Monthly Archives: July 2015

London Clubs championships (yes, I did it)

So that competition I’ve been dithering about? Dear reader, I did it. I very nearly didn’t though – I literally left my decision until the last minute.

I woke up on the morning of the competition, weighed myself, was within competition weight and still wasn’t sure. So I went down to the club, got weighed in, put in my openers and still wasn’t sure. Then I put on my singlet and knee sleeves and thought, OK maybe I’m doing it.

What really made me completely decide was my friend Orla looking at the openers for the other lifters in the 72kg class, and saying Hey Laura, you could actually win this! I have never won a competition and I really felt like I couldn’t pass up the chance, you know?

I decided to go in with no expectations (as much as I could); I can get very very stressed and anxious about competitions and I didn’t want to end up hating myself, like I often do if I don’t do as well as I’d hoped. I put in pretty conservative openers (90kg squat, 50kg bench, 110kg deadlift) and resolved to feel OK even if I only got my openers.

In the end, all the fears I had about the competition didn’t come true: it wasn’t hot; even though it was crowded and full of newbies, no-one dumped their bars on the spotters, and no-one sprayed talc everywhere (my pet hate!!); and even though a few newbies didn’t know the commands & forgot vital equipment (long socks!), everyone was very respectful of the officials. Phew. I am such a worst-case-scenario imaginateer.

As for my performace: I got my first two squats in (90 + 100kg) but once again I got ruled out on 102.5kg for depth; I set a new benchpress pb of 55kg (WHAAAT); and I finished with a 120kg deadlift. I was disappointed not to get a pb squat or a chance to equal my pb in the deadlift, BUT I set a new pb total of 275kg!

Honestly I was so surprised to get a 55kg bench – I’ve never benched that much in the gym without a pause, let alone in competition with a pause!

And the best thing was… Orla was right, I did have the opportunity to win:

1st!

Woohoo! My first (and, let’s face it, probably only) 1st place trophy! OK so the other 72kg lifters were all novices, but still… 🙂

The day ended up going on just as long as I predicted (I arrived at the gym at 8am, and left at 8.30pm) and honestly I was falling asleep while refereeing (oops) but the event was really fun. 5 ladies from my gym did their first competition and everyone was so suportive and fun to be around. The good days like that are probably worth some of the angst I feel around going to the gym.

Talking of angst (great segue there, Laura) I had intended my relatively new Instagram account to be pretty much lifting-free, only following fatshion and tattooist accounts; but it got found fairly quickly by my gym friends and over the last week or so I’ve found my IG account tagged in fitness memes (a massive pet hate of mine) and similar. Sadface.

I was also tagged in some pictures from the competition, and one of the commenters on the picture was an account called “leanerstrongeryou”. You can probably see where this is going. Yes, I ended up descending into a hate-reading spiral, looking at “lean” IG accounts and having all sorts of feelings around, well, if only I was leaner and ate vegetables and protein then maybe I might be a better lifter and maybe I might win things more often and maybe I would look “like a lifter” instead of a chubby nearly-40-year-old and blah blah blah. God.

Honestly, as you know I really struggle with this. I have followed back a few people from the gym on IG but I kind of wish I hadn’t, as I just don’t want to see posts with macros and tupperwares of food and stuff like that. It feels really incongruous to see stuff like that in between the awesome plus-sized fashionistas I want to follow. There’s so much fatphobia in the fitness industry and I try to keep it as far away from my life as possible.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about possibly having a career break fom programming & maybe trying out some work in the fitness industry, but if it means I’m going to be exposed to ~nutrition woo~ then honestly I don’t think my mental health would handle it. I spent the week before my competition eating all the stuff you “shouldn’t” (Domino’s twice, sausages, fish & chips, crisps – SO MANY crisps) and I don’t want to be in a place where I feel judged for eating like that.

But can you make it in the fitness industry if you’re both not lean and not a super-strong athlete like your Andy Boltons and Lulu Zhous? Who knows. Something to ponder on, for definite.

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Oh I am in a grump-tastic mood today. Normally I go to the gym on Mondays but tonight I’m going to a career-related event; one I have been avoiding for ages but which I can’t this month because it’s being held in my workplace. So I’m going to the gym tomorrow, but let’s be honest – I’d rather be at the gym. Or at home.

Speaking of home, I have no evenings at all this week where I’m home before 9pm. I hate eating my dinner that late so often, but needs must. On the upside I have a week of stay-cation next week.

