Feeling like a Newbie – My Return to CrossFit After a 2 Month Break

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Jen Wirth | June 13, 2017 | 2 comments |

Has life ever thrown you a curve ball?

You know, an event (or an injury) that interrupted your workout routine and kept you from making it into the gym for an extended period of time? We all have. In fact, recently, it happened to me…

On the beautiful Saturday morning of March 19, as I was making myself some coffee and getting ready to head into the gym for CrossFit Open Workout 17.4, my tea kettle slipped out of my hand and scalding water splashed onto my belly. Not only wouldn’t I be completing the CrossFit Open, I wasn’t going to be able to workout at all for nearly two months.

And just like that, I was knocked out of the running for the CrossFit Games. Haha. Jk. Lol. Actually I was never in danger of making it to Regionals, much less the Games, and I’m lucky that my injury didn’t knock me out of the game entirely. Over the first few days after my injury it became clear that my burn was pretty much entirely second degree…the area was swelling up and multiple blisters began to form. What followed was a two month odyssey of self-administered nursing interventions and a significant amount of pain. And no working out. Like Zero.

Here are some pictures of my tummy at the beginning and end of the healing process. Note: if you are a squeamish person: scroll through quickly.

Day 1:

Two months:

Initially my body was just all tensed up from the pain, I remember feeling like my I was clenching my abs 24/7, for the first week or so. I honestly didn’t even miss working out much at all for the first several weeks. I was just doing my best trying to keep myself and my animals alive, keeping my wound clean, taking care of the barest necessities and that was it.

The wound was large and the healing was slow, and then it started to itch. And then it started to peel. And then one day it *Finally* started to feel better. The next day was my first workout back.

Here are some of the ways that my body changed during my 7 weeks of convalescence: I lost weight. My muscles shrank, the skin on my legs wrinkles over the space left by my shrunken muscles. I feel like I’m uncomfortably out of breath during the WODs…and, Man have I lost strength!

My Body: Not as strong as I remember …

I lost strength in my shoulders and legs. My Deadlifts (x3) have also gotten lighter. I did 205 for 3yesterday. I remember being able to pull at least 275 or more off the floor for three less than a year ago.

During the workout for 17.3, I did quite a few 65# Squat Snatches with no problem…and yet on my 3rd workout back, which contained some snatches, I tried one rep at 65# and knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep going with good form, as a matter of fact that first rep was pretty ugly. A voice in my head said: “Hey, Chill out. You don’t have to get all your strength back today! You lost it over time…you get it back over time.”

It’s Alright to Scale: Both the Weights and the Movements

(aka: It’s ok to not RX every WOD)

That was when I asked Laurie for a sub. I needed something easier than a 65# Snatch so I could keep going, safely. Laurie suggested one-arm dumbbell snatches…which, at 20#, was a great option for my shoulders.

Before my injury, I could easily press out 35# Kettle bells overhead…now I’m back down to 20# and I’m working my way back up. “Good Job, Shoulders!”

It’s a good lesson to me to ease back into working out and accepting the capabilities of my body as it is right now. I’ve done the Heavy Duty workout for the past three Saturdays…and I haven’t been able to Rx one of those workouts yet.

One heck of a Silver Lining…

Rather than focusing on what I lost during my workout hiatus, I like to focus on the stuff that is starting to resolve as my life slowly starts to get back to normal. I’m sleeping better and more soundly, I’m eating better quality foods because that is what my body craves when it is getting exercise.

I’m still not in the habit of working out regularly, yet. For example, last week I worked out 3 days in a row…and then took four days off. That’s not what I call regular exercise. I remember telling myself: “I’m going to take one rest day and then get right back into it.” Then that second day rolled around and I didn’t have a plan for when I was going to workout..and then the day just kind of got away from me.

And then the same thing happened the next day and the next day.

For someone who works at a gym, I sometimes wonder why I find it so hard to squeeze in that hour of exercise in to my busy life.

Getting back in the habit. Again.

This is why I’m so grateful to have a place like Wildcat to come to. Sometimes I feel like I’m bringing my A game to my workout, sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Working out with other people is such a valuable experience. I always work harder when other people are working hard around me. And no matter what shape I’m in, the Wildcat community is here to support me in my fitness journey and, in this case, in my journey back to fitness from injury.

Lesson Learned

I haven’t always Really appreciated my body.

This experience taught me how important it is to have continuous skin across my whole belly. And how precious it is to have experienced so much of my life not in constant chronic pain and discomfort. I am grateful for my immune system and my body’s proven healing ability. I used to “not like” my belly…my legs, my butt. It took me a long time to learn to love and appreciate my body for what it can do, rather than attacking it for being too flabby, which is a topic for another blog post.

Let’s just say that this ordeal was another great reminder for me to not take my precious body for granted.

Sometimes Life throws you a curveball…or several. Your job is to survive those, and when you’ve recovered as much as you need to on your own, getting back to the gym and building your body back up…and get ready for the next curve ball.

It can suck to be in that “two steps forward, one step back” state of fitness…when you’re like “Gains? What are those?”

Sometimes in life you just have to start all over again. It’s what happens. Your job is to stay cool, and build it back up.

What injury or illness have you recovered from that has caused you to have that rough re-entry to the gym experience?


  • Nona says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your story.

    Life is filled with all kinds of curve balls and it’s reassuring to hear that an athlete like you can sometimes have to “start again”.

    Good luck and wishing you a very speedy recovery! Xo

  • Mike says:

    Thanks for posting, Jen. Good lessons for all, and I wish you well on recovering your full strength!

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