Feelsy meet recap incoming.

I haven’t had a meet yet that was just “show up and execute” without some sort of “stuff” concocting on the side.  RUM is a huge meet for me: watching Jenn Rotsinger on the live stream at RUM7 is what lit a fire under me to begin with, and RUM8 was a memorable experience for me to compete in. I hit some impressive numbers this year, ending 8/9 with 352/176/424 at 123.  Based on my peaking cycle, I “should” have totaled 980 that day, but I ended up just 11 pounds shy of the world record, with 953, which is an 88 pound meet PR.

MORE: Raw Unity Meet 9: Coaching, 5thSet, World Record Controversy

Yes, I want an awesome total, but I never want to become more concerned with that outcome than the posture of my heart in the process; there are plenty of talented lifters out there who aren’t necessarily the kind of people who breathe life into those around them.  In a sport flooded with pride and people asserting their way is the best and only way, it can freeze those of us that think we might just not know everything these is to know; humility can be good, but also paralyzing and destroy your confidence.  It took having those I respected breathe some life into me to trust myself with my own training and rehab, ultimately staring down silly demons I tried to hush.  Some people can be totally stoic, calculated, and emotionally steady about their training and competing.  I’m probably the closest thing to the antithesis of that: Myers-Briggs “feeler” in the deepest sense of the word.  I struggle with feeling I will never be or know “enough” in everything I do, but especially in training and competing; in some ways the growth incurred with training and competing challenges my ability to fully trust grace, and that things can be fully redeemed: RUM9 was the first meet I’d come into as an individual, without a coach, and stepped on the platform with a secure sense of identity as both a PT and athlete.


I don’t go into things with the intent of proving someone wrong.  Doing so is vindictive and comes from a seed of bitterness; it reflects a motive that I hope to never have growing in my heart.  RUM9 for me, however, was a challenge mentally in that I had to check where my motives were coming from and earnestly work through some of that.  I wanted to make sure my decision to compete was based on knowledge of identity, rather than a sense of spite and going out with “something to prove.”  I did, however, have a bit of fire in my heart for women in this sport that aren’t sure they can succeed.

Back in July, someone told me that, “If anyone else works with you, I don’t think you’ll be healthy enough to compete in a year.  If you work with me, I can make you a world champion.”  This in particular is probably why I’ve been so set on chasing a total, and an area that I need to keep my heart in check.  When challenged, the response was “Oh sweetie, I’d never say that.”  Sweetie?  Really?

My identity was already in a not so great place this summer; as a PT who also coaches it completely rattled me, and the feelings of self doubt, insecurity, fear, and negativity brewed something ugly in me that I hated.   I couldn’t understand why it was ever okay to talk to someone this way.  One second this person was telling me I should be someone that lets others learn from her, and the next, I would never succeed at doing that without them.  It felt like they wanted to control my narrative. But, I didn’t necessarily know who to look to for how to do what I wanted to well.  When I really started to explore, it struck me that we can never have enough women in this sport that actually carry themselves in a way that reflects tenacity, intelligence, and unshakeable confidence that, although they will put in any amount of work necessary to succeed, they are enough without needing a certain performance on the platform.  You are enough.  How many of you actually believe that, in a sport where we’re constantly striving for more? The total is an adjunct- not the destination.

I really hadn’t planned on competing again any time soon: my mind and body were kind of a train wreck.  I connected with Swede, who I cannot say enough incredible things about, and it was through conversations with him that I really started to uncover the amount of doubt, negativity, and fear that I had let bleed into my training and spill over into other areas of my life because I’d believed everything I’d been told.  I write a lot about identity, and it’s probably because it’s something I struggle with daily: the fear that I will never be enough, that I don’t have what it takes, that I will constantly fall short; my ability to accept grace and believe in love is so limited because of that.   Swede is an incredible technical coach, but he’s an even better (which says a lot) “heart coach.”  He came along side me in a way that permitted me to challenge myself personally while providing technical cues that I needed.   I don’t think Swede will ever understand how deeply it hit me knowing more than anything, he just wanted to see me succeed and have fun, and his role in my life as a coach in the deepest sense (e.g. not just someone who writes programming) is so well earned.  I can’t speak highly enough of him.  He helped me fix my lifts, adjusted programming, and worked with my goals, but more than that, he helped me fix my mental approach and fought off my fear with me.  As a PT working through rehab under HEAVY load (which is quite the challenge and took trial and error), I needed that.   As a human being, I need to give that to people more often.

