Strength isn’t about how much you lift or how big your biceps are.
(Some of us THINK it is)
It’s making the right decision, despite it being the least tempting one.
Laugh at me. Call it trivial. To some, it may be trivial. To me, this was a test of strength as trivial as it may seem to you.
There have been big lessons I’ve learned…trust me, plenty. I count my blessings every day that my current problems are trivial in comparison to problems from my past.
But…these are the issues and sometimes harsh feeling decisions we face as competitors.
To train or not to train?
This has been my question. Saturday…Sunday…Monday…my body is telling me yes. My brain calling my body a damned fool (and sometimes it is).
Rewind a few steps for some backstory.
I have made it ¾ of the way through the final week of my strength block as I prep for a meet.
The night before I am supposed to hit a 3RM bench press I fell ill and decided to test for covid…and the test came back positive.
My bench has been flying. I was amped to see what I brought to this attempt. Plus, the final training session itself is important in gaining some favorable strength adaptations.
I was torn but ultimately knew that I needed to make a calculated decision.
Whether it’s the right one or not is to be determined.
I decided not to train.
Here are a few questions I explored when coming to my final decision:
Feeling is subjective, can I use this subjective data to make a decision that requires some objective data to calculate risk?
As the days rolled on, my symptoms got better and better. However, this illness has some lingering effects in heart rate and potentially blood pressure, etc. I haven’t been tracking my heart rate or blood pressure data closely before and during the illness so I had no data to support or deny those risks.
My typical rule of thumb is symptoms above the neck are a go as long as they aren’t >4 on a scale out of 10. If I do not know that I am still having lingering effects in my cardiovascular system, I cannot confidently say that all of my symptoms are above the neck.
What are the actual risks?
Not just to my body and health, but I have a family I support. These types of risks aren’t just about me anymore.
Although I’m not sure that the risks to my short-term and long-term health are at severe risk, is even that little risk worth the reward if that means costing my family?
I likely won’t be able to recover well as my body is busy processing something else. So is that session worth as much as I had originally thought under these circumstances?
This sport does not pay me but more vision for my brand could be financially beneficial.
Caught between a rock in a hard place with this one. What’s my next step?
Can we re-route from here and still meet our goals despite a setback?
Absolutely. To qualify, I can no doubt maintain strength from here and hit the numbers needed for the national level. If I allow more recovery now, I can more likely be able to push for the ultimate goals I’d like to achieve by the end of 2023.
We still have a month. If I need to dial back peak, that’s possible. The final numbers on the platform for the 15th are manageable within this timeframe for both recovery and preparation.
Finally, what would you tell one of your athletes?
My wife gracefully asked me this question when I brought it up. And she’s right. I say this all the time. “What would I tell my client if they came to me with this question?”
The answer to that question was a firm “no”.
So I’ve decided to walk. Once I stop being short of breath on walks that I was previously doing, I’ll get back into the weight room and start to ramp my way back up toward peaking while still assessing symptoms.
The goal is to go in and qualify with openers at a minimum. I will keep reassessing these questions as I move forward with my decision-making in this journey.
Don't forget weakness fails and strength prevails.