I always imagined what it would feel like to win something. When I started this sport, to pump myself up, and put myself into winning mindset, I would imagine a glorified self in first place (or second or third). I had never won anything, not even a spelling B. Then suddenly, I capture first place in the novice division at the Revolution Strongwoman Challenge in New York. One part remained hopeful I would place, and yet I was surprised… I also felt a level of guilt because it meant that someone else didn’t win first place – my fellow competitors had all worked so hard. What happened to cocky me who started this sport just 2 years ago? In hindsight, the death of the cocky girl is what contributed to the win.
Last year, I took time off from the sport to build and grow, physically and mentally. After a heavy season of competing in 2014, I was injured, bitter and had the realization that I wanted to win. No more compete for “experience”, I loved this sport and it was time to get serious. That meant I needed to get stronger, smarter and seek out proper mentorship.
Having converted straight from endurance sports (marathon, Ironman 70.3) into strength, I needed to build that base. I needed to remain healthy to recover properly and have the energy to run my business (and ultimately not worry about distractions like money problems).
After an inspiring interview with Kristin Danielson Rhodes, I opted to hire her coach Mike Westerling. To become the best, I wanted to work with the best.
Being a coach myself, I can say that Mike is a rare gem. He’s very responsive, friendly and took every curve ball life threw at me into consideration. Mike was helpful in curving the over-confidence and refocusing when needed, while staying in line with the main goal to not compromise my health. (Check Mike out here: www.mikewesterling.com)
TRAIN/RECOVER LIKE A PRO ATHLETE
Never miss a workout, never miss a meal and don’t undervalue the “little stuff” that a pro athlete spends most of their week doing: proper warmups, regular bodywork, don’t undermind pain or potential for injury. If you’re a natural athlete, naturally strong and god-given strongman this may not matter to you.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY
A part of the challenge for me was mastery of the mind. I recognized that if I would approach a lift with a negative or defeatist mindset, I wouldn’t lift it. If I didn’t have a winning mindset for the week by not treating food, sleep and stress like a part of the formula I wouldn’t hit my lift. I immersed myself in reading books on sports psychology like The Champion’s Mind, by Jim Afremow.
TRAINING LIKE ITS YOUR MAIN EVENT
Jim Afremow brings his readers through various visualization techniques. “Visualizing yourself as a winner” is one of them, but I had experience with that being a shitty game-plan. “Approach each lift as though it were the winning lift” – game changer. Each training session became more important than the last one and the only person I had to beat was myself in a previous session. After exercising this mindset for one year, my approach to the sport was more masterful.
COMPETE LIKE IT’S A TRAINING SESSION
That’s what I did that winning day, I was training and I had to put out my best possible performance, one event at a time. I didn’t keep track of placement, I kept track of my own output. I knew that if I did less than my full potential I would be disappointed with myself.
My goal is to make it far in this sport, but I can always perform better and can never be too humble. There is always someone who will outlift, outrun or outbest you; there is always someone who is having a bad day and someday that someone can be you.
I will always aspire to be better because aspiration opens the horizon to the majesty of the human spirit.