Krames Patient Education (c. 2000, printed 2008).

And because I try to be cautious, I followed up that initial reading with an appointment with my primary care physician, who ordered X-rays for both feet, and then set me up with my Heel Pain class appointment. After the class today I was able to view the X-rays of my feet and the podiatrist pointed out that the second and third toes on my left foot (and most certainly on my right foot, too, I'm just not looking at my naked feet at the moment) are actually longer than my big toe. It could also be said that my big toes are both short. Since the bones in those toes are longer than my big toe extra pressure is being exerted on the metatarsal heads of those toes. In my case it only appears to be an issue on my left foot. The podiatrist recommended I use a metatarsal pad in my shoe. Since I had the forethought to bring in my running shoes (complete with Spenco insert) he was able to point out how my arch support already has a built-in metatarsal pad, it's just smaller than the ones he recommends I install in my shoe. I was able to pick up a pair from the Orthopedics desk, size Small. We'll see how these work out for me.

In the meantime, I expect I will need to give running a break till at least the end of the month in order to give my plantar fasciitis a chance to heal. This also means no StairMaster, tread climber, or elliptical, but I can still use my bicycle, the stationary bike at the gym, the weight machines, and the pool. The podiatrist did not recommend jumping rope as part of my CrossFit training due to the pressure it will place on the metatarsal heads on my left foot. However, so far I have not experienced any pain during that activity, so we'll see how long that lasts. The benefits of jumping rope include: improved balance and agility, plus building up your calves, feet and ankles.

CrossFit: I had my second training session on Friday, April 6th. Again, I was very winded and had to rest a couple of times. I was much better at the rope jump activity this time around so I was pretty pleased with that. In fact, I went to Sports Authority after my session and bought my own jump rope, so I can practice on my own. I also bought a pair of swim goggles, since I can't find my old clear pair. I have a pair that are dark tinted for outdoor use, but the pool area is pretty dimly lit, so I felt a clear pair would be more useful. Among the exercises my trainer had me do: jump rope; Kettlebell Snatch; Walking Lunges, carrying a (10)lb. kettlebell (which looks kinda' like Elmer Fudd sneaking through the woods); sit-ups on a sit-up board (20); wall push-ups (25).

Note to self: Get digital copies of my foot X-rays to share with the class blog. :-)