I always find it extremely difficult to write meet recaps and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it’s because I’m so tired after the weeks and months of preparation for competition that I just want to shut down. In fact, I think that’s why! It’s like Newton’s 3rd Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. My physical, mental, and emotional energy drops significantly after a competition with just as much force as I put into preparing for the big day.
If you’re anything like me you might understand the amount of mental and physical energy carved out in the weeks leading up to important meets. Training, nutrition, sleep and recovery get put at the top of my list and unfortunately(?) work, friends, family, and fun are dropped down a tier.
Why? Because of the amount of importance I place on competing. I’ve been working towards qualifying for an IPF world championship since the first time I competed at the Arnold Classic in 2015. It’s a big deal to me. On a local and national level powerlifting is mostly an individual sport. The only time when your total becomes about something other than yourself is when you compete on a team and, we can argue, that the level of importance of your performance varies based on the level of the meet and what the outcome means.
You and your friends form a team to compete at a local meet. What does your team’s outcome really mean? Your coach forms a team for Nationals. Do you even know what team placed first at last year’s USAPL Raw Nationals? Probably not. At least, I don't! I could look it up but did that whole team qualify for an IPF world championship? Don’t think it works that way. So at the end of the day my opinion is that most competitions are important on a personal level and your performance, your wilks, your score, your total, etc., doesn't “really” matter in the grand scheme of things unless:
Your personal total/score qualifies you for something down the line like a National meet, the Arnold Sports Festival, an IPF world championship, or wins you significant money.
Your total/score assists your team (Collegiate Powerlifting) in winning money or qualifying for IPF world championships.
Your total/score assists the team in winning the World Championship AND the amount of money you spent, and time you took off work to do this particular meet far exceeds the norm.
Numero Tres is exactly how I felt (and still feel!) about IPF Bench Press World Championship in Finland. My performance was not only important to me, but it was also important to the team, and the USA as a whole. I did not travel across the Atlantic Ocean to f*ck up.
My training was in check as best as possible for the entire time I was preparing for this competition. My nutrition was not perfect in terms of my BW (though it was in terms of facilitating training) because it didn’t need to be (story for another article about “off season” body weight and making weight coming soon :P) but this afforded me the opportunity to NOT drop friends, family, and fun to a lesser tier during this meet prep.
Here’s a big difference between National/Regional/Local level meets and a world championship: at an IPF championship if you do not make weight in your declared weight class you cannot step on the platform and compete. That’s it. Nope, sorry. So there was a lot of pressure to really not f*ck that up!
While I was sitting around 160lb during my prep for this meet I had no trouble making weight the week of the meet with NO water cut and this lead to some reflection about the last year or so with regards to my emotional state and physical state surrounding my body weight. Over the last 2 years I’ve spent a good amount of time eating between 2200-2700 calories on average and maintaining my weight between 158 and 162 which has allowed my over all physical, mental, and metabolic stress to decrease significantly. It’s also recalibrated my metabolism to lose a little weight (I’m not talking 20lb) better without drastically cutting calories or significantly manipulating water and sodium to make weight.
Despite being about 1.5lb over my weight class with the pressure very high to make weight it was actually easier than it’s ever been to come in at -72kg even while crossing an ocean, changing 6 (or 7?) time zones, and spending 22 hours traveling. Why is that? Because my overall STRESS has been significantly lower since I haven’t been in a chronic caloric deficit and have had less severe weight fluctuations (up and down!) over the past 1.5 years. Essentially, my body has been in a healthy state of homeostasis and thus a small stimulus can cause a large change that it may have been able to in the past.
Anyway, I digress. My point here is that my overall performance from the scale to the platform meant more than just a PR or a medal of sorts for ME. This was for the USA and representing our country on the world platform. It wasn’t just about me. It wasn’t just about the money and time I committed to being there. It wasn’t even just about USA. It was also about the person who might have had the opportunity to be there if I wasn’t. If I didn’t make weight and thus wasn’t allowed to step on the platform and compete I was doing a disservice to that person and our country.
So, that was a lot of pressure! But also not a lot of pressure because my body was less stressed in general leading up to this meet.
Another contributing factor of “less stress” for this meet was that it was a SINGLE LIFT MEET and boy does that decrease stress! You’re not worrying about peaking 3 lifts at the same time and you’re done after 3 attempts! I’ve done a “Bench Only” meet twice in my life but I’ve always done them on the same day and right after a 3-lift meet so the stress has always been quite high surrounding that competition set up.
I was a little (haha ok a lot) nervous going into the meet without my usual support system (aka the best handler in the world--Chris Aydin) but I knew I was going to be in good hands with the National Team Coach, Bill Hennessey, who was actively involved in preparing each team member for our performances from a logistical standpoint. Once in Finland and united with the girls from the USA Open team, I felt like I was at home. We were all there for the same reason, went through the same process to get to this competition and we were all there to do our best. I always talk about the camaraderie at the powerlifting meets I attend, whether big or small, and though it was just 4 of us ladies and our head coach, Bill, I felt like I was, as always, at home thousands of miles away from home. I also had my little brother with me, that helped too :)
Overall, while I did “shut down” after this meet, the aftermath was less damaging than it has been in the past because my body and my mind has matured and become more balanced throughout my training “seasons.” I’ve noticed that with each successive competition I’m able to balance life, work, training, and dieting better than the time before. I’m also realizing that these dips in motivation and energy are normal reactions we have to anything in life and are unique to each person and each event. I love walking away from a meet with more understanding of myself and as an individual and a lifter and realizing more and more that powerlifting is a part of life it isn’t all of life.
If you’d like to see a recap of my performance you can watch the meet video here!