Today I was asked, “How do you stay 120% committed to what you do, 365 days a year?”
My reply was a short, “Because I want to be better every day, and that’s what it takes.”
In hindsight, I wish I would have replied, “I am not 120% committed all year, but I am 99% focused 350 days a year, and that is what I think it takes to become your best.”
Tomorrow I compete at a national level for the first time ever, as a powerlifter.
What is tomorrow about? It’s about testing all of my hard inner work on the national stage. It’s about challenging my training, my diet, and my mindset.
No one but me has seen what I do every day in the gym. No one has seen how selective I’ve been about the fuel I put into my mouth. And no one but me has seen the hours I’ve put into preparing my mindset. Tomorrow it will all be on display.
Has it all been perfect? Absolutely not.
Does that mean that I am less than 120% focussed?
Probably, but more so, It means I am human. I think any person who tells you that he or she is 110% focussed is a) lying, b) really bad at math, or c) trying to maintain as much of his or her focus as possible (and that is OK). We are all human and we all have distractions. Even athletes who are paid to do what they do have families and have to travel to compete, and these things, and the long-term effects of competing at a high-level make it impossible to maintain 120% focus. I believe it is the athletes who can maintain 90%+ focus over time who are the most successful.
How will I do tomorrow? I don’t know.
I know I have prepared more than ever, but there are always last-minute things you can’t plan for at a meet. How will my body feel lifting near-maximal and maximal loads at what is 4:30 a.m. in my home province? Will I make weight? Will I have enough recovery time between lifts?
Does it really matter? In some ways, yes. Win, lose, personal bests, or missed lifts, I will learn from the experience and I will file it into the back of my mind and use it to be better next time.
Tomorrow is also about completing this leg of my journey as an athlete. Is this the end? No, but it is an important milestone along the way. I have pushed so hard to get to this point, and I believe it is by pushing at 99% for an extended period, and then recovering, that we can achieve our greatest accomplishments.
Will I win? Will I lose? Will I get any personal bests as a lifter?
I already have.
I already have done all of those things.
I have won. I have won because I am better today than I was before I began my journey as a powerlifter. I have learned discipline in training and in maintaining an athlete’s diet. I have learned how to make my sleep a priority. I have gained the confidence that comes with being proud to, and believing I deserve to say, “I am an elite athlete.”
(I have also gained abs – sweet bonus.)
I have lost. Every day I lose. Although, as a powerlifter I have not missed a single lift in this cycle of prep, I have had lots of losses and misses as a CrossFitter. As a CrossFitter I have had many days of, “why am I even doing this?” and “is this even worth it?” I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve missed olympic lifts. I redid CrossFit Open workout 15.2 three times because I did not get the score I knew I was capable of.
All of these losses as an athlete made my mindset stronger.
I had to learn to focus more quickly on my olympic lifts, and I even had to adopt an attitude of “it’s okay if they aren’t perfect – you can fix them after nationals.” I have decided that it is okay to have different focusses at different seasons and that all of these periods will build me into the athlete I want to be – right now it is powerlifting season.
Still, being a powerlifter is only one aspect of who I am as an athlete and competing in the CrossFit Open was important (and a huge challenge) to me. Redoing my CrossFit Open workouts was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, but I felt this was an important skill to learn this year, as next year I want to make it to Regionals. I had to learn to go to the “dark place” Camille Leblanc-Bazinet talks about in her training. I learned how to push and yet pace appropriately. Also, even though I redid 15.1, 15.2, and 15.4, since it’s “powerlifting season”, I decided not to redo 15.5. By that workout it was time to really focus, and to give myself a chance to reveal what I am truly capable of when I recover amply.
I have also lost out on the things I did not give my time to. But in this case, those losses seem small. I have lost out on having drinks when the people around me were. I have lost out on eating all of the desserts and chicken wings.
But remember, I have gained abs and a chance to compete at nationals.
In reflection, I realized although I have been able to maintain all of my relationships with my friends and family, I lost a boyfriend. I am not sad. This happened in prep for two other competitions; he did little to help me get ready for my meets, and more importantly, held me back and limited my mindset.
Anyway, I lost him, too, but as you can see, all my losses are really gains (or gainz). This time I prepped for this competition with the support of an entire community, Unity SK, for which I am super grateful, as well as the backing of friends and family from all around, and I had no one limiting me or laughing at my dreams – only supporters.
I have also gotten personal bests on all of my lifts along the way. Even if I do not hit a personal best on the platform, I have become stronger than ever by focussing on preparing for this meet. The biggest of these successes for me, was squatting over 300 lbs, not just for a single, but for a double. When I first started CrossFitting in 2012, a 300 lb back squat was a “someday” goal I hoped I would reach by 2018. By preparing for this meet I achieved it much more quickly.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I have already won by being 99% focussed for this meet, and I will be happy with the results.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still super competitive and that will come out the moment I step on the platform. So those of you who want me to come home with a medal because my wins at discipline and my abs mean nothing to you, rest assured, I will do my best.
I also wish I would have redirected that question back to the asker, but instead I will redirect it to you.
I don’t maintain 120% focus, 365 days of the year, but I do sustain 99% focus 350 days of the year, do you?
If not, why not?
If you’re not maintaining that level of focus, who are you to say what you are capable of?
How focused are you?
And a few more questions for your reflection:
How much are you really focussing on your priorities?
How much time are you giving yourself to recover?
What are you allowing to limit you?
What do you need to make a focus at this season in your life?
What things, or negative people in your life could you benefit from losing?
What could you not afford to lose?
When was the last time you had a personal best? Why?
What makes you unique and how should you be expressing it?
How do you need to adjust your focus in the coming months?
How can you start by adjusting your focus today?