This time last year, I was still pretty new to CrossFit. So when I stumbled into my box on my birthday for a workout, someone told me it was time to do my birthday burpees.
Now that I think back, there was some snickering around the box that morning about birthday burpees. But, I am pretty gullible, and I was anxious to be part of the community. I also don’t like to seem like I am slacking or afraid of hard work. So, I went over into the beginner’s corner (what I call the side area of the gym where I often retreat when I am doing particularly sloppy / awkward movements), and started at it. I did them a few at a time, very slowly, spread throughout the workout, probably cursing each one, but I did my 44 burpees. Maybe halfway through the 44 someone saw what I was doing and told me that it was all a joke. But, I did them anyway. Why stop part way through?
Here it is, my birthday week again. It’s been over a year at CrossFit Pure. My birthday fell on a Sunday this year so I didn’t have anyone to tell me to do burpees.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am working on health and weight loss. I also have some challenging injuries that limit my ability to do some of the most dominant CrossFit movements (squats, deadlifts, etc.) To be sure I am still getting a solid workout, I often add things on my own in addition to scaling and adapting movements. At times, I challenge myself to do certain moves each day during a week as extras, like 50 sit ups, 50 slam balls, and so on.
During my Monday workout this week, I decided to do some extra burpees. Burpees kick up my heart rate better than nearly any other movement. Monday was a shorter workout so I was able to do 50 spread throughout my gym time, mostly before and after. I thought I would do 50 each workout day this week. On the way home, I thought to myself that, given it’s my birthday week, maybe I should go a little bigger.
How could I challenge myself? What could my birthday burpees be this time around?
So, I decided to go a lot bigger, shooting for a goal of 10 times my age in burpees. So, 450 total for the week.
As I sit here on my birthday, I am happy to say I reached that goal, and even BEFORE my actual birthday. I learned something each day, too. Here’s a snippet:
Monday: The first 50 burpees, completed before I set the actual goal.
Lesson: Sometimes you start something without a goal in mind, then the opportunity to create a measurable goal comes to you. Embrace it, and challenge yourself beyond what you think you can reasonably do.
Tuesday: Another short workout, so managed to add in 100 burpees on this day. I set that 100 burpee goal when I walked in the door that afternoon, given that the workout was brief. Plus, I decided that if burpees were part of the regular workout, they did not count toward my personal goal, so I had to push myself on the days when they weren’t programmed. (We don’t see the next day’s workout until the night before.) (Total: 150)
Lesson 1: Set intermediate goals that help you along the path. When you have the chance, take a bigger bite out of the goal than you normally would if you were doing the same amount each day. You never know what life will throw at you.
Lesson 2: Making up my mind before I started also helped me push through the after workout burpees. The workout we did pushed my upper body to exhaustion. So, when I dropped to the ground after it to finish my birthday burpees, I laughed out loud since I couldn’t push my body back up. But, I had a goal to achieve, so I shook them out, took a few minutes to rest, then got going again.
Wednesday: Did 50 burpees during a crammed schedule kind of workout, then 25 at home. (Total: 225, halfway there!)
Lesson: My schedule was off this day. Arrived at the gym late, couldn’t do the programmed workout due to injuries so had to pull one up from previous weeks, had a doctor’s appointment just after gym, and so on. We all have these days where it is hard to fit things in, but we have to do it anyway.
So, I did 10 burpees in the driveway at 6:00 am while I was waiting for my daughter to get in the car. (This stunk on concrete but I was SO much more awake on my drive!) I was at the gym for less than an hour total but still got 40 burpees in. Then, I did 25 more at home that night. Those were also awful since I wasn’t in my gym clothes and trying to do them on carpet or tile is just different. But, I did them. Striving toward goals means doing things that aren’t ideal or just plain stink sometimes.
Thursday: Another 100 burpee day. Did all 100 before the workout. (Total: 325)
Lesson: Most of the week, I did my burpees in sets of 5, EMOM style. (Every Minute on the Minute, do 5 burpees.) I didn’t wear out too much this way. I just chipped away at it. Take bite sized pieces from your goal. This day I did them for 20 straight minutes, since my schedule was off again. (I don’t usually have this much time before a workout). One of our CrossFit coaches saw what I was up to and said, “look at her, over there doing burpees like it’s her job. Like it’s her JOB!” And this week, it really was my job. It was my commitment to myself. It’s also so helpful to have people notice along the way and encourage you!
Friday: 75 burpees. These were the hardest of the week. (Total: 400)
Lesson: What I dreaded all week happened Friday. There were burpees in the workout. So on top of the 36 in the workout, I did the additional 75 that I needed to do for my birthday goal. I was so tired after a long week, hadn’t eaten as much as I usually do so I felt sluggish, had a busy day at work, and so on. It was a true mental challenge to get through these, especially since I did all 50 after the workout. Again, sets of 5 EMOM style. I nearly cried about 4 times but I just talked myself through it. It was a slog and a true mental test. I just kept focusing on the next five. Thankfully, the end was in sight at this point.
Saturday: 50 burpees. Mostly all after a challenging workout. (Total: 450!)
Lesson: For these, some of our awesome gym ladies jumped in and did them with me. We all challenge each other at times, so this was a great lift (and an amazing support since burpees aren’t much fun for anyone!) This also made me push harder, since these ladies are all faster at burpees than I am and were doing them until I was done. So, my EMOM style meant everyone else was doing more! more! more! I had to do the last 20 without a break so everyone could stop! This is one small example of how our community makes you push yourself out of solidarity and encouragement.
I was so happy to get over the finish line. I screamed in relief and joy. I am so thankful for what this body and mind can do. There were several times this week when, through the pain and “I don’t wannas,” I reminded myself to be grateful for the strength to do this.
Later that day, it was fun to clean up, dress up, and have a tea party, again with some of my amazing friends from my box. Then, family celebrations as well.
The big takeaway:
It was a week of CELEBRATING WHAT MY BODY CAN ACCOMPLISH at age 45. Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting slower or weaker. I can set goals, push through, and have people cheering for me and pushing me along the way. It is a metaphor for life, goal setting, achieving, and setting new ones (which is what I am doing today!)
Maybe next year I’ll do burpees all month. Maybe by then I’ll be doing my burpees completely correctly. Or maybe it will be something else that seems like the right mountain to climb. Who knows. I’ll see where I am and set a new challenge.
This post wouldn’t be complete without a tip of my party hat to Chick 1. If you’ve been reading her blog posts, you know that she is a goal setter and a goal getter. I didn’t really understand much about making progress toward goals until I watched her in action. She is a marvel in what she chooses to strive for, how she accomplishes it, and the way she holds herself accountable. I’m still practicing this whole goal thing, but her showing and sharing that process has been a gift to me that will keep unfolding for years to come.
May 45 bring all the growth that 44 did, and more!