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Rest Day

KHarpz at Fight Gone Bad 2013

Last July, Katie Harper moved to Brooklyn from her hometown of Columbia, Maryland to become a student in Long Island University’s physical therapy program. Katie has been an athlete since she can remember, starting with lacrosse as a wee second-grader, eventually dabbling in field hockey and track, and currently holding down the game of racquetball (any challenger on the court is welcome, she says). Though her present journey toward becoming a physical therapist doesn’t leave time for many things other than studying and grasping peoples' calcanei, she found her way to CFSBK shortly after her move, committing to her training and the community almost immediately. If you’ve ever shared a bar with her, you know her pixie shape belies her absurd strength, and that her squat is pretty enough to make anyone drool.

Unfortunately, Katie got injured at the end of 2013 and hasn’t been in group classes during her recovery. Given what she’s studying in school, we were curious to hear how she’s handled her injury and if she had any advice for fellow CrossFitters whose training might have been derailed by a system malfunction. Her thoughts are below.

Notes on an Injury from a Physical Therapy Student who CrossFits

By Katie Harper 

It was approximately mid-December when I first decided to hop on the pain-train. I was nearing my one-year CrossFit anniversary and I was just another young, invincible athlete with PR fever. I was working out more than five times a week, sometimes twice a day. Needless to say, delayed onset muscle soreness was my middle name. Sprinkle in some recovery days here and there and I was good to go for the month. Little did I know, I was one push press away from a partial rotator cuff tear and a long road to recovery. 

As a first year student of Physical Therapy, I should have known better. Sure, I was learning all about pain and inflammation, muscle recovery, and range of motion; but it took until I was lying in an MRI bed to really be impacted by the information. Suddenly, I was in a position where my educational career was on the line, and if I needed surgery to restore my shoulder, I would be set back an entire year in the program. The feeling was terrifying, and I can imagine I am not the only one in this world who has had to put their life on-hold as a result of an injury. I suddenly felt a sense of empathy for those who were in situations less fortunate than I.

It was in this very moment that I realized how important a healthy, functioning body really is and how badly I wanted to do everything in my part to get better. So what did I do? I sought out therapy, took some time off at the gym, and found some alternative forms of fitness. As hard as it was to separate myself from the community that I’ve grown to love, I knew it was the best decision to ensure an optimal recovery. Thankfully, I am happy to say there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Of course, I didn’t arrive at all of these conclusions on my own. In fact, I owe a lot to CFSBK for helping me. From the moment I walked through these doors I noticed there was a different vibe about the gym. Of course, I was continuously impressed with the coaching expertise and instruction. But what I noticed the most was the gym's ability to breed mature athletes, who are committed to lifelong fitness. That is the one principle that I now hold above all other goals. It is not the fact that I can say I did Fran in three minutes once in 1999, or that I squatted 4-hundo one stormy night at open gym; it is that I am physically capable of doing CrossFit or any form of fitness for as long as I want and when I want.

So if there is anything you want to take away from this at all, just hear my advice. If there is something that doesn’t feel quite right, get to the root cause of the pain and address it as soon as possible. Whether it be a soft tissue injury, joint mobility problem, or something else, seek the help you need before it starts to affect your function. If you feel it can be managed inside the walls of CFSBK, awesome. Have a look at that blue and white spotted book hovering over the foam rollers. Kelly Starrett, the Supple-god, will guide you through all the tricks of the trade when it comes to self-maintenance and mobility. Inka and Fidler are pretty fabulous as well!

For those of you who are going through something similar to me, I understand how frustrating it can be. Gains in the gym will be lost from time to time. Trust me, I try to remind myself every day that my biceps won’t deflate like balloons over night. Just think of it as an opportunity to wipe your slate clean and fill it up with new and exciting efficient motor patterns. Doesn’t that sound fun?! So if you’re feeling like you need to reach out to someone, just know that you are not alone. In fact, there are a lot of us out there, perhaps you’ll see us lurking by mob-mat, longing for DROMs and barbell drills. Guilty as charged. 


Pilates at 7:30pm with Kristin H.

Join KH tonight in CFSBK's weekly Pilates class. We'll go over neutral pelvis, engaging the transversus abdominis (say WHAT?), stabilizing the rib cage, and finding good shoulder girdle positioning. Learn more here!
  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Coach Jeremy! In case you missed our interview with him last week, check it out and learn even more reasons to appreciate this man.

Reader Comments (29)

Wednesday's Programming

Fitness: Snatch Halting Deadlift + Snatch
If you have a hard time organizing the pull off the floor, perform snatch from the mid-hang.

Performance: 1-1-1, then 75% x (1+1) x 2 from high hang and knee
After working up to a heavy single in 3 attempts, perform 2 reps of the Two Position Snatch (high hang and knee).

