Fran Induced Reality Check


On Wednesday morning the legendary WOD ‘Fran’ was dropped on the members of Clyde Coast CrossFit by our ever-loving coaches.

In the box and on the community Facebook group reactions were varied. Amongst the CrossFit veterans there was a healthy mix of excitement and trepidation. For rookies like myself there was an unhealthy combination of intrigue and underestimation.

As things transpired, I was forced to take a rest day due to a niggling knee pain which I had committed to the previous evening (honest).

However, logging on to Instagram, Facebook and Wodify and seeing everyone’s PRs rolling in, I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a tiny bit jealous, so I decided to give it ago today instead.

A more Innocent, Fran-free, time

For those of you not familiar with Fran, let me explain:

Fran is one of the original benchmark CrossFit workouts. Designed to be a short but gruelling workout, it is made up of three sets of thrusters and pull-ups. The first set has 21 reps, the second has 15 reps and the third has nine.

The RX (prescribed) weight for the thrusters is 43kg* for males and 29kg* for the females.

(*That’s 95lbs or 65lbs for you non-metric heathens across the pond).

I won’t beat around the bush here: It was absolutely awful.

Before I got to the box my sister had convinced me that I should do it RX. However, warming up it became apparent that, while I could manage the prescribed 43kg, I would be in the box till Christmas trying to grind out those last nine reps. So, on the recommendation of both coaches, I went for 35kg (77lbs) so that I could hit the speed and intensity which Fran is designed to deliver.

It didn’t help.

After my first 11 reps I knew I had grossly underestimated the workout. With my heart rate through the roof, my lungs screaming, my arms burning and still 90% of the workout to go, I was at least grateful that I’d scaled back the weight.

When I got to my pull-ups I knew it wasn’t going to be my day in the sun. Having to bash out singles during the 21 was heartbreaking because I knew I still had the lion’s share of reps in front of me. seeing the clock hit four minutes before getting to my second set of thrusters made me seriously consider quitting.

The less that is said about the set of 15s the better.

As for the nine thrusters and pull-ups; I was a broken man by the time I got to them. During my nine single pull-ups I no rep’d twice. A soul-destroying end to a horrendous workout experience, I’m sure you’ll agree.

In the end I took 9:10 to finish. Which was ten seconds over what I thought I’d get if I done it RX.

So, thank you Fran for giving me the reality check that I needed. My progress in CrossFit has been relatively fast. I’ve been getting strong fast and nailed many gymnastic techniques early. In CrossFit every day is a learning day. I think today taught me that knowing the movements and using the movements during workouts are two very different things.

Getting Inside the Box: How I got from couch potato to CrossFit enthusiast

So, here’s my plan: Three months from now I’ll hit Fran again at the same weight. From now until then I’ll work on getting fitter, faster and stronger.

While I didn’t have a great day, I’d just like to quickly mention someone who did:

Graeme Burns smashed his Fran PR today. Despite beating it by three seconds yesterday, he wasn’t happy. So, never being one to settle, he came in today and totally bossed it with a time of 5:13, managing to shave 41 seconds off of yesterday’s result.

That’s what I love about CrossFit: While I’m annoyed at my performance, I’m chuffed for Graeme and all the other guys and girls that got PRs yesterday. Failures aren’t failures, just opportunities to learn and successes are shared with everyone.

Until next time.

Follow me on all my CrossFit adventures on Instagram and Twitter or visit Notes from the Box daily for updates from inside and outside the box. 

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