Last weekend was the 2016 Western Canadian Weightlifting Championships, and my third time representing Team BC as a 63kg lifter. Every competition I do – Weightlifting or CrossFit – is a learning experience, but one thing I love about attending the same competition across several years is the ability to look back and see how far I’ve come. And I’m not talking about improvement just in terms of placement*I’m talking about growth as an athlete, how I mentally approach the competition and how I allow the stress/pressure of competing to affect me.
I first competed at Westerns in 2014, and despite taking home the bronze medal*, I was pretty disappointed in how I performed – I went 3 for 6, opened quite a bit lighter than planned, and totalled significantly less than I’d been hoping for. However, it was a good learning experience for me, and it made me realize just how easy it was to allow things like – an unfamiliar venue, changes in time zone, and not having my regular coach – to affect my performance.
*Initially I took home Bronze, but the girl who won was disqualified I got bumped up to Silver
In 2015 I competed at Westerns for a second time, this time on my “home turf” and with a bit more competition experience under my belt. In terms of ‘lifts made’, 2015 was pretty similar to 2014 – I went 3 for 6 again, and totalled less than anticipated – however, I felt a lot less nervous overall and even went for a 4kg Clean PR on my third attempt. I made the clean, but missed the jerk, and ended up finishing 3rd in my weight category.
*If I’d made that lift I would have taken home Gold.
This past weekend was my third time Competing at Westerns and while there are definitely some things I’d change if I could – not missing my 2nd Snatch and 3rd clean – as a whole I’m happy with how the weekend.
- I went 4 for 6 on my lifts,
- PRd both my Total as a 63kg Lifter and my Sinclair*, and
- Took home Silver
*I’ve totalled in the 69kg division, but when I take body-weight into account I actually lifter ‘better’ last weekend.
So what’s changed over the past few years?
Physical strength has gone up – my 2016 openers are heavier than last years PRs – but more importantly my mental strength has improved, and I’ve gotten a lot better at using my nerves/adrenaline to fuel my lifts (rather than letting it throw them off). Part of this stems naturally from more competition experience/more time under the barbell; but another part is because I realized that “in the end, it doesn’t matter”.
I don’t mean “it doesn’t matter” in the sense that I don’t care about how I do, or that lifting isn’t important to me; what I mean is that I realized that if I mess up and miss a lift (or all my lifts) no one is going to think any less or any more of me. A ‘bad’ competition doesn’t mean I’m a failure as a lifter (or a person) it just means I had a bad day on the platform; and chances are that shitty performance will actually make me a better lifter in the long run, IF I choose to learn from it. This realization was probably one of the biggest turning points for me, because it took a lot of ‘perceived pressure’ off; which allowed me to have more fun (both in training and on the platform) and then in turn usually corresponds with my best performances. Because I’m having fun, and doing something I love.