async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: PRs and My First Powerlifting Meet

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

PRs and My First Powerlifting Meet

Followers of the blog know I've been working on getting stronger for a long time. I started strength training back in 2013 after a long stretch of running-related injuries. Long story short, I was evaluated by a corrective exercise specialist and was told that I had weak hips and my glutes weren't firing. Hey now! After working on getting stronger, I learned the valuable lesson that runners cannot live on miles alone. That coach, Becky, trained me for my PR Chicago marathon.

She had me at deadlifts.

When Becky moved to Las Vegas in 2017, I found a new coach, Sammy Jo, at the same CrossFit box. We have been working together for almost 3 years but it really wasn't until last fall that I really found my strong. Sammy Jo and I decided that for this strength cycle, I was going to go for some really heavy lifting. My prolonged RA flare from earlier in the year had finally resolved and I was ready to kick RA to the curb.

Over the past 4-5 months, Sammy Jo has pushed me harder than I've ever been pushed, outside of running. It was a new kind of uncomfortable and there were times when I felt overwhelmed and maybe even a little scared. She was right by my side and promised me I'd not get hurt lifting the heavy weights. I didn't.

When the CrossFit box announced a powerlifting meet, Sammy Jo wanted me to enter. My strength cycle was wrapping up and she thought it was the perfect time for me to push for some PRs. I was reluctant. Me, in a powerlifting meet? The new owners of the box also encouraged me to sign up. So I did.




Last week, when I met with Sammy Jo, we went through my plan for the meet. My #1 goal was to hit 200 pounds on my deadlift. She thought I could do more and I said I'd see. I hoped to PR the other 2 lifts, the back squat and the bench press, but I'd see how I felt.

The powerlifting meet was structured like a powerlifting competition. There were 3 lifts, the back squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. There was a male and female bar and competitors alternated between male and female. The lightest lifts went first. There was a one minute time limit to complete your lift and spotters were there to assist and judge the lifts. Each competitor got 3 lifts and the goal was to increase the weight each time. If your subsequent lift was still the lightest weight, you had 2 minutes before you lifted again.

Naturally, I was one the lifters with lighter weights, so I was one of the first to go. I was pretty nervous, so starting early in the meet was fine with me. I started my back squat with 125#. That felt pretty good, so I jumped to 145# for my second lift. Last week, Sammy Jo had me lift 155# on my back squat, so I took a gamble and had them load 160# on the bar for my third lift. A new PR and I was feeling excited!

On my way to 160#!
The red plates!
In between lifts, I warmed up for the next lift. I wasn't feeling confident about my bench presses as I had struggled with them earlier in the week. When worked with Sammy Jo, she made some adjustments to my form which seemed to help. I'm not sure what happened with my first lift, though. When I lifted the bar up from my chest, my arms just kind of folded and the spotter lifted the 80# back to the rack. Sammy Jo came over to talk to me and I decided to attempt the lift again. I got the bar up but it was a struggle! Still, I had them add another 5# to the bar and I got that 85# up, tying my previous PR. I was disappointed but moving forward, I vow to work on this!

Disappointed with my bench press of 85#
I warmed up for the last lift with a set of deadlifts. I don't know if I needed some fuel or if nerves were getting to me, but the bar felt heavy. Before it was my turn to lift, Sammy Jo gave me a pep talk. I had a donut hole, figuring it couldn't hurt, right? I was the first to go and when I lifted the 180# bar, my foot slipped and I almost didn't lift it up! Yikes! One of the owners came over to talk with me and got my head right. With that, I had no problem lifting 190# for my second lift, and when I picked up the 200#, I knew I was going to get it! My previous PR was 195#. As one of the other competitors said to me, that 200# is a benchmark!

Ecstatic to lift 200#!
It was really exciting to celebrate everyone else's achievements, too. My coach also hit a big PR on her deadlift--365#! What was inspiring about Sammy Jo is that she went for it on her third lifts, just to see if she could push her limit a little farther. Even when she wasn't successful, she literally let the bar roll off her back. Shook it off. Talk about inspiration!

The thing that stood out to me about this experience was that everyone there was so supportive. When I struggled with the chest presses, participants called out encouragement. After I hit my deadlift PR, you would have thought I lifted 400#!

No worries, I'm not going rogue or becoming a powerlifter. I'm still a runner. But I just love what strength training has done for me! I'm looking forward to getting back to work. I'm sure my coach has some interesting things planned for me.

You can't go wrong with strong! This runner just competed in a powerlifting meet and PR'd her lifts! /via @oldrunningmom #strength #strongrunner #runchat #running 

Do you strength train? Would you ever participate in a meet like this?

I'm linking up with Tuesday Topics, Kim and Zenaida.



