Monday, August 05, 2019

The rules change

On the 9th of August 2009 I wrote a post on at the start of my 51st year. It included an estimate that I was at "70% lifetime strength”. That was an improvement over June of 2008.

I figured it was downhill from there.

I was wrong though. Four years later, in April of 2013, I started doing CrossFit. It’s enlightening to look back at what I wrote then:

… I now do CrossFit twice a week; that's about as much as I have been able to safely handle. I currently need 3 days to heal between each session. Between sessions I do my usual 2 hours of bike commuting one day a week...

...After five months, despite my back strain injury, St Paul CrossFit has worked well for me. I haven't developed much visible muscle, but I'm significantly stronger and I can handle more exertion. My weight didn't decrease until about month 4, since then I dropped 8 lbs and am close to my optimal weight.

The net effect is that physically I perform and feel more like I did at 44 than at 54. That's a big difference; if I feel at 62 the way I was at 52 I'll be content.

I'm not as keen on CrossFit as some but I enjoy the people, the exercise, and the game of staying within my limits … I'll probably go to three times a week when ice and snow stop my bicycle commute...

… At 54 I'm into managed-decline rather than improvement, but at 34 I'd have been tempted. CrossFit workouts are intense -- and I'm not sure five or even four workouts a week makes sense for most 35+ bodies…

Six years later I would frequently do CrossFit five times a week, and I usually managed four times a week. At age 59, six years after starting, I amazed myself by surviving a 300 lb deadlift. That’s warmup weight for a strong middle-aged man, but it was a lot for me.

I got my dubs last year.

I've had several weight lifting and gymnastic personal records in the past two years. “Managed decline” didn’t happen at 54 after all -- despite being hit by the familial arthritis train at age 56. In retrospect, while my physiologic maximums had been declining for decades, there was more head room than I’d expected. I just started living closer to that maximum performance level.

But we know how the story ends. We know what 85 looks like. There’s a steep descent ahead.

I think I’ve started that run. Over the past few months I’ve been more fragile, prone to old injury patterns, healing more slowly. I didn’t make my 8/1/ Bar Muscle Up goal (still training though).

My peak performance has met my downward trending physiologic limit.

They probably met in May of 2019 - 3 months ago, but I only got the message last week when a minor back strain passed all my usual fitness tests — and got suddenly worse on a warmup lift. The rules changed.

I greeted this understanding with the mature wisdom of an Old person.

Hah, hah. Not really. I wanted to cry. I was crying on the inside. For a day or two anyway.

Now I have to figure out the new rules. I’m off CrossFit until after my early September Maah Daah Hey mountain bike trail ride — I need to be as rehabbed as possible until I’ve done that trip. So I’m doing my training rides, my rehab weight lifting (my strict pull-ups are 50% improved, also working on a new bench PR!), started swimming again, picking up more inline skating.

I’m studying my Supple Leopard book.

When I return to CrossFit (9/9/2019 is the plan) I can max on the cardio and the body weight reps and I can keep training for my maybe-never-bar-muscle-up, but it will be months before I let myself do serious weights. I have to figure out the new rules.

Maybe next year I’ll do my first triathlon.

1 comment:

Andrew W said...

Thanks for sharing. At 49, I'm not too far behind you. I somehow managed to (re-)injure my left knee and my right arm, so my workouts, outside of PT, are currently pretty limited. Even just a bodyweight squat inflames my knee. I'm kinda prepping for this to be the "new normal", but still have hope and am trying to remain patient.

Keep posting your insights on your new rules!!