15 Jan Inane Ramblings of a Meathead: What 15 Years of Powerlifting Feels Like
By Zane Geeting
You wake up at 6:30am, your back is too stiff to put on your socks because of a couple herniated disks, so you make your way to the bathroom to brush your teeth and get some blood moving. Your elbow tendonitis isn’t too bad today, you can tell as you move your tooth brush back and forth. This is a great feeling, something positive to get you going. You’ve probably done enough to get you through your three step process of putting your sock on your toes, then kicking your foot onto the bed behind you to get it over your heel, then finally turning and pulling it the rest of the way up. Now you can get started.
As you approach the sliding barn door you reach across with your left hand to open it because you know pulling your right hand across your body is going to make your torn pec cramp up and send shooting pain down your arm. You fill your animal feeders and water buckets, always making sure to properly brace and wedge as to not irritate your back any more than you have to. You also know that you have to keep your elbows close to your side when lifting 100 lb. feed bags, because your left biceps is holding on by a thread after 2 partial tears. The bags feel light, you move them easily, but you also feel the instability in the biceps, and the way it twitches and pulls when it starts to engage too much. By the time your chores are done you really have some blood moving and you feel as good as you will all day, at least until you drag yourself into the gym 13 hours later.
You’re ready for work now, showered, dressed, stomach full. You jump in the car, again making sure to brace and keep a neutral spine as to not light yourself up. Your knees audibly pop and send sharp pains down your shins as you sit down into the car. On the 45 minute drive into work you set your cruise control and you keep your legs moving to try to keep the balance between a locked up glute and a throbbing lower back. Finally you’re there; you pull yourself up out of the car and wait a second while you slowly come to an upright position through the extreme lower back tension. Your first few steps feel like you’re 90 years old, leaning forward to propel yourself toward the entrance, but by the time you hit the door you’re good again. By this time the majority of the soreness you feel is from the previous training session, and this you’ve come to welcome.
As you progress through the work day, getting in your meals, working your deals, you fight to stand and walk as much as you can to keep away that same back soreness and glute cramping that the car caused you. Hopefully you’re busy enough to make some money, but not so busy that you can’t get up, and wind up hunched over with a weak, swollen lower back. Your elbows ache now from holding the phone and typing on the computer, but its mild and it doesn’t really get in the way of anything.
By the time you’re getting in the car after work you know that you have to be very careful about positioning if you’re going to be able to train, you can’t go into it with any more inflammation than you already have. You have the same creaky popping knees, but now your lower back is stiff and tight regardless of how hard you’ve tried to keep good posture and proper movement throughout the day. The drive is what it is, uncomfortable and squirmy, but you make it home 45 minutes later with just enough time to eat, change, and make your way to the gym. This is the part of the day that you look forward to. One, because you know this is where you get stronger, and two, because you know this is when you’ll feel your best.
After 30 minutes of warming up, bathing in liniment, and mentally preparing you feel like you wish you always could, you can now move like an athlete, be strong, and be nearly pain free. You kill it for an hour and half, rep after rep, set after set. It burns, it hurts sure, but it’s the kind of pain that you love – you’re addicted to it. Your life wouldn’t be the same without it and it makes the rest of the day(s) worth everything you go through. The days when your tendonitis gets so bad you actually get nauseous. The days that you can’t squat your bodyweight because your knees ache so bad. The days that you have to stop chopping wood, or swinging your hammer because your mangled pec is so locked up and burning that your arm starts refusing to work.
You finish the training session and feel euphoric; you cram the calories in and feel full and swollen with new muscle. You finish your night time chores and shower feeling invincible, knowing that when you wake up in 6 hours you’re going to feel every ache and pain again. You pray that it’s not a “bad day,” the kind where you can’t straighten your torso to a standing position without pushing your hands off your thighs to get there. But, you also think about the next training session and what that will do for your meet. You go over your goals in your head over and over, knowing that you have more PR’s in you regardless of the damage you’ve taken. You’ve seen the resilience of your body and you wouldn’t change it for anything. This is who you are and you wear it as a badge of honor.