Back It Up

The Back Squat scares the hell out of me. There, I said it. For those of you casual readers who are not Crossfitters, allow me to explain the Back Squat.

Imagine you're carrying a really big backpack on your back, but you're holding it up with your hands (it's resting on your shoulders). All of the weight of the backpack is on your shoulders and upper back. Now imagine that you have to sit down on a really low chair, holding this load. Now you have to stand back up. That's the back squat. 

Here are some ladies practicing the technique:

Here's what it looks like with weight*:

In any squat, the coach will tell you to keep your chest upright. This is especially important for the back squat since you might have 100+ pounds on your back as you're squatting. Your body naturally wants to lean forward and give in to the weight. When this happens, it gets harder and harder to stand up since the weight, at this point, has more power than you. If you're not careful and a couple people aren't there to spot you, that weight could roll from your shoulders and over your head onto the ground. I've seen this happen. It's friggin scary.

You lose power and control when you lose form. Many Crossfitters, like myself, want to lift heavier weights, but if we're not careful, that weight will crush us.

Stay safe, kids.

**This is Loree. She's an Olympian. That's a lot of weight on her back. She's super strong.
**I stole these pictures from www.eugenecrossfit.com. Good stuff.


Food as Fuel

Now that the Eugene Women's Half-Marathon is less than a week away, I have to really think about how to prepare for this thing. Yes, I realize that many people train for months and follow a strict regimen, but that's not exactly what I did. I worked out pretty consistently and ran, but my eating habits during the summer months have been less than ideal. So for the final week, I'm planning on going to Crossfit 4 times (I've already gone once), but no working out past Thursday (the run is on Sunday). As far as eating goes, I'm ready to cut alcohol and bad sugar for the week. I can do that for a week, I swear. I've gotten some protein in the form of garbanzo beans (which I haven't eaten in a long time) and chicken and tuna that I plan on loading on some salads for the week. But it's the day before where eating gets tricky.

Many marathon runners load up on carbs the night before to store energy. I get this, but as a Crossfitter, I don't eat a lot of the traditional carbs. It would be kind of stupid to eat a big spaghetti dinner the night before a long run since I don't really eat pasta anymore. I'll try to eat plenty of protein throughout the day, and for dinner maybe some steak and sweet potatoes. Any suggestions would be welcome :)


A Follow Up on Music To Crossfit To

Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?

 "...it’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise. "

They don't mention anything about Slipknot.


Born to Run

In this lovely read, Christopher McDougall tells us about a tribe of long distance runners in Mexico and the 'tribe' or ultra-marathon runners in the US. I don't understand the drive behind running 50 miles in one day, or 100 miles in one day (at 10,000 ft. altitude). But McDougall also writes about human physiology and how we were born to run, especially long distances. We had to run in order to hunt. But humans also were born to create efficiencies, which ultimately led to the automobile and we lost the need to run. Now people do it for fun. People might look at me and say I'm doing it for fun. I'm not. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing it yet, but I'm trying. I don't have to run - I can certainly hunt down my food at Market of Choice and I can get there by car. And yet I started running at 7am this morning and I ran nearly 9 miles, while my knee felt like it was going to give under me. Why am I doing this?

McDougall also writes about all the issues that I've been hearing for the past year: barefoot running is better, don't strike with your heel, Nike is bad. I know all these things. I practice all these things. I think about them when I'm running. And then, someone takes a picture of me running, and what am I doing: 

What you see here is a heel strike and my arms swinging in front of me. Both of these movements are working against me. This was taken at the end of the Skandia 10K Run last weekend. I did not finish under an hour like I had planned, but I was close. The half-marathon is two weeks away. I know I'm ready, despite the uneasiness in my knee today. I also know I'll be happy when I finish.

To be critical of the book, I thought the narrative was a bit sporadic. I know everything doesn't have to be linear, but it seemed like he kept bringing something up, going into a very long story, then finally getting around to what he had originally brought up. It was a little confusing at times. And I'm not sure why certain people were featured when they didn't even run in the race that was the centerpiece of the book. I guess on the outdoors-writing front, I usually read Jon Krakauer, who is an amazing storyteller. I like this book for what it says, I just wish he had said it a little better.



