It is the end of another year and there is a lot of talk about reflection, goal setting, and aspirations. As someone who is very much a planner, this time of year is usually my stuff. I love to plan, set goals, and create a roadmap of how I'm going to achieve those things. However, this year feels a little bit different.
I have spent the past three months since Strongman Nationals rehabbing several injuries, dealing with a body that doesn't seem to want to cooperate, and having more than my fair share of stress. I share this not to ask for a pity party because, quite frankly, I've thrown myself quite a few, but simply to say I have a felt a little bit “stuck” lately. Training has felt like a chore instead of something that I am eager to do. Having a nagging knee injury that does not seem to want to go away ever has only added to my frustration. It has felt a little weird to feel stuck, because I am a person who is generally positive and thoroughly enjoys doing hard work and a lot of it. Doing virtually nothing with a barbell for the past three months, having to tread very lightly when it comes to training, and putting on some weight for my own health and sanity, has been an interesting experience to say the least. Uncomfortable seems to be the most fitting descriptor.
Instead of embracing the fact that I needed heal and needed to build back up, I fought because it was uncomfortable. At one point, I was sitting in my car after a semi-successful-but-not really-successful doctor appointment to try and figure out some whacky stuff, and pretty much sobbing at the prospect of not having the season that I envisioned for next year. This off season has felt like the slowest of crawls; I have felt like I had to fight for every single inch just to make any forward progress at all. I have been so uncomfortable and being uncomfortable sucks. I mean, have you ever done sets of 10 or 20 when you’re squatting? That shit is uncomfortable. But I would much rather squat several sets of 20 than not have answers or be stuck in some sort of nebulous grey area. Mental discomfort isn’t easy. I have a hard time letting myself just be because I always want to push forward. Change is not always smooth and easy; it’s violent and uncomfortable. It feels instinctual to push back against. We fight through it rather than sitting with it and moving past it.
One evening, I was feeling particularly down and those damn Facebook memories came up. It was a fortune cookie quote (anyone else still collect those?!) that said “In order to love your future, you must first love your past”. That small slip of paper verbalized so much of what had been rattling around in my brain. I also read a piece by my swole sister/bff/editor always Kelly about the importance of honoring where you are. I realized that I had been playing the victim and avoiding the hard truth: I got myself into this situation and I am in complete control of getting myself through it. So, I stopped fighting harder and started fighting smarter. I started to think of my future self and realized that future me would be pretty damn thankful that I took my time and healed up. Current me is sort of kicking past me for going too hard too quickly and not learning the lesson that was there.
Once I made the shift of allowing myself to simply recognize where I was at and examine the progress that had been made, everything seemed to go much better. I started visualizing all the things that I would make happen in 2017. I could envision myself squatting 300 in a rack that I was looking at while walking on the treadmill. I could see myself making progress and prepping for meets while I did my unilateral work. Learning to embrace the past and also move beyond it has been a task I’ve been working on in 2016 and one that I will continue to work on in the coming year.
The message of this entire off season has been: Embrace the past, but move beyond it. Learn to be in an uncomfortable place and see the long view. Recognize discomfort for what it is (i.e. change is scary and frustrating) and move through it.
Onward and upward.