39 comments :

  1. Fantastic job, Wendy!! Isn't it amazing what are bodies are capable of? What struck me is how this is also a mental game: with the encouragement of Sammy Jo and the other owner you managed to succeed where you failed before. It's also great that everyone in the box is so supportive.
    I only do body weight strength training - but I think training with weights is far more effective.

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    1. I gained a lot of strength doing body weight strength training (through yoga). We do a lot of body weight exercises at CrossFit, too. Push ups, pull ups, planks...

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  2. You know I'm sitting here not surprised at all. This is what strength does for you. SO so proud you gave this a go and were rewarded accordingly!
    So is there a winner in your age group like running??

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    1. If there was an AG winner, it would have been me. I was the oldest participant! Not sure how I feel about that. But it was a really great experience.

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  3. I'm so proud of you Wendy! Like Marcia, I'm not surprised at all that you did so well in the meet. Congratulations!

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    1. My only disappointment was the bench press. Typical runner, no upper body strength!

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  4. Wendy, congratulations, this is so sweet! Can I call it strength training if the heaviest thing I lift is a 25# kettle bell?

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  5. Oh this made me teary for you--what a fantastic experience. And well done!

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    1. Thank you! It was an amazing experience! We are unstoppable.

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  6. This was such captivating reading! I felt like I was right there! Oh wow, so proud of you! Well done for stepping outside your comfort zone by agreeing to do this. And what a way (and setting) to PR some of those lifts!

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    1. The sky seems to be the limit--I might not be able to get faster, but I will get stronger!

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  7. I love this so much! I am so excited for you and huge congrats that you really stepped out of your comfort zone. Really impressed and super proud of you. PS my trainer is reluctant to have me lift heavier weights bc he thinks I will get too bulky.

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    1. You know what, Sammy Jo and I talked about this. It's all about what you are training for.

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  8. Congrats! I do believe strength is very important, but I don’t do the really heavy weights mostly because I don’t belong to a gym. It’s wonderful that you’re conquering new challenges while getting even fitter! I’m on my iPad & it’s not letting me change my google profile in case you get confused (Judy).

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    1. Oh hey Judy, thank you! I don't belong to a gym either. I pay my coach to train me. It just happens to be at the CrossFit place--and now I work out there too!

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  9. Wow, that is amazing! Such a great way to push yourself to try things you wouldn't do on your own. I do strength training, but not like that!

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    1. It has been a lot of fun to see the progress and the best part of all--my running has improved!

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  10. What An Experience - Well Done - Push The Edge - Recover - Hydrate - And Gear Up Again - You Can Do Anything You Want - Believe

    Cheers

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    1. True story and I'm planning an epic adventure for my trip to Florida in March!

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  11. Yay! I love powerlifting and really need to get back into doing it more regularly--I kinda wanna compete again (I did one in 2013 and another in 2014, if I recall correctly!) once I hit my previous numbers/hopefully surpass em'! Great job on your first one!! I love how supportive the environment is! <3

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    1. I start a new strength cycle this week and I want to change my focus a little bit. I'll see what my coach has in mind.

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  12. Great job! I bet those PR's tasted pretty sweet :-)

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    1. I might not be able to get faster but it's nice to be able to still get stronger!

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  13. Just curious. Have you been re-evaluated by an exercise specialist for your running since doing the weights?
    Great job on the lifts!!

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    1. I have considered it--but I'm feeling stronger on the road. I think that is all I need!

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  14. Wow, congrats on those two PRs! And on experiencing something new with that weight lifting competition :)

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    1. Thank you! It was a great experience. Not saying I'm going to do it again, but it gave me a goal to hit those PRs!

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  15. I think it's so great that you tried this! Big kudos for putting yourself out there - it sounds nerve-wracking. But lifting is so so good for you and if I can manage to keep my form good (for my back) I plan on focusing on lifting when I am able to go back to working out.

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    1. I really wanted that 200# deadlift! Weightlifting has been a big game changer for me and has really helped my running. Not sure what's next, but I'm meeting with my coach today. We'll see.

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  16. I love this so much!

    I've been thinking a lot about what I might do if I can return to 9Round for a while, and pondering the idea of joining the nearby gym and starting to lift. Reading this makes me feel good about those thoughts.

    Congratulations on an awesome job out there! I'm so proud of you and all you have accomplished.

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    1. I love the changes in my body and the positive effects strength training has had on my running. I say go for it!

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  17. Wow - amazing! That bar is bending with the weight on the ends! Love it love it love it!

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    1. And to think...I was lifting the lightest weights of anyone there. Crazy!

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  18. I have loved watching you grow stronger over the past couple of years. You are so inspiring! Congratulations Wendy!!

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    1. Thank you Michelle! It's amazing how much this has helped my running.

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  19. Great job! I smiled the whole time reading your post and I am so proud of you. I am not surprised you did well since you are dedicated and determined to always work hard.

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  20. This was so fun to read, Wendy! Congratulations on your PR's - how exciting!

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