Last night at the box our met con was one of the Benchmark WOD’s: ‘Karen’ a brutal test that no one really loves, of 150 wall balls for time.
I hate wall balls with a passion. One of my least favourite movements. I gas out so quickly and they use every part of your body. Learning to do them efficiently is an art form. For the uninitiated a wall ball is as follows:
Using a weighted medicine ball, hold ball in front of chest, squat to depth then on rising launch the ball to a predetermined marker level (usually somewhere between 8-10ft high) on the wall, catch and repeat.
Check out this video below to see how they’re done for this workout.
When I have previously attempted this particular WOD I used a 4kg ball and it took a touch over 22mins to get the job done. However that was back in April and I have come a long way physically since then. I wondered if this would be my first crack at an Rx benchmark WOD. Wasn’t sure if Coach Matt would scale me for weight and/or reps. The Rx weight for women is 14lb or 6kg. I have Rx’d a couple of pure lifting WOD’s but never a benchmark WOD.
To my surprised as we were allocated our weights Matt told me to go grab the 14lb med ball. So off I toddled along with the other girls doing the same weight and grabbed the same colour med ball. Did a couple of practice throws and thought it was heavy, but being I have never used one of the big oversized balls before I thought it was just adjusting to the size that was making it seem heavier.
I have been working a lot on my approach & strategy for workouts with my coach James, so I had a plan in my head to get through this one breaking it up into 10 sets of 15 reps, then a short rest and away again. Love a good plan............
3....2......1.....GO and we were off. My strategy went straight out the window from the start as I was finding it incredibly hard to get the ball to the required height and back into the squat in a fluid motion. It was bloody heavy and after each toss it came thudding back into my chest, and a couple of face slams as well. I was managing 5 at a time before dropping it, shaking the arms out and pushing on. I wound up taking mini breaks after 5 and a longer break each 10. I was shattered. Josh next to me was smashing through and before I hit 60 reps he was already at 100. I kept going, Matt came past told me to rest less and keep going. There may have been an eye roll at that point.
At about 120 reps he came past again and for some reason he looked at the ball and then said ‘what are you doing? You’ve got the 9kg (20lb) ball you fool.......’ and numerous other highly complementary terms through his laughter. I explained (while still continuing to do reps) that I picked up the same colour as the other girls and not realised they were different weights. He thought this was hilarious, and rather than swapping me out for the lighter ball his response was for me to just to keep going and get it finished.
It’s funny how that ball suddenly got a lot heavier once I knew what its actual weight was. I had been struggling but had been thinking to myself, ‘well you’re Rx'ing this so it should be hard’. Shows just how much your brain affects your perception of what you think you can do. I was also finding it hard to keep pushing reps when I was trying not to laugh at myself or Matt behind me.
Everyone had finished and I had 15 left to do, was nice to have everyone around counting down those last 15 reps to get it done. Matt had ensured EVERYONE in the box knew about my little mistake.
I finished and crumpled myself to the floor in the standard CrossFit recovery position. Got a round of applause for finishing the WOD with the men’s weight. Talk about an Rx and a half.
I asked my time and was told it was 15:25. I then thought back to my previous effort which was 22:15 using a 4kg ball. Wow, so not only had I smashed my previous time, I had done it with an additional 5kg weight. Even I felt like that was pretty cool for an improvement.
Out of an epic forehead slap fail moment somehow I managed to get myself a massive psychological and physical win. Even though I am sure I am going to not hear the end of it for a little while around the box. Had someone said to me at the start of the workout I would be doing a 9kg ball I would have straight away laughed and said ‘nup can’t do that’.
In fact just a few weeks ago we did a WOD with wall balls and I had the 7kg ball and it really freaked me out and I remember turning to Matt at the time and asking for a lighter one, obviously he said no. I had never used a ball that heavy before and was not prepared for it. In saying all of that I got through the workout once I sucked it up, dealt with the doubt and got on with it.
There are some good lessons from last night, the most important one being if I remove my brain I am capable of far more than I believe. The other being if I insert my brain I can possibly ensure I have the correct weight next time!!
As I said to some friends afterwards, when I do something I like it to me memorable, and I certainly achieved that with my first Rx Benchmark WOD.