I was having some serious Fear of Missing Out (“FOMO”). A lot of my very strong friends are competing at USS Strongman Nationals this weekend.
In January, I was planning on it. Then after much reflection and a few brutal competitions in a row (and getting my qualification for SC Nationals in November), I decided I would take off as much time as I could. I discussed my plan with my coach Chad, and after a nearly 3 week deload after my last competition, here I am, mid training cycle, while my friends all go compete.
I LOVE COMPETING. I love the adrenaline, I love being on display, I love showing off, I love doing my best with an audience and and cheer squad of badass competitors around me. I love travelling, meeting new people and seeing new cities (even small unglamorous ones, what’s good Davenport, IA?). I’m really obsessed with the entire process of competition.
I love winning, both in placing and in pushing the limits of what I thought was possible. As I have improved in overall strength and athleticism, my standards have risen dramatically for what I want from myself in contest. Just participating isn’t enough for me, and the closer I get to getting good, the higher my standards get. I I want to place. I want to win.
I’m patient. I know strength takes time. At SC Nats last fall, I felt like a failure. I did okayish. I bombed on two events I thought I would smoke. I had a ton of stress in my life at the time and there were many good reasons for why my performance went the way it did (that’s another topic). But it was a great learning experience and made me really truly evaluate what I wanted and what I was willing to do to get it. I value the whole experience immensely.
So I’m not competing this weekend because it’s not part of the plan.
What is the plan? In the shorter term, it’s to string together as many uninterrupted training cycles as I can this summer, and become more specific with my nutrition, recovery and technique. It’s to continue to refine skills and improve overall work capacity and strength.
In the long term, it’s what a lot of Strongwomen athletes want: go to the Arnold, get my Pro Card.
That shit doesn’t happen overnight.
I know that to be serious competitive as a middleweight, I have to get a fair deal stronger. That’s not going to happen at the rate I would like if I’m competing every two months. The plan is less is more. The plan is build.
So I’m building. And, surprise, it’s hard! It’s hard to do repetitive work when you want to play and go for the instant satisfaction of trying for PRs and the high of competition.
So I’m writing this for everyone who is rehabbing an injury, doing a seemingly never-ending hypertrophy phase, base-building, or hell, saving money because this is an expensive ass hobby. Stick to the Plan. Build. The time will come.
The time will come, and then it will pass and there will be another goal, another peak to climb. It’s easy get to distracted by the craving for the Big Moments. It’s harder to pay attention to the minutiae of your progress on the day to day, and stay consistent. It’s harder to cherish the boring hard work and what it does for us.
But I have to cherish it. I have to savor it. This is a hobby, yes, but for me, and I’m sure for many others, it’s a discipline that is spiritually and emotionally enriching for the challenges it creates and for how it forces me to grow – how it pushes me to overcome limiting ideas about myself and to cultivate mental discipline (And being really strong is pretty nice on its own). The big goals and big moments of competition and winning are benchmarks I only get when I fully commit to my work, to taking care of myself, and to being present in every part of that process. Competing (and sometimes winning) is now the reward I get when I have been true to my work.
So I’m sticking to the plan. Because my goals are lofty, yes, but also because this is the way I have chosen to work on myself. The plan, the process, IS the goal. The discipline, the work IS the goal. I’m not missing out on anything, because when I am fully present in what I have chosen to do, when I fully show up for my discipline, I am winning the ultimate competition – the battle against self-pity, self loathing, apathy, anxiety, fear and all the other demons that prevent growth, self-determination and progress.
Winning is sticking to plan.