My rehab was something I finally took into my own hands.  I’d been dealing with hip pain and asymmetry for roughly 2 years when I started this.  This asymmetry made it virtually impossible to squat evenly.  I consistently missed depth on my right hip, and was in constant pain in my left hip.   So my performance suffered, and I couldn’t sleep at night.  Not a great combination. Again, I had no intent of competing so soon and had nothing to lose, and everything to “prove” to myself.  So… I got a little nerdy with it, and actually approached myself the way I would approach a client.  I use a non-traditional outlook called PRI, and figured it was as good a time as any to see if I can create change.   I worked on the asymmetry utilizing that perspective, and then combined principles of strength and conditioning to strengthen the new pattern.  I still have a lot of work to do, but a 352 pound squat, symmetrically, with zero pain is a PR on so many levels.


With regards to training, I knew that I did well with heavier work provided I gave myself enough recovery, but that I needed a lot of technical, lighter work too.  I used principles of 5th set and ran the program for a bit as written as I was retooling things using the squat technique template.  As the new pattern started to hold, I started systematically pushing the envelope and modifying work sets as well as ancillaries while checking in with Swede and others that I respect and trust.  I utilized the principles I’d had success with when I was an athlete at Complete Human Performance, including a substantial amount of progressively heavier work while maintaining the changes I’d made with my rehab.  I got less invested in proving anything to myself, and more invested in the way I was able to use my own body as practical lab work, with the meet becoming the litmus test.  I used Swede’s peaking plan, which was so helpful in eliminating any guess-work.  I planned all of my attempts (including my third deadlift of 452, which was… crazy?) on the plan, and it worked flawlessly with the exception of me NOT doing my rehab the day of the meet, hah.  That rehab changes my movement pattern, and after watching my opening pull, I knew the movement was off.  The other cool thing?  I got to incorporate the things I actually enjoy again.  I enjoy running, and I missed cardio.  I was able to incorporate roughly 2.5-3 hours of cardio a week and feel that it enhanced my recovery and general work capacity provided I worked within certain energy systems—this was the foundation of my time at CHP, and being able to toss that back in the mix because I wanted to was freeing.  The more I trusted myself with this process, the less the identity issue of “am I enough?” played a role in things.

I came into RUM with a few goals.  Of course, I wanted to PR on the platform at a meet that signified so much of the good in this sport.  More than that, I wanted to work through this “muck” of identity stuff because I know I am not the only one that struggles with it.  I wanted to solidify myself as an accessible voice of encouragement, hope, and knowledge in a community knowing we will all have injuries that we’ll need to deal with, knowing first hand how that goes.  More than that, I think it is incredibly important that we continue to have women in this sport that have a firm identity that leaves no room to be spoken to in a way that is placating or patronizing: those tones are the ones that perpetuate feeling of never “enough.”  There is no Truth in them, and we need louder, honest voices to become attuned to in their stead.

I came out with a PR total that, had I paid better attention and made a less aggressive call on my third deadlift, would have solidified an all time WR (after being told my success was contingent on someone else), some incredible friends and interactions with competitors that I learn so much from, and the knowledge that I’m sort of, kind of, on my way to working through this fear of never being “enough”, and that I actually do know a thing or two about rehab and competing at a high level.  This sport continues to be an incredible way to connect with people, and Raw Unity in particular continues to be a meet that is steeped with camaraderie, joy, talent, and overall… “unity.”  At a time where there are plenty of divisive voices in the sport, this is so refreshing.  As we continue to push the envelope with strength, we’ll need PT’s that know what it feels like to be under the bar.  I’ve got a long way to go, but I think I finally feel I’m on my way.