Posts tagged strongman
Don't Call It A Comeback

Coming back from a injury sucks.

There, I said it.

After what I have affectionately started calling “kneegate2016”, I’ve struggled a lot with getting back into the groove of training and meet prep. It’s been exciting to be back to squatting, benching, deadlifting, and strongman-ing after over 4 months of not doing any of those things. But I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. Besides everything feeling a little foreign (apparently not squatting for 5 months means you’re a little out of practice with squatting), managing my expectations has been brutally hard. I'm sure anyone who has experienced any training setback can relate to those feelings. This shit isn't easy. 

I’ve had more than one mini meltdown about my upcoming powerlifting meet. I’ve thought about dropping out of it because I feel like I won’t put up a decent total and my squat in particular won’t be where it used to be. I was *thisclose* to throwing my hands up in the air and dropping out of this meet because I probably wouldn’t squat 265#. Instead, I signed up for a strongman show a month later. [insert sassy girl hand up emoji here]

Beyond feeling sort of meh about this meet and my squat in particular, I was really bothered that I was bothered. I constantly tell my clients that powerlifting, in particular, is an extremely accessible sport - if you can squat, bench, and deadlift the bar then you can compete. Meets are fun! They’re a day to lift with a bunch of awesome people and meet new strong friends. Plus, competing is a skill and you gotta practice. Even still, I felt (and really still feel) very bipolar about this meet.  I fluctuate between feeling excited and like dropping out within the span of minutes, several times a day. It’s confusing and exhausting. 

It’s taken me several weeks, too many fits, and some still unresolved feelings to realize that part of this whole “being pissed about being pissed” stuff is how I’ve been framing my training and the narrative I’ve been telling myself. I’ve been so focused on making a comeback that I forgot that “coming back” from an injury isn’t really coming back at all. It’s building. It’s unlearning and retraining movements that you’ve done thousands of times. That process is frustrating and s l o w, so frustratingly slow, especially if you’re someone who lacks patience and has very high expectations of themselves (who, me? never). It’s infuriating and tear inducing and there may or may not be several meltdowns/frantic texts/messages/yelling/etc. sessions along the way. But that's okay. 

I wish I had some magical words of wisdom or a witty “3 steps for making a comeback!” list for you, but I don’t...because you’re not making a comeback, you’re building. You won’t be the same lifter, your body won’t be the same, and you won’t be able to do things the same way. You have to build something new.

So, don’t call it a comeback.

 

I mean, you knew this was going to make it's way in here.

I mean, you knew this was going to make it's way in here.

Strongman Nationals 2016: Learning to Work

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to my coaches, gym buddies, friends, family, and everyone who wished me well and offered their endless support. I was absolutely blown away by the amount of support I received before and during the entire weekend. From my friends and family, to everyone who bought shirts, to members from my gym who made the entire experience so much fun, my fellow competitors, to everyone who offered their time and advice on competition weekend….THANK YOU. My heart is so so so full with gratitude and seeing that level of support is a such a humbling experience.

Two weeks ago, I participated in my first Strongman Corporation Nationals and it was an incredible experience. The whole weekend was humbling, motivating as hell, exhausting, and an absolute blast.

I spent the week of Nationals getting everything together and cutting a little weight since I was only 2lbs over my weight class. We had to weigh in with clothes on (I usually do anyways) and only got one shot at weigh is so I did a small water cut to ensure I would be good to go. I actually made weight Sunday, two days into my water loading, and then the next day, gained 4lbs overnight (thank you hormones). I never dropped it, even after cutting back my water so I ended up having to be a little more aggressive than I had planned. I ended up dropping all of my carbs on Wednesday and resorted to wearing two trash bags and a hoodie and sweats, and sweating in my car for a few hours. Totally normal things. 

I flew out to Quad Cities, Iowa suuuuper early on Thursday morning to ensure I had time to get to the first weigh in session on Thursday afternoon. Minus the unexpected cut issues, travel was totally fine. I got to weigh ins and weighed in at 138.8 and immediately had some liquids and snacks, settled in to the hotel, and just tried to eat and relax before the rules meeting that night. This was also my first time doing a two day competition, which was definitely a different experience. There were a lot of additional things to take into consideration, recovery wise, and I learned a toooon from this experience.

 

Day 1:

photo by: Michele Wozniak

photo by: Michele Wozniak

 

Circus Dumbbell, clean and press, max reps in 60 seconds, 70# - I ended up getting 3 reps on this event (I jumped a down command, which is very unlike me, but I was pretty nervous) which was technically a PR. I’ve been battling some shoulder issues and my shoulder didn’t feel great that morning so I was a little overly cautious and left some reps on the table. I was just glad this event was done since I really liked the rest of the events that day.

 

Yoke, 60 feet, 375# - This was my best event of the weekend with a time of 14:46 (or something like that). I don’t think that time was  PR by any means and I actually felt pretty slow. I’ve got a decent knee injury that made training yoke pretty painful so again, I was a little overly cautious. Also, those are some sliiiick floors!

 

Axle Tire Deadlift, max reps in 60 seconds, 300# - I ended up getting 3 reps here and had at least 2 more in the tank. We had to start behind a line and then run to strap in, which I didn’t practice, and I had some issues with my straps that cost me a few reps. I was really happy with this since I had never pulled 300# from that position more than once in training.

