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Workout of the Day Questions & performance regarding CrossFit's WOD

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Old 02-15-2006, 02:30 PM   #1
Chris Jordan
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Since coming to CrossFit 3 months ago I have had a great time, slept better at night and just feel better. These factors are not quantifiable.

Cindy appears to be quantifiable. The first time I met Cindy I barely survived 9 rounds. The second time I faught back Pukie and completed 19 rounds. Yesterday I finished 20 rounds feeling winded but pretty darn good.

But what does this mean? Is my improved Cindy score a reflection of my increased capacity for work or simply the result of practicing? Am just I better at playing CrossFit?

I believe I can apply the same reasoning to lifting. Simple improvements in technique and time spent practicing may be enabling me to lift more weight. I may not necessarily be stronger. I may just be better.

I realize I am still a beginner. When you have everything to learn, improvements come quickly. But I'm sure other athletes have asked this before. How do I begin to define true athletic gains and separate them from improvements brought on by familiarity with the movements? Should I even bother?

I hope I don't sound discouraged or upset in any way. This is more of an exercise in perspective. As I review my log book what am I really seeing?

Thanks
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Old 02-15-2006, 02:59 PM   #2
Michael Ledney
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Chris, I caught myself asking the same question this week.

Consider, we've done JT, Kelly, Diane, and Elizabeth in very short order. This was at least my 3rd or 4th time through most of these WODs, and this time through I particularly noticed how much better my times were compared to 6 or so months ago (ie. sub 6 min Diane vs more than 15 min). However, I know I'm not that much more fit than I was back then. Just like you're not twice as fit as you were when you started (9 rd Cindy vs. 19 rd).

Don't get me wrong, I'm more fit, and you are too, but I attribute more of my gains to knowledge and understanding of both the workouts and my own capabilities. Those capabilities have absolutely increased, as has my mental toughness and ability to fight through fatigue (leading to additionaly increased capability, ad nauseum).

But more importantly I've been through the workouts enough to have a general knowledge of how to execute to get my best time. I know what to expect from a fatigue perspective, and I know how to allocate my rest.

This understanding undoubtedly leads to increased fitness as measured by WOD times, but certainly not at the level of quantitation we'd like.
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Old 02-15-2006, 03:27 PM   #3
greg bass
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Chris,

I too am new as I started CF about 4 months ago. During the last 2 months I have seen my times on CF workouts drop dramatically (Diane from 13 minutes down to 3:45) while my time on a 5k slowed down. So I too had some concerns about just getting better at "playing crossfit".

A few weeks ago I played full court basketball and while I kept up with the other players I was not in obviously better shape than them. Most of these guys play alot of ball and I do not. So I was not disappointed but not thrilled either.

I was invited two weeks ago to play in a men's league with guys who are better basketball players than me. So I began at that point to substitute CF inspired, basketball specific workouts for about half of the WODs. These included sprints, burpies, backpeddles, squats, suicides, jumps and shuffles done in interval fashion.

Two days ago, after only two weeks of this sport specific adjustment of the wod pattern, I played in my first game. And while most of the guys are still better basketball players than me, I ran rings around them. I stole the ball from every player on the other team, shut down their fast break, and pushed our fast break many times, solely on the strength of my conditioning.

The moral of my story, I believe, is that CF provides a fitness base from which, with a little tweaking from you based on your specific goals, can give you a huge advantage in whatever sport you need to specifically train for. I have no doubt if i wanted to train for a 5K I could easily break my own PR in less than 2 months even if my current time is slower than before I started CF and was doing more running.

So, yes, you are improving from increasing your familiarity of CF movements, but since those movements are functional you can quickly convert your new general fitness to a specific sport or physical endeavor. Good luck.
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Old 02-15-2006, 03:50 PM   #4
Kalen Meine
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You're trying to make divisions that don't exist. Yes, you got better, because you got stronger. The first time you squatted, you were almost certainly able to lift more on your second or third set than you did on your first- you had learned how to perform the exercise properly. Did you one day stop improving from learning, and switch to mental toughness? When did that top out, and improved motor recruitment begin? Firing rate and synchorization? Irridation? Fiber type conversion? Hypertrophy? They all improved, and are generally inseperable. When you're on the mat, do you think your endurance from lactate threshold or pain tolerance is more important? The question is useless- each one powers the other, and they're developed simultaneously. If you move more weight, regardless of whether it was from someone showing you how to pressurize your belly, or from your shoulders pumping up, you're stronger. Developing strength skills is no less valuable than strength tissue, and when you get into the neural goodies that really define strength, the difference starts to blur. If you more than doubled your Cindy rounds, you got better. Period. Be afraid of questioning the "Black Box"- it's contents are interconnected, convuluted, and often inscrutable.

Oh, and good work.
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Old 02-15-2006, 04:38 PM   #5
Adrian Bozman
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Kalen, you took the words out of my mouth. Good post.
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Old 02-15-2006, 08:10 PM   #6
Chris Jordan
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Kalen,
Thanks for your input. That caused me to approach this differently.

I don't believe I am attempting to divide the inseparable, rather I'm working to define my direction or maybe to define my progression. Yesterday getting 20 rounds of Cindy was like cresting a large hill. Today I'm on the other side of that now tiny hill looking at a larger one. I'm not content to stay where I am. I see numerous other goals ahead and as I begin to target them I feel it is important to review how I got here.

Right now the learning curve is accelerating my workout results. Certainly I am achieving increases in strength and control but not sufficient to allow the dramatic increases in performance. As this early stage of learning levels off I am anxious to establish where skill meets strength. If I blindly believe the results posted in my workout notebook I will set unattainable goals. Because this won't be the last time I (or others) begin a new phase of learning this discussion holds tremendous value.

Finally, I have to believe I'm not the only one who achieves what once seemed impossible and feels a temporary sense of loss. I also find this discussion to be an interesting and meaningful developmental exercise.
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Old 02-16-2006, 11:14 PM   #7
Motion Macivor
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Kalen,
very well put
Chris,
You've hit the nail on the head. This sort of improvement will only last so long. One of my friends used to tell me "the faster you get the slower you get". He was refering to the decreased rate of improvment you find after training for a few years. That first year with 50% gains in strength and endurance will be followed by one of 10-15 then by one of 5-10 then 5. As you "slow down" you'll start to look for more ways to improve, diet, rest, yoga etc. Before you know it you'll be a machine but that thrill of improvement will become more and more elusive.

Don't worry about it though because crossfit is not the point. Who cares how many round of cindy you can get in? The point is in found in Greg B's post. He took the tools he earned here and used them to improve his game by that 50% in about two weeks. Is there any better feeling than coming out of nowhere like that? So maybe you wont improve at "playing crossfit" forever but keep your chin up because everything try after this is going to be easy.
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Old 02-16-2006, 11:18 PM   #8
Motion Macivor
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Actually everybody on this discussion board cares how many rounds of cindy you did. 20 rounds is awesome, good job Chris
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Old 02-16-2006, 11:24 PM   #9
greg bass
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yes 20 rounds is most righteous

I myself have yet to complete Cindy

the last time I tried I ran into something way more dangerous than Pukey the Clown - about 4 minutes in I met up with Angry the Wife

boys, make sure you have finished your CIH (Chores In the House) before you start your WOD
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Old 02-19-2006, 04:07 AM   #10
Peter Charlesworth
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If I take a leaf from my old rowing coach's playbook - and he was a freaking animal....

I look forward to seeing you hit 23 rounds Aristotle.

;)

Keep it up dude...

I keep a before photo floating around....and whenever i start to question my progress I grab it and imagine my starting point then and my starting point now. Its a no-brainer.

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