Every athlete knows how to push themselves. More important than knowing how to push yourself is knowing when to hit the breaks, and slow down.
Im learning this myself first hand. Let me explain how I was burning myself out without realizing it. I had spent almost 2 years running myself into the ground.
End of March 2018 I started prep for an August Bodybuilding show. August comes and I compete, it was a great show for me and my first Overall win. Then I decide to keep the ball rolling and do another show 8 weeks later in Louisiana. So the last weekend of September comes and I compete and take my class, losing the overall to a great bodybuilder. After 7 months of prep I think I’m done, well come November just a month into my offseason, I decide to jump in a Powerlifting meet for fun so a quick 4 week “prep” for that and I competed in my first Powerlifting meet in December 2018.
I never expected to have the level of success I did in my first meet. I chose to keep the momentum rolling (again) spending the next 4 months prepping for my first big powerlifting meet, the Orlando Europa Games in April 2019. It was an amazing day on the platform, taking home best overall lifter, some National records, and a world record in bench. In my mind I’m done competing for a while. Then a week after the Europa I get an Invite to the biggest Raw powerlifting meet of the year, The Tribute.
This is an invite only meet with the best lifters in the world, so of course I accept the invitation. Another 4 months of meet prep for the Tribute and I fly to San Antonio to compete with the best of the best. Overall it was a great day, another world record in bench and winning my class. But after dropping my last 2 deadlifts I felt I had not had the performance I was capable of. Again the athletes mentality of pushing to the limit kicks in and I decide to do another meet at the end of the year to hit the total I wanted. The plan was to compete November 2nd.
Sometimes we think we know best, then sometimes the universe slows us down in its own way. Around 6 weeks out of the planned meet, I tweaked my knee during a squat session with my top set. There was no pop, no major problems and I finished the set. But I knew immediately after I had done something to me knee. This was in October. After a few weeks of rehab work, Ice, ibuprofen, cryotherapy, the knee still wasn’t better. Reluctantly I pulled out of the meet.
The knee injury was the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me stop, made me reevaluate things, and made me realize I was burning myself out. My knee injury wasn’t severe, just a minor strain. But trying to squat 800+ requires knees that are firing at 100%.
In November I realized my body was beat up both mentally and physically. After almost 18 months of competing and prepping in either bodybuilding or powerlifting I knew needed a break. I just didn’t know how much of a break I needed, until now.
The knee needed to heal up, and my body needed a reset. In many ways. So I finally listened.
My Training was cut back, I started training just 3-4 days a week. Nothing intense and nothing taxing. I took time to work on some technical flaws and fix some things I’d been neglecting. While training was important i didn’t make it my #1 priority. If something came up to spend time with the wife or family, that took precedent over training. I’d get my sessions done whenever I could.
I took a break from being active on social media. I started to loathe posting on social media. I would stress out about filming all my top sets so I could post them on Instagram. Worried about how they looked. Often times embarrassed to post what I thought wasn’t impressive. My social media has become more about what I lift instead of who I am as Mason Goodman.
I stopped stressing over food, I didn’t eat like a crazy person. But I stopped worrying about having my meals prepped every day, if I wanted something to eat, I ate it with no remorse. I formed a healthy relationship with food again.
I picked up hobbies and passions I’d let die. For the first time in almost 3 years I found myself in the woods again hunting. To disconnect from the world and be entranced in nature is an amazing thing. It gives you time to reflect and time to find clarity in all aspects of life. I’ve spent more hours sitting in a tree the last month than I have in the gym.
My batteries have been recharged. I’m getting the itch to train hard again. I find myself wanting to post things again, but things about me and my lifting. Not just my lifting. I’ve found a balance in my life with all things that I had completely lost.
It took a knee injury for me to pump the breaks. And pumping the breaks is the best thing I could’ve done. And it could not have come at a better time in my life. This time of self reflection and “recharging” has allowed me to line myself up for what I want to accomplish in all aspects of my life. From my powerlifting, to being a sponsored athlete to being a husband. I know what 2020 is bringing for me in my my life because I’ve aligned myself for it by taking a step back. Grab some popcorn because it’s going to be a show.
As 2019 winds down and we close out this decade don’t be afraid to let yourself recharge. Our batteries can only run for so long before they need a top off. Sometimes we don’t think we need a break when our body has been begging for it. Learn from me, step back, take life in, and line yourself up for what you want to achieve.