They say that if you do Crossfit, you should be able to do anything, like run a marathon. Crossfit will make you a well-rounded athlete and damn it, you can do anything if you just do your Crossfit! Go run a marathon on Tuesday if you want - you've done Helen before! Well, I'm not quite ready for a marathon yet, but if you remember a few months ago I signed up for a half-marathon. This is coming up in a few weeks. Most people train for something like this. I've been doing Crossfit. Most people run various distances multiple times a week. I do pull-ups. I also do running drills. But before yesterday, I had never run more than 4 miles at a time.

So Saturday morning, I ran a 5K - 5KLove. It was a lovely event and actually, it was a little more than a 5K - 3.31 miles according to my Garmin. I ran it at a 9:23 pace, which is a good pace for me. Could I have run it a little faster? Maybe. But there will always be another 5K.

Sunday morning was a preview run for the Eugene Women's Half Marathon. It was advertised as an 8 mile preview run of the course. This was a test of my dedication. I couldn't sleep in. I had run the day before. But I knew I had to do this. So I showed up on Sunday morning with the number 8 in my mind and the promise of a mimosa at the finish. The organizer then said it was really a 7.15 mile run and then gave us a map. He explained the map and said he didn't want anyone to get lost. No problem!

So we start running and it's along the bike path and I'm following a couple women who walked every once in a while, then would run a slightly faster pace then me. After the 4.5 mile mark, I decided to walk a little too. Then we weren't seeing the other runners so much. I just kept following, keeping up enough so I could see them. Then another group of women passed me and caught up with the couple ahead of me. Then they all stopped and congregated and looked at the map. Then they looked at me. 'Do you know where we're going?' All I could think was that they better know where they're going because in my head, I'm only running one more mile. But they didn't, and we went out of our way. As we circled back downtown, we ran into other people who followed the right path. I clocked in at 1:24 for 7.86 miles. Not bad for my first long run after a 5K. 

I was surprised how I felt during and after the race. I didn't feel nauseous at all. I'll feel nauseous during a one mile run, but not the 7 mile run. I ate some eggs and grapes beforehand. Not like, together or anything. Anyway... I feel really stupid for saying this, but my feet hurt like hell at the end of the run and I hadn't even considered my feet hurting. My back was feeling pretty bad too. My back was hurting most of the week - I think it was due to all the flying/driving done the weeks before. The run just killed it though. This could lead to a long post about sports bras, but not right now. Too much to say.

I ran a lot this weekend. I know I run more than the average non-runner, but I don't think I run that much. I'm putting a lot of faith in Crossfit and hoping that by going religiously, I'll be able to finish this half marathon in under 2:30. I'm pretty sure I can do that.

What will help me along the way? 

My Garmin, of course! It keeps track of everything! Pace, time, distance, heart rate (if I ever figure that thing out), elevation, laps, whatever! Then I plug it into the computer and it spits out all these numbers. Then I sync it to a website that posts it to facebook to annoy all my friends! How fun! I get really mad when it runs out of batteries or I forget it - what's the point of running if I don't have proof of what i just did? Then I'd never know I ran a 9:23 pace on Saturday and a 10:47 pace on Sunday. Honestly, if I didn't have my Garmin, I wouldn't be running as much as I have been, which isn't much, but I'm hopeful that it's enough.


Lift Like A Girl

At the end of work today, like most days, I went to change before I left. As I opened the door to the hallway, a big plant was in the way. Then I heard a furious, "Oh, sorry, sorry," and saw that some guys were painting near the elevators. One guy moved the plant and let me through. Another guy, who was sitting on his ass while others were painting, said something to the effect of, 'You really pushed that door hard. What, do you lift weights or something?" "Uh, yeah," I said as I quickly walked past with my gym bag. I didn't quite catch what he said after that, but it was along the lines of, "Wonder what it's like to be her husband." Like, kind of ...not even offensive or derogatory, just really, really old-fashioned. They didn't say anything when I walked past a few minutes later in my gym shorts and tank, although I should have flexed my arms and punched him in the face.

After work, I did 25 squat clean thrusters (65#) and 50 chest to bar pull-ups (with a red band). I bet he didn't.

But people don't really think like that, do they? I think he realized it was stupid when he said it, whatever he said. 

Tomorrow, LifeAsRx is having a 20% off sale and I might order this shirt:

I do lift like a girl. And I'm getting stronger every day. So suck it, lazy painter guy who's not even painting. I do lift weights, and someday I might even be as strong as the other girls in the gym.