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Jessica is our 2016 Olympic Hopeful and Sarah is our 2012 Olympian in Weightlifting. We're setting out to be "Pretty Strong" and we encourage you to do the same.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Training in Adverse Conditions

The other day, I was so over the heat. Like, almost quarter-life-crisis status. I had dealt with 3 nights of little to no sleep because our air conditioner was broken and I pretty much sweat for about 9-12 hours of the day. I realized at practice one day that I have spent 24 out of 26 years of life in hot places. I grew up in Desert Hot Springs and San Jacinto, Ca, I lived/trained/competed at the University of Alabama, Arizona State University and now I am living in Texas.

In high school, I trained 5-6 days a week. Our lifting facility was a large non-air conditioned room with one door and a large fan. Everyone hated that one kid who stood by the door being a fan hog. I'm clenching my fists right now just thinking about it. I lifted in there 5 days a week. Track practice after school would last until sunset almost every day for me and there was little to no shade. Just you, your implements and the elements. Throwing things in shoes purposely made with no traction in the rain and digging through the mud is no fun. Sweating your face off and having no trees or cloud coverage to protect you from the sun in triple degree heat is no fun. Training when it's cold and windy with bulky clothes when you need to be able to move a certain way is also not fun. Three nights a week, I would go lift in my coach's garage. Competitions were even harder. You spend over 12 hours a day traveling in a school bus to go to the competition, compete, watch others compete, and suffer whatever conditions are there. Some times the throwing facilities are far away and you feel like you're not part of the competition, some times the ground is rough and bangs up your equipment, sometimes the sector is of center, sometimes it rains, some times it's so windy you can't get in a decent throw to save your life, sometimes you can't use your own equipment, sometimes there are bad calls and unobservant or under-qualified judges, and sometimes the meet is poorly run in general. These are just some of the things that made training and competing rough even through collegiate athletics. I can remember at Alabama, we had a day with torrential rain and my teammate and I were throwing hammer even when our feet were completely submerged in water. We had a competition at Auburn that was so cold we couldn't feel our finger tips anymore. This is important for throwing things, obviously. The craziest day was getting in one good throw at the Mid-East Regionals only to have the Tornado sirens go off and have to hang out in a basement for an hour before resuming competition.  What?! Needless to say, these things aren't fun but, they helped toughen me up a bit.

In Arizona I trained in a large  non-air conditioned warehouse and here in Texas, I train in a two car garage. Training in Arizona in both track and weightlifting reminds me of this:

While training in these environments, you have to learn to acclimate. You have to learn how to physically handle the situation and how to mentally handle the situation. When traveling and competing abroad, I have observed Americans as those who handle change the worst. Sorry, teammates but, it's true. I have heard complaints about the weather, or transportation, the bars not spinning well, the training hall is in a parking lot down hill, the chalk is too fine, the plates are falling apart, there's no heat or a/c, the food isn't good, the music is too loud, there are no spectators, the roof is leaking and there are puddles of water on the floor, someone just walked in front of me, that person won't stop talking...What. Ever. In my opinion, those who handle stress the best, compete the best. The body needs to adapt to different stimulus as does the mind, eyes, and ears. There are a lot of people in the US training on nice equipment, with ideal temperatures, and sports med, or housing facilities, and cafeterias. On the other side of the coin, there are people training in completely opposite situations like myself.

My coach often says, "If you can train here, you can train anywhere." I believe this is very, very, true. I have moved a lot, lived, trained and competed in less than ideal situations, have not been financially stable, and so much more. For these reasons, I attribute much of my success as an athlete. I am able to handle stress well. I am a surprisingly patient person. This is exhibited by how little I end up yelling at people Haha.

Any who, to be your best self, you have to be stretched and challenged. Get out of your comfort zone and expect the unexpected. As my old coach used to say, "be comfortable being uncomfortable."


1 comment:

Kathy Friend said...

Great post - perfect for my circumstances right now. I moved from a well-equipped gym with a great coach to a military base in Korean with no A/C, cheap bars, bumpers with weight in pounds and no coach. But train hard and hit some PRs is still my goal! Like you (and my old coach, for that matter) said, if I can train here I can train everywhere!