Tag Archives: exercise

Creative Workouts at Home: Session 1


Saturday was a lovely stay-at-home-day, but I didn’t want to miss out on the Crossfit workout our coach had posted. So I thought I would do a home-made workout, incorporating my long run.

The following 1 minute video shows what I came up with.

I call it the LabbyNo!


Push Up



I was in the box, the rubber floor leaving little black flecks on my sweaty skin every time I fell to the floor lowered myself from push-up position, and wondered how many reps Rob said we had to do. I couldn’t see the white board because 1) I was face down on the ground and 2) I wasn’t wearing my glasses anyway (and the board gets fuzzier the further away I am).

Push-ups are never easy for me, but they don’t seem quite easy for anybody.

Have you ever seen anyone smile while doing push-ups?

I didn’t think so. The only people who smile while doing push-ups are either selling something OR they are actually grimacing.

The first three reps were okay, meaning no innocent-bystanders would think I was having a seizure; but then reps four and five became significantly harder. By rep six I felt as if I had a lead weight on my back, and by rep seven I wondered how many more I had to do before I could justifiably lay on the floor panting.

That’s when I heard the alarm on my phone, its soothing chime resounding over the scuffling shoes and raspy hyperventilation.

I wondered why on earth I was SO tired, when I can usually do ten wobbly push-ups before collapsing.

Somewhere before push-up number eight, I woke up.

…and it all had been but a dream…

…and I was SO THANKFUL that I didn’t have to do another rep!

This is the first time I’ve actually dreamt of Crossfit, and I feel it’s a threshold of sorts.  My son and I joined eight months ago, and while I’m still not as strong or agile as I’d like to be, I can see improvement. For example, I CAN do a real push-up now, whereas in the beginning, I could only quiver in plank position. I can also do Turkish Getups, which literally made me trip on my own feet back in January. I also recently did one ‘sort-of’ pull-up, which if nothing else, gave me hope.

Crossfit is more than a way to relive stress: it is a venue for practicing self-discipline and dedication, two of my weak areas. When I train at home, I can get distracted by things, like wild bunnies or manure trucks; or because nobody’s looking, I don’t push myself; so being in proximity to other people helps me focus.

God made us social beings, and though I can’t exactly explain it, there’s just something about working through a difficult task with other people that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and inspires you to come back. It doesn’t matter if you’re the weakest, slowest person with the wobbliest push-ups–you are still part of the team.

It is an idea I want to apply to other areas of my life.

If you see Crossfit as a temple where you can worship yourself, then you are missing something.

I see Crossfit as a place where I can strengthen the things God has given me, both the tangible and the intangible–and it has very little to do with push-ups.

Crossfit and Long-Distance Running: A Comparison


WOD Charlie

I know I’m not supposed to run long distances before Crossfit, but I can’t help it.

On Monday, the sun came out, and even though it was cold enough to freeze my extremities, I quickly geared up and headed outside. I ran six miles, and in the afternoon, I went to Crossfit.

I promised myself a day off on Tuesday, but as we were eating breakfast, the clouds cleared, leaving our village in a beautiful splotch of sunlight. Without giving it much thought, I pulled on the first running clothes I could find (I admit…they were in a pile on my floor from the day before), and I hit the road. I didn’t mean to run another six miles, but I had to avoid manure trucks, and thus altered my anticipated 4-mile route.

When I went to Crossfit on Monday, my abs were still sore from Saturday, and when I went on Wednesday, my shoulders were still feeling Monday.

But it is the kind of sore that says, “Hello, you have actual muscles here,” and not the kind that has you limping to the health clinic.

I love running, and I love Crossfit, but there are differences.

In running you are (usually) solo.

In Crossfit, you have a whole group of people welcoming you as if you’re a long-lost cousin.

If you fail on a run, nobody has to know about it.

You never fail in Crossfit (even if you’re struggling under a barbell, somebody is there to tell you to stand up and start over).

If you run, you stop going for pedicures because your feet are hopeless.

If you Crossfit train, you stop going for manicures because really–who cares about your hands?

While running you can let your mind wander.

During Crossfit all you do is focus (so you don’t do needless reps).

Running requires putting one foot in front of the other.

Crossfit requires using muscles you didn’t know existed.

You can take the dog running with you.

You can take the dog to Crossfit, but he can only observe.

When you run, you pray that God gives you strength to endure life.

When you do Crossfit, you pray that God gives you strength to endure the next rep.

Crossfit and long-distance running are like children: they might be similar, but they are wonderfully, uniquely, surprisingly different.

I love each of them.

Into the Box: My Introduction to CrossFit


My fingers were wound tightly around the bar overhead, and my body was stretched out as if awaiting a flogging, when the trainer said, “Now touch your toes to the bar.”

He must be joking, I thought. 

But he just stood there as if he expected me to actually do something.

I grunted as my knees wobbled towards my chest.

He talked about torque, while I wondered how many years it would take to actually accomplish this.

Welcome to CrossFit!

