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'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.
So this week I set new lifetime best weight lifts in clean & snatch, front squat (17 lb increase!) and back squat. More than I’ve ever done before. I was also just 5lbs short of my PR for bench press. Aced every 1 rep max test over 5 consecutive days.
The back? After 6 weeks it was 80% better, after 10 weeks 100%. I think it was a posterior L5/S1 disk — that resolved.
The bar muscle up? No, not quite. But today I was agonizingly close. If I’d piked forward I’d have made it. By far the best ever.
I do not understand all this.