Two weeks out from the next step forward

Saturday evening I was driving somewhere; I can’t remember where and it doesn’t really matter, but as I wended my way through the night lights and coastal roads, “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran came on the radio. I’d never heard it before and…. well… music is a funny thing, isn’t it? I can’t empathize with the particulars of most of what he talks about (drinking, cigarettes, etc. were never my thing) but what hit me dead-centre was the image of a man driving home after having been away for a while, inexorably pulled by memories and connections strong enough to have stood the test of time.

That got me thinking pretty damned hard about the things that compel a person and the things that anchor them. Some times we get so wrapped up in the things that compel us and that we are chasing that we forget the importance of the unique combination of things that make us stronger that have really nothing to do with our pursuit but do everything to support it.

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The month leading up to a competition (at least for me) has a real ebb and flow to it. On the one hand, lifts get somewhat more intense. Every single movement matters. Mentally you have to be sharp and on your game for the big workouts in ways that seem more critical than in the off-season. You’re training your mind as much as your body to be ready for game day, so focus increases. At the same time, it becomes important to shut that off in-between training sessions. You think about other things, plan vacations, play with puppies, and (if you’re me) you also look ahead to training after the competition and try to figure out how to make that more fruitful and rewarding.

I’ve learned in the last few competitions that doing well in that competition means letting go of results and focussing only on process. So I view numbers dispassionately and calculatedly when needed (i.e. what jumps to make in training, what numbers I need to hit each time, what attempts I’ll make, what the goals are for the meet etc.) and then I more or less forget about them. They will happen if I put my heart and soul into the execution of the lift, the plan, the training, and the mental prep for the day, living in the moment one step at a time. The only way to control outcomes is by controlling actions, so I focus on what I can control.
I no longer lie awake at night worrying about openers or results.
I simply make them happen and adjust as needed so that they do.

In the weeks leading up to a competition, one of the things that I find allows me to let go of outcomes for the meet ahead and to stop fretting about the comp is planning for what comes next.

Kacey Baines wrote something on Instagram the other day about authenticity (shown and linked to below – thanks, Kacey, for such thoughtful and introspective posts) and how peoples’ lives are made up of the appealing and also non-so-attractive and how this is a part of what makes each of us unique and valuable to the world. She’s right. (click on her photo to go to the entire post)

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 8.50.11 AM.pngWhat does ‘being real’ on social media mean? Yes, I choose/curate what you see; I edit and use filters, but I’m not trying to project perfection. My life isn’t perfect and neither am I. Perfect isn’t interesting. Perfect is hard to connect with. I’m human. Being human is hard. …I believe in goodness, kindness, and compassion. I proudly wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m a hopeless romantic. I believe in love, and I’m glad it’s found me a few times, regardless of how it turned out. I love my family and friends fiercely. Losing them is the only thing in this world that scares me. I don’t believe sharing any of that here makes me weak or needy. It means I’m human. It means I’m a lot like you, and there’s comfort in that. There’s connection in that. That’s what being real means to me. #real #human #socialmedia #share #connect #good #love

A post shared by Kacey Rose Baines (@kaceybaines) on Feb 23, 2017 at 6:54am PST

What makes it possible for a person to excel is not how much they are perfect at something, but how perfectly they can combine their own unique strengths and weaknesses in harmony.

There isn’t just ONE perfect athlete.

There are thousands of them.

Trying to be like someone else is what will limit you as an athlete. You can’t be them and you’ll tap out too soon in frustration if you attempt it. But YOU? You can be the absolute best YOU on the planet. You just need to get better at it. And you do that by figuring out what works for you and that is not necessarily what might be very right for someone else.

We got a puppy a few weeks ago and every day my husband John and I look at each other and say that getting her was one of the best decisions we’ve made in a long time. She brings us all together and the laughter has been incredible. He and I were having a burger together Sunday, just spending time together and talking when I looked at the smile lines around his eyes that I know so well and the soft texture of his beard and how it has changed over the years, and realized that my anchors are my way to getting stronger.

I don’t need to spend more time in the gym. I need to make that time count in ways that suit my body and I need to have strong connections outside of training that sustain me.

I’ve been playing with my camera more and more, forging some new connections, revisiting things that truly matter to me and the other evening as I was driving and thinking about Ed Sheeran’s connections and joy at returning to those, it all sort of jumbled together and made sense.img_4738.jpg

Someone once told me that every lift you make in training and every successful attempt on the platform are steps toward the bigger lifts you have in you. They aren’t culminations, they’re beginnings.

That thought altered my perspective when lifting. If with each lift you make you’re building something bigger, it behooves you to make those lifts solid, to practice good technique, to recognize when you’re moving poorly and adjust as needed.

But the key to making those lifts is to be strong before ever you touch that bar.

My family, my life at my summer cabin, the creative time I spend behind the camera lens, my friends, the incredible athletes I have the privilege of coaching (and damn, does that ever provide some massive inspiration), and even things as simple as enjoying making food, hiking and knitting are parts of me that will make the next series of goals possible.

We talk about how lifting makes us stronger in other parts of our lives, but the truth is it’s symbiotic; both parts build a stronger human and the world needs more of those.

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