Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TABATA THIS! How My 'Better' First Got Better

Currently, I am back in my hometown of Philadelphia for a week-long visit.  This means some things are difficult: sticking to my nutritional plan while traveling and being around my mom's brownies.  Other things are difficult in the good way: long Metcons at Crossfit Center City!  The Metcon this past Wednesday at Crossfit Center City was Tabata This!  A forty-round metcon that is all about pushing yourself to do as many repetitions as possible.  A Tabata workout means that you are doing 20 seconds on, and 10 seconds off, for 8 rounds of one exercise; Tabata This contains the following movements:

Tabata Row
Tabata Squat
Tabata Pull-Ups
Tabata Push-Ups
Tabata Sit-Ups/Planks

So to start you row for 20 seconds, rest for 10, row for 20 etc.  You can rest for 1 minute before switching to the next exercise.  I have seen it done both with the 1 minute rest, and without it; we did not get this minute break between exercises.  Tabata workouts are always a little bit daunting because even if you get through four rounds, your muscles are starting to shake and you still have four more.
Tabata workouts are also daunting because they are about you pushing yourself to do as many reps as possible.  In Crossfit there are mainly two types of Workouts of the Day (WODs):

1. When you need to complete a certain amount of 'work' for time
For example how long it takes you to do 100 push-ups

2. When you need to work for a certain amount of time
For example doing "Cindy": As many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes of:  5 Pull-ups, 10 Push-Ups, and 15 Squats

Tabata workouts are an example of the latter; you are seeing how many reps you can get in a certain amount of time.  How many air squats can you do in 20 seconds?  Interestingly enough, the first time I did this workout was also at Crossfit Center City, and interestingly enough it was the first time I felt like I tried as hard as I could--I risked failure and I succeeded.

Flash back to February 2010:  On my 5th round of planks at the very end of the workout I failed, I was tired and shaking.  On the 6th round, I held the plank for a full 20 seconds but barely; I was at the decision point.  I thought, if I try for most of round 7 and fail, it will be wasted energy, because I only get points in this workout if I hold the plank for the whole twenty seconds AND it might make me too tired to finish round 8.  If I made the choice to give up early, I can rest and then I know I can hold the plank for all of round 8.  For whatever reason that day, I felt like I could take a risk.  I asked myself, well if I don't try it now when will I?  I held the plank for all of 7 and all of round 8.  I growled and shook my way through it, but I did it.  My abs ached, and what felt even better than that was the fact that I had just made a choice to try something hard.  I had risked failure, and my success felt amazing.

Return to October 13th, 2010: I arrive at CFCC to find Tabata This on the board and I feel a little excited.  I remembered back to my victory in the 7th round and I knew I could be successful.  My excitement ebbed slightly when no one else showed up for the 7am class.  While I spent all last spring crossfitting on my own, having the support of others on a long metcon day is always welcome.  Tabata-ing began and despite a slight hiccup in the third round of my squats (an unexpected nosebleed), the metcon felt great.  I put up consistent, and high numbers in the later 6th, 7th, and 8th rounds.  Erin, one of the owners and coaches at CFCC, shouting encouragements and tips for me the whole way.  Finally it was time for planks.  In February I failed on round 5; could I hold it for all 8 rounds today?

Rounds 1, 2, 3, done.  Round 4, my shoulders hurt.  5, 6.  Round 7 felt like forever.  Round 8--it would be ridiculous to fail on round 8...  Erin shouted the helpful reminder of, "Mind over matter Meredith, come on."  I got there and I planked it for all 8 rounds.  It was better than February and I was seeing improvement.

My final score overall was 303 (keep in mind there are different ways to score Tabata workouts).  To score this WOD, every rep for every movement = 1 and you add everything together (calories are what you measure for rowing).

Any Tabata stories?  What is your benchmark workout?  How do you track your progress?

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