EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the athlete journal of CrossFit trainer and masters athlete Patrick McCarty. Patrick competed in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games in the 45-49 age bracket and has his sights set on the Games again this year. Follow Patrick’s journals here every Wednesday.
Athlete Journal Entry 1: 2/27/2013
The Reebok CrossFit Games Open is almost here, and the other day I had “that day.” That day where suddenly, it felt like I had just started CrossFit YESTERDAY.
In the past twelve months, I have strictly followed OPT’s programming in preparation for the first Open workout. That programming peaks Wednesday, March 6th. My nutrition has been dialed in – the right amount of carbs for performance, protein for recovery and building, no sugar (well, almost no sugar), and plenty of water.
My PRs are coming fast – clean, back squat, front squat, double unders, jerk. Metcons are feeling better, and when I compare scores and times to my peers and those much younger than me, I seem to be in a great zone. Muscle ups, bar muscle ups, parallette handstand pushups, the works. Everything seems to be working well, and I am injury free.
And then, yesterday happened. The kind of day that makes you ask yourself, literally mid-workout, “Why am I doing this, and who on EARTH do I think I am fooling?”
The workout began with building to a max clean. My previous PR is #245 but oddly, by the time I reached #180, it felt unreasonably heavy. #225 was brutal and #245 wasn’t even close. I dropped to #235 and couldn’t even make that. Not a good sign.
On to the metcon which consisted of 10 unbroken snatches at 95, 10 box jumps, then 9 of same, then 8, and on down to 1. Seems like it should breeze by, and many of the times posted on the OPT website were well under 6 minutes. I jokingly stated that my goal was “sub 8.” Little did I know how hard I would have to fight to get that.
As I began the first set of 10 snatches I was pretty shocked at how bad I felt almost immediately – due in part to the inability to put the bar down. Unbroken is unbroken, and if you break up a set, you start that set over. So imagine, on the set of eight, the panic that begins to set in at the fifth rep when I can barely keep my grip and my lungs are screaming at me to drop the bar.
“What’s going on here?” was the question that kept going through my head. “I thought I was in better shape than this? I have been keeping up with the ‘kids’ (anyone under 40 is a kid when you are 50) that post on the OPT website and in my local box on most of these workouts. Why does it feel like I am a two pack a day smoker all of a sudden?”
My time ended up at 7:27, a full minute of which I spent with my hands on my knees, staring at the floor.
It was that day. Those days happen, and I immediately decided to chalk it up to an anomaly rather than some mysterious irrevocable setback in my conditioning. The cleans didn’t work. The metcon felt awful. What can I do with that?
What I can do is to rest and refuel, to choose not to dwell, and to come back strong and determined. I decided that “one bad training session does not make a season.” My overall trend is UP, even if yesterday was a dip in the progress chart.
After a full day of rest and proper fueling, I came back strong with a PR on the notorious “12.5” workout: 3 thrusters, 3 chest-to-bar, then 6, then 9, and so on until the 7:00 clock runs out. I set an 11-rep PR on this over last year’s score, which would place me firmly within the top five of my peer group on the Games leaderboard. Better yet, I had a couple of good reps still in me, had the circumstances been competition-like.
So the question becomes why did I have “that day” and how can I make sure it does not again? As I get closer to the Open, I am continuing to tinker with rest, fuel and properly warming up, all of which I believe can make the difference in my performance and ultimately, whether I make it back to the Games in 2013.
Next week: Warming up and the difference it can make.