3 weeks ago, I decided to try Fran twice. That right, I am totally nuts. My plan was to do Fran all out and then rest exactly the amount of time that the workout took me and then hit it again. I had three reasons for trying this – one was physical and scientific, the other two were psychological.
The first reason was to test the limits of my anaerobic pathway. Pure curiosity. How quickly could I recover and have usable glycogen stores? My curiosity stemmed from a recent change in diet. A week before doing this, I went strict paleo. How efficient was my body at using fats for energy? Previously, my diet was very rich in sugar and processed foods (candy, chocolate, ice-cream, pizza, cookies- all instead of real nutritious meals………….yes, I know that you are mortified).
The second two reasons were mental. I know many people that have a psychological block when it comes to Fran. They succumb to self imposed performance anxiety, pressure, and fear. I often tell them that they must de-sensitize the Fran experience. Try Fran in a variety of different ways in order to make the real thing mare palatable. I have tried the following experiences:
1. Row 500 meters then do Fran
2. Fran at men’s weight (95 lbs)
3. Fran at 115 lbs
4. Fran with bodyweight thrusters (totally miserable)
5. Fran followed by Diane
6. Fran without any warm-up
7. Fran with weighted pulls
….and these are just a few of my many Fran experiences.
Keep in mind that these were choices that fit within my ability level. If you struggle with an rx’d Fran, you should try Fran at a lighter weight and go faster. I recommend choosing a weight that you are capable of doing 10 unbroken thrusters with when you are fresh.
The second mental reason has to do with expanding my comfort zone. I know this sounds crazy to you, but during Fran I try to completely relax, focus and think only of the rep that I am completing. I tune everything else out. I don’t hear music or anyone screaming at me, I hear only my rhythmic breathing and visualize myself executing the movement with perfect form. I do not think about when it is going to end. I think about giving it my best every second. This has taken years and years of training.
Beginning my second Fran was one of the most enormous challenges that I have faced in a CrossFit workout. In the video you can see that the first Fran took me 3:04. This is a almost 30 seconds slower than my previous PR of 2:36. In retrospect, I have to wonder if I held something back in self preservation. At the time, I believed that was all that I had on that day. At 3 minutes post Fran 1, just as I was getting ready to pick the bar up again, my feeling of discomfort had peaked. I was dizzy, throat burning, heart rate still elevated, arms aching and seeing small bright flashes of light. In an instant I had to make a choice – pick up the bar or quit. As you know, I chose to pick up the bar. That is part of what makes me the athlete that I am. Was it a smart choice? That is debatable. For me, It was the only choice.
Fran 2 was all mental. My body had checked out on me and was no longer taking the instructions that my brain was sending. Oddly, it was as if I had inhabited a body that wasn’t my own. I couldn’t will myself to go “unbroken” the way I normally do. I wondered, “Is this what Fran feels like? Do other people put themselves through this?”
To give you some perspective, my first Fran was 3 weeks after I began to CrossFit in March of 2008. My time was a slow but unbroken 3:44. I did not understand what the big deal about Fran was. It kind of hurt, but I had felt a whole lot worse after other workouts in my life.
When I PR’d Fran last June, that kind of hurt too. Sure, my throat burned, but I finished on my feet and walked away smiling as usual. I still lacked the comprehension of what could be experienced during this workout. I have witnessed hundreds of Fran’s being performed and always had the sense that I must have been missing something. Previously, I had never felt the demolishing effects that I had witnessed.
I grew in many ways from doing Fran twice. Midway through the second Fran I had to suppress the urge to cry. I had to dig deep, to a place that I had never been. I had to continue despite knowing that my time would not be good. It is easy to persevere when you know that you are at record breaking pace, much harder when you fear failure. I had to trust my body and it’s training completely. I had made a commitment to myself that I would not break. Some of you may sum all of this up to stubbornness or arrogance. To me, It came down to being honest with myself – an exploration of what was inside.
What did I learn from all of this?
That I have more to give!!!!