It’s winter, but winter on the Front Range in Colorado never truly feels like winter. You see, we’re spoiled here. It snows, but usually melts the next day. Ice doesn’t stay around long (ice storms are virtually unheard of here). The winter temperatures hover in the 40s usually.
This week it’s been cold — bitter cold. Negative degree temperatures at night. Single degree temperatures in the day.
So cold that picking up my CrossFit barbell in my insulated garage (useless in this cold of weather) gives me shudders. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to do anything. I just want to stay home with a cup of coffee (still waiting for Starbucks to figure out delivery), a cat on my lap, and a book in my hand.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE EXTREME COLD
The extreme cold prevents me from going over and above my normal exercise routine. I can’t go for an afternoon jog. Going to a HIIT workout class at night is out of the question. Spending prolonged periods in my garage is out of the question.
My life revolves around outdoor activities. Sitting around on a Friday night, asking the kids what they want to do this weekend, has led me to this conclusion. Everything I came up with (bike rides, hikes, swimming, visiting cool places) involved sunny weather. I like being outdoors, enjoying nature, and exploring. The extreme cold prevents all of this.
BENEFITS OF THE EXTREME COLD
I spend less money. Not leaving my home (despite the ubiquitous internet) means I spend less money.
I get valuable rest time I need. I am always at risk of overtraining since I find it hard to limit myself when it comes to exercising and CrossFit. Having a cold garage and icy roads keeps me from exercising. And I also get to sleep in, which I desperately need since I never get enough sleep.
I spend more time with my kids, hanging out doing nothing. This cannot be overemphasized, especially if you have teenagers. Getting them to talk about their days, their feelings, and their social interactions can be tough, but when you’re stuck at home on an ice, cold day, playing UNO or coloring, the conversations flows.
I have time to reflect. Most of our lives are pretty busy. Running kids around, work, play, exercise, and social functions in addition to household jobs such as cleaning, cooking, and sleeping, take up most of our days. When I’m not on-the-go, I can reflect more on where I’m heading in this world and where I want to go — and pivot if I need to.
I read more. This is probably a no-brainer but worth mentioning. When you’re stuck at home, more books that have been lying around the house get read.
As much as the extreme cold temperatures suck, take advantage of the downtime. Do those projects you’ve been meaning to do around the house. Spend time with your kids. Watch a movie together on Netflix or Amazon Prime. And rest up. Cause soon enough it will be go time once again!
This is the first year since I’ve started CrossFit that I haven’t cared about the CrossFit Open, which is technically how you qualify for the CrossFit Games, but as average athletes, it’s just a test of how you’ve improved since last year. I believe there are several reasons for my apathy:
I have no CrossFit home. Sure, I do private lessons at a CrossFit box once a week, but I don’t feel part of the community. Same with another gym I just joined. And I’m unsure where I will be doing the CrossFit Open each week.
I don’t have my ring muscle ups, and I’m unsure if I will have them or not by the time they show up in the CrossFit Open.
It doesn’t seem like it’s as big of a deal this year, or because I know I’ll never qualify for anything with all of the changes to qualifying for the CrossFit Games that I just don’t care.
I’ll still do the workouts and log my score and check my standings with others in my age group and region. However, I definitely won’t be re-doing any of the CrossFit Open workouts this year. And I’ll have to try to look forward to it. Tips and advice are always welcome.
Today’s CrossFit competition was at CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, CO. It was a partner competition called Tuff Love.
This was my first time doing this one. I tried last year to do this CrossFit competition but couldn’t find a partner. This year I was determined to do it. So, I asked everyone I knew to do it with me, and everyone turned me down. So, at the last minute, I convinced my daughter to do this CrossFit competition with me. Tom, one of the owners, graciously opened up a few extra spots, and let us in as I had been in contact with him for a partner as well.
My daughter was not looking forward to this CrossFit competition because we had to scale all the weights down. However, after the first WOD, which was a clean and jerk ladder of sorts, she was having the time of her life.
CrossFit Sanitas as always (this is my third competition there) was gracious and accommodating as a host, and the location has tons of food and areas to walk around. It was cold and snowy for a time, but fun. Definitely will do this one again next year. Thanks to all and the competitors who were amazing.
