Quitting Crossfit

swaggerThere’s likely two responses to this title from readers;

‘See I told you that you’d get hurt’


‘Nooooo. Work around it. Happens to everyone’

What few people will understand, is that being told to quit Crossfit is like your best friend telling you that you need to break up with that boyfriend you totally adore, but who regularly lays you out.

I love Crossfit.

I love my box (CFWP), my trainers, my fellow lunatics who have sweated it out, burst their lungs and agonized through Murph, and the Filthy Fifty and 13.1 with me. While Crossfit pushes you harder than any sport, any exercise I’ve ever done (including 9 half marathons), it also creates an amazing community, an endorphin rush that is better than sex (as I remember sex.. its been a while), and an ass you can bounce a quarter off.

I don’t want to leave.

But, if you’ve read my blog for any time you’ll know I’m somewhat prone in injury and illness. Crossfit has made me stronger, but also exposed some new weakness. Despite 10 weeks of physical therapy and hours of rehab exercises, needs surgery. My back, despite hours of yoga, rollering, a fetish-like addiction to Bengay and now, muscle relaxants, is permanently hurting. And I’m scared that something else is going to go.

I love Crossfit. I don’t care that it hurts. That it leaves me unable to sit down, walk up stairs without adopting a crablike crouch, sit on the toilet without holding onto the sink or lift a glass of water to my lips.

(all totally normal Crossfit results)

But I don’t like being told that I need a second surgery on my shoulder that only has a 50% chance of relieving me from constant pain, and that I now need  10 weeks of physical therapy for my back as a result of my Crossfit love.

(Turkish getups, Thrusters and DLs were my nemesis, in case you’re wondering)

I’ve lifted lighter, I’ve lifted better ((my GREAT coaches)), I’m not a slopping exerciser and I don’t push myself beyond what I know I can do. But …. I’m still getting hurt beyond anything that Tylenol can fix. I can’t lift things above my head, it hurts to even lift my dog into the car, and I can’t bend over without crippling pain. I’m 42 but from a distance I could be 82.

Maybe I’m too old. (that I don’t believe) or maybe I’m too prone to injury (seems like it)

I know Crossfit won’t ever change. I know I will always love it and it will love me back, even if it hurts me sometimes. But for now, I need to take a break. I need some space to lick my wounds and give my body a chance to be pain free. I’ll still love from a distance, go through my rehab and hopefully get to a place where lifting something over my head isn’t going to require Vicodin. But for that to happen, Crossfit, we need some time apart.

But like any relationship, taking a break is hard. There is always the knowledge that you might not reunite. My shoulder might not heal. My back might not recover. And even if  in 3 or 6 months, I’m back to great, there’s always the chance that Crossfit will kick my ass all over the place again and I’ll wind up back in the doctors office or the surgery.

Sure, its a risk. What isn’t?

I could get hurt stepping off a curb (Achilles partial tear), parking my scooter (took off both my kneecaps), riding my bicycle (Achilles full tear), rowing (rotator cuff tear), or just shutting the car door (broken finger). I’ve had a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis while out jogging, and an massive asthma attack while lying in shavasana at yoga (and that’s just lying flat on the floor).

I get hurt all the time. Clearly.

But I’m only 42. I don’t want to proactively seek out ways to get hurt in ways that require surgery. I already have one scheduled for  2014, and I don’t need any more. That shit is expensive and while I love hospitals (I feel so safe), I’m a high risk patient now due to my blood clotting disorder.

I love you Crossfit. You’ve taught me so much about what I can do, against all notions of what I thought. In fact, you’ve taught me to power through the pain and exhaustion. But this isn’t the ‘good’ pain. And I can’t power through it.

When my doc told me yesterday that I needed to stop my first thought was ‘where else am I going to find that camaraderie?’ My second was ‘oh, I’m going to lose all my strength’ my third was ‘what sport can I pick up instead’.

So I’m asking the internet, the universe, and specifically my loyal 15 readers, what sport can I pick up in the meantime that will bust my lungs without busting my body? That doesn’t require any overhead movements and won’t jack my back? That will keep me challenged and won’t let me slack off. And if it requires knee length socks, even better.


Yes Pat, you’re so right. Love is a battlefield.

Pat_Benatar_-_Love_is_a_BattlefieldI grew up Gen X in the UK. The posters on my wall were Duran Duran and U2, The Cure and Adam Ant. The American music we heard on the radio was random, rare and limited to the occasional Bruce Springsteen track or power ballad (Foreigner’s ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’ was the ‘slow dance’ of my middle school years). But one song I like to think left me with more. One song taught me about the conflict of being a woman. Of the hurt and sacrifice that is love. Of not knowing what’s wrong or what’s right. And above all, the knowledge that yes, love is a battlefield.   Love will leave you scarred and beaten, rarely bleeding but always breathless. And while you might be not be sure which side you’re fighting for, Pat Benetar’s 1983 anthem of advice, Love is a Battlefield, speaks to every would be warrior about the theater of war… that we call love.