Back Squat

Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Add 5 pounds to last week.

Performance: 77.5% x 6 x 5
Rest about two minutes between sets. Use the lifting time wisely and get to work weight within 2-4 warm ups so you can get all your work sets in.

May 5, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Forgot to add my two cents about Mayhem yesterday.

I find that most large scale events like this are nowhere near well-organized enough for them to qualify as competitions, and this one was no different. There were non-existent movement standards, even different weights used in different heats of the same WOD.

That said, Mayhem was *so* disorganized that it made for an excellent group bonding experience. Everyone got to watch everyone up close, and there's nothing like attacking some pretty nasty workouts with your friends cheering you on. Willie was a great last minute substitute, and it was great to watch our strong ladies perform so well.

The workouts were also pretty interesting, and got all of us to do something new, or at least uncomfortable. (Uphill sandbag runs through Giants Stadium; long-distance overhead lunges.) If you've been on the fence about participating in a competition or throwdown, my advice is to dive in head first!


Yesterday's 8:30 with Noah.

Bench with Brad and Dan:

190x5x3 -- difficult, particularly rep 15, but no slower than last week. Glad I opted for +5 over +2.5.

Jackie in 8:18 Rx. This is about 2:20 faster than my only other attempt at it. Row about on target with my plan, maybe a second or two slower (3:42). Thrusters in 30-12-8 and pull-ups in 10-6-6-5-3. Made up my time on the thrusters and much shorter breaks on the pull-ups.

May 6, 2014 | Registered CommenterRyan

KHarpz has been my mutual commiserator since January when we both found ourselves out of group classes and on the road of long term rehabilitation journeys. I have cried to her and written her so many blubbering texts as I struggled to make peace with this path that we're both on and struggling to hold on to hope and dedication. I couldn't do this without her. I am always thrilled to hear when she has made any level of progress with her rehab. I can't wait to see her back in group classes, and split burpees up with her again. She is an inspiration and a good friend.


May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGracie aka GD

Happy Birthday Jeremy!!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Ryan: Well, they said it was mayhem, right? ;)

Hearing you say that, and remembering the mess that was Hail to the Queen the first year I went -- thank you, SBK, for making Subway Series, Murph, etc. run like a dream.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

6am with Jess and McDowell. Did tomorrow's snatch and squat work. I'm continuing to make progress with the snatch, even though I haven't increased the weight all that much. McDowell has been giving some excellent pointers, including the one today on using my lats to keep the bar close to my body for the second pull. Worked up to 78lbs.

LBBS - I've done 185x3x5 for the last few weeks and although it's moving, my form still seems to be off since I've switched to lifting shoes. I'll probably do this again next week and try to keep improving my technique.

Cashed out with Joy, although we were short on time, so only 2 laps.

Katie - thanks for sharing your story! Injuries can be extremely frustrating and it's a great reminder to keep working on those mobility issues.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Yesterdays 6:30 with DO and Arturo

Bench 85x3x5 ....up 2lbs from last week

'Jackie' for the first time @ 12:38 Rx
RX! :) Yeeeee

Row - 4:12 felt great
Thrusters - 10-10-10-5-5-5-5
pullups - 3-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-2-1

Like this workout a lot....need to work on cycling more kips together

big thanks to Crystie, Erik, and strength cycle peeps for pushing me through my last reps!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteraileen

Katie Harper, mob-mat lurker. Love it.

Happy birthday, Jeremy! Happy belated, PR!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKMo

6am with Jess and McDowell

Monday's workout
Bench: 190x5, 190x5, 185x5
Dropped down 5 lbs because my elbows were coming up as it got heavy and I didn't want a shoulder impingement. I'll try again next week!

Jackie Rx in 7:48
Felt good here. Rowed 3:41 or so, according to plan, and felt pretty fresh getting onto the thrusters. Thrusters were in 30, 10, 5, 5. Pullups: 12, 10, 8. Just concentrated on quick transitions and never resting more than 7 seconds.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

6am. Snatch (kilos): 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 75F, 75, 75, 60x2x3. The rep at 70 was decent, though a bit slow. Then I forgot how to drop and did 3 power snatches at 75 (missing the first). Had a small epiphany when I dropped back down to 60 that I was overdoing the third-pull. When I make that third-pull snappy I drop fast. When I try to muscle the third-pull I end up not dropping. Back squat: 235x6x5. That left my legs wobbly. The performance volume shock this cycle is no joke.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

8am. liked today's warm up, i need so much double under practice.
Bench: 65, 75, 80# x5x3.

