Competing with reason

September 26, 2012

What is it about me that makes me so annoyingly competitive?

Was it a trait I was born with? I kind of think it is. I have always been keen to beat *someone* at *something.* Lucky for me the boy is competitive too, although it can be super annoying even when we try to take a relaxed walk together and one of us is always pulling 1/2-step in front of the other. We laugh about it & say we are training to be in the “Amazing Race” and jokingly (or not…) state that everything in life is a competition. It is, between us at least! Sucks that he ALWAYS wins at getting to sleep faster. This, I know.

But, the truth is, I am not competitive about EVERYTHING, just lots of physical things. And, although I love to compete against (and beat!) other people, my biggest competitor is always myself, which is how I end up running into trouble.

Example: When I joined CrossFit Hyperformance a few years ago, I’d spent maybe a year or so picking and choosing CrossFit mainsite workouts to do in our home gym in Tennessee. I couldn’t do a pull-up, which was the one “big” thing I really wanted to do. In CrossFit there is a “kipping” method to doing pull-ups (as well as this crazy weird “butterfly” thing some nutsos do), but I was determined to not learn any method of assistance until I got strict (i.e. normal) pull-ups on my own. So, after several months of focused effort I got my first strict pull-up.

It then became time to learn how to kip (which I am still a complete train wreck with). Once I got one kipping pull-up I wanted to get two, then three, then how many could I string together? 15? That became my goal. And I worked on it – all.the.time. So much so that my elbow started to get wonky. And by wonky I mean PAINFUL. It ended up that I gave myself “golfers elbow” i.e. tendonitis by overtraining to get my random goal of 15 consecutive pull-ups.

The major flare up came right before the 2011 ice climbing season, which was, of course, the WORST time for me to have elbow problems, but I still climbed all winter long, elbow be damned. I came back and started CrossFit again and wore elbow braces, went to acupuncture, took Chinese herbal supplements and any and all forms of “natural” anti-inflammatories since I was already on a pretty strong one for my arthritic knees to begin with. My elbow still sucked ass. I went to the doctor, who directed me to two separate rounds of physical therapists who tried everything and anything, but nothing actually worked. Then I broke my left hand (well, actually the boy broke it after I called him a pu$$y for wanting to bail on a bike ride because of a little rain. I mean, seriously! Well, the rain ended up making the train track crossing slippery and when he crashed on it I fell right into him in epic style, which resulted in my broken hand). Sweet, broken hand? Now you HAVE to rest, right Maija? Well, the broken hand was on my opposite arm, which meant I had to do EVERY task & chore with my -itis elbow. (I will note that for the 6 weeks I was in a cast, I put my bike on a trainer and did hard core interval work in my living room everyday (which also meant my cast was so stank & rank from sweat that I had to get a new one half-way through.) but since I am still inside the original parentheses I will finish my thought which is to point out that all the interval training helped me to have a killer year on the bike by developing strength in my legs.)

And so 2011 went, I did hardly any rock climbing because it made my elbow hurt SO bad (and my knuckle not healing correctly and on and on) but eventually with enough time off from ALL kipping exercises at CrossFit, it started to become more tolerable. Actually, it was funny to have toes to bar in one of the CrossFit Open workouts, since I had not done them in literally more than a year! Ahhahaha. Fun stuff.

Annnnyways, I could go on and on and on, but really what I am trying to get to is this: eating paleo seriously made my elbow tendonitis go away. So much so that I could actually start rowing again, which I did. I spent the entire summer rowing on my Concept2 anywhere from 3-6 days a week. I love to row partly because Concept2 has such a nice website for me to track all of my workouts so I can see my progress, rank myself against other heavyweight 30-39 year-old women, etc.

This summer I started noticing in the rankings that I was coming out on top a lot. Which made me think about my friend, Annie, who picked up rowing as a means to recover from a climbing injury, and went to the C.R.A.S.H.-B World Indoor Rowing Championship this past February, and place No. 5 in the world for her age and weight class. So I looked at my times, looked at past race results and started thinking “maybe I can also place No. 5 in the world (or higher!) if I train for these sprints.”

