That time I didn’t cry during Crossfit “Karen”

by ~jenniferlynn on October 3, 2014

in CrossFit

Everyone has a nemesis lift or movement, their “goat,” something that fills up a good chunk of their suck-bucket.

For me, it has historically been wall balls. I don’t know why I struggle so much with these, partially physically, but surely mostly mentally. After I had a positive experience with Nancy the night before, when I was scheduled to do “Karen” I tried to go in with the same attitude – just do it the best that I can and whatever happens, happens.

Let’s reflect on my history with “Karen”..

Crossfit Karen: 150 wall balls for time, 14# for women, 20# for men. My ongoing battle with wall balls and how I overcame it. For more Crossfit related posts, check out @winetoweights at

March 22, 2013: Open WOD 13.3– First Time

I first met the concept of Karen during the Crossfit Open last year. The WOD was 12:00 to do 150 wall balls (which could count towards an official Karen time), plus a number of other things, but my focus was just working on the wall balls. In fact, I set a super conservative goal of during that 12:00 to do 60 wall balls total. There is a now comical video on my blog post recap of the experience, where I recount my whole 12:00, attempting wall ball after wall ball, failing rep after rep, throwing the ball up 132 times, but only 89 of those reps actually counting.


March 2, 2013: Open WOD 13.3– Let’s Try Again

After I had a significant amount of no-reps, I wanted to prove to myself that I could get reps in without failing so many, so the next day I tried to do the workout again, boosting my official Open WOD score to 132 reps, but still not quite getting Karen done in the allotted timecap.


February 3, 2014: Open WOD 13.3– Must Get a Karen Score

Almost a year after my failed attempts to log an official Karen time, we had another opportunity to repeat the Open workout; the same workout with the 12:00 time cap, the one that starts with 150 wall balls.

I had come a long way since my early Crossfit days and despite my complete and utter hatred for wall balls, I needed to finish the workout in 12:00 to finally have an RX time for this workout. I didn’t blog about this accomplishment and didn’t write anything in my log to document my feelings, but I do remember which wall I was using in the box, and do remember my legs screaming and mentally I was checking out. There no way I was going to be able to all of the wall balls in 12:00 and it was pretty much a waste of my time trying. And of course, I must be a sucky Crossfitter because everyone was already beyond the wall balls and onto the next movement while I was still trying to do mine. And yep, tears.

I remember having 10 wall balls or so left when we got a time cap warning, so despite wanting to quit and give up and cry in my corner by myself, I did finish the workout.

11:57 RX

October 1, 2014: Karen – There’s no crying in Outlaw

I think I am officially over crying in Crossfit. Seriously, it has been 51 days since my last WOD-cry. I know it sounds silly, but really, this is kinda a big deal. It’s not like I would cry all of the time or anything in workouts, but I would cry when faced with extremely difficult WODs that cause me to get super anxious and then I freak out, can’t breathe, have mid-WOD panic attacks.

But you can check out my recap of things I have done so far with the programhard things; workouts that the old me would have definitely cried. I’m a new person now. A stronger girl, inside and out. A more determined, focused, me. I put much less pressure on myself, and know what? It’s made me better.

So, back to Karen.. I had to get her done this week, and she wasn’t going to do herself.

I thought about her all week, and a good chunk of my work day prior was researching strategies and coming up with my own personal plan. My goal was 10:00, or 15 wall balls a minute. If I stuck to this strategy, it would leave built-in rest time each minute to breathe, refocus. I went a little off-plan but fell back onto it towards the end, my teammates pushing me, calming me down (to help me focus on breathing; there was no crying). I finished.

9:26 RX

I smiled. SMILED. I wanted to hug that freaking wall ball so hard. I wanted to wipe the sweat off of it and own that ball. I settled for a photo opp.

There is NO crying in Crossfit. I overcame my constant frustration and anxiety with Crossfit by shifting mentalities. For more crossfit posts, check out @winetoweights at

I won’t say that I won’t ever get frustrated and upset during lifts or during a workout, because honestly, it’s quite possible. But I will say I have a newfound confidence and mentality going into each workout since starting The Outlaw Way, just doing my personal best each and every time.

