Motivation for the Gray-Haired CrossFit Crowd

For the past few weeks, I’ve occasionally struggled with my motivation. This has caused me to think quite a bit about this topic and, in particular, where motivation comes from for the ‘more-seasoned’ athlete.

Below are some considerations that come to mind:

  1. There’s always someone even older and, therefore, inspiring. - Like this 76 year old competitor or this 77 year old coming back from numerous major surgeries. I might feel like a geezer at 56 but there are countless folks older and more challenged than myself. I should just get on with it.
  2. You’re curious to know how this all plays out. - Will an aggressive exercise regimen mean that I’ll look like an Adonis when I'm 80 and hanging out at my Florida condo? Or am I using up too many of a precious amount of finite heartbeats by jumping onto boxes and doing burpees? There’s only one way to know for sure. 
  3. It’s better than being the old guy at the night club. - I’m at the age where I can’t comfortably fit in at a night club. Heck, it’s been, at least, a couple decades since that was the case. That said, it’s still not too late to hang out with the ‘cool kids’. Getting into a CrossFit box will allow you to mingle with younger folks that would, in pretty much any other setting, be a little skeeved out by your presence.
  4. I love cake. - Life is about balance. My balance is created by doing a freakish amount of thrusters and leveling that out with a hefty slice of heavily-frosted chocolate cake.
  5. The afterglow is amazing. - As much as I might loath a workout laden with handstand push-ups, that nauseous pre-workout anxiety will soon be trumped by the joyous post-workout feeling of laying in a pool of chalk-infused sweat.
  6. The connection of the community. - I spend my day sitting at a desk and looking at three monitors in relative solitude. I drive two or more hours to work each day with my radio to keep my company. I live in a rural area and the ‘person’ that I spent the most time with is my dog Abbey. Even for a devote introvert like myself, a chance to engage with the diverse CrossFit crew is a pleasant change. 
  7. It’s a respite from the madness or the mundane. - I know a few folks that walk or ride their bike to work. That provides them with a chance to unwind from the workday. For myself, a stop at the box on the way home dissipates the tension of the workday. A few deadlifts and that tool from Human Resources becomes a distant memory.
  8. I hate other sports for ‘people my age’. - Many of my peers have given up perspiration-based exercise for things like golf. I both suck at and hate golf. I’m not keen on a sport that takes four or five hours to complete and includes drinking beer and riding in carts. I still prefer activities that require a shower afterwards and leave me a little sore the next day.
  9. It makes the rest of my life possible. - I still like to chop wood, hike with my dog, go bodysurfing at the beach and even help my sister with putting in and taking out her air conditioners. My ability to live this active lifestyle is enabled by the fitness that I gain by WODing.
  10. I like being a bit more able than my average peer. - I like the idea of defying the typical norm for someone my age. The stereotype suggests that I should be spending more time in a recliner than on a rowing machine. My goal is to someday to be one of those 70 year old CrossFitters that I admire today.


Baby Steps (and Double Unders)

More than two years of CrossFit and I've never really got the hang of double unders. Part of this was starting CrossFit with a pair of really sore feet and another other was having my limited 'hops' degraded by age. I also didn't spend a ton of time practicing. I did practice a number of hours but I never seem to quite get it. 

At Crossfit Brickyard, we have one day a month that is 'bring a friend' day. Due to this, the workout is typicaly made up of movements that a novice can manage. 

Today's workout was a 12-minute AMRAP that included 20 double unders, 15 sit-ups and 10 lunges with each leg will holding a 20-pound med ball. After speaking with the coach, I decided to try the workout with double versus scaling to singles. 

Now the bad news is that I was only able to do 5 rounds. The great news was that I did double instead of scaling to single unders. That means I did 100 double unders. They weren't pretty but it was a baby step toward scratching this goat off my list. 

I'll take it (especially since triple unders are, evidently, a new thing). 


Good Day/Bad Day

Yesterday's WOD was a whole lot of jerks. I was happy to work up to doing a set of five jerks at 185 pounds. I felt like I had more in the tank and could have done a heavier set. I'll now have that in mind when this WOD comes back around. I then knocked out 22 reps at 135 pounds in two-minutes. I could have done more if I'd rested when having the bar on my chest instead of holding it overhead. Another lesson for the next time around. 

Today's WOD was a 12-minute AMRAP for 12 HSPUs, 12 burpee box jumps and a 12-calorie row. I only muddled my way through 2 rounds plus 9 reps. I suck at HSPUs, lagged through the burpee box jumps and I've never been a very good rower. 

I'm a grinder and will show up whether the WOD suits me or not. Today's WOD wasn't a lot of fun for me but I feel like I'm beginning to turn the corner. The potential key? Focusing on enjoying my workouts versus being anxious about my performance. 


Rx Or Time

I was speaking with a WOD partner this afternoon and we discussed the question of whether to 1) select a weight that allows you to move quickly through a WOD or 2) go Rx and risk being the last one to finish. Coach's opinions on this seem to vary. 

I was speaking with a WOD partner this afternoon and we discussed the question of whether to 1) select a weight that allows you to move quickly through a WOD or 2) go Rx and risk being the last one to finish. Coach's opinions on this seem to vary. 

Today's class was 18-15-12-9-6-3 of front squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups. I did the Rx weight at  135 plus standard pull-ups. 

As  expected, I did finish last in 17:06. I'm getting accustomed to it. I'll keep doing the Rx weights until the coaches say otherwise. 

