I've stopped running. Maybe not forever, but certainly for the near future.
Hard as it is to read that, it's been a hard journey towards even being able to write that statement down, as it required confronting certain hard truths. After having run 2 marathons in 2012, I began 2013 with a foot injury that I suffered running a 10K on New Year's Day. In spite of that, I tried to work around it to be able to run my 4th marathon over Memorial Day weekend. Showed up for that marathon drastically unprepared and suffered through one of my worst running experiences. I tried to continue to run through the rest of 2013, but my heart wasn't in it anymore. Combining that with my foot injury, and everything started to pile up. By the time 2014 started, I had hopes but not much else to go on. It's hard for me to believe that only 2 years ago, I was getting my marathon PR at Hartford....seems like it was another life.
And yet, I'm not standing still.
After enjoying an epic summer, highlighted by an amazing family vacation traveling through the Southwest (NV, AZ, CO, NM), I faced up to how the change in my activity level had impacted almost every facet of my life. Let's just say that I didn't feel as good about myself as I should. The previous two school years had been very stressful and while I still loved what I do, I didn't quite love it as much as I used to. A new school year would give me the opportunity to hit the "reset" button and re-discover my passion for teaching. The weight I'd gained over the past 2 years would come off, but I needed to become mindful again about what I was putting into my body. And without running being a realistic option, I needed to pursue another outlet for physical activity.
Enter Crossfit............yep, you read that right.....Crossfit.
I've long had gym memberships, but have never really achieved any meaningful results, so I was looking for something new and different. At age 52, I refuse to believe that my best years are behind me, but I knew I had weight to lose and strength to both regain and gain for the first time. I had vague memories of having seen the Crossfit Games on ESPN and marveling at the strength and conditioning the athletes displayed, but it never registered with me that I would one day find myself even considering Crossfit as something for me....
As summer ended, I started doing research. Crossfit has seen a dramatic increase in both visibility and popularity, but with that has come some controversy and concerns. The possibilty for injury exists in ANY physical activity and Crossfit is no different. I went to the Internet and found no shortage of viewpoints on either side, and also read a great book ("Learning To Breathe Fire" by J.C. Herz), but the true selling point was personal connections with Crossfitters....so right around Labor Day, I girded my loins, checked my ego, and went to discover for myself if this Crossfit thing would work for me....
Showing up at Crossfit Cut (Walpole, MA) that first time, I had no idea what lie in store, other than I would be working with co-owner/trainer Alicia. The box (it's not a gym.....many Crossfit locations are in industrial spaces, and the look is decidedly spartan....no video monitors.....no hot tubs....no treadmills....just barbells, squat racks, climbing ropes, hanging rings, rowing machines, a few Schwinn Airdyne machines, and chalk.) was a little intimidating at first, but Alicia was very friendly, which put me at ease. After taking me through a warm-up (air squats, situps, pushups, scissor kicks) with was rigorous all by itself, she then got me started on my first WOD (Crossfit is all about acronyms....WOD stands for Workout Of the Day)......3 rounds of 3 different exercises (kettlebell deadlifts, jumping pullups, and wallball throws), 15, then 12, then 9 reps. The WOD probably only took about 15 minutes to complete, but I was drenched with sweat and completely wiped out! Constant motion and high intensity work......"functional fitness". I walked/limped out to my car and drove home in a fog.....heart still pounding in my chest. I had only worked out for a very short period, but I had NEVER worked out so hard in my life! I was already sore all over and knew that the worst was yet to come. Indeed, when I tried to get out of bed the next morning, I could barely move. I think even my eyelids hurt....but somehow I got myself moving and went to school. As the day wore on, I began to come to grips with a crucial choice.....do I, or do I not go back?
I went back, fully knowing that if I didn't go back the following day, I'd never go back. It wasn't easy....in fact, I'm pretty sure it's never going to be easy, but the constant and varied nature of the challenge posed by the WOD is amazing. It's a HARD workout, but it's fast-paced, individually oriented, and NEVER boring. While I'm stronger now than I was before I started, I have a long way to go......you really have to check your ego at the door each time you step inside the box, and I'm getting better at that. I still cannot do a pullup, but that will change in time....in fact, my ability to perform most every functional movement that constitutes Crossfit is increasing every time I go. More and more, I find it's mental toughness that's being developed, perhaps even more than physical strength. I've already lost 7 pounds, my clothes are fitting better, and every day I'm feeling better about myself.
So the page has been turned........and I'm moving again, but not in the manner in which I used to. Will I one day return to running? Perhaps........I honestly don't know. During my time as a runner, I was injured several times, so I'm not sure it would be a viable, long-term option, but only time will tell. I'm enjoying the rush I get from Crossfit........working harder than I ever have before, and enjoying the community of the box. I'm encouraged by the gains I've made so far and am truly curious to see just how far I can go......a feeling that's unfamiliar not because I've never felt it before, but unfamiliar in that it hasn't been felt in ages.
I think this blog will continue, but the posts are going to look different. My "destination" hasn't changed, as I'm still trying to stave off decrepitude, but the means I'm using to get there is different.
The journey continues.......stick with me!