Break out your big hair and lacy gloves ladies…Here we go;

We are young, heartache to heartache we stand

So true Pat. I might have grey hairs and wrinkles, I might need to be in bed by 9.30, but yes, I am young at heart, and yes, I’ve had my share of heartaches. Stand me next to anyone over the age of 35 and yes, we’re a all little battered. Is that why we need the lace gloves?

No promises, no demands

Pat, so so wise. You foresaw the future in your words. A time when we make no promises when we date, when we love, when we mate. We don’t say ‘Yamo be there’ (screw Michael Macdonald). We don’t make demands (that’s a one way street to Lonely-ville my friend) and hey, if you call – great, if you don’t – clenched teeth ‘great’. I was gonna be checking my messages and texts compulsively anyway.

Love Is A Battlefield

Yes. Yes it’s a war out there Pat. And those bullets hurt. Those bullets render me senseless with rage when I don’t get a call after our 3rd date or when you decide that ‘I’m just not feelin’ it after 3 months’. So yes Pat, I’m on your side of this battle.  Just remind me who’s on the other side…is it all guys, or one in particular? (you know, cos I’d actually like some of them left standing if you know what I mean?)

We are strong, no one can tell us we’re wrong

We sure are. I did 70 burpees just last Thursday Pat, and I deadlifted 125lbs. Strong you say? I’m crushing it. And no, its not wrong. Its called Crossfit. Its not a cult. Its not an obsession, even if we are all wearing the same brand of shoes and speaking a weird language that no-one else understands (amiright AMRAP? or amiright?).  Yes I’m freakishly strong for a small person who’s diet consists of 60% chocolate but no, that’s not wrong, that’s my battle fuel Pat. Battle fuel.

Searchin’ our hearts for so long, both of us knowing

I’ve been searching Pat, searching for so long that Google now autofills ‘dating advice’ whenever I type in ‘da’. I’ve been looking high (eHarmony, Jdate) and low (OkCupid, Sputnik on a Friday).. but I’m not findin’ Pat. I’m not findin’ Jack (though I am finding a lot of Johns and Davids). You say that ‘both of us’ but I’m not sure who that is Pat.. tell me, who’s the other half of this equation? Was it the special forces guy I never got around to meeting in person? Was he the someone I was meant to meet? Or was it that stiff bore I ate lunch with while I fantasized about my f-buddy. Tell me Pat… I need to know. Who’s searching for me? Who?

Love Is A Battlefield

Yes, you already said that Pat. I get it. Its tough going out there. There are land mines (that fry cook who claimed to be an executive chef for one) and unexploded bombs (that very angry lawyer springs to mind) all around. But Pat, I need more direction.. who, who is on the other side of this battle?  Cos if its that short dude with a Napoleon complex from this spring, I think I’m going to have to stage a retreat. The dude was scary even if he did drive a Prius.

You’re beggin’ me to go, you’re makin’ me stay

Pat, I’m seriously beginning to question whether I’m getting my messages. No one has begged me to go or stay in quite some time. Let me check my Junk mail to see if I’ve missed something….

Why do you hurt me so bad?

To be honest, no-one has hurt me (without me asking) for quite some time, but maybe I missed a message in my junk mail folder. Hang on a sec…

It would help me to know

I totally agree Pat, I would help me too. I mean if there’s someone out there who’s hurting for me, I kinda want to know? I don’t like the idea of hurting someone unintentionally, and to be honest if its going to be some kind of ‘you hurt me, I hurt you’ S&M flip thing, I probably need to know about it before it happens? You know, safety word and all that.

Do I stand in your way, or am I the best thing you’ve had?

Hey Pat, I’m not standing in anyone’s way. I mean I’ve made no promises, I’ve made no demands. If someone thinks that I’m standing in the way or that I’m the best thing, well I really want to remember who that was. Was it that guy from that one time in the spring? Cos honestly its been a really dry year and there’s not many options. Can you give me a hint?

Believe me, believe me, I can’t tell you why

Why not Pat? This is sort of getting a bit annoying. If there’s someone out there looking and in pain because of me Pat, I really want to know.  That lace and frilly skirt isn’t fooling anyone.. I could take you.. tell me bitch.
But I’m trapped by your love, and I’m chained to your side

Oh so it is one of those crazy S&M things. Now you’re talking Pat. So, any hints? What type of scenario are we talking here? And who’s the guy? I mean I saw those dancers in your video and they all looked kind of sadistic and ripped up. Chains you say? Hmmm.. thats new to me, but hey, if he’s into it, who am I to complain? It might be a bit of a challenge to walk the dog though?

We’re losing control

Actually no Pat, we have a safety word for that. There will be no accidental auto asphyxiation on my watch. Someone’s always in control, so sorry if that doesn’t jive with your battlefield tactics there Pat. But come on, safety first! And any hints on the dude? This is killing me…and these lacy gloves are starting to itch.

Will you turn me away or touch me deep inside?

Pat, this is getting a bit graphic for day time, even for me. And I don’t even know who this guy is yet. Can we skip the detailed instructions and get a name, an email address, something?

And before this gets old, will it still feel the same?

