#Rio2016: Mental Strength and Committing To Your Goal

In light of the Rio Olympics, we have the amazing Mirkat London, 2 Olympic weightlifters telling their story of how they stay motivated while competing. This is a great motivational post so please make sure you check them out and tweet them what you think @MirkatLondon or like their Facebook page. Enjoy! 

 

We are Miri and Kat, we are both competitive Olympic weightlifters, competing at a national level. Olympic weightlifting has become a huge part of lives, we have been competing for nearly 2 years and have learnt so much from competing and from focusing our training around competitions. For us being a team in an individual sport is really imparting, it maintains our accountability, ensures there is always someone there to laugh with you, to support your and to make sure you keep level headed throughout.

 

Olympic Weightlifting is a great sport, it can be incredibly elegant, it is also incredibly addictive, frustrating, fun and …it has become an integral part of our lives. Balancing Training, food prep, competitions, managing recovery…fitting everything around full time jobs and some semblance of a social life.

 

To improve and progress in Olympic Weightlifting you have to follow the programme, focus and work on technique and build strength. Though these 3 components alone aren’t enough to succeed in Olympic Weightlifting. Through competing we have learnt the importance of psychology and mindset, regardless of how physically strong you are if you can’t focus your mind and commit to your lifts, it becomes unlikely you will make them and progress in the sport.

 

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We want to address the following questions in this post:

How do you develop and maintain a strong mindset?

How do we handle the pressure that comes with committing to and competing in a sport like Olympic Weightlifting?

 

To answer that question you have to first look at the the Why.

 

The Why?

We are often asked, and often ask ourselves: Why do we even lift?

Especially when it hurts and it can be frustrating to no end? What gives us the mental strength to continue working even when we fail at times, or our lifts aren’t going up, and seem to be going down? Why do we compete in a sport that is quite niche when we could be spending our time in a nice shiny gym with TVs, rather than training in railway arches covered in chalk. Or on the bad days when things really aren’t going to plan: is the juice worth the squeeze?

 

So why do we compete in Olympic Weightlifting?

 

There are many answers to these questions, these answers can vary from day to day, for us the main drivers are:

 

Working towards and achieving the goals you set yourself is a great feeling.

Weight training is an empowering thing, the feeling of picking up heavier and heavier weights that you only dreamed you might be capable of lifting is amazing.

It has made us both realise what we can achieve, and has given an insight into what our bodies are capable of.

This in turn has given us confidence both inside and outside the gym.

Sometimes in failure we see how strong we can be.

 

Once you have determined the “why?” it comes down to business, the hard work, the Training

 

We spend about 12 hours a week training, this means that we have to want to be there and enjoy it. To succeed we have to commit; to following the programme, to showing up even if we just want to drag ourselves home to lie on the sofa, you also have to 100% believe in and trust the process.

 

So often with weightlifting you can get stuck and feel as though you have completely forgotten how to lift, one week it can all be going well, your lifts feel smooth, your technique is feeling good and you are feeling strong. Then for no real rhyme or reason you can’t seem to lift any more (it’s as though you have used up all your good reps and that’s it), everything feels heavier than it should, your squats gone backwards.

The times of struggle are especially challenging mentally, yet are equally part of an athlete’s life as are the successes. In the moments of doubt or disappointment this is when it’s really important to maintain perspective. Surround yourself with positive people who reflect your progress back to you, when you are contemplating giving up and taking up a softer sport. You will miss lifts, the barbell will spit you out the back of lifts, this happens to everyone, you have to be able to smile and laugh at yourself and believe that you will get it next time. Most importantly you can’t take yourself too seriously, if you do it will drive you mad.

 

The most important advice that we can give: stay the course and sometimes you have to commit to continuing to follow the programme and trusting your lifts will return…They thankfully always do (or have so far).

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When you get buried going for a PB clean and just sit there with the barbell on your shoulders unable to stand it up, you need some one behind you supporting you and to laughing with you.

 

Sometimes it’s not your strength that is letting you down but your technique, this means dropping the weight off the bar, keeping your ego in check and working technique drills, it can be so frustrating working on the finer details.

 

Working on weaknesses is never a fun thing as it means identifying them, admitting to them and then spending time addressing them. This can be very emotional and also leaves you questioning yourself and your abilities.

 

You have to keep showing up and keep following the programme and believe the hard work will pay off.

 

“Perseverance is stubbornness with purpose” a_m_strong

 

We spend so much time training as we have goals that we are working towards, and those goals are generally around the lifts we want to hit in a competition and the total we want to achieve.

 

Once you have put it the hours of training, the next step is Competing.

 

Why would you want to / should you compete? The answer is simple: Competitions are the time to take all the hard work onto the stage, despite all the butterflies it is one of the best experiences and rewards that you can give yourself.

 

You’ve put the hard work in training, you’ve invested hours in food prep, maintaining your weight and strength and it’s time to hit those lifts.

 

The competitive environment is completely different to the training environment, you have to show up with purpose, intent and a game plan.

 

For competitions your mindset and mental game has to be 100% focused on believing in the hours of training, believing in your abilities and completing your lifts.

 

The more Olympic weightlifting you watch you realise that you can lose a lift before you’ve even touched a barbell if you even doubt yourself for a second, if you want to make the lift first you have to believe you can.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right”-Henry Ford

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You have to approach, the barbell with confidence, trust in the training the time and work you have put in, believe that if you have lifted the weight before then there is no reason you can’t lift it again. Have no doubt that there is any reason for you to miss the lift.

 

Some wise words from our coach, a phrase you will often hear him say when people miss a max lift: ‘You had that if you really wanted it’

Not exactly what you might want to hear when you have missed a lift, mainly because it’s the truth, you probably doubted yourself, didn’t fully commit to the lift, or were a bit cocky and let your ego enter into the equation.

 

You have to be able to control your nerves, have fun enjoy.

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Decide, Commit, Achieve

 

Going back to the original questions

 

How do you develop and maintain a strong mindset?

Deciding on your goal

Committing to your goal

Working towards your goal

And believing you can achieve your goal

So the short answer is Work;

both putting in work in training, watching and learning from others and work to believe you can.  It takes time to build up the confidence to pull yourself under a heavy barbell on a stage wearing a singlet.

The hard part is maintaining the balance to ensure you are confident without becoming arrogant.

 

How do we handle the pressure that comes with committing to and competing in a sport like Olympic Weightlifting?

Belief

Belief in the hard work you have put in, belief and confidence in yourself and your abilities. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in and support your goal.

 

For us, Olympic Weightlifting has had a huge and positive impact on our lives and we are convinced that any sport can do that to you, you just have to find the one thing that excites you. Because then the Why?, The Training and the Competition will feel natural and the commitment will come automatically with the support of friends, training partners and coach. We wouldn’t want to change it for the world.

Visit them.

Like their facebook.

Or tweet them.

 

 

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