The Open Experience – A Weightlifters Views on a National Competition – Part 1; Preparation
Stage 1, Preparation
The experience of competition is always quite nerve-racking. The accumulation of training highs and lows all comes down to this point – for you to demonstrate how much effort and hard work has gone into preparing for this single moment.
Fuck, I thought. “Did I do enough? Could I have done more? Should I have squatted and more? Shouldn’t have skipped those sets of heavy jerks.” These were my thoughts 1 month out. I was a nervous wreck. My lifts were inconsistent and I kept missing jerks at 90%. I was somewhat afraid to get under cleans at 95%. My snatch was okay but 275 (125kg) was so unreliable I was scared to even attempt it. 286lbs (130kg) is my all time max set in November 2016 just a month before the AO. Before that, I’d only hit 130 (285) twice.
The weeks leading up to the meet, the volume of training is incredibly high. Each session lasts more than 2 hours, not including warm-up or post workout stretching. The demands and stress on the system are not just physically draining but also mentally fatiguing. For example, imagine the last time you worked up to a heavy double back squat. How long did that take? Now imagine doing that heavy double for 6 more sets of 2. That’s just the first exercise and they’re usually five or six more to follow.
During the last few weeks of training I found it very difficult to be consistent. I was less and less excited about training because of how brutal each session was. I was hitting a mental barrier. I was starting to get my ass kicked. Motivation and enthusiasm were fleeting. I was reading Donny Shankle’s blog, searching for motivation – I love the way he writes and thinks about success. I even printed out a flyer of Pyrom Dimas and put it in front of my squat rack. This actually did help me quite a bit.
Then that Monday before my competition, I hit all my lifts. No misses. It was like getting a hug from a friend you haven’t seen in years. The remarkably comforting embrace which makes everything somehow seem like it’s going to be ok. No, not just ok – Great. I’ve missed you old pal. Glad to have you back. Please don’t leave me until we make a grand appearance together. Promise me old pal, that you’ll never leave me.
With consistency and confidence restored, excitement knocked at the door and ask to join the party. 5 days out, I felt great. Training was in a strong taper, which meant no more doubles or triples. No more 2-3 hours training sessions. Now it was time to be very precise. Practice each attempt as if it were a competition lift. Make them all.