What Drives You?
I previously shared my thoughts on competing, and since then I’ve had the chance to see a few of my friends compete in weightlifting and CrossFit. We all choose the path that feels right for us, and I’m happy to be able to give you a few other perspectives on competition.
Dara competed in the Chicago Strength Meet (Olympic weightlifting). This was her first time competing, and she finished second and ended the day with a new Clean and Jerk PR! A very successful first outing for her. Here is what she had to say about it:
Being new to Olympic weightlifting at the time, my family and I decided to watch the 2013 Pan Am Masters. I’m so glad I went because the variety of athletes participating was a pleasant surprise. I think its common to think athletes only compete when they have a strong medal shot, but most participants don’t medal. What every athlete does is try. And fail, and try again. I don’t like seeing people miss lifts, but I love seeing people come back and show grace and bravado. I love athletes who acknowledge the crowd, no matter the result. I love lifters who celebrate themselves and others. The combination of grit, class, and mental tenacity is something I appreciate and admire.
I think we owe it to ourselves to find inspiration and positive sources of energy, and this happens to be one for me. So when Kurt said “we should get you ready to compete” I said yes before I could talk myself out of it. Any other time I think I would’ve second guessed myself, but Kurt’s comment came at a time when I was feeling good and was looking for a mid-range goal to challenge my mind and body. I’ve seen Kurt and Mallory prepare for meets before, so I knew what the next few weeks would be like. Would I be a good example of those qualities I’ve admired on the platform? I felt that with a smart training plan and hard work, I had to try and find out. Even in the worst case scenario, I would have learned something about my limits in the 7 weeks of training. I had unwavering confidence in Will’s coaching, and was actually eager for the challenge.
Judging by my own measures of success, I think my first meet was SUPER. I didn’t break down, mentally or physically. I was still on great terms with Will and Kurt. My family and friends actually wanted to watch and cheer for me. I was happy to be there and wasn’t dreading the outcome. I felt confident and positive. I didn’t turn petty or surly to my other competitors. I was relaxed and open to what the day would bring, and that’s the best I could have hoped for.
Jen’s a seasoned Crossfit competitor, having done many local competitions. Her most recent performance was at the Granite Games (RX division), which she was invited to after a national qualification process. Here are her thoughts on competing:
In the years leading up to today the last thing I thought I’d be doing is grabbing heavy barbells and throwing them over my head, swinging around on a pull-up bar like a monkey, flipping tires, and muscles ups. Competing wasn’t even on my radar. Watching others compete is what really got me into it. I appreciated that everyone was still cheering for that one last person to finish. No one was ever left behind. This was something I wanted to be a part of because it is not about being better than someone else – it’s about challenging yourself to do the best that you can do.
In all honesty when I walk out on a competition floor the last thing I am thinking is “I have to beat that girl.” What I really think about is how I’m going to execute the movements in a way that is quick and efficient, so that when I’m done can be happy with the result. Once that workout starts I never actually look around. it’s just me and the task at hand.
Have there been times I’ve finished a competition unhappy? Yes, sometimes it’s seriously soul crushing because I’ve trained so hard and moves that seemed easy in practice feel hard in competition. But in all honesty competing is such a great experience because it really does build that mental toughness needed to walk out on the floor and just keep pushing.
Kurt and Will have done an excellent job programming for my weaknesses and are slowly turning me into a machine (or so I like to think). I am always striving to be better and continue to improve. I trust that their programming, combined with the support from my family and 2nd family at CrossFit Crystal Lake, will get me anywhere I set my mind to. But that’s one thing you can’t train for – mindset. The Granite Games taught me a lot about myself and definitely lit the fire and prepared me to face the challenge head on as an individual again.
With great coaching and the right mindset you can do anything. Part of the trick is to be happy right now and learn from the results because you know you did your best to get there. In other words, the 48 million reps Kurt and Will make you do are totally worth it in the end.
Kristen has done many Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting competitions in the past, and is currently training for the 2014 Mid American Championships, which take place in 3 weeks. This is what she had to say about why she chose to get back out on the competition platform:
My interest in Olympic weightlifting started in 2010, thanks to CrossFit. I became interested in the competition aspect of CrossFit and Olympic lifting right away. I have been involved in competitive swimming since I was 5 and never had an off season until I graduated, so when college was over I was kind of at a loss as to what to do for exercise. I always had a coach by my side telling me what to do, so when the coach was gone, I stopped swimming and didn’t really care about working out that much.
When CrossFit came into my life I had a renewed sense of competition. I wanted to get better at the sport of fitness, and as soon as I realized I could compete again, I was all for it. My favorite movements became the snatch and the clean and jerk. I went on a visit with a friend to Sayre Park Weightlifting Club in Chicago and was inspired to take my interest to another level. While doing Crossfit, I signed up for meets and started testing my abilities over the next four years.
I decided to sign up for the Mid American Weightlifting meet this year because I felt I had fallen into somewhat of a rut. I was putting my hobbies on the back burner and letting my role as mother and special education teacher take the forefront (as it very well should be most of the time). Stress seemed to by my “thing” as of late, so I decided that I needed to do something for myself. I signed up for this meet, got a babysitter, and started training with Will at SAA three times per week, along with continuing to go to CrossFit Carbon one day per week. My workouts became training sessions for this specific meet, and in doing so I have a renewed sense of the old me. I think it was time to stop letting the stress of everyday life be an excuse for not doing what I love to do. Making this commitment has helped light a flame that had dimmed over time and I’m pretty thankful for the people around me that are helping to keep that flame burning.
I want to say THANK YOU to Dara, Jen, and Kristen for sharing what drives them. We are all motivated by different things, but the one similarity that stands out to me in all three women’s thoughts is how happy it makes them.
Find what drives you, then pursue it with all ya got.