It’s not just about the numbers

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment with my lifting this weekend.

From my early exposure to powerlifting competitions the focus had always been on coming out of a competition with as many personal bests as possible.

For the first time I went into a competition knowing that wasn’t going to happen. And I don’t just mean that it was unlikely I would get bigger numbers. I was going in knowing I wasn’t going to get anywhere close to my previous numbers. Through a combination of injury, struggles with motivation, battles with self confidence, fear of letting people down, mental health wobbles, and the impact of all of that on my consistency. I was going to be shooting well below my best in squat and deadlift.

Quite honestly I was terrified. For months I have been essentially hiding from most people how badly these have been going. My bench has been impacted too but much less as I enjoy it so much more and ankle injuries are less of an issue so it’s still been moving in the right direction albeit slower than previously.

I tried to be sensible. I pulled a plan together than meant I could hit the qualifying total with my first lifts and then choose to build from there to see where I ended up. But those numbers seemed so low compared to what I’d hit before that I was frankly embarrassed, and thanks to a last minute respiratory infection which I’d been battling for a few weeks I had to reign in my bench plans too.

I have genuinely never been so nervous about writing my first attempts down on my weigh in form or getting on that platform.

But you know what. I learnt something huge.

On the day it didn’t matter what those numbers were. What mattered was that I was getting out there and doing my best with what I was capable of on the day: it wasn’t a perfect run, I made some rookie mistakes that I should know better than by now, like forgetting to factor in my squat shoes when I sorted my rack height and jumping a squat command, and I missed my final squat because of sheer nerves and lack of confidence in myself.

But not one person was anything less than supportive. A big part of that is definitely down to how welcoming the federation I compete in is, (The A/BPU run by Emma Ylitalo-James) but I think it’s the best thing about powerlifting as a sport in general.

Everyone in that room wanted everyone else there to succeed.

I’m sure there are people out there who feel the need to be derogatory about what’s happened with my lifts and how much more they think I should be hitting. But you know what. It’s my journey not theirs. And it doesn’t have to be linear. Things go wrong and what I’ve learnt has probably been far more important than continuing to pull in the pbs would be. I’m learning to find my way round the twists and turns that are a part of any journey and by doing so I’m learning a lot more about how I can keep moving forward in it. I made it through with what I’m pretty sure was my most chaotic competition prep to date and the least faith in myself I’ve ever had. If I can do that then I’m sure I can do some pretty spectacular things when I get my confidence back. Just watch this space.

Don’t be afraid to do something just because you think you aren’t good enough. If you have put in the effort and want to be there then you 100% deserve to be. That applies to how heavy the weights you’re lifting are but it also applies to the rest of your life. Give yourself permission to do something less than perfectly and take a risk. You never know where you are going to end up.

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