I was a thirty-something year old runner and in decent shape compared to many people I know. Like most runners, I ran–a lot–and even completed my first marathon in early 2010. Realistically, I am not a podium finisher but I can hold my own in local 5K races to place at or near top of my age group. I am a competitive, type A personality with a good imagination; even when running alone, I envision myself throwing elbows with Kenyans as we approach the finish line in slow motion, Chariots of Fire style.
That being said, the 2010 running season was winding down and I found myself plagued by a tight and painful hamstring while at the same time plotting about how I could improve my running times for the next year. I had determined that I needed to be stronger but was not sure how I would get there. I was already running for an hour 4 or 5 times per week and adding a long run (as much as 10-12 miles) every weekend. I have had a traditional gym membership for years and employed the cross training exercises I would read about in running magazines. The only problem: I was not strong. I had great endurance and a fair amount of speed but my overall muscle structure was simply weak.
In November 2010 as if it were fate, I met Jenna, an enthusiastic, petite woman who had recently opened a new gym. Within a few days, I arrived at Hoosier CrossFit for a free intro and a few days after that I attended my first On Ramp. I started On Ramp with the ugliest squats possible. My strong runner’s legs were so weak that I was sore from 30 air squats. Push ups were not much better. I could do a few with straight legs before I reverted back to the trusty knee version. Thankfully, On Ramp is designed to ease you into CrossFit. In just a few classes, I could tell that I was progressing and I was having a blast. I enjoyed the company of my five fellow On Rampers–a group with ages spanning more than 30 years and wide range of abilities. We encouraged one another which was something that my solitary running habits had lacked. It did not take long for me to figure out that I was hooked.
In attempting to put this into words, I realize that I cannot really define what has drawn me to Hoosier CrossFit. It is definitely a combination of several things. Working out with a group is a real change considering exercise classes, running groups and the like rarely appealed to me in the past. But I quickly developed a connection with my fellow CrossFitters. I find that everyone else’s achievements are as exciting as my own. I enjoy encouraging others through a WOD and appreciate the same in return. I have adopted my own personal philosophy that my workout is not over until everyone else finishes. As the self appointed cheerleader at Hoosier CrossFit, this means completing my activity and quickly moving over to cheer for someone else.
The variety of each WOD is working well for me also. Every day is something new and different. My body seems to be responding well to that. I am developing muscles that were long considered trouble spots and unable to be toned (triceps for instance). Shaun pointed out on Day 1 that we would not do traditional gym exercises like bicep curls. I was skeptical because this was a staple of my old routine. Yes, it finally hit me that I had been doing the same activities yet not seeing any changes. With CrossFit, there is always progress because there are so many points for measurement.
And the mental challenge appeals to me. An amazing amount of self confidence and rare empowerment follows the end of a workout that starts with the question of ‘can I really do this?’ I start a workout questioning my ability to finish and end feeling like I could take on any other challenge the world had to throw at me. How could you ever get enough of that feeling?
Five months ago, I fought through the butterflies of my first, post-On Ramp WOD. Since then, I have definitely gotten stronger. No more knee push ups. My squats, while still ugly, are getting better and my injured hamstring gets stronger and more flexible with every workout. I recently ran a 5K within seconds of my personal best (without structured running training, just CrossFit). I look forward to every workout and plan my weeks around my CrossFit schedule. Completing a tough WOD has replaced my hours of running. And like badges of CrossFit honor, I wear bruises on my collarbone from weights and bandages on my palms from the pull up cage. Normally, a tale concludes with ‘the end’ but ‘to be continued’ is much more appropriate here. You see, My CrossFit Story is just beginning.