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The Long Haul

Written by Tara Duncan

What’s a good meet day to you? Is it a day where you PR every lift? Is it a day where you fight it out? Is it a day where you just finish the meet? A good day is something different to all of us. Sometimes it’s even difficult to find the good. 

I just did my 6th multi-ply meet. For those of you just reading about multi-ply for the first time, it’s a division of powerlifting in which lifters wear supportive gear like briefs, squat or deadlift suits and a bench shirt in order to overload the body and lift significantly more than one can raw. Multi-ply refers to the amount of layers in the equipment— typically 2-3 ply (think: toilet paper), although there is another division called single ply. 

The biggest difference between this and raw lifting other than the equipment worn is the technique required to do so not only efficiently but successfully. Multi-ply lifting is much more technical. When you’re raw, it’s possible to be out of position and still complete a lift with pure, raw strength. But when you’re in the gear, being out of position means you’re in an overload without the correct support, so you’re not only more than likely not going to get the lift, you’re far more likely to get hurt. Positioning and technique is everything. 

See this post by Katey Brent, @kateykicksass. 

 

Katey perfectly demonstrates and describes the difference between poor positioning and great positioning and you can see without a doubt how that matters. 

Okay, so?

Well, enter me, self-described (and coach-described) basket case athlete, who just did her 6th multi-ply meet in a year and a half and who did not nearly as well as she hoped and beat herself up over it. 

My best meet lifts are 679/391/424 and my best total was 1488 in May 2021. I went on to total 1438 at the WPO (kinda sorta like the World Series of multi-ply powerlifting through the WPC) and then this past weekend, 1415. It’s hard not to feel like you’re taking a giant step backwards. Especially when you watch all these other people on Instagram or even in person go to meets and make PRs on most, if not all, lifts and you’re here struggling wondering why you’re still not putting up the numbers you know you’re capable of. 

But here’s where (after my coach beating this into my extremely stubborn skull) you can take the opportunity to mature as a lifter.

There’s always a positive if you look hard enough. First of all, I recently lost 20 lbs. pretty quickly. That also included a body recomposition. That can change things not only as far as leverages but also as far as how your gear fits— another thing you have to consider as a geared lifter. If things don’t fit right, they don’t perform optimally. I’d been sick the week prior. My nutrition had been in a deficit and with very few carbs for the weight loss. None of these are excuses, in the end I just didn’t have it and didn’t do my job, but they ARE factors and things we have to remember. So that said, finishing the meet was an accomplishment in and of itself. 

LLLLLLLL

 

But the way I matured the most was the decision to stay safe. We lowered my squat opener after my last warmup didn’t move anywhere nearly as well as it should have. After I grinded out the above second attempt at 650 lbs., we decided to save energy and pass on my third attempt. I’ve never done that before, but I knew that day wasn’t the day I was going to get my 700 squat and I didn’t want to risk getting hurt for something that wasn’t a PR. I don’t know who was more shocked, me or my coach that I didn’t fight it at all. I fought for my benches, but only got my opener. I fought for my deadlift opener, but couldn’t move my second. I passed on my third. Normally I’d insist on going balls to the wall and fighting it out because I hate feeling like I “gave up”. And if we are being honest, I did feel like I was a huge disappointment not only to myself but to my coach and team for much of the day. I hated that my coach has spent all this time and effort on me but that I didn’t give him the performance he deserved. He kept telling me he was proud but I initially refused to see it because I was too busy beating myself up for not being better. 

But when I took a step back, I realized how important the day was for me. I’m not here for a few meets. I’m here for the long haul. And the truth is, at some point, the newbie gains end and it’s a fight for every pound on a PR. I have friends that haven’t PR’d their total in years, and I want to be mad that I am not God’s gift to multi-ply powerlifting in 1.5 years? GTFOH, self. 

Long haul means there are ups and downs. Long haul means there are amazing meets, there are okay meets and there are bombs. Long haul means sometimes just finishing and fighting it out is plenty. It means realizing when the day isn’t going to be what you wanted and playing smart and safe so you have the opportunity to come back and have the day you wanted another time. It means being proud that you don’t give up and that you leave everything you have on the platform every time you’re there, whether everything you have is your absolute best that day or it’s not. 

I don’t tell you all this because I’m special or to pat myself on the back. I’m not special. I’m not telling you anything else anyone who’s been around much longer than I have will tell you. 

I’m telling you this so you can learn this and believe in yourself and find the positive a lot faster than I did. It’s too easy to compare ourselves to people who look like they come out and have the best day everyday, but in reality, that’s not really often how it goes. 

More often there’s some disappointment and we have to find the positive and keep fighting and keep going. And if anything I’m telling you now helps you understand this is normal and helps you keep fighting to lift another day, then I did my job. 

Remember, you’re someone’s hero. Whether you’re lifting 650 lbs. or 100 or anything in between. Someone is looking up to you, wishing they could do what you can. 

Be kind to yourself… be your own hero, too.

 

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