A Workout of Things That I Love

A few months ago, I wrote about a Workout of Things That I Hate™. It would be more accurate, I guess, to say they’re things I “love-hate,” but still… thrusters, butt-killing situps, and pullups… not my favorites.

Today was much better!

CrossFit Central is creating workouts named for CFC clients this month, and today was my day. Like a 4-year-old, I love anything with my name on it, so I was super excited. Plus, this was the workout:

“Mel Joulwan”
3 rounds, 20-minute cutoff:
30 box jumps
20 push jerk, 55 lbs.
10 pullups
200m run


(Observant readers will notice that pullups have moved from the “hate” list to the “like” list. I’ll reveal the secret of how below.)

Let’s take ’em one at a time…

Box Jumps
Box Jumps are my CrossFit BFF. We used to be frenemies, but now, one of my favorite things is jumping on stuff. I’m still working on my jump up/jump down technique, so it was mostly jump up/step down today… although in round 3, I did a few all-jumpers, just to remind myself that I’m working on that.

Anyhoodle, jumping = good.

Push Jerk
I’ve been working on my heavy lifting, and – finally! – learning to like it. Every Monday and Friday, I go to the old school, totally ’70s, craptastic gym, suffer through their horrific techno-garbage soundtrack, and throw around barbells that leave blisters and rust stains on my palms. Deadlift and squat and bench press and push press – the unvarnished basics that make a girl strong and lean.

This morning, I felt the payoff of those slow, heavy, “often-unfun-’cause-they-don’t-make-me-sweaty-but-sometimes-they-make-me-breathless” moves. Because while the 55-lb. bar was by no means light, it felt significantly more manageable than at Fight Gone Bad in September. It was heavy but in a way that made me feel solid and want to lift it again. And again.

I should also mention that Push Jerks are. the. bomb. They feel Good. (Not buddies with the Push Jerk yet? Check out this Again Faster tutorial video.)

Like, before, I totally talked shit about pullups behind their back. But dead hang chinups and I have been, like, hanging out at the craptastic gym, just a few times a week, and now I’m kinda, ya know, friends with pullups. I know! I know! I said I didn’t like them. But people change. And besides, chinups have been totally nice to me, and if they‘re cool with pullups, I feel like I should be, too… ya know?!

I used the 1.5-inch blue band this morning and was soaring over the bar during the first two rounds. I had a halfway decent kip going, and I knocked them out five at a time (up from three at a time a few months ago). During round 3, the pace slowed a bit but I still had great clearance over that damn bar.

Here’s the trick: I’ve been doing give dead hang chinups every time I go to the craptastic gym. My hands are fairly close together, my palms are facing in, and I’m standing on a box that allows me to *just* reach the bar. I don’t jump; I don’t kip. I just hang on and pull like a mother-Fer. Some days I get my chin way over the bar; some days, I get nothin’… the bar is miles from my head. But I keep chipping away at it.

Separately, I’ve also been practicing my kipping swing: no pull, just the hips, and only a few at a time – like, 10 swings… do something else… 10 swings… done.

This morning, when I got on the band for the first time in a few weeks… ZOOM!

I feel like this is a really solid plan to a) get me over my mental block about kipping, and b) build my strength so when my kip is ready, my shoulders are, too. (And thank you, Moxy-Boss, for instituting this plan.)

It’s been weeks since I went on a run around the lake. I’ve promised myself a Thanksgiving loop, and I’m really looking forward to putting on my headphones and running running running. (How rad is my Thanksgiving going to be?! Champagne and turkey at Trio, bacon bourbon brownies, and a 3-mile run.)

Instead of my usual cruising speed on the hike and bike trail, I’ve been focused on running like the hounds of Hell are on my heels.

Sometimes I run short sprints: 100m so hard there’s no thinking involved.

Sometimes I run 400m: not quite all out, but significantly faster than I really want to be going for that long. The thinking during those goes something like, “I want to stop. I want to stop. I want to stop.” until I catch myself listening to the monsters, then I think, “Easy. Breathe. Move your feet. Easy. Breathe. Move your feet.” And then it’s over, I rest a bit, and do it again.

You know what that’s done for me? It’s made running 200m, 400m, and 800m not easy, but almost effortless, like… it’s still hard, but I don’t feel raggedy or that desperate, “everything hurts, I need to stop” feeling. I feel Strong. My lungs are still burning, my legs are still protesting, but I feel like I can, if I think about it the right way, go faster. It’s like being on the brink but in control at the same time. It’s a pretty badass feeling.

So the 200m runs this a.m. felt Good, and I’m pretty excited to do a 3-mile time trial on Thanksgiving to see how it’s improved. (Note: I said how, not if. I’m working on my positive thinking. It’s very annoying.)

20:00-minute Cutoff
When got the workout tweet last night, I started calculating how long I thought the workout would take me, and I set a goal of 18 minutes. Chardonnay was first (as usual ’cause she’s wicked fast and strong) at 15-something. Crystal cheered for me almost my entire last 100m, and I ran as fast as my 29-inch inseam stems could carry me. When I crossed the imaginary line at Crystal’s feet, she said, “Eighteen on the nose.”


And now, photographic evidence of the beautiful, strong, courageous women in our 5:45 (that’s A.M., people) CrossFit Women class:

Chardonnay, Erin, Maggie, Blake, me, Crystal, Jill, and Amber.

Making my CrossFit dreams come true: my official WOD.

So, there you have it… the official “Mel Joulwan” workout. Maybe you want to try it for yourself this weekend! If you do, come on back here and let us know what you thought of it.

And to Crystal, the rest of the CrossFit Women coaches, and my early morning partners-in-crime: thank you! This morning totally rocked my (knee) socks off.

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  • erikajeanne says:

    i saw that workout last night and got so excited for you!!! great part about this post: being on the brink but still in control. yes, amen. that's what this is all about. let's build our happy spot here! congrats on feeling the breeze with the pull ups, those dead hangs are doing you RIGHT!

  • Jessica says:

    Yay! I can't wait to do the "Mel" WOD this evening. Looks tough and fun – just like you!!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thank you, partners-in-crime! The coaches did a great job of putting together a very Mel-esque workout, didn't they?!

    If only the instructions had been to BEAR CRAWL 200m, it would have been perfect 😉

  • MelissaG says:

    Thinking I need to pass on my heavy lifting day on Saturday and do "Mel" too.

    Since it's your workout we can change whatever you want. I'll be bear crawling.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I wonder how long my commitment to bear crawling would last if I tried to do three rounds of 200m?!

    YOU test it out and let me know.


  • Barbara says:

    WOOT!!!!!!!!You're very own WOD!! You really deserve it though…so much hard work, dedication and love of the sport.

    I see you coaching someday…if that floated your boat:)

  • girlblake says:

    hah! bear crawling for 200 m.!!! even with just the run, this workout was (kinda suprisingly) a beast. but still awesomely exhilirating. i'm so glad i could be there to celebrate your first personalized wod. you deserve it after all the hard work you've put in and all the support you've given to everyone at cfc. big hugs to you!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Not coaching, necessarily… but I have a Super Secret Top Secret Plan™ for when I get certified. Coming in late 2010. Sssshhhhh…

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hug you back, Blake… 'til your guts squish out.

  • Barbara says:

    oooh ohhhh pins and needles,wonder what 2010 holds:)

  • traynharder23 says:

    congrats having a WOD named after you…and rockin' it!

  • Catherine Hart Rebholz says:

    If there is any girl I know who deserves a workout named after her it you!! Can't wait to do it myself. And the knee socks?!? Love them!