When you think about it, a Weightlifter in Canada (especially the western provinces) is really an athletic entrepreneur. The sport is relatively underground here. Most of us are fumbling our way through training and competition with out a clue. If we're lucky (and I am VERY lucky) we have a coach we can look up to who mentors us, teaches us, and guides our athletic development.
In this post I'm going to mirror the above article and relate its 9 principles to the sport of weightlifting.
This one was fairly evident based on my reaction to the last competition. I finished it asking: why didn't I perform how I wanted to? Why didn't I go 6/6? I answered the question with a swarm of external reasons - my coach wasn't there, I was sick leading up to it, I'm peaking for nationals, and on and on...
Where I really needed to look for answers was within myself. I wasn't focused, I felt rushed. Why did I feel unfocused and rushed? Time is external. If I could have just taken a seat and a few deep breaths for a 10 seconds, the feeling would have passed.
Athletes are masters of placing blame on external factors. And yes, they do play a part. But in the end, its just you, your mind and your body. Only you control that. Take responsibility. Once this is realized, the external world is much easier to handle and let go of.
I luckily have a few of these people in my life. My coach, training partners, and family.
Unfortunately (and I think this is because I'm a Scorpio) I like to compartmentalize who knows what about me. My coach knows 1/3 of who I am. My training partners know another 1/3. My family knows the remaining 1/3. Other than myself, no one knows me entirely. From my perspective, this keeps me safe. Being entirely honest with one person is scary and created a huge vulnerability. Maybe this is something I can work on, however I am terrified that if I do this, they may not understand or they may not care.
From a weightlifting perspective, I am fully honest with my coach and team. Its hard to get away with anything when you see them 5 days a week. Maybe there should be more beyond just my technique and numbers? Who knows.
3. Recognize there is a life after failure
Okay, I used to struggle HARDCORE with this one, but I think the last year I have been able to master it.
As my old room mate said, 'Shoot for the stars, land on your face, its all good'. Terrible quote but I have been living by it. You fail, that's fine. Get back up and try again. This is the essence of sport. We are athletes for a reason: we are chasing our potential. None of us will ever be satisfied unless we fulfill what we perceive is our potential.
What is more impressive than winning a Gold is being able to lose, endure the loss, get back up and go for it again.
4. Read purposefully, and apply your knowledge
IE: listen to your coach. Follow the program. Listen to the cues. Don't just let this information wash through your brain and rinse out before the next session.
Chew on it. Work you ass off. Write down what you need to work on and actually WORK on it. This is extremely challenging when it comes to technique, it takes constant focus and refocusing to apply the intention to every life but it is worth it. You will be a better weightlifter for it.
If you don't have a coach and spend most of your time reading about lifting, practice what you read. Almost every coach out there says not the program hop and not to max out every day - so why are you doing it?
The article describes this well 'The practice of self-awareness—to think about your thinking—in how you think, feel, and behave is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.'
I have recently done this with negative self talk regarding body image, laziness, and stupidity. My roommate pointed out to me that I am very self-depricating - calling myself fat, ugly, lazy, stupid, all under the facade of humour. Humorous or not, it wasn't helping my psyche. I started by just being aware of the thoughts. Then I started challenging myself. I am NOT unfit, I am NOT lazy - why do I say these things? What am I comparing myself too?
Then it started to spill over into weightlifting... Why do I call myself slow? Lazy? Weak? I am not any of those. Negative self talk just beats an athlete down to a dust that can easily be walked over by defeat, setbacks and injury. Build yourself up with positive self talk.
You are fast. You are strong. You can lift this weight.
6. Reflect on what you spend the most time on
How long did you dwell on that missed lift? On that bomb? Think about it, figure out why it happened, then move on.
If we spend our time consumed with the past there is no way we can focus on our future.
Yes, I missed a 109kg CJ, its over. Now I can focus on lifting 120kg.
7. Remind yourself, you weren't meant to procrastinate
Do it now. Train. Get out of bed. Get out of that miserable headspace. This doesn't mean go nuts in the gym, it means meditate, sleep, fuel yourself, focus. Comfort is the enemy of achievement, right? Get out of your comfort zone.
Get uncomfortable. Force adaptation.
I am bad for this one. If I'm training alone, I waste time between sets on the phone... Texting, checking facebook, listening to music...
Try training alone in silence. It'll do wonders for your soul.
Weightlifting is pure meditation.
9. Remind yourself that time is our most precious resource
Lets get real: we all have a limit on time. I've felt the pressure to 'grow up and move on with life'. I've felt the pressures from myself and others to find a 'career' and stop with this silly dream of weightlifting.
When I'm on the verge of death I don't think I'm going to remember landing some mediocre job in my 20's and working until I die. I'm going to remember giving Weightlifting my best shot and trying with all my might to lift the world over my head.
I want to spend this time developing my self. Developing my athletics. I want to share my experiences and pass it on to other athletes.
The world isn't what it was when our parents were our age. Owning a home and retiring seem like an impossibility right now. I'm happy just to lift, pay my bills and live the lift I want. So, thats what I'm going to do. This is MY time and I will make the most of it.
Stoicism (from my shallow google researching) is all about accepting the world around you and accepting it for what it is. Do not run from your fears, face them and understand why they strike fear in you. It is about overcoming adversity and moving on with more courage and fire. Apply this to your weightlifting and develop a mind that can help you achieve your goals.
Click here to read the article from 99u that inspired this blog post.