The Road

Today’s Workout
Repeat the following 4 times:

As many rounds as possible in 5 minutes of:
  Rounds 1 & 3
  5 power cleans (135/95)
  10 push ups
  15 squats

  Rounds 2 & 4
  3 power cleans (135/95)
  6 push ups
  9 squats

1 min rest between roundsA couple of years ago I suffered a debilitating back injury. I had suffered from chronic back pain for most of my adult life. After starting CrossFit I decided to deal with it, hopefully for good. I underwent a treatment that had me feel great, but upon reflection probably only numbed me to the pain of a condition that was still very much there. I then proceeded to go at CrossFit full-steam for one year.

Imagine, if you will, hurting any part of your body. The pain stops you from doing damage. Imagine if you didn’t have to heed that pain, and could override it completely. Daily. For a year. Imagine how your body might feel when the pain overwhelmed your nervous system again. It was agonizing. I literally couldn’t walk, much of the time I would just crawl, sit, or stand in one place. I wept a lot from the frustration of constant pain. As one friend reminded me, the outlook was pretty bleak. Forget about CrossFit, I was worried about walking normally again. This was at the end of 2008.

After the a while I realized I had two choices — accept things as they looked like they were, or take it all on with the outcome unknown. In early 2009 went for it. I tried everything that I could think of — physical therapist, orthopedists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, body workers and osteopaths — not knowing what or if ANY of it would work. During that time, that was my training. The tiny movements and the litany of stretches. Getting control over my back again.

After 5 or 6 months, the pain started to die down to the point where I could move and I entered the next stage of my training — moving like an athlete again. Just moving. PVC weightlifting, slow jogging, incorporating physical therapy movements into CrossFit style intervals. This took me through the middle of Summer 2009, when I participated in the 2009 CrossFit Games as a judge.

Slowly, and carefully, I started incorporating very light weights into my workouts to test the waters. When it hurt, I stopped doing it, when I didn’t, I pushed a little. I evaluated my progress on the following days and adapted my workouts accordingly. Slowly, over the next 6-8 months, I not only recovered, I started to build strength again. During much of that time, I didn’t feel like a CrossFitter. I was anxious, frustrated and worried. I felt weak and thought I was surely falling behind. Behind what, I’m not quite sure.

Once I was pain free for a couple of months, I started taking more risks. I finally began looking for the edge of the cliff again, and in the Spring of 2010, I competed on our team in the CrossFit Games Regional Qualifier. This was almost a year and a half after the injury. A year and a half. Not a week and a half, not a month and a half. A year and a half. I felt great and was doing things at the pace they made sense. This year I competed in the CrossFit Open for the 2011 CrossFit Games, and in spite of some unrelated nagging tendinitis, actually managed to post a qualifying score for our team.

None of what has happened was a foregone conclusion. It really could have gone many different ways. It could have been that I never trained again, it could have been that I started slow and when things began looking up I gave up on the recovery process and when full speed ahead, only to reverse the delicate progress I had made. It could have been that I gave up on CrossFit, afraid of either the pain or of having to do all of that hard work all over again.

If I hadn’t had CFLA, if I hadn’t had the group of people supporting me, telling me they were proud of me, encouraging me, and making sure that I did what was right for me, I probably wouldn’t have made it. But I did. I had all of it, and I made it.

A couple of weeks ago, I deadlifted 370# four times. When this started I couldn’t deadlift a pen.

Believe me when I tell you that no matter what happens, it is never too bleak. There is no reason not to continue, and there is always a way. It may not look like you think it should, but there is always a road to get where you’re going.

smackdown hopper
It’s always unknown

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