Training update (change of plan!)

From the time I started CrossFit in January 2013 until 2021, it was my primary sport. I took 2021 off from CrossFit to focus solely on weightlifting. The idea was to get stronger in the Olympic lifts, which I’ve always struggle to get stronger in, so I could be closer to competing RX in CrossFit. When I started physical therapy earlier this year my plan was to return to CrossFit once my body was healthy and make a go at competing RX.

I’ve changed my mind.

Plot twist! Whiplash! Parkour!

I’ve decided to stick with weightlifting as my primary sport, and to do CrossFit-ish workouts on the side—for fun, not for super serious. There are several reasons I made this decision. A big one is: I think weightlifting is better suited to my brain and my body, and the way that the two do (and don’t) work together. Said another way: I think weightlifting better positions me to (1) keep my body healthy (no, CrossFit injury rates are not higher than injury rates in other strength sports) and (2) be competitive.

Photo of me snatching 45 kilos (yellow plates) on a wooden platform. I'm wearing a black sports bra, black camouflage leggings, a black and hot pink knee sleeve on my left (injured) knee, and white Adidas lifting shoes with neon green laces. I'm in the bottom of the snatch position, with the weight over my head. In the background is the powerlifting side of the gym, complete with deadlifting platforms, benches, squat racks and rigs, and weight trees full of iron plates and change plates. The walls of the gym are black and red.
Pre-shoulder injury, and several months into my knee injury. This is a 45kg (99#) snatch. The bar weighs 15 kilos, each of the yellow plates—one on each side—weighs 15 kilos.

My body isn’t quite where it needs to be to jump back into weightlifting full time. I’m still not cleared to snatch or jerk (which is, like, 2/3 of weightlifting), and I can’t yet do pull-ups or push-ups (which are important accessory (successory!) exercises). I *am* cleared to do a bunch of other shit though. All varieties of squats and deads are okay; most types of lunges are okay; and cleans, presses, neutral-grip overhead work (dumbbell thrusters, devil’s presses, etc.), core work, and a ton of accessory movements are okay, too. Running, biking, and rowing have been back in the mix for a few months already.

So…what now?

Microdose my way back into weightlifting—in two simple steps.

Step one: Supplement my 1:1 sessions with one or two barbell training days per week for a few weeks, beginning in mid-August. (Since May, I’ve been working 1:1 with a gymnastics coach two times a week. Our training reinforces and builds upon what I do in PT, and works to improve my aerobic capacity, and endurance.)

Step two: Phase in additional barbell training days until I’m at four a week while phasing out PT and 1:1 training.

How much overlap there’ll be between weightlifting, PT, and 1:1 training will depend on how quickly my body heals. Could be a few weeks, could be a few (more) months. Don’t know. I think we’re close.

About five weeks ago my physical therapist estimated I’d be able to start snatching and jerking in about eight to 10 weeks. We’re halfway through those 10 weeks. Some days it feels like we’re so fucking close. Other days it feels unlikely or even impossible that we’ll get there. We’ve made a ton of progress since I started this round of PT in March, and it feels like we’ve been stuck at this last little bit FOREVER. Historically, being patient has not been a strength of mine. I’m working really hard to change that, and I think I’ve done a good job.

Some good news is: I’ve accidentally been prepping my body for more over the last few weeks. Oops! Pre-injury, I was training 3-4 days a week, for two or more hours per training session. Pre-2021, when CrossFit was my primary sport, I was training 6 days a week, for two or more hours per training sessions, and sometimes twice in a day. Since May of this year, I’ve been in the gym only two days a week, one hour per session.

Until the last few weeks.

My kids have been with me for the last month, and my youngest has been very enthusiastically attending the CrossFit Teens class almost every day that they offer it (four days a week). So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been at the gym three or four days a week, not just my usual two. I’ve been using those extra days to get in some active recovery—mostly different intervals of backward sled drags + C2 bike, and running + rowing—between and around my 1:1 sessions and physical therapy.

Some more good news is: I met one of the weightlifting coaches on one of these extra days—A WOMAN!!! (I’ve only ever had men for coaches)—and we got on really well. We talked about my specific challenges as an autistic athlete, my goals, and the plan I’ve outlined in this post. She was kind, welcoming, passionate, and accepting of me, an autistic athlete (the entire coaching staff at the gym I’ve been training at since May has been incredibly accommodating and accepting, and receptive to learning from me and with me). I’m excited to start working with her and the rest of the team. I AM VERY EXCITED TO GET A BARBELL BACK IN MY HANDS AND OVER MY HEAD, Y’ALL!!!

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