 

I was a little disappointed with my day 1 performance. I knew that I was going to be cautious going in because my knee and shoulder (but knee especially) were not in great shape. I spent the better part of the two weeks before nationals wearing an ace bandage everywhere, getting laser therapy, graston, ART, and icing my knee religiously to keep it together for the event. I jokingly said that I was being held together by kinesiotape buuuut it was sort of true. I tried to be smart in training and not push it too hard and reminded myself to be smart on competition day - I wasn’t going to qualify for the Arnold or place so I tried to not push it too far. I think I played it a little too safe so I need to learn to find a better balance in a competitive setting.

 

Day 2:

photo by: Michele Wozniak

photo by: Michele Wozniak

 

Tombstone carry, 200#, max distance - This event just broke me. I had done really well on this in training and then I just completely messed up my set up so I dropped it after only 30 feet. I was devastated. That event should have been a great one for me so I was just heartbroken. I went and cried in a corner for basically 20 minutes - I was so upset for not putting my best out there. I knew I just had to leave everything on the floor for the last event so I just sat with my headphones in for most of the time and tried to rally.

 

Carry & load medley, 130 keg from 60 feet, 130 keg from 40 feet, 130# stone of steel from 20 feet - I love, love, love medleys and keg and stone carries so this was right in my wheelhouse. My plan was to be fast and be efficient (#dontfuckaround) and I did exactly that. I was so happy to be done with the day and the event overall and glad I ended it on a high note.

The entire weekend was an incredible learning experience. My only goals coming into the weekend were to walk away uninjured (or rather, not injure myself more), not zero anything, and try to not place last. I accomplished all of those things and learned so so much.

 

photo by: Michele Wozniak

photo by: Michele Wozniak

 

I could type out a novel on what little things I learned. It could list out things like, “be smart and don’t injure yourself even more” or “take your recovery seriously” or “spray tacky, rice krispie treats, and biofreeze are the real MVPs of strongman” but truthfully, those aren’t the major things I learned.The whole thing was pretty overwhelming and I had a lot of “what am I doing here?! I don’t belong here!” thoughts while I was on the competition floor. And that is an incredibly humbling, motivating, and necessary experience. 

Over this entire competition season, I have accomplished a lot of things that I didn’t think were possible. My coaches have high expectations of me and I have even higher expectations of myself. This season, I have competed at the national level in two sports. I set PRs that I honestly thought were out of my reach. I have grinded harder than I ever have before. There has been more blood, sweat, and tears (so, so many tears) spilled than I even knew I had in me. This year has been one of transition, goal setting, and learning how to work… I mean really work. There were so many days when the last thing I wanted to do was go to gym after being at work for 9 hours and then coaching clients or I didn’t want to meal prep or spend nearly my entire Saturday in the gym, but I did it anyways. I did it because strength is choice and competing is privilege and because you learn the most about yourself when you’re thisclose to throwing in the (tacky) towel.  And I loved every second of it.

Now...it's time to work.

 

Why You Should Compete
photo by Turning Point Photography

photo by Turning Point Photography

Competing in strength sports is a lot of things: it's exhausting, it's time consuming, it’s mentally difficult, it's scary...and it is also one of the best things that I’ve ever done.

That is not to say that competing is for everyone. If you don’t want to compete, that is 100% okay. But if you have found yourself looking for a little something extra or in need of an extra push with your training, then maybe it is time to try a competition.

Why compete?

 

photo by Ladies Lift Here

photo by Ladies Lift Here

Competition gives your training purpose.

Competing puts an entirely new focus on your training. Your goal isn’t just to get in, get out, and hopefully get a good sweat. Now you have a little bigger purpose. That date on the calendar can give you that extra push when you’re sure you have nothing left for that last set of squats and gives you that mental edge when you just really, really do not want to get up on Saturday morning. It amplifies all of the reasons you originally started training and brings to light some motivations that you may not have known you had.

 

Competition gives you clarity.

There are few things that narrow your focus like knowing you have to perform on a certain day. Often times, competing comes with clarity of purpose for your training, nutrition, and stress management. You learn that maybe you don’t need to stress about something small because, I mean, you just deadlifted this morning and if you can handle that, you can handle whatever life throws at you.

 

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Competition teaches you things about yourself.

You learn what does and does not work for you. You discover how competitive you are (or aren’t). Competition teaches you what you’re made of. Nothing is given and everything is earned. You will learn what it is like to really dig deep and surprise yourself.

 

Competition gives you community.

Finding your “tribe” is one the best experiences, ever. Competitions are great places to meet like-minded people and to feel a sense of belonging. At the end of the day, you’re really just hanging out and lifting stuff with your strong friends and that is the greatest feeling. Strength sport communities are incredibly supportive and everyone cheers on everyone else.

 

Competition teaches you to be brave.

It is no easy task to put yourself out there. It takes a lot of courage to sign up and show up and compete. Competing in front of a crowd can be a very nerve wracking task and being nervous is completely normal. Once your first lift or event is done, the nerves dissipate and the excitement and fun of the day takes over. Knowing that you can go out on a platform or competition floor and put yourself out there definitely makes other “everyday” tasks seem way less intimidating.  


Competing isn’t everyone’s “thing”, but you never know if it could be your “thing” until you give it a try.