Management is key

This past week, a friend of mine wanted to know how I did in my first 5K run event. He’s the one who ran in the Boston Marathon twice. So, I told him how it went, my thoughts on the whole process leading up to the race and what I thought I needed to do to get ready for the next 5K run in October. Then we commiserated over training injuries.

After that, he welcomed me to the world of running and all the ups and downs that come with it. Gee, thanks.

Then, a couple of days ago, at the CrossFit box where I workout, I bumped into a friend and fellow CrossFitter who I hadn’t seen since late spring (I think). We usually cross paths about once a week but when summer rolls around, it’s hit-and-miss. It was great seeing him again.

He filled me in on what he and his lovely wife were up to. I informed him of my running endeavors and he was very pleased with what I had done so far. Again, the topic of training injuries was discussed. Nothing like talking about ‘battle scars.’ You would think we were warriors, of some sort, if you heard the way we talked about injuries.

When it comes to sports, injuries are to be expected, be it bruises, scraps, sprains, hyper-extensions, dislocations, etc. It’s impossible to be physically active and not have some sort of injury (no matter the severity) to show for it.

I suppose you have to be somewhat of a glutton for punishment to willfully do some of things I’ve engaged in this year. Becoming physically active and fit isn’t easy. Aside from the physical challenges, it also challenges you mentally. And that can be the biggest obstacle on the road to becoming healthier and stronger. There will be moments where the idea of quitting will be very enticing. But you can’t give in to that. There is the bigger picture to consider. Your health and well-being.

Since I decided to make a more concerted effort to becoming a more physically fit version of me, it was clear that management is key

Time management, risk management and pain management. All three are in play no matter what the physical activity is.

It was play in everything I did, and do now. Time management has always been the easiest for me to deal with. Making time for something. Sure, making time can be tricky but if you want to make time badly enough, you will find the time.

Of course, when you throw in risk and pain management, life gets interesting. In this context, risk management is when, where and how you’ll push yourself in your chosen physical activity. Making a calculated risk. And sometimes that calculated risk can lead to pain management.

Some of my calculated risks have paid off in personal bests. Other mis-calculations have had me alternating ice and heat packs for unduly stressed muscles and joints and making visits to the physiotherapist. Naturally, the older you are, the longer it takes to heal. Oh, the joys of growing older.

This certainly tries one’s patience. Believe me, I’ve been tested enough times. It can be frustrating and maddening. But this is where you have to listen to your body. It will tell you what it can or isn’t quite ready to do. And believe me, I listen.

With the most recent injury, I had to scaled back the running to once a week instead of the three a week I had been doing pre-injury. Oddly enough, the injury hasn’t been much of an issue when I do crossfit. I gather it has something to do with what muscles are involved in the different sports and how they’re utilized.

Last week, I added a second run and it went pretty smoothly. Maybe, I’ll get back to running three times a week in a couple of weeks. Crossing my fingers and hoping.

It’s always tricky trying to figure out how to stay active while allowing an injury to heal at the same time. Risk management coming into play again. I can’t imagine doing absolutely nothing. That would drive me crazy. Honestly, I don’t think being completely sedentary is all that good for anyone or for the body.

So, here I am doing the management thing. Figuring it out and biding my time.

Goals and a bit of crazy

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals – Henry David Thoreau

I was born a goal setter. Although, I’m pretty good at flying by the seat of my pants when necessary. Depending on the situation, flying by the seat of my pants is preferable. But being a goal setter got me through a lot shit in my life. It also helped me sort through the good stuff that has come my way, too.

With regards to celebrating the achievement of my goals, I never leaned towards expressing my excitement by screaming and jumping up and down for joy. I always acknowledged my milestones in a matter-of-fact attitude and celebrated by getting on with it.

For example, when my beloved Chaplin came into my life, all my horsey friends were so excited and giddy with happiness over the fact I found my equine partner. I didn’t share in their effusive and excitable energy. I just smiled, accepted their congratulations and headed straight to the barn and spent that energy working with my boy. That’s how I celebrated that milestone. By getting down to business. My tendency to be level-headed in the face of pretty awesome personal milestones has unfailingly baffled some, if not most of my friends. Relatives, too.

But I will concede that I did jump up and down and yelled “Hell ya” when I hit my PRs during the CrossFit Games Open. Maybe I’m finally starting to let my inner child come out.

While the past couple of years have given me some great milestones in the forms of an art exhibit with two great artists who happen to be great friends and my first fiction novel, this year is shaping up to provide (and has provided) me with some interesting milestones and goals to work on this year.

The first and most obvious milestone was participating in the CrossFit Games Open. Honestly, if someone told me five years ago that I would be doing CrossFit and competing in the Games, I would have told that person he had smoked some bad weed and to go stuff his face with nachos. The idea would have been preposterous. Never saw myself in that light.

Yet, here I am, having completed my first Games, thinking about physical fitness, making it a part of my life and having goals.

This year, one of those goals will be running.

As I’ve mentioned in the last blog post, I’ve never been athletically adept. I never understood the appeal of running. I never understood the people who love running. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t relate to it. Some of the CrossFit WODs I’ve read and seen, include running a particular distance. 200m. 400m. Or 800m. I see the word ‘run’ and I cringe. I cringe because I remember in elementary phys-ed. class, I was always chosen last to be on a relay team. That’s because I wasn’t born with the speed of a gazelle. It didn’t get much better in high school, so I stayed away from anything remotely dealing with running.

