Some workouts in CrossFit require finesse, some skill and expertise, and others courage but when it comes to Karen there is only one rule you need to know to tame this witch; just keep going. The athletes that I train have a special place in their hearts for wall ball in general. They hate them and that’s putting it mildly. Wall Ball is only one step removed from Thrusters and those only one more step removed from hell as far as most people are concerned. Today we decided to take on this short exercise in mental endurance and pain and this is how it went.
I actually don’t mind Wall Ball shots but then again I kind of like Burpees too for what it’s worth so I was actually kind of excited to do Karen. It was my first time doing so many reps for time. I’ve done 100 before and regularly do 30-50 in the workouts we program for athletes but so many, all at once, and for time was a whole different beast entirely. 150 Wall Ball ( medicine ball) shots at a ten foot target with 20lbs is a test for anyone.
I managed to hit the first 50 reps unbroken. I could have kept going and come competition time I’ll have to but I stopped. My arms were burning there was grit in my eyes (we do them outside) and my legs were no longer speaking to me. The next 30 reps went by pretty quick but I noticed I had begun to question my sanity at this point and wonder if the ball was going up or I was just falling into the ground. Either way I figured things would sort themselves out soon enough so after a 3 second breath I began again not stopping until I broke 100 reps.
From the 100 mark you know it’s almost over so your desire to end it quickly starts to war with your body’s own instinct for self preservation. You know your arms feel like they’re going to fall off but you’ve stopped caring. I think it’s because deep down you know that were your arms to actually fall off then you’d have a valid excuse to quit. Actually if you were one of my trainees I’d just tell you to use your tongue instead but that’s not important.
I think a good mental trick at this point is to start counting down instead of up. Also just as in Thrusters it’s important to drop with the bar or in this case the ball, not to catch it at shoulder level then drop. It’s hard to teach and explain to people but I promise you the difference in dropping with your own body weight then nudging the ball back up again versus catching it then dropping really adds up at higher reps. Something else I notice in my trainees is that many people have a hard time keeping their arms up when they receive the ball. They will drop it almost to ground level then pull it back up to their head before releasing it again. This is just a ton of extra work and murder on your momentum. Always keep your hands up and the ball just above face height that way you can just catch it with your fingertips then instantly release again like a basketball, a heavy soul-sucking basketball.
Finally and most importantly don’t lose count. I will soon be implementing a new rule during my classes. If you lose count, cheat, or “forget” what number you’re on you’ll be starting over from zero. There really is no excuse other then laziness and bad character for such things. Cheating in a workout will only catch up with you at competition and whether you realize it or not most of the people around you catch on real quick and will despise you for it. Actually loosing count is a sign of mental weakness and not being in the moment. That’s just literally dangerous. Focus on what you’re doing and give each rep its due attention and you will see your time drop as your strength and form improves. Just trying to “survive” may be something to joke about but its also something losers do.
I hope you enjoy Karen as much as I did and in case you were wondering I finished in 7:05, not bad for my first time but still not good enough for what I have planned. Stay tuned there’s still one more left before my next rest and there’s no telling what insanity I’ll cook up for tomorrow.