James can be reached at TwinFreaks CrossFit, where he is an owner and trainer. James coaches barbell lifting classes and CrossFit classes. Contact him by email at james@twinfreakscrossfit.com or by phone at 720-204-2631.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fucking Burpees


I do burpees now.

I put somewhere between enough and too much time into thinking about what I can't do, and when I got tired of that, I tried a burpee and it worked.  It sucked, yes, but it worked.  I found out that if I do a two minute shoulder warm up, yes - two minutes, I timed it - my shoulders are fine with cushioning my flop to the floor.  No pain during movement, and no delayed onset pain.

So, I wasn't doing enough, I realized I could do burpees, and I knew that if I wasted time thinking about what I could do besides burpees, I wouldn't do anything which is what I was trying to avoid.  Now I do three sets of burpees with one minute of rest between sets six days a week trying to keep each burpee under three seconds and adding another burpee to each set every day as long as the previous day's burpees came in at no more than three seconds each on average.

How many burpees is that?  I started more than two weeks ago and today I was finally one second late on my last set, so if I started with a really low number, I'm now doing sets of more than 14, so more than 42 a day.  And in truth I started with a small number, not a really small one.  But I'm not disclosing the total because it doesn't matter.

Every burpee sucks.

Close to four years ago I was crossfitting in Boulder, and I learned that it's possible to break yourself.  For example, rowing sucks; everyone knows this.  And while rowing still sucks, I broke my suckometer such that I can torture myself on the rower and though I feel at a bare minimum as much pain as anyone else, I enjoy the experience now.

Here's the secret to breaking your rowing suckometer.  You challenge another affiliate to 100,000 meter race, and you and perhaps 15 other people take turns rowing 1,000 meters.  I think I did 14,000 meters, and we kept them all under four minutes each.  Back then I didn't even know that's a very slow 1,000.  Forgive me.  That was about four years ago, and I was older then.

But however slow those 14 or so pieces were, they hurt enough to break me.

I've been able to approximate the same thing by forcing myself to do burpees six days a week.  It's qualitatively different than rowing though.  I feel as much pain as anyone else, and I don't enjoy the experience.  It seems every burpee always sucks, but I tolerate them now.

I do burpees when I can., but always in the morning because I know that if I don't have them done by 9 am, they're not getting done at all.  In practical terms that means that I do burpees at 5:30 or 6:30 or 7:30 am.

Burpees suck.

I'd like to have some help with burpees, but only a couple times has someone joined me for this.  It's great when someone is there because while I'm thinking about how bad burpees are, I can watch my partner in my peripheral vision, and because I hurt and it's only peripheral vision, I envision her one burpee ahead of me, and that vision so far has allowed me to finish one half-burpee before her.

But almost always I'm alone, and as is probably only natural I look for short cuts.  I don't cheat - absolutely not - but I look for short cuts.  I can't focus on anything when I'm in motion, and at the top stationary position which last only a millisecond since I do my jump like I'm supposed to, I can't really see anything but the spot on the floor I'm about to return to, and even that is now often obscured by sweat.

So I have to do all my looking at the bottom stationary position, on the floor.  I don't have a lot of time there because win or lose, I'm trying to get each burpee done in under three seconds.  But I take a quick look around, and I've done it several hundred times at least already.

The only thing I've found at the bottom of the burpee is the Will to Rise.

At the bottom of the burpee there are no T-shirts, no Reefucks, and no Blowgenex.  Nothing magic at all.

No, only the Will to Rise.

Burpees suck, but they're now a study in purity to me.  There is only motion and a brief flash of Will to Rise at the bottom that I trust I will be able to nurture over time.

Probably a fuck of a lot of time.

And during that accumulated time made of discrete moments at the very bottom, I find too some consolation that if I don't cheat but really reach the true bottom, at least the mustache is fully deloaded.



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