Now, I’ll be signing up for 10-week running clinic which will start in June. My goal is to learn to run and to like running. I’m stopping short of saying my goal is to love running. I think that would be jumping the gun. But I want to chip away at the negative mindset that has dominated my thinking for most of my life with regards to running. I can’t (although I can and have done so) avoid the WODs that include running as one of its components. Nor should I avoid it. I’m going to learn to run because I don’t want to avoid doing a WOD because it has running in it. I don’t want to cringe at the thought of running. Aside from learning to run and learning to enjoy running, my concrete goal would be to eventually do a 5km run. Anything beyond a 5km run is not up for discussion. Nothing about me screams marathon. But then I never thought I would do CrossFit either. I guess the possibilities are there.

Yeah, it would be great if I discovered I actually enjoyed running. That would be a hell of a bonus on top of my milestone/goal. But I see the bigger picture and I need to take baby steps.

Fortunately, some of my fellow CrossFitters incorporate running into their training or are runners, so I’ll be picking their brains if need be. Plus I have a co-worker who ran in the Boston Marathon twice. Can’t remember if he did it two years in a row or if he skipped a year. Anyway, he will be a fountain of knowledge once I get started. He’s aware of my running goals and is quite amused/impressed that I’m daring to venture down this particular road. I’m still looking at this with trepidation. But I think the closer to the start of the clinic, the more I’ll be looking forward to seeing what running can do for me and how it can add to my CrossFit training.

As long as I can avoid or minimize training injuries, the running and CrossFit goals will keep me plenty busy this year.

As for non-fitness goals, I’ve finally carved out some time to start writing again. I’m not starting on the next novel since it’s still in the research stage where I’m waiting for information to come back to me. Sigh. Nothing like being put into a holding pattern. So, I’ve decided to leave that where it is and just start writing.

Since music was a huge part of the writing process for The Raven Sonata, it is part of the process again. UK singer Clare Maguire’s Don’t Mess Me Around and Boomerang are the impetus for a scene I’m working on right now. Will it fit into the next novel or will it become something else? Don’t know. Too soon to tell. I’m just trying to have a little fun with the scene. Write what’s popping into my head and figure it out later.

Have a little fun because you never know what kind of crazy adventure you might conjure up.

And I’m all for crazy.

Competitive? Maybe

Failure is only postponed success as long as courage ‘coaches’ ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory – Herbert Kaufman

Well, I’ve done something I thought I would never do simply because I’ve never considered myself an athletically competitive kind of gal.

Although being a member of the girls’ basketball team in grades 8 and 9, and then, as an adult, competing in dressage with my horse, probably casts some doubt on the non-competitive self perception.

So, what have I done? I signed up to compete in the Reebok CrossFit Games Open. The Open runs for five weeks starting February 26.

This year, a teen division and a scaled division are being introduced in an effort to encourage greater participation in the sport (and for the cynics out there — to bring in more money for the brand). I will be participating in the scaled division. Scaled is another way of saying modified, as in the scaled division workouts will be (I think) modified versions of the official workouts the Games will post. If the scaled division wasn’t introduced, I wouldn’t be participating. Having seen last year’s workouts, there are a number of movements where I lack proficiency in. I kid you not, it is seriously lacking.

Like I said before, I don’t consider myself athletically inclined to the point of being competitive.

So, why am I doing this now? Because no matter how hard the workouts may be, I enjoy doing CrossFit. It’s always challenging, never boring and fun. More fun than being in a gym. True, the gym, with all its treadmills, ellipticals and what-not, has its place within the fitness industry. But I’ve spent enough time in gyms to know boredom will set in and leave me unmotivated regardless of how diligent I am with working out.

I’m participating in the Open because I want a measuring stick of how I’ve progressed after roughly 18 months of CrossFit. That’s 18 months of working out two to three times a week. It ain’t much compared to some of my fellow CrossFitters who workout four to five times a week, but I’ve recently adjusted the frequency since I believe my body is ready to handle working out four (maybe even five) times a week. Call me crazy, but I’m really excited about working out more often.

I knew what my baseline was when I started. And I know it has changed. It’s better. Still got a long way to go, but it’s better. The Open will provide a new baseline for me to work from as I progress to be fitter, healthier and stronger than I’ve ever been in my life.

To be honest, I’ve always been healthy. A healthy diet and being relatively fit got me through a health scare a few years ago. As I get older, I need to be more than relatively fit. Good enough doesn’t cut it anymore. CrossFit has made me aware of how important  functional fitness is. It’s made me want to push myself, to push out the mindset that tells me I’m not athletically inclined, to think that if I persist enough, I’ll be able to do the movements I never thought I could do or considered doing. That would be awesome.

In 2013, more than 138,000 people around the world participated in the Open. Clearly, the vast majority of the participants didn’t do it to earn the title of fittest person on the planet. That’s for the elite pro athletes to battle out amongst themselves. The vast majority did it because it was fun and it was a good way to see their progression in the pursuit to be healthier and stronger.

I don’t know how many participants there were for last year’s Open but I’m sure the numbers were higher than 138,000. With the introduction of the teen and scaled divisions, who know what the numbers will be this year. I look forward to the Open with excitement and a little bit of fear. Nothing like a little adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Although it’s a competition, I’m only competing with myself. Testing myself physically and mentally. Figuring out my strengths. Figuring out my weaknesses and working on them post-Games. There are no other aspirations beyond that.

Because this is the inaugural year for the scaled division, I’m not sure what to expect. I hope I can do what is expected of me. All I can do is my best. And remember to breathe.

A CrossFit competitor. Who knew?