Mind Over Matter

My first competition is fast approaching (two weeks from today), and while I am confident in some events, there are others that I am doing my best to psych myself out of being competitive, and I need to stop it. After a week off for attending a conference, I did front squats and some ab work (dragonflies?) on Friday, and Saturday morning, we did strongman training. In both cases, I let “should” enter my mind and mess with me instead of focusing on what “is.”  Let me explain.

After missing my normal Friday morning workout since I had arrived home late Thursday night/Friday morning, Dave invited me to join him and a couple other guys to do a quick (5×5) squat session with some ab work to follow. I appreciated the opportunity to still salvage the day with a workout after being gone for a while, and it was fun to see the guys and to train, but as we were doing front squats (perhaps my best session I have done), I found myself judging and comparing myself to Dave and Ryan, both of whom have been squatting longer.  I outweigh both of them by at least 40 lbs, and my legs are not chicken legs, so to see both exceeding my weight, instead of being pleased with having accomplished 5 good sets of front squat, I was telling myself I should be doing more weight than both of Dave and Ryan. While it is a goal to work towards, letting the comparison and self-judgment diminish my workout did nothing to make me feel more competitive nor did it focus on the positive upon which I could build.  By contrast, Dave, Ryan, and Frank (who was doing back squats) recognized my improved form and performance, and they complimented me on the work. They are a great reminder of the benefit of excellent workout partners/trainers, as they find the good and offer feedback on how to improve, without diminishing what has been accomplished.

Saturday morning, we worked on event specific lifts: log press, axle press, one-armed circus dumbbell, and car deadlift.  For fun, they brought out a few other implements for a medley, including a duck walk. I am fortunate to have strong shoulders and pressing skills, but I am still working on form and coordination, especially with the log. We were not working with heavy weights on the log or axle, since there was a general agreement that reps were more important for the day.  I was able to do press the axle and the dumbbell with relative ease, but I struggled with the log, and again, people I outweighed (one by 70-80 lbs) outperformed me or kept pace with me on the log, and when we got to the car deadlift, I was blown out of the water. In my frustration caused by comparing myself to others (with more experience) and determining I should be lifting more than they were, I missed the fact that I did better on the car deadlift this week than I had when I first tried it two months ago. Again, I lost perspective on personal improvement, and I was turning a good day of personal successes into a “not good” day because I didn’t perform as well as others.

Like Friday, the guys with whom I workout on Saturday’s at Bob’s garage gave encouragement, recognized my strengths, and offered suggestions on how to improve. They focused on techniques and didn’t let negative terms like failure, weak, or can’t enter their critique. I need to begin to internalize the positive views my workout buddies have so I can see my successes and see where I need to improve while enjoying my gains. And, I need to stop comparing myself to others, especially when I am only beginning competition, as I will psych myself out of competing, if I don’t accept that I am only competing against myself and my personal bests.

Thanks to Dave, Ryan, Bob, Tom, Bryan, Shane, and all the other fine people who are helping me to learn more about this fun sport and to face my challenges and see the positives while acknowledging changes that need to be made.

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