Jackie with ring rows in 10:50
1000m row: 4:51
Thrusters: 10/10/10/10/5/5
Ring rows: 10/10/10
I love and hate these kinds of wods - I set an expectation (even if it's just about a one portion of the workout), then compromise a little as i'm suffering through, then, of course critique where I could have done better. Actually i think i do that with every workout, it's annoying. I would have liked to finish the row a bit sooner, but also didn't want my legs to be jelly coming off the erg - I put the bar down twice and paced a little, I should've cut that out and tried less rest with bar on shoulders.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren S

6am with Jess & McD - tomorrow's workout.

Snatch was a disaster. I wasn't even hitting the light weights well. I was already pretty sore today plus had plenty of drinks last night, so I'll blame that combo. Hope next week will have me back on form. Worked up to 115 today.

LBBSQ @ 235. 3x5. Felt ok today although I still need to get my knees out more so I can get low. Thinking of backing off the weight a bit next week to concentrate on my form.

Cash out with Roy. Fun to lug the sandbag around the block. Roy had to take off early so I did the 4th lap myself. Shoulders were pretty fried after from holding the bag behind my neck.

Finished up with 5x5 ring dips. Trying to focus on these a bit for the next couple of months. Also doing HSPU at home every day or so.

May 6, 2014 | Registered CommenterElliott

KHarpz: Thanks for that post. Hope you get better, stronger, faster! Being injured could knock houses down - it blows that much.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

Wednesday's work out with Jess & McDowell at 6 am.

Snatch & deadlift up to 80# (PR by 2#). Felt relatively stable, but there is a lot to work on to improve movements and efficiency: move knees and shoulders back at the same time to keep bar moving up in a straight path. I found that consciously driving hips forward at the same time helped this and made my squat much more stable (although still need to work on staying on heels at bottom of squat and driving up strong).

HBBS: Fitness LP up to 125# x 3 x 5 (PR by 5#). Last rep was tough, but solid. Need to work on staying tight and engaged at bottom of squat so I don't get stuck in the hole!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNeal P.

Great article Katie - good luck with your recovery! Happy birthday Jeremy!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

High noon with now 37 year old Coach Jeremy

Monday's WOD:
Bench: Fitness: 185, 190, 185
Jackie: 9:13 w/ring dips

I still can't hang or do a pull-up yet, but getting the bar overhead felt great and relatively pain-free.

Speaking of injuries, great post, KHarpz. Looking forward to seeing you display your X-Men mutant-like strength again. And soon.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Y

Snatch doubles- 60%x2, 70%x2, 80%x2, 85%x2x2
231x2x2(missed last double)
**85% was supposed to be 246. However I was super sluggish. This was really an instance where I should have been wearing straps. My hands are pretty raw and it was painful to pull. I think my pulling speed was really hindered by that. Lesson learned.

Clean+Front squat+jerk-60%, 70%, 80%, 85%

HBBS-70%x3, 80%x3, 85%x3x2

Clean Pulls@330x3x4

3 rds NFT
20 Hollow rocks
15 hand release push-ups

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

happy bday, coach.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Katie so glad to hear your making progress! Cant wait to see you back at the gym!

Happy Birthday Big J!!

Ryan to get us better prepared we should have some "uncomfortable' WODS at CFSBK! I also would like to say it was an awesome experience Willie and I had so much fun at mayhem and we will be signing up to more events like these. I think everyone should do it at least once!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

8am with McDowell. Hit 93# on the snatch on the first attempt and then went for an even 100# about four or five times. On almost every single attempt I got the bar overhead and got down under it and just…went soft. Wasn't committing to punching it out and locking it overhead. On the one hand I am encouraged because I KNOW I can hit this weight and on the other hand I am discouraged because I KNOW I can hit this weight! Finnicky Olympic lifting… Then 117.5# x 6 x 5 on the HBBSQ. So. Many. Squats.

Katie Harper, what a beautifully written, well thought out, inspiring, and wise essay. I loved your point about how we are breeding mature athletes with the goal of life long fitness at this gym. I, for one, totally want to be able to squat down to pick my false teeth up off the floor, or lift a broom overhead to kill a spider when I am 80 years old! I see too many people suffering in their later years as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. Well done, and I wish you the speediest road to recovery there is! You too, Gracie.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKH (a.k.a. Cage)

6am with Jess doing Monday's workout...

Bench - worked at 75# again this week after failing the last two reps. last Monday. Felt good today!

Jackie in 10:34 with a 33# bar and ring rows. This wasn't the suckfest I thought it would be which is awesome!!!!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNan

Timely post for me as I have been struggling to recover and feeling some nagging overuse injuries over the past few weeks. That combined with stalled lifting numbers made me decide to take it easy for the next few weeks. The current plan is to do AR twice a week and take class on just the lifting days, but go light and work on my positioning rather than just strength.

