Two weeks before each of my competition begins freak out time for me. The heavier percentages mean more misses. More misses undermine my confidence (that’s just the way my mind’s built).
Rationally I understand that no misses mean I’m not aiming high enough. But misses also highlight all of the things that are wrong with my technique – being slow under the bar despite being strong enough to get the bar high means I miss. That’s partly bar fear and partly technique and partly ingraining the movement pattern better. And ingraining it so it’s faster.
But inevitably some of the issues that are uncovered in those last heavy weeks before deload are my lack of recovery. I’m just as susceptible as the next person to the myth of the Russians and the Bulgarians. Train daily, train hard. Then double that volume and you’ll be a champion.
But a) I’m not on steroids and b) I’m not in my 20’s. So guess what happens when you hit it hard and daily? I’ve been lucky to avoid big injuries, but the little accumulation of fatigue and not resting adds up.
There is good evidence that daily training is feasible and likely even preferable to fewer times per week for both strength gains and ingraining neural patterns. But as a master, I’ve got to be more cognizant that “greasing the skids” (to quote Pavel) doesn’t have to be balls to the wall* each and every time my foot steps inside a gym. It’s okay to focus on one or two movements and their accessories, some mobility and leave. It doesn’t have to be 2+ hours and to failure on every set.
That doesn’t mean not heavy, it just means smarter. Because left to my own devices I’d be in my happy place on the platform with a bar in my hand 6 hours/day.
It also means conceding that Superwoman needs sleep. 8+ hours/night. So I bought a pair of dorky blueblocker sunglasses and started wearing them around 8pm each night so that iPads and computer screen blue light don’t keep me up. The only negative to that is my children announced that I look like an alien and they can no longer take me seriously. Maybe I could spank them with a barbell.
Eating is important, too. I’m one of those people who loses their appetite when I”m stressed (and gee, there’s no stress pre-competition). So I force myself to watch my intake. No “intuitive” eating. That means tracking calories, carbs and protein to make sure I’m getting enough (and not just donuts and protein shakes). It means making sure that I”m not in a position to lose a lot to stay in my weight class in the two weeks before so that I”m not forced to restrict.
With age comes wisdom. And I’m wising up to the fact that I gain a lot of strength in what I do when I’m not in the gym, not just under the barbell.
* interesting fact about the origin of “balls to the wall”. It’s apparently a WWII term from pilots. Pushing the throttle (that had a little ball knob on the top) to the “wall” i.e. all the way forward was kind of like full speed ahead or all out. It’s not as raunchy as it sounds 🙂