Gets old? Is that some kind of ageist slur Pat? Because I might be 40ish but I’ve been told I’m only as old as I feel. Which I’m told is pretty young. So, hey, lets just skip past the jibes here. I still got it. And yes, it does still feel the same (or so I’m told). Now we were getting to a name…?
There’s no way this will die

Again with the death Pat. I said, safety first. Role play doesn’t have to result in injury you know. I think you’ve been taking that 50 Shades of Grey crap a little too seriously. I can assure you, no-one is dying on any of my dates (though I’ve been known to die of boredom on more than a few).

But if we get much closer, I could lose control

I don’t know about you Pat, but I kinda need him to get a little closer if anyone is losing control of anything. Unless this guy is hiding in my closet, I’m not seeing how anyone is losing anything anytime soon. He’s not hiding in my closet is he? Cos thats just weird and creepy.

And if your heart surrenders, you’ll need me to hold

Surrenders? Oh shit, he is hiding in my closet isn’t he Pat? You’ve been talking about this fabulous guy who’s all into me and can’t live without me, who wants to tie me up and lose control and you’re talking about a psycho who’s currently hidden behind my DVF satin slipdress. Shit Pat, that’s not funny.. that’s twisted.

Love Is A Battlefield

No shit Pat, and you play dirty. Well I need to go call the police now so I suggest that you move your battlefield somewhere else. This chick isn’t that desperate and to be honest, I’m really not into fighting.

Consider this battlefield Switzerland from here on out.

Cross Fit: The Retarded Workout

confusedCrossfit brings you to some of the highest highs  or lowest lows you’ll ever experience (ok, generalization, I’ve never climbed Everest or had a kid so I can’t judge them against WODs Angie or Fran).. but you get the point. Its intense.

And while I’ve talked about the pain, the highs and the companionship of Crossfit, I’ve not delved into the joy pit that is the retarded WOD. The one you don’t write down or high five with a smile. Nope, the retarded WOD has you hating yourself, hating Crossfit, slumping off to your car feeling like a loser.

You wonder why you bother .. in fact…why hasn’t all of this work made anything easier? And why can’t you do anything?

I define the retarded WOD, not as the one I limp through or wobble to completion, the one where I get dizzy due to lack of oxygen or see stars when I stand up.. No its worse than feeling like you’re losing a lung… its the feeling that you didn’t even come close. And its not because you didn’t try.. it’s because you literally couldn’t do the moves to get you to the point of sucking wind. For some reason as soon as the timer went off, your brain decided to take a nap and you just spent 20 minutes falling over your feet, miscounting jumps or pulls and for me, forgetting how to do the most simplest of activities. At one point I may have started drooling with confusion.

Minute 1: I’m standing at the bar trying to remember how to get my knees to elbows (I’ve done it twenty times at least, but suddenly my brain turns into Homer Simpson). I settle for swinging on the bars like a 3 year old.

Minute 2: Despite the fact that I jammed out 4 double unders during warm up, I can’t remember how to skip rope. At all. And wind up with wire wrapped around my shoes that I have to sit down to untangle. When I stand up, I can’t remember what I’m meant to be doing or how many. I know its double unders but I can’t remember how many or how I did them. They’re as illusive as a Yeti.. despite the fact that I did them 5 minutes ago.

Minute 3: I know its a front squat. I know there are 15. The action is in the name… squatting.. with something in front of you.. but me,  I’m scratching my head and wondering ‘How do I bend my knees and hold the bar?’ I’m not kidding. It happened.

Minute 4: I’m back at the bars but I can’t remember what I’m meant to do. I achieve a feet to bar and am so pleased I immediately fall off.  I repeat this 4 times before I get fed up and return to my jump rope. For…. 15-20-30 double unders? How do I do that again?

I don’t know what happens but at least once a month my brain doesn’t come along to Crossfit and frankly, its astonishing that I don’t expire from just forgetting how to breathe.

I’ve forgotten how to count (I got stuck at 8 burpees for at least 4 sets of burpees once), I’ve forgotten what comes next (check out the chick wandering around the mat squinting at the wall trying to read without her glasses) and one time, I skipped an entire set of something because I saw someone doing something else. Apparently I was totally in ‘monkey see, monkey do’ mode by then which led to me dropping my bar after 2 reps and sprinting out the door .. much to the amusement of my fellow WOD-ers who were busy squatting. Doh.

During the retarded WOD, I forget that I have ab muscles (apparently they fell off), which hand is left and right, and even when to stop rowing or turn around on the run. I am literally an idiot. I really should wear a sign.

On a good note I’ve not killed anyone with a flying kettlebell and I’m sure I’ve given a few people a chuckle if only from the vacant expression on my face when I’m reminded to ‘harden up my core’. That’s near my glutes right? Note: when my tongue is sticking out I’m trying really really hard to remember what I’m meant to be doing. Its my only training tool.

But next time you find yourself air-headed and confused in a WOD just remember that no matter what you do, or don’t do, you’ll still be offered a high five and a smile at the end. And whether its because you’re having a ‘senior moment’ or just temporarily having a time out from thinking, someone usually tells you when to stop.

Driving home..thats your problem.