Why I’m Trying CrossFit

AMRAP.  HSPU.  GTOH.  Hang power snatch.  Clean and jerk.  Workouts with ladies names.  Knee sleeves, wrist wraps and special shoes.  All done in a box.  It really is a different world….but one I think I’d quite like to be a part of.

I’ve heard terrible things about CrossFit but I’ve also heard some pretty great things about it too so I thought I’d go along to my local box (that’s what they call the room they do CrossFit in) and make up my own mind.

My running (whilst still going well) is all a bit directionless at the moment.  The two things that I am certain that I’d like to achieve over winter though is to have a good XC season and to get physically stronger and a couple of friends have said that CrossFit will help me do just that.

I’ll be honest – it can be very intimidating for a newcomer and I was so nervous when I went along to my first session.  There were heavy weights everywhere, muscle-clad blokes bounding about the place with their tops off and equipment that looked as though it had come straight from the set of 50 Shades of Grey.  But luckily for me, my local box (sorry, I just can’t call it that, let’s stick with gym) were incredibly welcoming and supportive.  Everybody kept an eye on me, helping me set up the things I needed and explaining anything I was unsure about.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that they value form over weights.  5 squats done with a low weight and good form are worth so much more than 1 squat with lots of weight and your knees all over the place.  In fact, for the majority of the lifts I’ve been sticking to an empty bar whilst I get the hang of  things (although an empty bar still weighs 15kg!).  And absolutely all of the exercises can be scaled down to an easier version so there was always something I could do.

I’ve only been a member for a couple of weeks now but I am loving it.  I’m trying out all the classes they have to offer including spinning, mobility and beginner’s gymnastics and really enjoy the variety of the workouts.  The big question for me is how is it going to affect my running?  I’ve no doubt that getting stronger will definitely give the edge at XC.  In fact, just last week I felt so strong and explosive at the first meet of the season.

Photo credit: Nick Gaskell

Photo credit: Nick Gaskell

But lets be realistic, I’ve only been attending for a couple of weeks and I don’t think it could have made that much difference.  Maybe it was all in my head, but telling myself that I was strong and I could push on had such a positive effect.  If I can bench press, do pull ups, ring dips and box jumps then I can do this no problem!  I felt great and this was reflected in my finishing position, crossing the line in 5th place.

But a big issue for me is the training.  If I complete a hard class at CrossFit then I’ll be aching for a good couple of days afterwards, which in turn affects my running.  If I do a tough speed session or hill reps then I can’t give it my all at CrossFit.  I’ve no doubt that strength training will benefit me but I just need to iron out the details.  It’ll be a case of trial and error at first and just seeing what works for me.

But I’m so excited to get stronger (and hopefully faster).  I’m being sensible about it and I’m careful to add extra rest when I think my body needs it.  I’m still sticking with my number one rule: hard days hard, easy days easy but if ever I’m tired or achy as I enter a training session, I’ll be sure to leave my excuses at the door and just do the best I can.  I already feel like my body is adapting and I’m determined to get those double unders mastered by Christmas.  I’ve got a good feeling about this winter……bring on the mud!

Photo credit: Nicholas Olszewski