I just got done with the American Open. This was the first time I went to this meet just to do a total, and not necessarily to compete. For me, being a competitor, it was a weird feeling.
Regardless, I had clear objectives for the meet, and I was not about to let something like my ego get in the way of it.
Here were my goals:
- 2 lifts, that's it. 1 good snatch and 1 good clean and jerk. That is all I need
2. Compete for first time in 2 years at a National Meet
3. Actually talk to people
-- not kidding, 90% of my competitions, I'm so focused on winning that I never get to actually talk to my friends or network.
4. Stay healthy
1. Do up to 80%
- This was the preset limit for this macrocycle**. No maxxing out, no going above 80%
Super stretch goals
1.Use Jedi mind tricks to convince coach to go heavier and win a medal
- hmmm, might be counter to my goal of peaking in April
- note to self, lift more such that my 75% is the winning total at all national meets
My goal for 2017 is to win the World Masters Games and to break all the World Records.
I actually never really thought about lifting as a Master. To be honest, when I found out that the World Master Games were in New Zealand, I was like, "sign me up!". Let me tell you, I want to go and see the "Hobbits" in New Zealand so bad. You know, I just spent 3 days in Orlando and could care less about dropping $100 to see Mickey Mouse or Harry Potter at the theme parks. Now, for the chance to see the land of the Hobbits and Lord of the Rings movies, that I will take any excuse to fly half way around the world. The actual sets of the Shire are still there!*
Now, the only qualifier in the qualifying period for the World Master Games that I was eligible to lift in was the 2016 American Open. I was simply too young to compete at any of the other qualifiers. The last thing I wanted to do was to show-up at the American Open and just train through it. I am in a part of my macrocycle where maxxing out would just mess things up.
Personally, I am a competitor. Having me go to a meet to not compete is insanity to me. It actually took a lot of discipline and restraint to do just enough to qualify and not too much to stay within my intensity zone for this microcycle. I even purposely registered at the minimum entry total so as not to be tempted to go heavier; it also afforded me to open way under 80%.
I am sure there are people reading this thinking, " What's the point of weightlifting if sometimes you are not going to even try to lift your best".
Well, in lifting life, you need to decide - are you a competitor or are you a weightlifter? If you are a weightlifter first, then just lifting for the sake of lifting is enough. The joy of lifting the bar over your head is more than satisfying. Now, if you're a competitor, then its more about hitting specific goals. Which competitions do I want to win? Win by how much? Specifically, how much do I want to lift this year at my peak competition?
I tell you what-- going to this competition with a completely different mindset and set of stakes lead me to some learning.
Its not about where you start, but where you finish -- well, sort of not really
I can't tell you how many times I have heard weightlifting coaches say, "it's not about where you start, its about where you finish."
Well, yes and no. At a normal competition, starting 1-3% lower than planned isn't such a big deal. Most people at an advanced level can take a 4-5kg jump on their second attempt if needed.
Now, if you are in a situation, like myserlf, picking a lift >10% below your real openers, then it gets more tricky.
For example, I opened super light in the snatch. I wanted to take at least a 7kg jump to my second attempt. My coach, keeping goal #4 in mind, was not having that. His point of view was "Stay healthy. Just take a moderate jump and do six lifts". Plus, there's the other dilemma of there being 30 attempts between taking a 7kg jump or 15+ attempts for taking a 4kg jump.
Well, guess what, both options kind of sucked. So, we went with the conservative 4kg jump. I had at least 15 attempts to wait out. I am very fortunate that, normally, I lift towards the end of the A Session and have never waited more than 3-4 attempts ever. Waiting >15 attempts was insane. We dropped down to like 55kgs and kept taking snatches to keep me warm.
Coming out for what was normally an easy 77kg snatch seemed ridiculous after I had been in the warm-up room over 30 minutes. I was getting impatient and flustered. I complained to my coach that I didn't want to play this game of take one lift then sit for 30 minutes. I let my mind drift out of the Zone. Needless to say, I badly missed my second attempt-like not even close. It felt like missing the bar-- should just not happen. For my 3rd attempt, I only had like 5 attempts to wait. I got my shit together thinking to myself, "Gwen, you do this lift in your sleep. Just do it". This one was a much easier snatch, still I missed it. I was out of the zone.
