For this year’s CrossFit Open, I had a little help.  Sandman calls it doping.  I call her my Secret Weapon.  Our neighbour Heather from Wholey Fit has been dabbling in CrossFit and in exchange has been giving me some training in her spin studio.  It proved advantageous in Open WOD 18.1.

Heather started me off with a test to determine my Training Threshold and our workouts were then built off of that number.  7 training zones are identified from Zone 1 (really easy, we never get to train there) through Zone 7 (my absolute max capacity – think red lining, we don’t really go there either).  Our sessions mostly see me moving between Zones 2 through 5 learning to spend time in each.

Obviously the intent is to increase my Training Threshold and my Maximal Sustainable Pace by training my aerobic and anaerobic systems and there is evidence that it is working but there have been some other unexpected performance pay offs as well:

1) Awareness.  Spending time in each zone has made me familiar with what each effort feels like and how long I am able to sustain it.  In 18.1 I thought of T2B as 10 seconds in Zone 5, Clean & jerks as 20 seconds in Zone 4, and the row was a minute in high Zone 3.  In training Heather had me stay in each zone for a minute or more so I knew I could sustain this work rate.  And in the final minute of 18.1 I switched into Zone 5 confident I could hold that work rate for a full minute.

2) Breathing.  Heather is always coaching me to fully exhale to manage my breathing during hard efforts.  On the row portion of 18.1 I focused on strong exhalations just as we’d practiced and it felt like I could fully recover for the next effort.  If it had been a 30 minute WOD I could have sustained my work rate with the managed breathing.

3) Relax.  With every hill we climb on the spin bike my shoulders tense and I grimace as I brace for the pain of exertion.  Heather coaches me to relax all parts of my body I don’t need in that moment as tensing uses up energy.  On the row in 18.1 I focused on relaxing everything that I could to stay loose and conserve energy.

My engine has always been the weakest part of my CrossFit game.  I’m a long way off from matching Magnum or Sandman just yet but I feel like the training I’ve received with Heather’s program has already paid off in making me a better athlete.  I plan to continue in order to round out my game as I’m finding spin very complimentary to CrossFit and surprisingly effective at flushing out some of my post-WOD soreness.

I particularly enjoy the measure-ability of the program and that every session I can see exactly where my performance is at and we can quantify improvements.  There is nothing subjective about it.  We are very lucky to have complimentary training services like Wholey Fit and two great Yoga studios as our next door neighbours.

When the Open finishes Heather will offer our community a fun CrossFit spin session.  Hope you come check it out!