Monday, March 23, 2015

Being a Coachable Athlete, A Teachable Coach, And, Well, Pregnant

It's pretty interesting being a woman in the weight room.

It's very clear that the typical attitude toward the weight room (and Weightlifting as a sport) is that it's a place for men - or women who look like or aspire to be more masculine. It's a nasty stereotype. It has been a really great experience to earn my stripes in both the training room and the platform, and it has really reminded me what a gift it is to have, and to be, a coachable athlete.

As an athlete, it's about being teachable, open to suggestions, tweaks, and drills that often seem either terrible or ridiculous - and trusting that each of these will, in some way (big or small) make you better at what you love to do.

As a coach, the learning never stops either. At least, in my humble opinion, it shouldn't. Each weight lifter is different. From obvious physical differences (height, weight, femur-to-torso ratio, flexibility impairments, coordination challenges...) to psychological differences, to more subtle emotional challenges due to some situation in their personal life. As a coach, you get all of it. Each athlete is a different package. It's up to the coach to get inside that and help foster that potential -and share what we've learned with other coaches. (Yes, sometimes it's through drills that feel ridiculous or terribly difficult.)

This week, I've been able to talk with a couple coaches and athletes, fascinated  (and excited) about the idea of a pregnant Olympic Weightlifter. Since I've been cleared (by 3 doctors) to lift as long as it's comfortable, I'm able to continue my training with very little modification. (Trust me, it's not only comfortable, on most days, it's my sanity!)

I get their fascination. The (ridiculous) controversy of pregnant women working out (especially lifting heavy weights) drives many into silence, or pressures others to spend 9 months living in a bubble of fear and "what if".

 So, when asked how I lift around an ever-changing center of balance (and a belly that grows by the day), I tried several times to explain it... and failed miserably. I needed a little more 'show' and a lot less 'tell'. So I did something I NEVER do...

I stripped off my shirt and turned on the camera. Here are the results...

 Including a slow motion snatch complete with narration by yours truly.

I think I'm actually going to make these videos periodically - call it a weightlifter's version of the weekly pregnancy progression photos. It's really interesting working with a body that, in some places, is already about twice the size it used to be. Even though I used to be much heavier a few years back, the weight acts differently and is distributed differently now... and I still have all that strength that I didn't have when I was 220 and fighting the scale.

I may not be setting any new PRs, but it's a great time to work technique. And - it's working.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Insight Into Jerks, Snatches, Cleans, and Speed Bumps

Yesterday, I had a solo workout planned. So I got my programming and ducked into Rain City Crossfit and had at it.

Now, my evening lifting is always a bit of a push to get through. I'm glad Jerks were on the menu. With none of my usual lifting partners keeping me company, it was helpful to do something I really enjoy. (Jerks are my favorite movement to drill - right next to overhead squats. Badassery factor is high in those movements.) Not to mention, it's always a little more 'interesting' to lift in the evening - since that's when the Bean is most obvious and I have to focus on my balance a bit more. (In case you didn't know, I'm about 17 weeks pregnant.)

Turns out, focusing on balance and core stability paid off. My handstands are more stable than ever and I was able to discover a few handstand walking steps!
That turned out to be the highlight of a bit of a grueling sloggfest of a workout. The workout included Jerks to a Max for the Day. That was fun, but took about 30 minutes to get through. Still, I nearly got a new Personal Record! Elbows dropped a little early... which is a bad habit for when I get nervous about a weight.
But, while I was disappointed, in hindsight, it's largely unfounded. SO many women in my position can't do what I'm doing right now, so when I hit my current PR weight well (see below) I ended that bit of the workout, assured at what I need to work on, and where I currently stand.

Every day is a different. Less than 12 hrs later, I was back at it doing some Overhead squats and Snatch work with my coach at Narrows Crossfit. 

I ended the session with a 2 position Snatches...
And Cleans.
 If I look frustrated, I was. I was running short on time and had to cut the workout short, even though I had the juice to finish my programming, well, sometimes life gets in the way.

(Yes, the irony of 'life gets in the way' when I literally have a bump that changes my day to day life. That said, I wouldn't exactly call it 'in the way'. Just a new adventure. I get to walk the unique path very few women before - but more and more women are now - walking.)