Your turn..
What movement, lift, or WOD is your nemesis?
Do you despise wall balls as much as I do?
When did you last PR a WOD?

Sky @ Blonde Freedom October 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

I love wall balls! However, I haven’t had to do Karen yet so I can see where that might change my mind. The snatch is my nemesis mostly because I have a long ways to go before I’ll ever be able to do a full snatch. My shoulders and my back don’t like to squat with weight overhead so that’s always frustrating when we work on that lift.
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Kelsi October 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

Wall balls are not my friend. I recently competed in a competition that had plenty of movements that you did with a wall ball, including your traditional wall balls. We only had to do 50 of them. I was in the scaled division using a 10# ball even though I usually use a 14# at my box. Pretty sure I tried over 100 times. Ended up with shots too high, too low, too far from the target. Gah! I ended up on the floor crying in front of everyone. Thanks to your last couple posts I think I’m going to re attempt this one at open gym this weekend.

Chris October 3, 2014 at 10:17 am

Yay!! This post made me smile too! I know how much you hate wall balls, and for you to meet that goal is awesome! Just look at your progressions, DNF to 12 mins to now sub ten! That’s so freaking great! Really happy for you and your no more tears attitude. =)

danielle October 3, 2014 at 11:17 am

CFing for two years and I have yet to do Karen. I have just timed my shoulder injuries and vacations really well? LOL

Congrats girl, that is HUGE! And a sub-10 Karen is nothing to sneeze at!

Jen @ Chase the Red Grape October 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

Urgh Karen! Although I don’t think I could ever complain about simple Karen again – we once had to do Karen ‘on steroids’… Every time you dropped the ball or rested for more than 5 seconds you had to do 5 burpees… Oh god it was awful!
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Shelly October 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Wall balls, ugh. Is there anyone out there that actually likes them? I didn’t think so. Great job on your time! My nemesis is snatches. I enjoy doing them, but it’s just one of those movements that never feels right.
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Em Todd October 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I do HATE HATE HATE wallballs. I am with you. My box doesn’t do benchmark WODs a ton, so I don’t really have any consistent girl workouts that I’m trying to beat. But I can’t say I would be disappointed if I never did Karen.
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Sara K October 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Congrats on this accomplishment!! I also share your hatred of wall balls. A few people at my box like them, crazy right?! We haven’t done Karen yet and each week I say a prayer that its not in the programming. I forsee my experience being more like your first one 😉

Danielle @ It's a Harleyyy Life
Twitter: itsaharleyylife
October 4, 2014 at 1:54 pm

woohoo great job! Wallballs are so hard for me too… physically and mentally! Way to get all 150 (: I have to say I never tried this one… and I don’t think I need to haha

Twitter: mast2mar
October 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Congrats on you “51 days since last cry” 🙂 I remember how frustrated you would get when a WOD got you feeling down. Great job on working on that laser focus!!!
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Martha October 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Way to get that PR rx 🙂 Lord knows you’ve earned it.
I personally can’t believe wall balls are your goat after all the other crazy tough stuff you do! You are a super beast though! I’m glad outlaw is helping you feel mentally tougher!
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Sandy A October 19, 2014 at 7:40 pm

I am good at wall balls. That said, there are a number of things that I too suck at, and dread in a WOD. However, I often remind myself: “there’s no money involved here”, and that makes it all better.

~jenniferlynn October 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Awesome perspective; though admittedly I forget it often.. I am far from even winning any local competitions so not sure why I put so much pressure on myself sometimes!

Jessie Christensen November 11, 2016 at 3:57 pm

This was hilarious! I dont know how I found it, but thank you for writing about the pain, yet accomplishment of finishing KAREN. I actually do not mind wall balls and actually get a pretty decent score, but if it was 150 burpees, I would be there for two days! I am horrible at them! Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

~jenniferlynn April 21, 2017 at 11:58 am

Haha thanks so much for reading, Jessie!! I’ve done 100 burpees once.. do not recommend. 😀

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