No, it’s not just a line from the song by the Byrds in the Forest Gump soundtrack.
It’s also a verse from the Bible, found in Ecclesiastes 3:1
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
Now whether or not you’re a fan of the Bible, you have to admit that this is some pretty good life advice. And like most good life advice, it’s also pretty applicable to CrossFit. Certainly to my life in CrossFit these days.
I’ve been struggling with mysterious back pain on and off for several weeks now. What’s been simultaneously a relief and a frustration is that it’s not bad enough to stop me from working out completely. I can make it through many WODs pain-free. But I will have this nagging pain on and off during the day outside the day that bothers me. Again, it’s not enough to dramatically alter my life. But enough to keep me wondering what’s going on.
And, a week and a half ago it was bad enough that I couldn’t finish a class (something that has never happened before). I’ve tried eliminating dynamic lifts. After an ART session, and talking with my RMT and coach, I’ve been avoiding overhead movements, kipping, and heavy lifts for the time being.
I even took the (unheard of for Hilary) step of taking 3. WHOLE. DAYS. (in a row!) off from the gym (and almost went nuts) after being told by my coach, in no uncertain terms: “You need to take some time off.”
My back doesn’t feel as bad as it did a week ago, and at times I can almost tell myself it’s better, but it’s not there yet.
So where do I go from here?
I can’t say I’m not frustrated. I really miss Oly lifting (off the menu for now) and lifting heavy. I was just starting to make really solid progress on kipping pull-ups, and now I;m not allowed to do them. I was super-bummed when I had to sub the push-presses in “Betty” last week for sit-ups (I love S2OH workouts). Most of all, I miss going in and doing a lift or a WOD without worrying if it’s going to hurt me later.
So, I could sit around in a funk and feel sorry about myself and worry and dream up worst case scenarios (oh wait, I already did that). But, there are far better uses of my time.
The title of this post was inspired by a chat I had last week with Mandy, the RMT I see (and let me just say now that I am so blessed to have an RMT, coach, and chiropractor on my “team” who are so awesome, truly want to see me succeed and help me get better). Mandy gets how frustrated I am. She’s an athlete herself. She’s seen me work out, and knows how hard I like to push myself.
But Mandy also reminded me that even professional athletes don’t push themselves hard 100% of the time. They need seasons of rest and recovery, where they take it a bit easier and work on other things. And those seasons are not any less important. In fact, they can be just as, if not more important than going hard, in your development as an athlete.
And last week when I was deadlifting (which, oddly doesn’t seem to bother my back), Coach Duncan and I were chatting about form. He was commenting that my form looked better than it ever had, and I replied that I was thinking about it way more than usual given my injury.
Being injured and not pushing hard or lifting heavy is a GREAT opportunity to focus on form and fixing poor movement patterns. I have said here many times before that I am not a natural athlete. I never played sports growing up. And so that has lead to the fact that my “body awareness” isn’t great. As Duncan pointed out, I’ve gotten really strong and conditioned, but if I don’t have the body awareness to pay attention to form and if I’m moving correctly, I put myself at greater risk for injury. Or, as I put it, being stronger makes it easier to cheat.
I’ve known for a while now that, for much of CrossFit, strength isn’t my limiting factor. In the almost 2 years I’ve been CrossFitting, I’ve gotten pretty darn strong. But I’ve also developed a lot of bad habits in those almost 2 years. So if I can fix them, listen to my body, heal and get better, then I could be almost unstoppable.
Would I stop and work on fixing those poor habits, correcting poor patterns, and devote time to working on form if I was healthy? Maybe, but if I’m honest, probably not.
So, it’s hard, it’s frustrating, it’s not what I wanted, but I’m choosing to try and look at this not as a setback, but as an opportunity. I’m not working on the things I thought I would be, but I’ve been given a chance to work on other, equally important things.
Maybe doing slow squats to a box isn’t as thrilling as working on my snatch. And all the mobility all the time isn’t quite the same as RX Fran (but I WILL get there). But I’m choosing to listen to my body, and take the advice of people wiser than myself, and embrace this season. I don’t know how long it will be (which is another thing that’s killing me. I’m not so big on the unknown). But I will work on what I can, take it slow, focus on form, and not strive for the best quality of movement. And by the time my back is better, my form will be on point, and then look out CrossFit world. Hello 2016 Regionals (what? A girl can dream)!
I guess the other reason a potential injury (I don’t even like using that word) is so scary for a CrossFitter like myself is that it makes me realize how much a part of my life CrossFit has become, and how important it is to me. I can joke about going nuts taking a few days off, but the truth is, the idea of not being able to do CrossFit scares me. It’s been such a positive in my life, and such a great outlet for stress (taking time off really helps you see that), I can’t really imagine life without CrossFit at this point.
So, for that reason, I’m choosing to work smart and embrace recovery. I’ll be better for it, and although it’s hard, and a struggle every day, I believe I’ll come out stronger on the other side. This might not be the season I hoped to find myself it, but seasons change. And come the next season, if I rest and recover now, I’ll be back in fighting form.
What are your insights on injury? Tales of survival? Please share!