I was entering my final phase of training right before I hit the National stage. Going into this week, I have never felt more physically ready and everything leading up till now has been completely on track. But then the nerves hit… and it hit unexpectedly.
Imagine doing 10 months of preparation where everything feels solid, you know you’ve gotten stronger, you feel more physically ready than ever before and recovery is on point to then suddenly, out of the blue, you now have a mental block.
All those nerves, all that subconscious stress, all those accumulated worries just found its way to pile onto one lift. Let me tell you, it is not something you want to experience a week before a National competition.
I don’t have the answer as to why it happened. The only logical conclusion is yes, I am human, and I get nervous. It found a way to latch onto and fuel off, the one window of doubt I may have opened. This is when I truly experienced just how powerful the mind can be. As ready as I felt to conquer and accomplish all the goals that I set out to do – there was fear.
My last phase of training before competition requires less volume and involves grooving a repetitive pattern in order to get accustom to that one rep execution. But something was stopping me from executing what I knew my strength could do. The unknown scared me and once you let that fear or doubt enter your mind – it spirals. I knew something had to change. My perspective had to change.
Life will throw you curve balls when you least expect it. They are meant to teach you lessons but what a way to pick a timing to throw this curve ball!
This is the part of the process that unless you are present in the moment or have experienced it yourself, you will never truly understand. You may be able to sympathize or give words of encouragement, which is very much appreciated but the only ones who understand the ups or downs of that day are you and your coach.
Nationals was two days ago. I am still processing the results… it was not what I(we) had hoped for. This time around, it was different. I entered knowing I was at my strongest ever but there was that slight window of doubt/fear. I knew that my body was 100% ready but that my hardest battle was going to be my own mind.
The day before competing, it was strange… all those previous nerves were completely gone. I felt calm as a whistle and well rested. I felt ready to tackle the challenge ahead. This feeling put my mind at ease and made me believe that I simply had the pre-game jitters.
Wednesday evening, my coach and I watched the other competitors compete. My adrenaline started pumping as the energy in the crowd was surreal, to the point I felt like I was lifting!
My heart was racing when PRs were being broken and my body would tense up as the judges were saying commands. This had me excited for my competition day.
Sitting and waiting my turn, hearing the excitement from the coaches and those lifting, I kept my music on and found my happy place. The squats could not have gone any better – 353lbs was a personal best. At that point my confidence was on a high and the bench press was next.
My third bench was a weight I knew I’d be able to do but it simply wasn’t in the tank at that moment. As frustrating as that was, I had to shut off the thoughts and move on. I needed that energy to be put to good use as there was still a competition I had to complete. Then came the final lift – the deadlift.
So here is a small glimpse into just how complex powerlifting can become. In a span of 7 minutes, two lifters changed weight attempts to surpass my total. I nearly went from 3rd place to 6th.
The deadlift is the final lift. I started my first attempt being one of the last girls to go. By missing my second attempt, it moved me to the middle of the group for the third. By being in the middle of the group, that gave the following competitors an advantage for changing attempts.
Right before stepping on the platform for my third lift, it was announced that I had to get it in order to place podium. I got it! I was 3rd place. Although not 100% happy with my performance, I said “okay at least I made podium.”
And, that got taken away real fast! As I went back to the warm up room, my coach and I watched the screen of those still competing. Two girls were battling for that 3rd place by both raising their 3rd attempt weights. One lifter tried to shoot for it and missed. My coach and I had our eyes glued to the screen. The second girl went and succeeded.
Many think it is simply a matter of training hard and executing. But there is a lot to the sport that goes on behind the curtain. From final attempts, to warm up area, to unpredictability of time or judgement calls, etc. It is more than what you see on that live cast. Being there in person, you truly appreciate the sport, the dedication and the work ethic of everyone in the room.
In the past… what am I saying, I still do – I suppress emotions or fears as much as I could. I’ve always told myself that it is time better spent getting stronger and working on my goals. In my mind there was no time for worries or concerns and when you openly voice them or talk about them, your just fueling the wrong kind of energy. So, I bottled them up and put them aside.
Not truly dealing with those concerns just created, what I call, a tornado of hidden energy. It catches up to you. It stayed inside me from February till the final weeks of my prep, throughout Nationals and still, the days after. I knew it had not gone away when someone told me “Yes, you work your ass off and then let your head talk you out of it!!” That was when I broke. The part of my thoughts that I didn’t want to admit to or acknowledge, were placed bluntly right in front of my eyes. It was the truth that I did not want to believe to be true, but that I knew was.
Physically, I was ready to do the 410lbs. So, when the 396lbs on my second attempt of deadlift didn’t come off the floor and I knew I missed the podium by 2.5kg – it was all on me. Being told from an outside view, caused me to break. Not from the words but from finally accepting it to be true.
The mind is an extremely powerful thing. Through the stress, the pressure, the hurdles, the successes – you control it every step of the way. The work doesn’t stop, as now I feel I have some unfinished business – to show a true representation of my strength.
The biggest battle when wanting to accomplish your goal is not going to be the amount of work that you will need to put in or the length of time you will need to stay committed – the hardest battle is the one that goes on between your own two ears.
The mind is no doubt a powerful thing. It can either push you to achieve the goals you didn’t think were possible or it can prevent you from doing what use to be, an effortless task. From experience, do not let your own head be the reason you did not get to where you want to go.
What’s that quote again…. Oh yeah!