Simply finding the CrossFit box was a challenge–especially since I wasn’t wearing my trifocals, and there was no big neon sign pointing to it. My son joked that it was probably in an abandoned paint factory, and he wasn’t far from wrong.

Walking into the CrossFit box was a triumph for me, since I am usually such a mild-mannered (i.e. chicken) type of person, when it comes to approaching strangers and fumbling to explain myself in a foreign language.

However, being somewhat emboldened by my recent trip to the Middle East, I wasn’t too intimidated to burst into the box during the middle of a class, call a cheerful “Hallo!” while waving my stick-arms to people who looked like they could bench press Peugeots, and ask if I could join the beginner’s class.

There was no beginner class, but I went back again twice last week, and I am hooked.

The atmosphere was very cordial and freundlich, and I was never made to feel idiotic, even though I can’t do a single burpee (yet).

I tried to do a push-up and fell to the floor, as if a cave troll had suddenly placed his giant foot on my back.

When the trainer asked me to do a pull-up, I held on to the bar until my elbows quivered, but since that didn’t seem to count like it does at home, the trainer wrapped a giant rubber band around the bar for me to stand upon, to help my fight against gravity. I still couldn’t heft my weight up to the bar, but I did try so hard that my wanna-be muscles still ache 48 hours later.

I have run four marathons, logged countless miles (19 just yesterday), and yet, I am weak as a half-drowned kitten. I am the slowest, most inept person in the CrossFit box. I have to do modified versions of the modified exercises; and yet, there’s hope, as long as I keep going back.

There was a time I couldn’t run a single mile, let alone 26.2 of them (times four); and so I know that someday, if I continue working, I’ll be able to do burpees with the rest of the class.

You have to start somewhere; and sometimes, starting is the most difficult part.

The kids and I crossing the finish line together at my first race ever.

The kids and I crossing the finish line together at my first race ever:
The Rothenburg Half Marathon 2010.

Starting is difficult because it’s humbling. It is humbling because you are learning a new skill, and until your muscle memory kicks in and your strength builds, you are going to stink at it. But if I lived life avoiding humility, I would never learn anything new, and I certainly would not have four marathon medals dangling from my bulletin board.

I am weak, and I know it. But I also know that if I keep working the muscles, they will get stronger.

Why do I have this drive to run long distances and do pull-ups? 

It is a question that haunts me sometimes.

Though I have a lot of great-sounding reasons, I also don’t really know. Why did God give me the desires He has? Why writing and not engineering? Why marathons and pull-ups and not Cheetos and video games? 

I just don’t fully know.

To be a good and faithful servant means to take care of the things over which you have been given control. For me, this includes diet and exercise. It means putting aside my own desires (I DO actually like Cheetos), and doing what is right and good (like juicing kale).

Sometimes doing what is good means stepping out of the box.

Or in the case of CrossFit, it means stepping faithfully and consistently into the box.

Whatever dreams or goals you have, take a step towards achieving them, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself touching your toes to the bar.

Auf Geht’s!

An Unfaithful Woman


Image Credit

The things we love most are most often taken for granted: I hate when that happens.

When urgent matters, such as deadlines, jobs, or housework press in on us, something gets pushed aside. Our children learn to wait until mommy isn’t busy, which seems to be never. Our husbands walk the dog by themselves. Our dreams sit on the shelf collecting dust. The treadmill sprouts laundry in the basement.

We think, “Once I have time, I’ll deal with that, but not now. Not now.”

I have been neglecting just about everything I love lately, this blog, for example. I should know better than to write a post, such as the last one, where I am gung-ho about changing my life, because usually after such a high, I do a face-plant in the dirt.

It’s a pattern in my life I’d like to change.

I’ve come to realize, now that the marathon is over, this blog is becoming something more: it is a glimpse into the real life of a real person who strives to do better. And I screw up a lot.

My physical therapy has fallen by the wayside, which makes my knees hurt more, which makes me less inclined to do my exercises…

I have run exactly twice since my last blog—and each time was awesome. It was a thrill to wear my stained, smelly marathon shoes. I love those things, but I don’t get them dirty often enough these days.

I’d like to be the kind of person who ticks away steadily throughout life, but my life seems to go in jumps and spurts.

I need another marathon.

Marathon training gave me the daily self-discipline I needed—and I had no idea at the time how that translated into all areas of my life. The training made me more patient, kind, and loving. It increased my creativity, my energy, my closeness to God. I was a better mother, friend, writer and wife.

And now, I’ve fallen down again.

The good news is that I’m getting back up–I’m washing the dirt from my face and soaking my faults in stain-remover. I’m not the woman I want to be; and the only thing stopping me are the choices I make and the opportunities I overlook.

You don’t begin marathon training by running 26.2 miles. You start off almost ridiculously small, 2 or 3 miles, and increase until soon, you are running distances most people drive. But without faithfulness on the short runs, you’ll never make it through an entire race without an ambulance.

The smallest, most seemingly insignificant things matter most in the long run.