I still (still) haven’t decided if I’m competing on the 25th; I know I will feel like I missed out if I don’t though. my training at the weekend went alright – 3 sets of 2 deadlifts at 110kg, which felt fine (although I lost my grip on one), and 5 sets of 2 benchpress at 52.5kg (without a pause) which felt great.

Every time I mention that I won’t really decide if I want to do the competition until the morning of the competition it seems to draw a smirk from the asker, which is really pissing me off. It’s my bloody choice to decide not to do it, you know? But then I do feel like a lot of my decisions about myself get sort of looked down upon, at the gym & elsewhere. Honestly, I’m 38 years old, and a fair number of the people I interact with in real life seem to treat me like a child (or an imbecile). There must be something about how I present myself to the world that makes people think I’m an idiot. I feel belittled & taken advantage of far too often.

I might also stop saying yes when people ask me to check their depth/form on lifts at the gym, or give platform commands. I used to not mind being asked, but honestly some people take the piss. I don’t want to interrupt my workout (or my rest) to come & watch your set of 10 squats or give you commands etc. Ask your coach. And don’t shout at me when I don’t do what you ask me to do!

Yeah, I know it seems like a little thing to do for people as a favour, but after a while it just gets tiresome. I don’t work for the gym, I just train there. It’s like when people get annoyed on our gym’s Facebook page for the way it’s run, and I want to be snarky and tell them that no, I’m not paid to do this; I do it on top of my 9-5.30 job and my 2 hours of commuting and my 5 training sessions per week and my household chores. Gah!

Sorry; as I say, bad mood. I just want to go to the gym and train, and enjoy myself, without people (who are not my coach) constantly giving me “advice” about my lifts, assuming I don’t know best for myself, having opinions on when I choose to compete (or not), pestering me to watch their lifts, or people on the Facebook page giving me shit about competitions. I like to lift but it’s the stuff ~around~ lifting that annoys me, you know?

But then I guess I can’t get away from that entirely, not when I’m a member of a gym that’s not just a headphones-in, do your workout, commercial gym; and I’m a GBPF referee. Blah.

Hopefully I will be less grumpy after this week-from-hell.

I’m still training with the intention of competing on July 25th and I’ve sent my entry form & fee to the organiser, but to be honest I’m going to see how i feel on the day & not compete if I don’t want to. I don’t *need* to compete, and I’m wary of putting myself in a difficult position, head-wise, if I don’t do as well as I want to.

Another thing that’s putting me off this competition is the number of entrants. The intention was to cut the entrants off at 40ish, because that way the competition would end around 5pm. Nice & manageable. I got the final list at the weekend and…. 74 entrants. The competition is going to end at 9pm I reckon (starting at 9.45am). I will be lifting in the morning & refereeing in the afternoon.

If July 25th is as hot as London’s been recently, the gym will be unbearable. 140ish people (assuming each lifter brings a friend to watch) in one smallish room, with no aircon, for 12+ hours. Oh well. The things I do for my sport!

I’m really glad that powerlifting is becoming so popular (especially among women) but competitions with newbies can be painful. I’m expecting all of the following on the day:

  • People failing their squats and shrugging the barbell off their back onto the floor (SO SO SO FUCKING DANGEROUS).
  • People dropping the barbell at the top of the deadlift, deliberately, then getting upset for having it red-lighted.
  • People not having the right equipment (no t=shirt, no long socks etc) and getting annoyed at the referees because they “didn’t know”.
  • The competition going really slowly because people are questioning the organisers/referees, not listening to announcements etc.
  • People spraying fucking talc all over the warmup platforms, walkways etc, and not caring if it makes the floors slippery and dangerous.

Ugh, just thinking about these things in advance makes me stressed. No-one seems to have a clue any more about keeping competitions safe. I admit, I blame CrossFit for the squat & deadlift problems (because CrossFit tends to use bumper plates and CrossFitters are taught to shrug off squats & drop deadlifts); and complete self-centred idiocy for the talc issue.

In terms of training, things are going OK I guess. Last week the highlights were squatting 85kg for 4 sets of 3 (not a massive achievement really, given I was squatting 85kg for 3 x 3 a year ago!); benching 52.5kg for 2 x 2 without pauses (52.5kg is my best with a pause) and deadlifting 110kg for 3 sets of 2. If I can get 100/52.5/125kg on the 25th I will be happy (hell, even 122.5kg on the deadlift again, because that would be a new pb total of 275kg).

Despite the tone of this post I am a lot happier at the moment than I have been for the last few months! 🙂