Legitimately, I do have a chance to place well in my age group. I have a natural penchance for suffering and still tons of time to train for the race. BUT. There’s a big BUT. Can I train for, and compete in this race, without out-competing myself?

By that I mean, can I do this without hurting myself?

Once I set a goal – especially for a physical event – I put a TON of energy into working on it and have a tendency to over-train (the pull-up thing was just one example of dozens I could give you). In fact, when we are given the opportunity to set quarterly goals at CrossFit Hyperformance, I have to really think about what I can potentially do without getting heroin-fiend obsessive about and injuring myself. Crazy? Methinks so, too.

So, can I do this? Can I train for a race in 4.5 months amidst a KILLER climbing season and still come out with a respectable world ranking? Obviously, yes. But can I do it without hurting myself? (Ehhhh….) Can I exercise restraint? (Just what exactly is that?) Rest when I feel injured? (Rest = devil in my warped little brain) Get guidance from professionals? (YES) Trust the feedback from the professionals? (They know more than you do, they know more than you do…)

First things first, I’ve made contact with a trusted coach from my collegiate rowing years, in the hopes of getting on a good 2K training plan. Next, take that to my coaches at CrossFit Hyperformance to work the strength factor. Then, continue to build my tolerance for pain.

What will I fuel myself with? Tons of paleo goodness, obviously, since that has been keeping my elbow tendonitis-free, and I need it to stay that way! Here are some of my latest paleo cooking trials:

Roasted Grape Bacon Wrapped Steak (we used sirloin and it was FANTASTIC and so ridiculously easy).

Recipes from PaleOMG make me very happy.

Pumpkin Cashew Coconut Curry over Coconut Rice (I ended up using a lot more coconut milk to soften the cauliflower rice than what she prescribes in this recipe, and also omitted the honey – overall, it is very,very good).

I used to DREAD leftovers. Now I look forward to them, especially this one dressed up with a few extra cashews on top.

Easy Shredded Pork over Carmelized Mashed Plantains (this is soooo dang easy and so delicious! I already have re-stocked my plantain supply to make again this weekend).

Banana Bread Cookies (I actually didn’t follow a good 40% of this recipe, but added my own cocoa, some applesauce, walnuts, and used an almond butter instead and they turned out so good!)

Sweet Potato Chili Fries (Perfect Sunday Football food!)

Comfort food at it’s best.

Last night was a not-so-winning recipe for Bo Kho using grassfed brisket. Brisket is one of my least favorite cuts of beef. Ever. I don’t know if it is the consistency of it or what, but I generally don’t eat it. Nevertheless, we had a HUGE slab of brisket (which was at least 50% fat) from our 1/4 cow purchase, so I had to use it. I did so at the request of the boy who wanted the Vietnamese flavors of the star anise, lemongrass, fish sauce etc., all of which I am not a fan of. In fact, as I added the fish sauce and the smell almost knocked me out I knew I would be eating leftovers for dinner. But, the boy thought it turned out OK, although he balked at the prospect of the two generous servings of leftovers still in the fridge. One thing’s for sure, *I* will not be eating them!

Artistic meat.

Thought I’d leave a nice picture of some prosciutto-wrapped figs that turn into a lovely jam to top some pork loin, one of my favorite recipes that I will miss once figs are out of season!

So, there you have it! Now I’m off to do some interval training. I need to get some sub 1:50 500m splits for my 2K!



  1. ALL of us kids are MEGA competitive no matter what it is about. I really think we were born with that gene. Seriously.

    Is that race you’re talking about the one you sent me a link for? Paleo has changed a lot in my world too but I still get flare-ups from time to time with my back, I blame the weather!

    I do NOT like brisket either. It seems so tough and extra chewy. ick.

  2. No, the race I sent you a link for is just a preliminary indoor race, not the world championships. But, I may come up to row in it just to get a handle on my nerves in the situation/set-up of a large group erg race since that could have a MAJOR effect on me!

  3. Reblogged this on wITchraft.

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