Written by: Rachel Jimenez
Photo via Elite FTS
I’m sure reading that title just sent shivers down every powerlifter’s back. You’re probably thinking about how that’ll never be allowed to happen to you, or how you’ve never had a problem with picking good openers, or how you’ve never been called for a technicality. Even THINKING about having a sub-par meet is recipe for disaster, so good vibes all around and you’ll be alright, right?
Yeah, well, I thought all of that too. Until this weekend.
Not to blast my own business to the world: but I just had the worst meet of my short little life, failing in ways I never had before.
And I wish I was kidding. I was called for depth, improperly-worn gear, and I missed weights I’d hit easily before. I bombed out of the competition before I got to even bench, and I was devastated. My favorite lift ended up leaving a sour taste in my mouth, and my friends across the country got to watch me crumble in my own defeat. It was devastating, embarrassing, and downright frustrating. I’m not even going to pretend that I pulled it together immediately, because I sure as heck didn’t. I cried, felt like a failure, called my mom, and seriously thought about giving up for a moment. I was not the role model of handling something like this, and I am not making excuses for myself, but experiencing something like that isn’t easy, especially if it’s a new feeling. It’s hard, it’s confusing, and it feels like a tornado of emotions.
So, after my SUPER inspiring whirlwind of a sob story, I’m sure you’re super ready to sign up for a meet, right? And definitely read on, huh? Yeah, maybe, or possibly turn on a Nicholas Sparks movie to find something more depressing. Who wants to hear about the unfortunate possibility of having the absolute WORST thing happen to you in competition? Why would we do this to ourselves?
Well, because, guess what? It could happen to anyone. It is a terrifying reality about powerlifting that is very real, and very scary. Things happen, weight cuts take a toll, stances get changed last minute, and you can mess with your own mental state. We can plan ahead all we want, but in the end, we’re human, and we can’t always predict a smooth outcome. I sure didn’t think this would happen to me here, but it did. Epically.
So besides tuning down your openers the next time you step up to bat, I want everyone to think about something: the reason you do this.
You love it, right? You love every second you get under that barbell and every moment you get to rip some serious weight off the floor. You love that feeling of conquering your past fears, or proving to yourself that you’re incredible for even attempting this.
And unfortunately, sometimes, no matter how much you love something or how hard you work for it, it is not always going to go your way, and you must accept that. You are not always going to succeed in the way that you want to. You will have bad days, a bad meet, and bad lifts. It is a part of the sport, and essentially a part of life. You can love something as much as you want, but you have to remember to love all of it. You have to remember to stay determined to do better when you do your worst. You must fight to improve on what you can control, and you must accept that things will not always be in your control.
So when you have a bad day, or have a bad lift, or fail at what you once smoked, remember this: it will be okay. If you get called for depth, figure out what you can do to fix it during training. If you get called for gear issues, make sure all that fancy stuff is in line before you get back up there. If your weight cut felt too rough, own it and see what you can do differently next time. And, most importantly, if you can, finish the meet. You came here to compete for 9 attempts, and if allowed, take them. You trained hard for that chance, so you’d better wipe up those tears and snatch some PRs.
So, there is no need to feel like a failure, or that you messed up beyond the point of no return, because there will always be another meet. You don’t do this because it’s always going to be easy, or dazzling, or the best day of your life every single time. You don’t do this for the instagram-fame or the need for attention, you do this because you love powerlifting. As we have all come to find, it can be amazingly inspirational. But, like I just personally discovered, it can also be grimey, and you if you truly commit to this long term, you will have to push past those bad days. Mistakes will sometimes be made, and meets will not always turn out the way you thought they would. But do not let that scare you into fearing a lift, or deter you from trying something new, or make you feel like you did something wrong, because it does not define you or your abilities. It does not take away the strength that you know you have. It does not mean that your coach picked bad numbers or that you were too weak to handle this.
It is a time to learn.
It is a time to reflect.
It is a time to motivate you to get better.
It isn’t always going to be your best day, and that sucks, but it’s your job to accept that. Be as good as you can be, recognize what works/doesn’t work for you, and grow.
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