Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summon Your Strength.

Man.  It has been a rough month for some of the lifters of the Monterey Bay Barbell Club.  Myself included.  Weightlifting may just be the most frustrating mindfuck of a sport ever created, and none of our brains are invulnerable.  Nor, for that matter, are our bodies.  These things seem to go in waves: things are good, things hold steady, things suck, repeat.  In the midst of my bitching, I failed to realize, at least on more than a superficial "I'll program some lighter days for you" kind of level, that quite a few of us are riding the frustration-train through this-sucks-town.  So I figured I'd better quit moping, and do my job.

I want to distinguish between two mental issues, and two physical issues.  First, the physical: pain versus injury.  Injuries are not to be pushed through.  They are to be assessed, worked around, and healed.  Do not be an idiot: I've trained through injuries, and it doesn't end well.  On the other hand, weightlifting hurts.  It's physically demanding, and it hurts in big and little ways.  Muscular soreness, tender hands, stiff joints are all part of the package.  Sometimes they're enough to warrant backing off for a day.  Sometimes you just have to suck it up.  Accept now that sometimes training will hurt.  You can bitch if you want to – I sure do – as long as you do the work when you are able.

Second, the mental: frustration versus burnout.  Folks, burnout is a real thing.  It can happen to anyone who takes more than a recreational interest in training.  And it can make you lose your focus, your passion, and your love for the sport.  It can make you forget why you decided to dedicate so much of yourself to it in the first place.  When this happens, it's time to change things up.  It may be a small change - like switching around your programming.  Or you may need a break.  You may need to put the lifts on the back burner for a week, or two, or four.  It's not ideal for a competitive weightlifter, but sometimes it's just what has to be.

Frustration, however...if you're not frustrated a good bit of the time, you're probably not trying hard enough.  I know you have had days where you wanted to cry, or yell, or kick your bar, or storm out of the gym.  I've thrown my straps to the floor and and made up new and interesting combinations of swear words more than once.

I know you have wanted, at least for a minute or two, to just quit.  I've been there too.

Unfortunately, it's part of the game.  When this is the case: take a walk, take a breath, and take another attempt.  We're going to suffer, and fail, and suffer, and fail, and suffer, and succeed. And we're going to do it as a team.  Remember that your teammates know what you're feeling – it helps.

I know you're hurting.  I know your knees are swollen and your shoulders are stiff.  I know your hips don't want to move normally and your elbows feel funny.  I know that sometimes, you have weird pains that seem to float around your body with no real intent other than to piss you off.

I know your minds are tired.  I know that sometimes training feels like a chore.  I know that there are days when the last thing you want is to look at, much less lift another stupid-asshole-God-forsaken-mother-fucker-of-a-barbell.

Well, summon your strength, because you have to pull that bar.  You have to pull it because you are better than giving up because of a shitty workout.  You have to pull it because when you find the strength for another set, so do your teammates, and you are here to help each other, not only yourselves, prevail.  You have to pull it, and you have to pull it hard, because in this sport, sometimes it's not about legs or shoulders or even the almighty gluteus maximus.  Sometimes it's about spirits.  And the spirit of the Monterey Bay Barbell Club – as individuals and as a team – is strong.  Push through.  Persevere.  And eventually you are going to land a PR snatch, lock out a PR clean & jerk, grind through a PR squat.  And when you do it, your knees will still be swollen and your shoulders will still be stiff, your hips still won't move normally and your elbows will still feel funny and you will still get the weird pains that float around your body with no real intent other than to piss you off.

But your spirit will soar, and we will all be there with you to watch it fly.

I guess what I'm saying is, fuck this sport.

Same time tomorrow?


Adam Brigges said...

You wrote this whole article just so you can subliminally put "the game" in your story, somehow convince me to read it, and now I have lost three times: one - I see your name... I lose, two - you wrote it in this blog... I lose and three - I'm talking about right now losing over and over just writing this DAMN long comment!!!

Good article, by the way.

Tsypkin said...

Victory is mine!