Afterward, I added a bench press workout with 30 reps at 135 while working up to a rep at 225. 


GHD Sit-Ups = Improved Toes-To-Bar

Toes-to-Bar is still not a strength of mine but it's certainly improved. 

During the 2014 CrossFit Open, I could only do 1 toes-to-bar. Just a single rep.

During Friday's WOD, I did 40. I didn't fly through them unbroken but I managed them reasonably and could have done plenty more. 

One of the reasons is likely my almost daily focus on GHD sit-ups. I've been aiming to do 100 GHD sit-ups before each class to help strengthen my core. Since cancer surgery a few years ago, my core has been a weakness and I've been using the GHDs to help with that. An unexpected but welcome result has been my improvement at other things like hollow rocks, toes-to-bar and even kipping pull-ups. 



Missing Ingredient - Vitamin M

In recent days at the box, I've felt that something was missing.  I've wanted to quit a few times. In all honestly, this isn't only at the box. This feeling is throughout my life. 

In mulling this over, I believe that it's related to an accumulation of events over the past few years: my father's death, my kidney cancer, my dog Ben's death, my thyroid cancer, my daughter leaving for college and now my mother's death. 

These are all things that one can expect in life. Deaths of loved ones, health challenges and changes in life. Over the past few years, I've been pretty resolute in dealing with these things and the other things that life throws at you day-to-day. This time, I'm feeling the drag. 

Throughout my life, I've typically felt a gravitational pull-like force was driving me forward. I would have a goal (e.g., progressing in jujitsu training) that was fuel by opportunity, the innate human drive to advance and the context of the moment (e.g., mid-life crisis, proving others wrong). 

These days, I feel as though my mother's passing combined with the prior events has temporarily disrupted the balance that fuels my motivation. I know that I need to recapture that to move forward and believe that it will manifest in the days ahead. 

In the meantime, I'm still training and making the best of it. Yesterday, I did a 15/12/9/6 workout that included power cleans/toes-to-bar, front squats and box jumps. I did the workout Rx at 135 pounds and with a 24" box. I knew that I'd end up finishing last since most others were scaling. That turned out to be the case (as seen in the picture below). I finished in 21:06. 

Today, I went to an instructional Oly class on Jerks and then did a team WOD. Not a bad showing overall. Did well on the strict presses but my pull-ups were poor today due to sore shoulders. 

In the end, it's about continuing to take steps forward and work. If nothing else, I'm a grinder. 


Crossfit Suggestions for the Gray-Haired Crowd

In celebration of my second anniversary of Crossfit, I thought I’d pass along these thoughts:

Crossfit suggestions for the gray-haired crowd:

  1. Everyone is younger - Pretty much everyone that walks into the box will be younger than you. There are lots of ‘Crossfit Kids’ classes around but I haven’t seen ‘Crossfit Old Dude’ classes. Take pride that you’re in the game when the majority of your age group is wearing Crocs because they can’t bend over to tie their shoes.
  2. We have different goals (but we definitely have goals) - The younger crowd has different goals. They’re thinking about frolicking on the beach while looking like Noah Ohlsen or Jackie Perez. We’re thinking about those two dozen pair of slacks hanging in our closet that we haven’t been able to fit into for the past decade.
  3. You’ll always have cheerleaders - While we’re long past being part of the shirtless or booty short crowd, we can leverage this group. For one thing, their athleticism is inspiring and you should be proud that you’re working hard right beside these phenoms. Also, they will usually finish the workouts before you and will always be your enthusiastic cheerleaders.
  4. It’s not just about sustaining - Being an older athlete isn’t about just sustaining or slowing down our physical demise. Many of us have never trained in this way. We have never been this strong or haven’t been in a couple decades. ‘Gainz’ aren’t just for the younger crowd.
  5. The most important thing is to show up on a very regular basis - Showing up on a very regular is the key to making progress. That said, it’s important to take a reasoned approach. Don’t try to win the warm-up. Don’t try to out lift everyone. Instead, compete with yourself based on what you can do that day.
  6. Age brings benefits - There are some benefits to being an older athlete as you begin to qualify for AARP-like benefits. Due to being 56, I received a 40-pound discount on yesterday’s WOD. That’s almost a 2 1/2 ton discount on yesterday’s. My back says thank you.
  7. Respect your coach - Not only are most of the athletes younger than you but so are the coaches. Sure that coach could be your daughter (or even granddaughter) but, guess what, she knows WAY more about Crossfit and weightlifting movements then you do. Listen up.
  8. The first ten minutes in the morning are tough but… - When you wake in the morning, the first ten minutes will be tough. You’ll think that there’s no way that you can do a WOD today. Pack your Crossfit bag anyway. A big cup of coffee will change everything.
  9. The first ten minutes of class are tough but… - During the first ten minutes of class, you’ll be thinking about how to slip away to your car unnoticed before the WOD begins. By the time class ends, you’ll feel better than you have all day. Stick with it.
  10. Enjoy being in cool for a moment - Let’s be honest, we’d be mocked if we walked into a club playing EDM and tried to get our rave on. Or if we tried to vibe at Coachella. Yet we can be part of the cool crowd by slinging some weight and WODing our ass off with the Millennials and Generation Zs at the Box. There’s even rave like music. Besides the burpees, it’s almost like being at Burning Man.

So take heart AARP crowd, our younger workout partners may lap us while chugging pre-workout, gulping protein bars and sporting skintight Lululemon shorts but they need our memberships to keep the boxes open!