This is another in a series of personal reflections contributed by Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. Al’s first foray at EAD | CFAH was back in 2007 when he dropped in for a CompuTrainer ride. In the years since, he’s rounded out his training schedule with CrossFit, Strength & Power, Strength & Conditioning, Mobility & Recovery, and Sport Yoga classes. Al credits training at EAD | CFAH with increasing his durability and resilience in the very demanding sport of competitive cyclocross. In just over a year, Al has increased the 1RM on several lifts key to his cyclocross performance — something he believes makes the difference on and off the bike. This is Al’s story.
Back in 2007, a friend from my bike club asked if I had tried out this thing called a CompuTrainer at this new place called Elite Athletic Development. I didn’t know what it was, but he convinced me to go there one evening and give it a try. I had been getting more involved in mountain bike racing for a few years, and after meeting Jim and going for my first CompuTrainer ride, I realized that here was a training tool that could take me well beyond what endless spin classes would. Thus began four very constructive years of sweating hard, pushing watts and getting stronger on the bike.
While I was pushing myself on the CompuTrainer, on the other side of the gym were these people making a lot of noise dropping weights on the ground, grunting, climbing ropes, playing with tires and sledge hammers and jump ropes. I learned that these people were called CrossFitters. Meanwhile, I had started to race cyclocross, a sport that demanded that I not only pedal hard but jump off the bike and carry it up hills and over barriers — all as fast as possible, then repeat. Again and again. Jim had been suggesting that CrossFit might be something that would help me in cyclocross and I knew that he had coached a couple of “crossers” a few years before and so was familiar with the sport’s demands. At the same time, I was starting to be aware that as I got north of 60 years old, I needed to start paying attention to strength, not just for my sport but for general quality of life. The older people I saw taking falls were clearly not the strong ones. So I started doing some CrossFit and while I was enjoying some benefits, the WODs were working me so hard that the recovery time required was costing me time on the bike. Not a perfect balance. Then EAD | CFAH introduced the Strength & Conditioning class and I found just what I needed.
I did find out that there was a universe of stuff involving barbells that I don’t know but could learn. Who knew that Olympic lifts were so hard to do correctly? You want me to go down how far on a Squat? Shoulder mobility has something to do with a Front Squat? Why can’t I do an Overhead Squat? My core gets stronger doing Cleans and Snatches? Pull Ups make my abs stronger?
In two months, I learned that the ability to jump out of the saddle and sprint on the bike was materially enhanced by a Deadlift. I continue to find benefit from Squats, Cleans, and Snatches every time I need to jump off, shoulder the bike and power up a hill. I practice bike handling all the time and that means that I hit the deck once in a while. While I can’t prove it, I believe all the strength work has made me a little less injury prone when this happens. Bruises and abrasions one can live with, broken bones will wreck your season.
In January 2012 I had the opportunity to race Cyclocross Nationals in Madison. I got to the start line with 28 other 60-64 year-olds from all over the country and raced a course that was covered with snow; ice; frozen, rutted mud; regular mud covering the frozen ruts; and a whole lot of climbing. I finished 9th in that race in front of a lot of guys who were probably stronger pedalers than because they were hitting the ground all around me and I was staying on the bike. I don’t think it’s an accident that my strength work played a part in that success.
My cyclocross season is about to start for the year and I’ve worked Strength & Conditioning harder and longer than previous years. Thanks to Becky’s help (Jim, Karen and Scott, too) my Snatch 1RM is up 10 percent; Clean 3 percent; Press 21 percent;, Bench Press 8 percent; Deadlift 14 percent;, Back Squat 15 percent; and Front Squat 14 percent. I can’t wait to go to Nationals in Austin this coming January with all this new-found — but hard-earned — strength and power.
Have a success story you’d like to share with the EAD | CFAH Community? Let Coach Karen know … we’d love to hear from you!
2014 – 2015 CompuTrainer Session Dates & Pricing. Questions? Email email@example.com
10/13 – 11/09 4 weeks
11/10 – 12/21 6 weeks
01/05 – 02/15 6 weeks
02/16 – 03/29 6 weeks
03/30 – 04/26 4 weeks
4 week sessions: 1x/wk $85, 2x/wk. $160
6 week sessions: 1x/wk. $125, 2x/wk. $240