This lead to some interesting strategies for the clean and jerk.
You can control the situation or let it control you.
By the time clean and jerks rolled around, I was 50% at my goal. I had done 1 snatch as needed; now, all I needed was 1 good clean and jerk.
I was not going to jeapordize my 1 good lift for any reason, especially, being at the mercy of other coaches moving their lifters attempts up and down.
I realized I had one advantage no one else had. I've totaled 202kg before, most of the lifters in my session had never done over 180kg, and I only needed a paltry 82kg clean and jerk to hit my qualification goals.
So, how do I get control back? 1. Lowered my opener such that I would be the first person to open the session, Then, 2. take over a 10kg jump for my second attempt.
If I opened with something ridiculously light, I could do very few warm-ups- say 4-5 reps. Then, if I took a large enough jump, I would have 30+ attempts until my second attempt. This would give me plenty of time to rest, then warm-up again to something a little bit closer to a real starting weight.
Well, the plan worked out incredibly well. My opener was ridiculously easy, and making it had taken all the pressure off the rest of my lifts. I then jumped 13 kilos to 95kg (it was mischievous fun just to see the panic that ensued after I took above the expected 2-5kg jump..sorry, not sorry, to my coaching friends in the warm-up room).
I probably should have went 100kg for my second attempt. Here's why: As planned, I had plenty of time to warm-up to 95kg. However, a bunch of coaches had then moved their athletes' third attempts to 96kg. This then put me back in the game of waiting a long time between my second and third attempt.
I opted to go 100kg as I did not want to wait to the last lift of the session if I took say a 6 or 8kg jump. Once again, I did not do so well with the long wait and racked the 100kg out forward.
Aside from using this competition as an opportunity to apply some unorthodox attempt selection strategies, it also showed me that I need to get better at real-world competition situations such as having more than 2-3 attempts between my lifts --you never know when that situation might arise again.
Later that weekend, I watched the men's 85kg session. I was impressed with how some of the lifters , like James Tatum, waited many attempts between their first and second attempts and still came out to make big lifts. Here's a photo of James with a close 182kg Clean and jerk on his way to winning the USAW American Open. < Yes, he is wearing a pair of the Tiburon Risto Sports Weightlifting shoes. Yes, I chose this photo because of the perfect lighting on the shoes and its 6 red plates ... >
On my other goals:
Hey, I can give myself a little slack. I posted a total at my first National meet in 2 years. I also took the biggest jump of my competitive career ever - a 13kg jump between first and second attempts-- and nailed the lift. My elbows held up just fine ( The two year anniversary of blowing out my right elbow at the 2014 AO is tomorrow. You can memorialize the moment by sending me gluten free cookies lol=), and, overall, I stayed healthy.
And, yes, I did , finally get to socialize a bit more at this competition. There were so many "facebook friends" I got to actually meet in person and become "real" friends. There were even some serrendipitous moments like seeing my friend Tim Mcrae , a 2016 USAW Hall of Fame inductee, for the first time in years. I am really starting to appreciate the rich and amazing network of friends I've made through the sport of weightlifting; probably why I dedicate myself to improving knowledge the sport.
*For people who are not familiar with sarcasm-- Yes, I know New Zealand isn't actually MiddleEarth LOL
** If you are wondering what a macrocycle and microcycle are, I am coming out with a book on the Soviet System in the next few weeks. Its written at a level that both newcomers/beginners and experienced coaches can get something out of it.
*** James Tatum is wearing the current model of the risto sports tiburon " lifters " or weightlifting shoes. He joins many other well know lifters who have won championships in these shoes such as Neisi Dajomes, Carlos Andica, Maryam Usman, Rocio Navarro, Lesbia Cruz ... plus Dmitry Klokov in exhibition post competitive career.