By Daniel Dalenberg
On a recent Saturday, my wife and I got out and enjoyed some of the beauty that southwest Michigan offers in the summer. We made a day trip to Warren Dunes State Park in Bridgeman, MI to hike and explore. Warren Dunes is a beautiful place, with over 3 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline to enjoy, half of which is dog friendly. We had a great day walking the dog, climbing dunes and trying to get Reese, our puppy, to swim in the lake. This wasn’t your typical leisurely beach day and nature walk, there was some serious hiking involved.
The next day, I realized how much my mindset has changed. You see, my group trains on Sunday evenings, we squat and pull on Sundays. I had spent Saturday in the sun, being very active and wearing out my legs on the trail. One of the guys, Chris, said he was surprised I did that, considering the fact that we were squatting the next afternoon. Why would I expend so much energy at the beach when I had a heavy training day the next day?
“I want to have a normal life, too.”
My response was that I want to still have a normal life and not let training interfere with something fun like enjoying a beach day with my wife. I enjoy hiking, I love Lake Michigan and in the summer here, I don’t need much more than a nice lunch and some time at the beach, or park to have a good Saturday. I don’t want to sacrifice that because I am supposed to squat the next night. I want to have a normal life and be super strong while still enjoying the day to day.
This extends to my career. I want to invest in myself professionally and advance in my career, never allowing training to interfere. I am starting an MBA program in fall, 2017 and refuse to let training get in the way of taking on responsibility at work. I want to be super strong while still advancing myself as an engineering and business leader.
This all boils down to the simple fact that I want to be an elite level strength athlete despite the rest of my life. I want to continue competing at a high level and striving for a top all-time total without letting that get in the way of my career, marriage, or family.
I’m not sure that I think this makes powerlifting much more difficult, but rather it makes managing time and figuring out intelligent training strategies a bigger challenge. Sometimes I have to train under less than ideal conditions, not that it has mattered much. The first time I handled 700+ on the bench, I had woken up in Dallas, Texas at 4:45am, spent 9 hours on planes and in airports and drove straight from AZO to Paw Paw, Michigan to train with my group. Yes, there would have been better days to get that session in, but I did what I had to do and made it work. With clever deloads and a little bit of thought put into my diet, it wasn’t a problem.
Ultimately, this is all about determining what is most important to me and aligning priorities. I love powerlifting; I’ve been competing for almost 15 years. But there is so much more to life than just lifting and competing. I want to look back someday and know that I did it all. I was freaky strong while excelling in my career and enjoying my personal life. I used to be willing to sacrifice for lifting, it was the “hardcore” thing to do. Now, I’ve realized that really, that’s the lazy man’s way out. It is easy to be strong if all you have to do is eat, lift and sleep. Work enough to keep food on the table. Balancing a career, marriage, personal life and training is the bigger challenge.