So somehow, I'm just about one week out (well, technically one week tomorrow) from competiting in my second Strongman competition. I'm not even sure how that happened - time seems be speeding up, particularly with the holidays. My training schedule is all over the place this week and the same will happen next week but I'm just going to go when I can and get done what I need to get done and then, it's time to deload. Deload + no work = losing my mind. I'm terrible at relaxing - something to work on next year!
As I sat down to write this, I decided to read my post about being 10 days out from my first competition. I remember how nervous and slightly crazed I felt and this time, it's much different. I'm not really nervous, at all. This time around, I know what to expect (sort of) and the nervousness around how things will run and the small details (what to bring, etc.) isn't there. This time I feel much more ready - not only physically, but mentally. This contest is also vastly different than my first one. It's out of town, it's HUGE, and in my division there are 8 other women competing as opposed to the 3 other girls in my last contest. I'm also competing in a novice division because there is one available, as opposed to my last competition where it was just the open division. The weights are a bit lighter (300# tire instead of 450#, for example) and the field is pretty stacked so I'm very excited to see how I place against a bigger group of ladies, several of which train at the gym where the contest is and get to use many of the odd implements that will be used on competition day. My mind isn't so worried about what I can and can't do - I have a pretty firm grasp on what I CAN do on an average training day in the gym and I'm not freaked out about how I'm going to perform on contest day. That shift from "freaking out" to "being ready" is due simply to more experience, my coach having me drill my weaknesses into the ground, and the fact that my programming got me a lot stronger where I needed it most (pressing) and I just got much stronger overall.
[stones on stones on stones]
Physically, as I said, I feel much stronger than I did going into my first competition. My pressing strength, which is always my weak spot, has definitely improved. My first competition I clean & pressed a 100# axle once and failed to press the 120# axle (I can continental clean all day long, why can't that be a thing?!). This cycle, I've pressed a 105# axle 5 times, in 60 seconds. My stone work has gone WAY up as well - I used to struggle to get the 114# off the ground (my weak spot here is the pick - if I can lap it, I can probably load it), now I can load the 142# with relative ease, several times. Those two events, axle and stones, have been my weak points but working on them every.single.week has made me much more confident and just really improved my performance overall. This training cycle has been HARD - really hard. Not squatting the past 3 weeks or so has been very helpful, not only because I really needed a break after squatting 3x a week since March, but also because my training sessions were getting really long (2.5 hours isn't unusual on some days) and I was getting really run down. Instead of squatting, I've been doing power cleans which has also been quite helpful (even though I hate them). I think this has really helped sort of manage my tonnage throughout the week - squatting 3x7 plus heavy stones plus pressing plus accessory work plus more pressing was adding up, quickly. Obviously, I power clean much less than I squat so my overall tonnage in that area is less while my tonnage in other areas (pressing, stones, etc.) has gone up. My recovery has been better and I'm able to really push at the things that need pushing right now (strongman specific things versus raw squat strength).
[bourbon, eggnog, and cookie station, anyone?!]
Between the holidays, work, etc. it's a pretty stressful time so having changes made to my programming have helped with my recovery. I've eaten lots of cookies, sweets, and other things I don't normally eat but I feel fairly okay. This upcoming week is all about eating enough, doing lots of mobility work, hydrating, eating good stuff, and no booze to help get inflammation down (I feel rather "puffy" and that's due solely to the sugar & booze bomb that went off in my kitchen). I don't have to make weight (YAY!) so in this particular contest, if I've gained a few pounds, it's mostly to my advantage. It's strange, as I write this, I feel like I should be MORE nervous but I just feel sort of, ready. I've got lots of things (technique mostly) to work on in the next week before I deload but that's about it. I'm not going to make any huge strength gains in a week, I'm not going to suddenly become the best axle presser ever (I wish), and I'm not going to grow 3 inches to make loading stones to high platforms easier.
So, in summary, I feel ready - very ready. Bring on Jan. 4th!