Applying Ralph Waldo Emerson to Strongman Training

In our bathroom, we have a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem on a canvas for us to view as we get ready for bed at the end of the day.  The poem reads:

Finish each day and be done with it.

You have done what you could, some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in;

Forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day;

You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

While the poem is a great reminder for our daily lives, as I read it tonight, it seemed equally applicable to lifting and competitions. Finish each lift and be done with it. Yes, there is much to be learned from the lift, and you can be proud of what has been accomplished, but don’t dwell on a single lift to the point where it causes frustration or where it allows a person to become complacent.

Though I am getting better at squats and deadlifts, I still struggle and fight for every rep. Dave coaches me to take time and set-up properly and complete each rep with starting and ending in the same position. When I need to reset, Dave reminds me to step back and breathe, collect my thoughts, regroup, and regrip. While the goal is to be successful with every rep in every set, I am frequently reminded that i need to check my pride and ego in favor or proper form and completing the prescribed sets.

This is where the wisdom of Emerson comes in: At the end of the set or at the end of the session, I can learn from my successes as well as my blunders and absurdities, but to dwell or think on the failures will not benefit on my future training.

This morning, I started our 5 sets of 8 reps with too high a weight. I went with 345 lbs, which was at the top end of the percentages Dave advised use we should consider lifting.  By half-way through the second set, my form was needing to be reset after each lift, so I was told I needed to lower weight. I reduced to 315, and after that set, Dave recommended I drop to 275. When I finished the deadlift portion of the workout, I moved on. Yes, I would have preferred to end on a set of 8 for 345, but I made a blunder, I learned, and I moved on. The next exercise was squats, and each of the 3 sets of 8 were improved upon over the previous. The deadlifts had served their purpose for the day, and I was done with them, mentally and physically.

So, how does this apply in a broader picture? I still need to get over myself and my lifts from my youth. I am more than 20 years older, and I had many years of lack of physical training, so it is almost as though I am starting from scratch, so I must forget about the successes of the past, as that was a different person. Each day, I must strive to be the best I can be in that moment, and when the moment is done, be done with the moments, whether successes or failures.

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