Thursday, August 11, 2016

Part 2: Road to Nationals

Training, injury and goals! 

My training started early in March. I set up my meeting with my coach Jim and had a very insightful and motivating phone call with him. Soon after I had all of my start up paperwork and my first 5 weeks of training. I was so excited to get started and do everything perfect and finally see some serious progress. 

There were a handful of things during the phone call that would change things right away. 

The first was at the time of the call I was still "cutting". I was trying to loose weight to give myself a buffer for the 148 pound weight class. I was then informed that in the new federation I was looking to compete in the weight class would be 138. I was also asked to stop cutting and to  try and "maintain".

This was an automatic excuse for me to quit tracking and eat "normal". This would be fine if there was such thing as normal. By not tracking I allowed myself to eat when and what I wanted. This could mean not eating some days and over eating others. It also almost automatically made me feel out of control and sloppy. I would look in the mirror and call myself a slob or think I was fat. In reality I wasn't that out of control, but because it wasn't on paper each day for me to see I would beat myself up over it. This I knew to be a problem, but I didn't think tracking again would be the answer. Finding balance and learning to love myself and my choices was the answer. Easier said than done. 

The sound of the 138 weight class scared the crap out of me in multiple ways and excited me in others. I was excited to try and reach a goal weight that had been in my mind for years. I was excited to have an excuse to try and be that light again. Excuses were everything for me at the time since most of my worry came from "supporters". I was excited to work hard and land myself in the top of a weight class rather than just go in and land somewhere middle to bottom. I was scared however because as you know from part one 143 was the lowest I could ever achieve. It was a barrier that had blocked me since I made healthy choices that lead to healthy weight gain. I was again afraid to fail. Still I'm afraid to fail. However I did finally hit 142.5 making it seem possible to break the barrier and I will continue to reach for my goal of 138. 

I like to tell people to not worry about the scale number. I only have to or do because of competition purposes. This is an added challenge for me because I know better than using scale weight as a means of tracking progress. I still try everyday to view it as a number send it off to my coach and not worry about it, it's his job to worry about it and make adjustments not me. 

The second major discussion topic was my equipment use. I am a raw lifter. I have always been 100% raw. So much as to not use a belt or sleeves. In this discussion Jim explained to me that if my goal is to be as strong as possible then I needed to put my body under the most amount of stress it could handle during training. This could only be done by using the equipment I would be expected to use in competition. 

I decided for myself it would be silly to let tough guy tendencies let my competition get a leg up on me. If everyone I compete against is going to be in sleeves and a belt and I get nothing extra out of not wearing them, then it was time to step up and start using my equipment the way it was intended. 

I had it all, the best of the best in all of my equipment. I let it sit in my gym bag day after day never using it until now. It changed my world, as it should. I may still have my days when I wish could not use any of it, but I quickly remember my goals and what it is going to take to achieve them. I calm myself down by reminding myself there's not much longevity in the sport of powerlifting and nothing can stop me from training raw in the future when I'm not prepping for a meet. 

Everything had been going great. Training was perfect, I was enjoying it and seemingly I was adding pounds upon pounds to all of my lifts. Then a few phone calls later with coach had me down a little. I had gone into the calls thinking how great my lifts were going and how impressive it was to me the amount of weight I was able to increase too. The first call went well, he looked at my log and thought my bench was not increasing. Just staying about the same. To me this was incredible because it looked like a 30 pound increase from any meet pr I ever had. So we moved on and I didn't think much of it just kept chugging along. In the next call he made a similar comment but about my lifts over all. Indicating that they were not going up I quickly refuted and brought up my pr history and how much they've increased from there. 

I was ok for about a day after that call as I was heading for vacation when I took the call. Then I gave myself the time to think about it amd when I thought I realized he was right. Of course he was right there were charts and graphs and plenty of quanitative proof thst my lifts were not increasing. 

I took it upon myself to push a little harder to make those graphs go up. Perhaps my lifts were overall better than previously but week after week they were the same increase over past lifts. 

I wanted the graphs to move so badly I was hardly listening to my body or the RPEs that I should be hitting. Just a number in my head. This was not how my training was designed and it quickly led me into an injury and a new fear and lack of enjoyment in my lifting. 

My advice to anyone would still as always be trust in the process. Believe in yourself and listen to your body we only have one and goals will come. 

Injuries sometimes give athletes an excuse to back out. For me it's like my mind plays a trick. If your injured you can back out and you have no chance for failure. You just simply didn't go after it because you were injured. This time I could feel that coming on but admitted it quickly to myself and I fought those feelings. I stayed on top of any kind of training I could manage, and hurried into a rehab protocol. I promised to allow myself to heal completely but I also didn't want to let to much time slip away. With time slipping motivation would slip and I knew this.  I was able to proudly combat this effect this time and move on to a final few weeks of serious training and real progress all over again. 

Lauren Ciurczynski 

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