Inspiration and info for midlife women who lift—or want to start

Category: Competing Page 1 of 2

The ins and outs of competing in strength sports, success strategies, pitfalls to avoid, and how to get started if you dream of hitting the platform or walking the stage.

A gym or warmup room for a powerlifting meet with lots of equipment. Photo by Ambitious Studio* - Rick Barrett via Unsplash.

Powerlifting Warm-Up Rooms: Rules We Learned in Kindergarten

Someone on Instagram suggested I do a post about powerlifting warm-up room etiquette.

I loved this idea. After competing in 14 meets, including some big ones (and judging many as well) I’m pretty familiar with warm-up rooms. They tend to get quite chaotic, especially at larger competitions.

Airplane high above the clouds, traveling to a powerlifting meet

Tips for Traveling to a Powerlifting Meet

I recently returned from competing at WRPF Nationals in Las Vegas, a five-plus-hour flight away from my home. (It went well!) This was something like the sixth large meet to which I’ve had to travel a long distance (including a couple internationally). Through all of those trips, plus hearing stories from fellow lifters, I’ve picked up a few pointers you may find useful if you’re new to the experience of traveling to a powerlifting meet.

Surfer on a big wave at Jaws in Maui, Hawaii, as an example of overcoming fear when dealing with a heavy barbell in strength training.

How Do I Psych Myself Up Before Heavy Lifts?

Do you have any tips for mindset and overcoming fear before heavy lifts? My issue is when I step up to a big lift I try to psych myself up but there’s always a voice telling me “you’re gonna fail this.” How do I shut that voice up?!

This is a common problem and one I deal with myself sometimes. I jokingly apologized to my coach recently for being a head case—my self-talk has been pretty poor as I struggle to come back from a back injury—and he kindly referred to me as a “psychological athlete” 😂 and said he’s going to tell me to just shut my brain off for the entire day at Nationals in a couple of weeks.

But, how do we shut our brain off? How do we stop thinking so much and just DO the damned thing? 

Thief with flashlight as a metaphor for comparison is the thief of joy.

Outsmarting the Thief of Joy

You know those days when you wake up feeling like a champion? Like you could eat the world for breakfast and in fact you just might? Those days when you feel strong and powerful and capable and you know in your bones that nothing’s gonna stop you?

I fucking love days like that.

Unfortunately, they’ve been rather few and far between these last few months.

Lately I’ve been waking up quite often feeling small and weak and scared and full of doubts. Doubts that I will be able to get past this back injury to put up decent numbers at Nationals. Which leads to questioning why I shouldn’t just say screw it and drop out, because I’m not going to win. Which reminds me of the videos I keep seeing of my friends PRing their 300-plus-pound deadlifts, when pulling 300 is just an elusive dream for me right now.

And on and on, down the rabbit hole of comparison and self-doubt.

These days happen to me more often than I’d care to admit. I share them occasionally, but mostly I keep them to myself and do what I can to hack my brain and endure the negativity until it passes. Talking about it feels self-indulgent and whiny.

But I decided to write about it because I figure I’m not the only one who has feelings like this sometimes. Maybe talking about them, and what I do to deal with them, might resonate and help someone else.

The author preparing to squat in her first powerlifting meet.

3 Mistakes to Avoid in Your First Powerlifting Meet

Congratulations! You did it! You took the plunge and signed up for your first powerlifting meet! 

Now you find yourself swinging between excitement and high anxiety. What have you gotten yourself into?!

Lifting in the Middle

Australian powerlifting great Liz Craven posted something on Instagram recently that hit me, as the young folks these days say, “in the feels.”

She recalled breaking some IPF All-time World Records back in 2017, just before a forced six-year hiatus from World competition due to powerlifting politics and Covid (during which time she also overcame some incredibly challenging health problems).

Liz is finally heading back to IPF Worlds this year, and at 48 will be competing against lifters half her age. She writes:

there is a whole new generation up there.

Very few of the old guard (my friends) will be there, I will be around the middle these days and sometimes it is hard to find the drive to work that hard to be in the middle.

Everything hurts more, everything is harder. Will I even get to weight?

I have been trying to change my perspective though.

It is a privilege to still be able to get there, one other people would love.

So I’ll keep working hard and we will see what I can do after all this time.

Working hard to be in the middle

Working hard to be in the middle is what I do literally every time I train. That’s why this caption resonated so much.

Barbell and plates

The Iron is Pure

It’s been much longer since my last post than I’d planned. Or would like. 

Anyone in the powerlifting world probably knows why. 

For those who don’t swim in those particular waters, tremendous upheaval has rocked one of our federations here in the U.S., the one with which I was, until recently, affiliated. (If you’re an American powerlifter you’re almost certainly already aware of it. If you’re not, you probably have no reason to care—but if you do, here’s a quick synopsis here as well as my own commentary.)

Bottom line: I could no longer in good conscience remain affiliated with this federation, so a couple of weeks ago I resigned my positions as a state official and a National referee. Barring a complete change in ownership and management, I’ve decided not to compete under its banner again. I’ll still compete, just not in this fed.

A face of pain and fatigue with a barbell on my back during squat training.

Doing Hard Things

“A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain.

Mildred Witte Stouven

Here I am again.

Well, sort of.

I started writing this when I was literally five miles above the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean, nothing but darkness outside the plane and a seemingly infinite expanse of black water below, 2,200 miles from the coast of Australia. 

Now I’m sitting at a hotel in Gold Coast, south of Brisbane.

I’ve never been HERE before. 

But I’ve been here before.

I’m two days out from a major competition and, depending on when you catch me, I’m feeling wildly powerful, ridiculously incompetent, excited, completely unprepared, totally ready, and anxious. 

When I unrack that bar and there’s more weight on it than I’ve ever moved before, will I be up to the challenge? 

5 Podcasts to Improve Your Mindset and Build Resilience

During the more than seven years that I’ve been strength training, I’ve discovered and become a devoted fan of a small handful of podcasts that are designed to help build resilience and improve your mindset. These have become important resources for me and I even credit some of them with helping me perform tangibly better in competitions.

Jack White, someone who knows to expect the unexpected

In Competition, Expect the Unexpected

My husband and I headed to Portland, Maine this past summer to catch Jack White in concert. 

Intelligent people could argue for hours about whether or not the performance was good based on which version of Jack White you prefer (there have been *many*).  But this isn’t a music review. 

What I want to talk about is what happened during the first song, “Fear of the Dawn.”

A master at work

Within minutes of taking the stage, it became clear White had a problem with his guitar. Since he’s a guitarist, that posed a challenge.

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