Today marks the end of the 4th week back on a training program, almost a full month of ‘training’ again, since my injury this past summer that sidelined me from heavy lifting and any idea of a competition for a while. I would love to say there was a specific date the injury actually occurred, however looking back it was a slow build up, signs I ignored or times I thought it was something far more simple. I would get a tightness in my right trap, that would make it difficult to look over my shoulder, instead of simply being able to turn my head I would have to rotate at the waist. Then there was also the weird elbow/arm pain. It was not exactly the bone area of the elbow but more the muscle on top, there would be a tight weird feeling. Some times the feeling would be worse if my arm was straight, other times it would be if the elbow was bent; there seemed to be no real rime or reason to it. Also both areas of stiffness with a low grade pain, would come and go, there seemed to be no specific lift or accessory piece that aggravated it…except chin-ups, chin-ups seemed to drive it bezerk.
Leading into the 2016 March MotorCity competition, I remember having random elbow issues. I solved this by just wearing my elbow sleeve, it seemed to help. After MotorCity, I discovered voodoo floss (magical). Using the voodoo floss regularly seemed to fix having the pain after training. For the weird random stiffness in my trap, I seemed to help cut back on the flare-ups by carefully choosing which sports bra to train in. Reserving my extreme support Nike’s for days that I had running or a lot of… bouncy …movements, which luckily then, were only once a week or every other week.
USS Nationals, beginning of June 2016; I went into that competition with a lot of concerns and no where near the mental state I had the year before. I had a lot of lingering pain and stiffness in both my elbow and trap despite the week of deload. Hindsight, I should not have been competing. My training felt good, I felt like I had been making progress, but again in hindsight, the upper body work was miss organized and the weights plugged to hit had been frustrating and obviously miscalculated for what I was capable of. Also, last week I had one of those ‘oh fuck’ moments and realized what had been truly wrong with my dip-drive on my log press. Despite the videos sent to a coach and all the others that use to give their advise, none of them noticed what I had been doing to loose all the transfer of power from the dip to driving the log overhead.
Post 2016 Nats, I was relieved it was over. I didn’t really care where I placed, it was over. Not having a Fickle-Finger to practice on, I was happy flipping the damn thing once. This was one, a lot of gals in my weight class struggled with. The Conan’s Wheel was lighter than I expected, after training on carrying a 300+ yoke, but the stone cobble road and not moving as fast as I should have been, cost me. Stones went well…the previous year I did not get the 200 lapped, this year I flew past that and right through the 225 and onto the 250 like it was nothing. The deadllift, there was argument whether it was 350 or 375; I was fully willing to believe it was a solid 375, I had moved 350 multiple times in training and that felt nothing like pulling the 350. I was content for what my mental state had been, I knew I had a lot of reevaluating to do; I also knew I was overdue for a break. Not just a deload week, but a genuine break, training just to maintain and not training to jump into another competition 15 or so weeks out. In fact I had planned on not competing again until December, maybe March…Then shortly back into training my looming injury became so bad I couldn’t get out of bed without extreme pain.
During the deadlift at Nats, I had felt a pop in my neck on the 3rd pull, but I was refusing to let go of the bar. I remember having that exact conversation in my head, telling myself don’t you dare let go, get it to lockout. Afterwards, I seemingly felt fine…damn endorphin high. Similar pops, came again when deadlifting post Nats…I didn’t listen…I pushed through those training days. Then finally my body had enough. After one day of hitting my programmed numbers, I seemed fine…then a few hours further into my day, my neck stiffened up, pain began to run down my right shoulder into my bicep, then elbow. By evening I could lay in bed but perfectly still, just trying to move the slightest amount caused such excruciating pain that I was literately crying and gasping.
A week spent on bed rest, another week spent taking daily movements very slow, week 3 was no different. It became clear very quickly I was going to need a good amount of time out of the gym. By the 4th week I was ready to loose my mind. This was when I decided to start swimming again, I needed something to distract me and make me feel like I was still doing something. Shortly after I began swimming again, I started doing yoga. The combination of the two made me feel semi normal again, or at least normal for me.
Fast forward four months, I finally felt like I was ready to step back to the weights, but I left my belts, wraps and straps at home. I didn’t want my head getting to far ahead of what my body was saying it was ready for. Which really was a smart move, because I wasn’t ready to even think about heavy training again yet. Two or three times a week I would get into the gym and just go through some basic movements, keep weights extremely light, focusing on body positioning and breathing. It sucked.
At the six month mark… SIX FREAKIN MONTHS ….I was tired of just going to the gym and going through the motions, I was ready to start training heavy again. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy being fifteen pounds lighter than my last competition, my bank account loves the fact my grocery bill isn’t looking like it is feeding a family of 6 every week, and I am enjoying not being so exhausted by the weekend that I barely get outta bed the first day and then spend Sunday trying to get caught up just to start all over again. However, I still miss the heavy weights. So. I decided to take the plunge and jump in a training group I had been watching on Instagram.
Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back. — Heraclitus
The new training program is designed with the warrior in mind… Not the gym warrior who thinks doing a competition is the equivalent of going to war or combat. It’s not, stfu. SOFlete is a veteran run company, created and designed for military and first responders types. Not saying that you have to be in this career path to train with them, but know that the training is geared towards being able to do our job better and survive longer; strength and endurance. Ok the cardio shit just sucks, it’s like some sick version of a Crossfit workout but without all the bizarre things I saw when I was a Crossfitter once upon a time. I have yet to see the endurance programming be a ‘wtf is this, how is THAT suppose to help.’ Four weeks in and I am extremely happy with what I have seen, some days I think, that was it?! But then I wake up the next day going, oh holyfuckmonkey….ok, that was definitely good enough, YIKES!!
I specifically like the fact there is a program designed for women; and what one of the guys said, it’s based off the strength programming but scaled back and with more focus on upper body strength. The strength program is designed for men “who is deadlifting 405×3, Cleaning 245, Benching 250, running a 6:30 mile, and looking to improve.” Of course he goes on to say, that none of these numbers alone is impressive… uh-huh, sure.
Now the biggest game, is what’s in my head. I know what my body was capable of back in early June, pre-injury. I want it to be right there again, despite the 5-6 months away from truly training. I want to be pulling that 375 deadlift again, closing on four plates; instead, reality, 3 plates yesterday told me to go fuck myself. I want to be squatting 3 plates…instead, reality, it’s 2 plates for sets. I have to forcibly remind myself it’s going to take time to rebuild. I’m on a good program now, I just have to allow time and the work to take their course.
There is still no competition in sight, I don’t know when there will be. I’m still enjoying my weekends, mostly full of energy. I’m still enjoying my lower grocery bill and the lack of stress about a looming competition. I’m definitely enjoying being back at 180 pounds instead of sitting at 195. I’m enjoying other hobbies, such as hiking, camping, learning how to rock climb; I don’t want training for a competition to absorb all my spare time, to become a second job, again. So I don’t know when I will look to compete again, I just miss my strength.