Things I Learned from the In-House Throwdown

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With the In-House Throwdown a little over a week behind us, I’ve had time to reflect on my own take-aways from the event. Personally, I had a blast that day, and I’m very proud of my team. We didn’t place high, but nearly everyone PR’d in at least one event, and as a coach and competitor the training pay off in ways that made the day satisfying. Here are some of my big-picture takeaways that can be applied to training and life:

  1. It can be refreshing to compete in something outside of your norm

I’ve toed the line of hundreds of races in distances ranging from a half mile to 26 miles. For over ten years now, I have competed solely in running. In fact, aside from my two years on a volleyball team, I don’t think I’ve ever competed in anything else. I still get nervous before every race. The night before the In-House Throwdown, I was nervous too – I could barely eat dinner. But it was a different kind of nervous. I organized and re-organized the order of my team’s prowler relay. I mulled over half a dozen different strategies for minimizing the amount of time it would take me to do my 20 pull-ups. The nervousness I felt stemmed purely from excitement and having no idea what to expect, and it was completely different than the nervousness I experience the night before a race.

Sometimes, when we specialize and train for one type of event for a long time, we subconsciously start to attach our worth to our performance in that event. We have lengthy records of performances that establish standards for what we consider success and failure. Each time we go to compete, we’re measuring our performance against those standards, and that often crosses over into how we perceive our entire selves. Consequently, pre-competition feelings of excitement and anticipation get tainted with anxiousness or even dread. The nervousness I felt before the Throwdown was refreshing, because I didn’t have any record against which to measure my performance, and I don’t subconsciously attach any of those events to my self worth. For me, the result was a renewed love of competition after competing in something new.

  1. If you don’t usually compete, doing so can help you TRULY uncover your potential

…and I don’t just mean your performance potential, but your training and commitment potential as well. Some pretty astounding things happened on competition day. Mike Krahn, one of the older men in the event, clocked the fastest time on the bike that entire day – spitting out an impressive 50 second half mile. Another middle-aged guy on my team, John Talbott, did his 60 pushups in 2:54, a whole minute and 20 seconds faster than his previous best time a week earlier. Some of the women PR’d in their deadlift that morning by 15 kilos. People surprised their teammates, coaches, and most importantly, themselves with what they could accomplish when it came down to it.

Not only did I see amazing things happen on competition day, but over the past 8 weeks, I witness many PT clients train with new a level of fervor, focus, and willingness to try new things. Those characteristics had probably always been there under the surface, but the spirit of competition and having a team-oriented goal brought them to light.

  1. Lifting heavy is empowering. Period.

I’ve trained in the gym for years, but before the challenge, I had never even tried any heavy lifting. What do I mean by “heavy lifting?” It’s relative, specific to each person, and I’m referring to anything from work sets at a weight that is difficult for 3-5 reps to testing 1-rep maxes. Being a runner, I had always stuck to sets of 6-8 or 8-10 because that’s where I find the biggest payoff. In training for the competition, I found myself trying to pull as much weight as I could off the floor for the first time. At first, I sucked at it – but it held my attention because it was a new pursuit. The allure of pushing new boundaries combined with seeing a lot of other women in the gym pull surprising weight off the floor for the first time helped me progress quickly. The first time I picked up 100 kilos, I was every bit as excited as I am when I run a new PR.

And, contrary to the ever-popular myth, I didn’t “bulk up” when I started “lifting heavy.” Although I don’t think I’ll make 1-rep maxes part of my regular training now that the event is over, I’m coming away from those 10 weeks with a new sense of strength and confidence. I encourage every woman to take that step out of their comfort zone and see what it can do for you.

If you competed and enjoyed the competition, or if you didn’t participate but have picked up on all the talk about what a great time it was, keep your ears peeled in the next few months – because we’ve got more in store.

In health,

Coach Emily

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