Thursday, 2 August 2012

It's Not About the Destination

I am going to start by apologizing to you all; unfortunately 3 degrees and a love of writing has left me with the inability to write a short guest blog post, but grab a coffee, settle in and let me tell you a little story.  

When you go out into the mountains for a hike, you spend 90% of your day slogging upward, along crags, unstable boulders, dusty trails.  You wipe sweat off your forehead and swat imaginary bugs.  Your view is constantly blocked by trees or rocks, or maybe the backpack or butt of the person in front of you !  Most of that day is spent muttering under your breath, grunting with effort, day dreaming about the cold beer or delicious lunch at the top.  Your reward.  Your achievement.
10% of your day is spent at the top of the mountain, or at a lake, basking in the reward, eating that delicious lunch under the warm sun, enjoying that cold beer you spent the last hour dreaming about. 

Yet, when we descend from a mountain and drive home, we think about the entire day, not just that short moment at the top.  And we realize it was the entire thing that was truly rewarding.  Why?  The pleasure is to be found not in the reward, but in the entire journey. 
This is an important way to approach CrossFit, and one that is often lost on athletes.  When you are in a sport that offers such instant gratification – a short, intense workout with immediate rewards, quick results and obvious improvements over the short term, it is easy to focus on the goals, the places you want to get to, and the achievements you will eventually log in your book. In fact, here are the results I got addicted to:
But what about all those little moments along the way?  What about all those WoDs that just sucked the life right out of you?   What about the things you had to go through to get where you wanted to be?  How can you keep doing that over the long term if you don’t focus on the value to be derived from those moments?
For the first few months of my journey, I was completely, narrowly focused on an end-state.  NO MORE PAIN  (OK, probably slammin' body too).  Those goals were a constant companion through workouts.
 I found the first few months to be a rollercoaster.  I couldn’t believe how frustrated I would get over the simplest exercises, or how upset I’d feel about a pain flare up.  I’d constantly think “one day I won’t be hurting anymore” or “One day I’ll be RXing WoDs.” I fixated on the future.  That end-point.

Weeks turned to a month.  A month turned to 3 months.  Over time I dug in and got settled into the routine of rehabilitation.  But a part of me continued to count the days, thinking that the end point must be getting closer.
 However, life throws you curve balls.  In the Fall, I started developing low back pain, and in the winter slipped on ice.  A silly slip turned into 2 days in my bed, not even being able to roll over onto my side.  It took another 6 months to stabilize my low back and get it to a point where I could do basic movements again.
You cannot predict life.  Nor can you control it.  I was pissed off and thought that all of this wasn’t worth it.  Everytime I thought about my end-goal, I wanted to give up. 
If I’ve got one thing going for me, its’ that I am very stubborn and stubbornly face down challenges.   I eat them up and push through them with the right support.  As soon as I could, I was back at it. 
This time, however, it was different.  I threw myself into education, asking my coach and therapist what was going on, why I was doing this, what it was affecting, why this hurt or that hurt.  If a movement was programmed into a workout, I’d be asking "why?" and "how?" and "what’s the effect of that movement?"  I think I've googled every single muscle mentioned in each conversation I've had with Coach Swagar.

 I started journaling every single exercise or stretch, I wrote down how I slept, how my recovery was, what ached and what connections I could see between my exercises and how things were improving.  On my shelf right now I have 7 Moleskine journals filled from page to page with my workouts and notes over the past 18 months.
  I researched nutrition, dedicated a room to rolling and stretching, and made it a routine.  All of a sudden, the journey took on a new meaning for me. I began to enjoy it and see it as valuable in itself.

Through that process, I finally learnt to focus not on the destination, but the journey itself.   
While I was going through this tremendous personal growth & development, a team was hard at work planning how to get me back to the place I needed to be. 
In my early days, my vastly inferior knowledge led me to believe I’d be doing some stretchy band stuff, rolling and some simple exercises for a few weeks, et voila!  Back to smashing out Grace, or Murph!  I had no idea of the detailed planning that goes into the project that is fixing a busted-up CrossFitter. 

This is a very condensed version of what has occurred over the past 18 months under the close guidance, expertise and care of CrossFit Most.  
This right here demonstrates why it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced professional if you are dealing with biomechanical issues.  
1.) Identification of muscle imbalances, weaknesses & improper patterning
2.) Develop rehabilitation plan of attack & reduce acute pain
        -Tissue sparing exercises & stabilization
-Manual treatment plan (including active release, cranio-sacral therapy & osteopathy, graston, spinal decompression, myofascial rolling & stretching, ice & heat, anti-inflammatory nutrition protocols)
3.) Correction of individual deficiencies
Tissue sparing exercises & stabilization,
Spine (damaged thoracic spine – degenerative disc disease & osteoarthritis), lack of voluntary abdominal control or stability, ankle dorsiflexion, improperly patterned hip hinge, sciatica, pec tightness & shoulder instability, poorly functioning gluteal muscles / gluteal amnesia)
4.) Re-pattern functional compound movements
(where we are in August 2012!  Yay!)
5.) Increase the intensity of general strength training.
6.)  Training for power development and performance. 

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