The road to becoming a great weightlifter is a long one. And the ending point is not an impressive snatch or clean and jerk. The road is traveled by becoming a true student of the sport, of reaching an understanding of the sport, of mastering and molding your own body and mind. And, this road really never ends. No matter how far you go, perfection is not reached, there is always one more way you can build your body, your mind, and your soul into something better, gain some small increase in your understanding of the sport and the training process, always some new insight waiting ahead of you out there where the road disappears just beyond the horizon.
A difficult part of traveling this road is the hills and the valleys. There are always hills and valleys, and the road is never straight, there are always bad times along with the good. How you deal with the hill, valleys, and curves often determines how far down the road you will go. One lifter I know who has vastly improved his ability to handle the hills and valleys is Donny Shankle. I can remember multiple competitions years ago where his courage, work ethic, and dedication worked against him, and made a valley into a canyon, difficult to climb out of. He would deal with a bad day, especially near a competition, by just working harder. Because of his courage and work ethic, he would make what should have been a shallow valley deeper and deeper. The deeper he got the harder he would work. More squats, more and more attempts at a snatch he had already missed 10 times. Pretty soon he was at the bottom of a canyon and digging a hole. He allowed his mental strength, his work ethic, his courage and heart to work against him. He used them to turn one bad day into two bad weeks, or a sub-par competition result. Contrast that to last week, he felt “off” on Wednesday. A little extra tired. A bit of inflammation here and there. The old Donny would have practically killed himself to make decent lifts anyway, then if he didn’t, would have come back the next day even more tired, and dug the hole even deeper. The present day Donny cut things a bit short on Wednesday, then trained very light Thursday and Friday. And walked into a competition on Saturday and made a lifetime PR total of 373kg. Then set two huge PR’s on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Donny has learned to make the valleys shallower and the next hill easier to climb.
Everyone is different. The road is different for everyone, the challenges are different for everyone. Not all the Valleys have to do with training. But for everyone, moving forward on the road requires that you gain more understanding of the process, and more mastery of your own body an mind. As you do this, just like for Donny, your valleys become more shallow, the hills less steep, and easier to climb. Stay the course my friends. Keep moving forward. And by all means, become a student of the sport, learn from your own mistakes an successes, as well as those of others. Aim to become a GREAT weightlifter!