On Saturday, I Cleaned 300#. I hit this lift solid, surrounded by friends, eating donuts, drinking beers and listening to Outlaw County music. This is such a big, round number that I have to reflect on it.
First, I distinctly remember shortly after starting CrossFit in 2006 and attempting a max effort Clean in my office gym in NYC. I was with my buddy Jon, the other guy who had ever heard of CrossFit. He was from San Diego and had spent the previous 3 years training at Brand X. He was my Obi Won. The weights were rubber coated, so they kind of seemed like bumper plates, although they weren’t. At Jon’s recommendation, I threw up 185#, which was body weight at the time, caught it in a front squat, and stood it up. Fired up, I dumped it and – I hope no one from the office is reading this – broke a floor panel that created a layer for fiberoptic cables. Oops. We got out of there as fast as we could. I remember being really psyched over this lift – it was body weight, I had literally no coaching and in every CrossFit WOD the Cleans were 135. I was strong now!
I will tell you this wasn’t the only floor panel we may have broken. Jon and I were also the target of several nasty, passive-aggressive emails about moving around the office globo gym equipment.
Fast forward more than 8 years, of doing CrossFit nearly everyday, and I hit a lift, 3 bills y’all!, I never imagined I would hit. Even a couple of years ago, I wasn’t even close.
In 2010, at the CrossFit Games NorCal event, I hit a 240# Clean and Jerk, which was a 15# PR. Prior to that, I had’t hit 225 for over a month. I would miss 225 over and over, getting spit out the back end. Hitting 240, I wasn’t that pumped, I was really just relieved.
In 2012, at a competition in Merced, I hit a big round-ish number with 275# Clean and Jerk. I got really fired up, said “fuck yeah” a lot, and pumped my fists. I think I was so excited because I had been chasing that lift for weeks, if not months, at that point. I knew good athletes were hitting big lifts, and I wanted to hit those cool numbers too.
I have been all over the map as far as lifting is concerned. I have cared a lot, I have cared little about the weight on the bar, I’ve focused on technique, followed progressions, set big, year long goals, or set small short term goals. You name it, it probably tried it. Looking at each PR over time, very rarely did they seem too big. But over the course of 8 years? Adding 115 pounds to a lift? Knowing each pound gets harder and harder to add? That’s pretty cool. Hitting 185 in ’06, 240 in 2010, 275 in 2012 and Cleaning 300 in 2014 makes it all seem like it was part of a plan. Can I hit 400 in 2024? Man, I hope so!
I don’t want this to be a brag post, but I’m afraid it is starting to sound like it. If I am bragging on anything, I am bragging on CrossFit. I am by no means a weightlifter, or even particularly strong. What I do I have is a system that I began following, which asked me to work as hard as I could, 5 to 6 days a week. I’ve followed that for the entire time. I really haven’t taken more than a day to two off in that period. Some days I lift heavy, some days I don’t. Sometimes I follow cycles and progressions. Sometimes i don’t.
What I have learned is that hard work, performed regularly, works. I started doing CrossFit by myself. I gained a couple of weirdo friends in NYC, and we would break things in the office gym going as hard as we could. I moved out here, and the circle grew.
Every time I have hit a big lift, I have been surrounded by friends. Maybe it’s correlative, maybe it isn’t. But for me, the hard work is a huge part of the pursuit of fitness, but it isn’t complete without the people. Lifting or working out by yourself can be solitary, reflective, good for the soul. The work of a monk. But to me, pursuing fitness with a great group of people is like going to one of those churches were people in robes are signing at the top of their lungs.
But none of these gains, like the friends I’ve made, happened in one session. They were born out over time – suffering and working as a community or as individuals, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, years after year.
Part of the journey
Workout of the Day
Push Press Milo, week 7 of 8
3 Push Press OTM for 10, add 5# to last weeks lift
9 Clean 95/65