Merry Christmas from CrossFit: Fran

Just over a month has passed since I finished my fundamentals program with CrossFit PEI and began the “real” CrossFit workouts, 3 times a week. Although it is really the people, the coaches, and the variety that keeps me going back for more, the positive effects are hard to ignore. I am noticeably stronger which is marked not just by loading more plates onto my bar during WODs (“workout of the day” in CrossFit lingo) but also my muscular endurance on the bike, and during my hill repeats and tempo runs. Hell, I’m even swimming better, and my clothes fit better too. Where weight training used to be something I struggled to fit into my weekly schedule, I try to spread my 3 CrossFit workouts out through the week so I don’t have to go too long before the next one! It’s easy to get up at 6 a.m. when the workouts are this fun. It’s also no problem to show up early on Christmas Eve for a workout, which is what I did today.

Unknown-11I have been hungry to learn more and more about this new (to me) sport. Recently I ordered a copy of T.J. Murphy’s “Inside the Box”. A “box”, fyi, is CrossFit lingo for the gym. The book is a personal recount of Murphy’s journey from middle-aged, worn out triathlete and marathon runner, to reformed, rejuvenated athlete thanks to CrossFit. The book resonated with me as a CrossFit beginner as Murphy describes the humbling feeling of thinking he was in “pretty good shape” as a runner, to being humbled by benchmark workouts named after women. Murphy devotes an entire chapter to one workout in particular, “Fran” (Chapter 9, if you’re curious). 21-15-19. Thrusters, pull-ups, for time.The quote on page 141 sums it up; “Fran’s notariety lies in the sharp blow of metabolic discomfort that is delivers to the athlete“. Needless to say, just reading about Fran gave me the shivers.

Weighted benchmark CrossFit workouts come with a prescribed weight which is noted “Rx”, just as in the medical field, on the time sheet when the athlete completes the workout as prescribed. The “Rx” for Fran is 95 lbs. The workouts are called benchmarks because when repeated after several weeks or months of training, they give you an accurate measure of progress. Kind of like threshold testing in running, biking, or swimming. Last week, part of one of the workouts was to build up to 85% of your “Fran” weight for thrusters. I had never done Fran, but was happy to get to a 5 rep thruster max of 55 lbs. 2 weeks prior to that, during a “Fran-esque” Saturday WOD (21-15-9, thrusters, handstand pushups, for time), I used a bare 25 lb bar. I still cannot do a pull-up to save my life.

Perhaps you see where this is going. This morning I showed up for the 8 a.m. Christmas Eve workout, and after a good warmup of 5 x (5 med ball cleans (16 lbs)/3 burpees), Coach Dave called out the WOD… “Fran”. I probably should have known they would do something crazy on a holiday!

Since this was my first test run with Fran, I scaled the workout and went with 45 lbs for my barbell and did ring rows (made as hard as possible) instead of pull-ups. After the 21 thrusters and 21 rows, my arms were so wobbly I couldn’t clean the bar back up so I peeled 10 lbs off the bar and finished the next two sets with 35 lbs. The goal is to do each set of reps unbroken, but I ended up breaking the 21 thrusters into 10, 6, and 5, and then the second set into 5-5-5 and then 3-3-3. I finished in a time of 8:00 on the nose, and it was so amazing to watch some of the other people finish the workout Rx’ed in 6, 5, even 4 minutes. Definitely something to strive for! My forearms were burning afterwards and I know I have used this word a lot, but “humbled” aptly describes the feeling after this workout.

It’s really no wonder they make shirts like this one🙂


Happy holidays from me to you, and I wish you a kickass 2013. May all your goals and dreams come true!

Have you been able to get your workouts in this week?

About legalb

Novice triathlete balancing life after law school with a passion for health and fitness.
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One Response to Merry Christmas from CrossFit: Fran

  1. erin says:

    I have fun memories of Fran at my CF box! Reading about your experience makes me want to start CF again🙂

    My bf and I ran yesterday… it was -1˚F!

    Merriest Christmas to you!

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