Over my CrossFit "career" I've learned my own warning signs for overreaching/overtraining. I would be interested to hear some thoughts from the coaches about general things to look for and how/when to back off.

Good luck with your recovery KHarpz!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan L

I won't even attempt to make up the posts I've missed the last few days. But tonight was a sad night.

Perf. bench and though last week felt so great, this week I failed my last three sets at 95#. 4, 4, then only 2. I honestly think I would have had them on another night. I've just felt whipped today. Allergies?

Jackie in 11:04 with ring rows. Split first 30 thrusters into 10s, then 8-7-5. I can't speak in coherent sentences.

Happy birthday to Jeremy. His interview from last Friday was one of my favorites. And of course, KHarpz is a true winner/lady beast.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Thanks guys! Im glad you liked it. Thank you Kate for the lovely bio...especially for revealing my secret calcaneal fixation. Gracie and I are genuinely considering taking all of our working joints and combining it into some sort of unstoppable transformer/crossfitter so we can get back to crushing WODs again.

Speaking of superhuman, a special thanks to @Chris Y...who claims I have "X-Men mutant like strength". I'm truly flattered.....unless its because I have acquired some sort of wolverine facial hair that i'm unaware of...then again, if that's what will be make strong again then so be it.

@KH In old age, I would choose burpees over BINGO anyday (..highly debatable)

Good luck on your recovery as well @Dan L!

HBD Coach Jeremy!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Harpz

Katie, thank you for sharing your experience and what you have learned. I have had a few injuries set me back over the years and I can relate to how frustrating it is. Wishing you a full recovery!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterColleen M.

I also have not yet had a chance to post about mayhem in the meadowlands. Though there were certainly some issues with movement standards and judging consistency, it was just so lovely to spend a day in the sun with such great folks. It was especially an honor and pleasure to work out alongside two of the baddest broads I know personally. Definitely looking forward to entering more competitions in the future.

Sunday I went in to open gym to try to get a bunch of work done, but all that sun/fun left me feeling pretty beat up and exhausted. Made it as far as the deadlifts (235x3x3), then called it a day.

Feeling much less dazed today, so I came in for 6:30 class with Whit. Sad as I was to miss Jackie, I'm not going to make it in tomorrow and wanted to get in my squats this week.

Snatched in kilos, so I spent most of the 15 minutes confused about weight. Got in a good rep at 40kg, then 3 that I kept catching in a power squat at 44kg (or 97#). Dropped to 35kg for the hang snatch complex.

Squats at 170x6x5. Felt better than last week. Did only 2 laps around the block with Brian and a sandbag. Then practiced kipping pull ups. At mayhem I used a mixed grip for the pull ups, and somehow finally figured out how (I think) a kip is supposed to work, so I wanted to see if I could do it with an overhand grip too. Turns out, yes! I can! Or at least I can in sets of 3-5 with lots of rest in between. Feeling super stoked. This has felt like an impossible goal for so long.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Mc

Figured I was all warmed up from leading barbell drills all evening that I may as well snatch with the 7:30PM class!

Snatch: drills at 33#
63, 83, 83, 93 (power, weird, not smooth), 93, 103F, 103F
Then back to 63# for 2 reps of the high hang, mid hang complex.
The first attempt at 103 got so stupid high I was staring at it, which obviously means I did not pull under the bar AT ALL. no faith, hubbard!
The second attempt at 103 was a great pull according to Lady Fox and I got down, just didn't finish it. It ended in front of me a bit and I didn't punch it up to the ceiling enough. But it's there.
In the past week I've been focusing on getting better at pulling right to my hips and getting full hip/knee extension (rather than overdoing it with my arms), and I feel like I strengthened that motor pattern tonight, even though I didn't quite nail the third pull.

right side SI joint was feeling tweaky and I was hungry, so decided to roll out a bit, eat, and walk Miss Penny home. will squat tomorrow!

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWhit H

5:30pm class - Tuesday
Bench Press
210x6, 200x6x4
Messed up the math on my first set and the "damn that felt heavy" feeling went away for 2-5. Feeling good and swole.

I haven't done this benchmark in a while. Pretty sure this is a PR. Came off the erg a little under 4:00 and about 10-15 seconds slower than Katz. Made it my business to make up ground on the thrusters which I did.

Thrusters in 20-10*(really 7+3)-5-5-5-5 without putting the bar down.
Pull Ups in 10-5-5-4-3-3
Spent a full 2 minutes doing those stupid pull ups which I thought would be 3x10.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Monday's Jackie WOD on Tuesday night. I'm glad I snuck out of work early to get this one done. 45 lb bar, kipping pull-ups, 10:57.

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

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