Holiday Fitness

I recently spent two weeks on vacation in Cape Town, South Africa. It was my first visit home in a while and I had a ton of catching up to do. Family and friends I hadn’t seen in 5+ years. In addition, my folks were moving house and the main reason I was back was that my brother was getting married. So I was expecting a full schedule. My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t have time to train. I didn’t want to lose all the fitness and strength I’d worked so hard to gain.

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Bird’s eye view of Cape Town

In order to ensure that I stayed fit, I made some plans.

Ahead of the trip I contacted Cape Crossfit to inquire about drop-in classes. Thankfully they did have them and I signed up for a morning class two days after I arrived. The members of this box were extremely welcoming and the two WODs I participated in were great. I bought a T-shirt and wear it proudly to my local box.

My brother and I worked out together at his gym. We focused on pecs and ran on the treadmill.

I packed in my speed rope – I suck at double unders and thought I could practice while on holiday. On one of my quieter afternoons, I spent some time whipping myself on the arms and legs and cursing the world in general. I think I did get a bit better but it’s certainly not perfect yet. My sister’s dog, Ringo, must’ve thought I was crazy – he kept his distance throughout.

My running buddy, Craig, invited me to join him on some training runs with his club, Spartan Harriers. I enjoyed two runs with the club – the routes were nice and it was cool to train and catch up with one of my best friends. I wanted to run some routes I used to do when I was still living in Cape Town. Newlands Forest was an old favourite – amazing scenery and challenging hills.

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Views in Newlands Forest

Another favourite was a route through the Constantia suburbs which included a green belt stretch. I used to run with another good friend, Anton. The route was close to my sister’s place,  so it worked out well.

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Views in Constantia. Elephant’s Eye cave in the top left hand photo. I used to hike there with my wife.

When I was at university, I spent a lot of time on the squash court. I played competitively for a few years and the campus had two courts. Robbie Samuels is a legend on this campus when it comes to squash. He plays 4-5 times a week and has been doing so for more than 20 years. I joined Robbie for a session on the courts. It’d been a while but it was a fantastic workout and loads of fun. A trip down fitness memory lane.

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UCT Medical School squash courts

So all-in-all, I managed to continue training during my vacation. I feel I maintained my fitness and strength levels and came back home ready to move forward towards my goals. The keys for me were prioritizing my training and using the time as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.

 

Saturday Suffering and Monday Moaning

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Saturday’s Partner WOD

Saturday morning at I WILL CROSSFIT is always fun. For a given value of fun.

Coach Matt has us doing partner or team WODs. This Saturday we had a workout titled “Strung-out, Backwards, Upside Down, Fran.”  It was a tough one for me. Up until Saturday, I’d not been able to do Thrusters at 95 pounds, so I started the workout feeling rather nervous. My partner, Steve L., and I decided to split the reps and also to do 10 at a time.

After the 1 mile run, Steve made quick work of the first 10 Thrusters. I approached the bar with a boat load of trepidation. But Steve kept telling me I could do it. I reached down, raised the bar to my shoulder and went into the squat. Braced myself for a split second and pushed up. Transition into the press. I did it! I almost dropped the bar with excitement because I seriously didn’t expect I’d be able to manage. I calmed myself quickly though, there were still 59 more Thruster reps and 60 more pull-ups to complete before the workout was done. All-in-all, happy day for me. I was an exhausted puddle of sweat at the end but I feel a bit more comfortable about the Open now because 95 pound Thrusters are inevitable. Thanks for the encouragement Steve!

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Monday morning and the alarm goes off at 4:45am. Aaarggghhh. Already! Nooooo! I was still sore from Saturday. My quads, my abs, my lats, my shoulders. Actually, my whole body. I got ready anyway. The Open is less than two weeks away and I need all the training I can get. We always start our warm-ups with a jog up and down the gym track. This takes us by the WOD board and we all try and sneak a peek at what new torture awaits us. Today it was going to be a bunch of Clean and Jerks.

Cue further trepidation. My Clean technique is rather dirty. It needs a lot of work. I had maxed out at 145 pounds when we did baseline testing at the beginning of the year. At 155, I couldn’t get out of the squat. I was just stuck and ended up having to drop the weight.

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Monday’s WOD

I started out conservatively – just the 45 pound bar for the first 6 reps – and focused on technique. It still sucked. I’m still working on the bouncing the weight off my hips on the way up. I lose power and momentum in that part of the lift. For the 5 reps I added another 20 pounds to the bar. Still manageable despite my fledgling abilities. Coach Matt pointed out that I could be more explosive on my split jerk as well. For the second set of 5 reps I added another 20 pounds (I’m more used to kilograms since I’m from South Africa, but with pounds it always seems like so much more, so I’m happy to report in pounds 🙂 ). Another 20 for 3 reps – still ok. For the first set of 2 reps I went up to 135 pounds. Pretty close to my 1 rep maximum of 145. I managed both reps but it was definitely more of an effort now. I took a bit of a longer break this time after loading the bar with a further 20 pounds. 155! If I lifted this, it would be a clean PR!

The other crossfitters all paused their lifting to watch and all shouted out various words of encouragement. I approached the bar. Set myself. And went for it. I got the bar onto my shoulders and went down into the squat. Here’s where I lost it last time. I gathered myself and lifted. And made it! Yay!!!! A clean PR!!! I still had the jerk to do and just about managed to get under the bar and lock out my arms.

A good day for PR’s. Steve S. also managed to improve on his clean max.

I only managed 3 rounds of the METCON but a good couple of days in the crossfit box for me. Still lots of work but I’m seeing the improvements thanks to brilliant coaching from Matt.

I’ve started cycling again. So look out for some updates in that arena soon.

Until next time. Thanks for reading and keep making a ruckus!