COME April of this year, I will have begun my sixth year of training. In that time I have kicked two nasty habits, lost over 25 kilos of body fat and put back on 15 of what we can hope is mostly muscle. It will be my fourth year as a competitive lifter, and I will be 35 year old.
Competing at GPC states this weekend gone has caused me to look back at my lifting career and make some interesting observations. I wouldn’t call these direct comparisons, at least not in the context of oneupmanship (an undesirable trait no matter what sport or politic you might inhabit) but more of an appreciation for my own modest achievements and for those of other lifters I follow. Lifters like Trent Harris and Darwin Suteerawanit.
Both of these kids are just that: kids. Seventeen and nineteen years of age respectively. Trent has a 300 kilogram squat at under 100 and Darwin a 300 kilo deadlift at under 90. In addition to possessing this kind of talent at such a young age, they are both regular, humble, good natured guys. Whatever kind of virus – easily transmitted in the lifting community – which has inflated the egos of so many strength athletes, it has so far left these two unaffected.
Since June 2011 I have been learning from people younger than me. I don’t want to ever discount the wisdom of those real old codgers, like Jeremy Hogg and the inimitable Adam Coe (both of whom I had a good long chin-wag with as we watched Saturday’s lifting), but the people who first started giving me one-on-one instruction in Strongman training – and the finer points of lifting in general – were all my juniors by a good ten years. This is to say, I guess, that I never discount advice based on the age of the person dispensing it. If some punk kid totals more than me, that doesn’t mean he knows more than me necessarily… but I pretty much guarantee you he can tell me something new.
The day we competed, Trent and I noticed we totalled almost exactly the same. He had 60 kilos on my squat, and I had 60 on his deadlift. The tiebreaker was his superior bench, but even so, there was not much in it. So he and I have come to an arrangement. He is going to work on his dead, and I’m going to get the best I can out of my squat. We will be pushing each other to reach new totals in May, when I enter CAPO states and he travels to the Gold Coast for GPC nationals. There’s not really a prize involved here… it’s not a bet. It’s just camaraderie.
I read somewhere just this morning about how the notion of competing against yourself, or for the personal enjoyment of it, is a weak mentality that people hide behind. I really don’t know that this is a fair call. I enjoy doing what I do not because I am the best at it. Darwin and Trent are just two examples of people who can out class me (a “Strongman extraordinaire”) pound for pound, any day of the week. I do it because of the challenge it offers. Getting to the pinnacle may never happen for me: I may never win ASM (assuming the competition even exists in another twelve months), and with international-strength contenders like Odell Manuel in under 140 Powerlifting, I know I don’t have much chance of taking the gold there either. But the day I can no longer lift, no matter how close I might have come to those podiums, the journey is what will have made it all worthwhile.