I am on week five of a ten week Olympic Weight Lifting Programme. It has been extremely challenging and exhausting but last week I felt that I was genuinely beginning to make progress. My lifts felt smoother, and although the weight had increased, I felt more in control of the transition of the bar and more confident with my technique. Then Monday happened. I was unable to coordinate my body enough to skip (I’m not even talking about double unders, I mean just plain old skipping). We were on de-load week, so it should have been easier and yet I could not keep hold of the bar, particularly with the more technical lifts like the snatch. As the bar flew all over the place time and time again, I became increasingly frustrated and despondent. My lifting partner Leah supported me with typical good humour but however much I tried to concentrate (I do have a tendency to get distracted and giggle at inopportune moments), it was simply not clicking. I felt as though all of the progress that I had made over the last four weeks was lost. I could have cried. I knew I was well rested and had eaten what I always do. The only other thing I could think of of was my hormones. In desperation I went to our coach Holly Gehlcken and asked if hormones make any difference to Oly Lifting. ‘Yes!’ she replied. ‘Absolutely!’ So I wasn’t the only one. I was so relieved to hear that it is common for women to be adversely effected with the their lifting at certain points in their cycle. Holly even said that it is recommended for women to reduce their lifts to 60% when Aunt Irma is coming to town.
There is no escaping the fact that some women (though certainly not all) are strongly affected by pre-menstrual syndrome with symptoms including bloating, clumsiness, irritability, carb and sugar cravings and mood swings. I have no doubt that regular exercise and a far better diet have vastly improved my symptoms, which have at certain points in my life been debilitating, but some symptoms persist. The most challenging aspect of this for me is the fact that I no longer feel that I am in control of my body, which is infuriating. I feel weak and uncoordinated and, despite the fact that my body knows what to do, it seems to have its own agenda. Why execute a graceful, technically excellent lift when you can flail around on the floor like a fish out of water? I think the most important element of dealing with this is to get some perspective. I have to remind myself not to over react, to be realistic about what this means. No, all of the progress I have made has not been lost. No, I am not totally rubbish at Oly Lifting. Yes, I will feel better again soon and will continue to improve. No, the best way to deal with it is not to sob into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food. I remember reading this excellent post – 34 Training Tips for Women and joking to my coaches about being happy to skip number 21. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all?
In other news we were the first box on The Great British Box Tour, which kicked off this week. I sadly had to miss it as I was on a school trip to Belgium (WOD: tell 80 13 year old children to stop screaming AMRAP – 15 hours) but it was, by all accounts, a great day. My husband George reported back that the guys on the tour were a really good bunch and after the glute burning partner WOD they were treated to a delicious meal of pulled pork at Casa de la Gehlcken (courtesy of Coach Barney) so all in all a great start to their tour. Best of luck to all the team for the rest of the tour, who seem to have a come a cropper in my home town of Portsmouth! Follow them on facebook for updates.
Also huge congratulations to Holly Gehlcken and Lina Duseviciene from Reebok CrossFit Connect who both came home from The Southern Masters Weightlifting Championships in London with gold medals last weekend.