Today I did Diane: 21-15-9 reps of deadlifts at 155 and handstand push ups. I was 4 minutes behind my PR (personal record) of a year and a half ago. And I thought I was pushing it.
The only thing I’ve PR’ed lately has been DT — only because DT is heavy weight.
I’m stronger than I was a year and a half ago, but not faster.
Facing a VO2 Decline with Age
VO2max declines with age (about 2% per year after age 30), which measures the body’s efficiency at producing work. I’m doing HIIT workouts to try to increase this VO2max and stop the decline — or at least slow it down — but we’ll see.
If I enter CrossFit competitions with no master’s class, odds are, I won’t even place. There is a big difference between 28 and over 40. This is fine, but it still is a hard pill to swallow.
My consolation? I’m still moving, still improving, still being challenged, and still striving to be my best. CrossFit is a competition against myself. That’s all that matters.
I’ve done at least two dozen local CrossFit competitions, and usually in each one, there are some of the same pitfalls:
Unfair judging. With local competitions, you get judges who are graciously volunteering their time, but most of them have no experience judging CrossFit competitions and thus make mistakes. This ends up affecting the podium, and I have lost several times because of this.
Inconsistent judging. Again, due to lack of experience, athletes are not held to the same standards. Even though everyone knows the standards for a burpee, some competitors will cheat if they can get away with it — and a lot of the time, they do. No one likes to be the bad guy and “no rep” others. Hence, some athletes cheat themselves to the detriment of others who play by the rules, who have integrity, and who want to win fairly. I see this a lot, which is honestly, sad.
Improper equipment. Having to deadlift with a guy’s bar 20 kilos as opposed to 15 kilos) when you’re not used to it is a disadvantage to women whose bars are thinner and weigh less. When you’re outside in the blazing sun at 90 degrees and you’re trying to grip a guy bar and your hands are sweaty, it’s tough.
Unbalance programming. Due to time constraints, most of the CrossFit workouts are short. This plays to those who are sprinters and not to marathoners. Furthermore, the CrossFit programming is at the whim of the host box and is sometimes inconsistent as well. For example, one CrossFit competition I attended had no gymnastics work at all (pull ups, double unders, muscles ups, handstand push ups, etc). This is a separator for athletes and puts those who have these moves at an advantage. Same goes for one I attended that was all heavy bar work. That puts those who are strong at a disadvantage to those who are agile. Ideally, there should be balance in the CrossFit workouts at CrossFit Competitions.
Poor management/getting off schedule. There have been some local CrossFit competitions where the CrossFit competition has run way off schedule and ended up finishing an hour or more behind — which sucks when you got at least an hour drive home ahead of you.
TIPS FOR BETTER CROSSFIT COMPETITIONS
Balanced programming. Workouts don’t need to be complicated, but they should challenge the athletes and test them across the ten CrossFit fitness domains.
Invest the time in finding good CrossFit judges. Ideally, you’ll want your judges to have taken the CrossFit Judges course. If not, to have at least some experience in judging CrossFit competitions. This eliminates disgruntled athletes who may be disinclined to attend your next CrossFit competition because they feel cheated at yours.
Adhere to your schedule. Hiccups happen out of your control the day of the CrossFit competition. However, you can plan ahead to minimize these as much as possible and stay on schedule. Make sure heats are not too close together to wear athletes out. Test your workouts with members of your gym of all fitness levels to figure out how much time you’ll need to complete them. Consider recovery time, set up time, time for awards, and time for lunch as well.
Have the proper equipment. This doesn’t mean you go out and buy all brand new sandbags for your CrossFit competition. It does mean you borrow what you need from another local box or you program to what you have on hand. Trying to jerry-rig something from nothing will only give you poor impressions and a high likelihood no one will return the following year.
From an athlete’s perspective, I’ll return the following year to one with good programming, one that’s run efficiently, and one with at least judges who do CrossFit. I’ll stay clear of the ones where lackadaisical attitude toward the CrossFit competition by the box ruled.