A Fresh Start
I haven’t written a post since August 3rd. I think two months off is enough time to officially have to explain some things, so I’ll start at the beginning, or really the end. Right after that last post I made a decision to stop doing Crossfit entirely. I was beat up, worn out, and really just sick of it in a lot of ways. I’ve often written about when I started Crossfit and how different it was then, the bars were lower, and the barriers fewer. It was easy to think that with a good bit of hard work and the right set of skills you could make it pretty far. Having grown exponentially since then, it’s a full time job to even be pretty okay at. The number of skills and different sets of coaching tools you need is exhausting. Now I’m just complaining, long story short, with a full graduate student load, it’s too much. Too much time, too much to focus on. I think I learned that awhile ago, it just took a lot more time to sink in than I expected. I still pushed myself through the spring and into the summer, eventually it came to a head. No matter what programming I switched to, or how long of a break I took, a week into the next thing I was exhausted again. Finally I just stopped.
Instead of taking time off, hoping that somehow something would change without changing anything, I changed everything. I picked up a new diet, I picked up new training, and I decided I would do whatever felt like fun. That meant changing goals, and accepting that just about every Crossfit skill would get worse, and being okay with that. It was uncomfortable at first, just like those first weeks of Crossfit, now it’s some of the most fun I’ve had training in years. I hadn’t realized how little fun I’d been having training until I started to get that feeling back. That’s the quick version of why I stopped, with that I stopped writing these posts, which in retrospect I now view as a mistake. I think it was disingenuous of me to sit on that, with 100,000 people doing the Open every year, certainly there are people in my shoes, riding that 90% line, putting in a lot of effort and only moving upwards marginally. Its a tough place to be, and forces hard decisions that make training that hard that frequently almost impossible for people who don’t work in the strength and conditioning field already. I wish I had shared this all as it was happening, but truthfully I didn’t really have a handle on it until recently, so it would’ve been even more rambley garbage than this post already is (woof, okay dan just a little out of practice). I guess my point here is that I really benefited from some introspection, for a long time I did a lot of this for the wrong reasons, and it eventually caught up to me. In the off chance someone in a similar situation reads this, it’s important to know what your goals are, and to have them be reasonable for your given levels of time and energy. So that’s why I stopped, and where I’ve been. For now I’m still done with Crossfit, and my goals are changing. A fresh start.
Now onto a little more cheerful matter, what I’m up to now. In computer science there are a lot of optimization problems, finding the optimal paths, the sets of least weight, etc, for a long time I treated my life as one of these problems, I even wrote a post (read, a hundred posts) about being optimal. The issue is, as it sometimes is in these problems, you can’t apply your optimization directly to the problem at hand, sometimes you need to reshape the problem to get the answer you’re looking for. So I spent all this time trying to be an optimal Competitive Exerciser; when really I probably should’ve been focused on being an optimal human first. In my mind that means picking goals that match your energy and time, it means being realistic with yourself, and picking goals that let you work hard but also enjoy what you’re doing, that in some measure restore you, rather than drain you. Lately I’ve chosen to focus on much simpler things, I’ve pruned away gymnastics, and endurance, most of my olympic work, and even some strength work. I picked a superficial goal that game me flexibility and let me have fun, I went back to training that first got me started in fitness, Aesthetics. For shame, the dirty A word, for some reason there’s an underlying shame with wanting to look good being your primary goal. If you say you’re trying to be healthy, or strong, or fast, or you just want a reason to drink more beer, no one really bothers you. But the second someone does a barbell curl, you need a paragraph long note to explain why. It’s a little mindless, but that lets me focus on better things, like sleep and school and nutrition. Picking away at more foundational weaknesses that will ultimately make me a better athlete when I come back. And yes, I plan on coming back, when my time and energy and drive allow.
So what’s up next then? Starting in a week I’ll be doing Layne Norton’s PH3 programming, which is a strength biased hypertrophy program. Ontop of that on the lighter volume days I’ll layer in olympic technique work from the Catalyst Athletics Technique Development cycle. On rest days I’ll do some interval work on the assault bike, and if there’s room, or time, or desire, perhaps even some gymnastics. But for the most part my effort will be placed on moving a barbell. I’ve been tinkering with my diet pretty much non-stop since I got back from Italy and this new phase will be no different, I’ll be following Charles Poliquin’s “Bioprint” which tailor’s diet to not only training style and volume, but also personal differences in hormone and insulin sensitivity. It’s a very powerful program and I’m very excited to start. Time to have some fun and set some PR’s!
For whatever it’s worth – I also plan to hold myself far more accountable here once this new phase starts, I think the weekly post structure will be a nice way to track the strength progress, so look forward to those! I know you will.