MY INVISIBLE OPPONENT
By Amanda Kulik
I’ve been considering strongman as a competitive outlet for over a year now. I use the term “considering”, because I’ve only competed twice. And only in the last few months really dedicated myself to my training. The kind of training that will push boundaries and help me to be the type of competitor I dream of one day being.
Part of my hesitation is failure. And not the failure of losing to someone, especially someone who is all around stronger, better conditioned, faster, etc. It is the failure of myself. “Did I not train hard enough? Did I not give it my all? Couldn’t I have done more reps? Added in more days? Why am I so weak?”
I am sure most athletes face these fears. And it is in standing up to these fears that we become who we are. It is putting ourselves on the line and competing where we face our fears head on. That’s what strongman is about. That’s what IRONMILL has come to mean to me. I see people do it daily. It’s damn inspiring.
When Lou was training for the Arnold, he asked me what a “win” was for us. Was it winning the whole event? Was it beating the best guy there? We decided to set “wins” for each event. A “win” was not if he got more reps than someone on the dumbbell, it was if it was HIS best. “Okay, you got four in practice, so five is a win.”
Competing with yourself, in my mind, is the best, healthiest competition there is. And it’s all about attitude and mindset.
So, that is what I do. I pick wins for me. I do what I can do. I push myself to be better, and I know that every extra pound, or rep, or second is a win.
I don’t worry about any one person’s numbers. There isn’t an individual person I am trying to beat. I worry about me, and the beast I have created in my head.
She is mean and lean. She cuts from 180 pounds, and is solid muscle at 140. Her deadlift rivals that of Kim Baum’s. She presses an axle like Steph Tropea, loads stones like Michele Wozniak, has a phenomenal split jerk like Lisa Gil. She can hold 225 a hand like Alanna Casey. She’s as quick as Sue Metcalf and just like Rachel Pyron, her log press is 170 and on the rise. She can carry a husafel further than Whitney Johnson, has a faster yoke than Tracy Stankavage, a drag better than Janne Grandalen-Flo. She can deadlift 185 pounds 99 times, if she has to, like Rebecca Klopp. She can flip tires faster/better. She can jump higher, run faster, push a prowler harder. Her truck pulls, her squats, her conan’s wheel and viking press – everything is better, faster, stronger than mine.
Oh, and she’s as tenacious and vicious as Miss Maya Camille Winters, don’t think I forgot about Maya. (That’s the dangerous part
She tortures me. She’s in the back of my head, laughing. Every time I get a rep, she gets another. For every PR, she’s been hitting the same number for years. My maxes are her warm ups.
And so I train. Train against myself, train against the weight, train against her. She is competition. She is sweat and blood and tears and everything else that comes with hard work. She is ripped calluses and bruised shins. She is that total body sore after heavy yoke walks or that feeling of passing out after having a 200 pound stone on my chest for too long. She is my grip giving out on farmer’s. She’s that sick feeling in my stomach on the log press at the beginning of a competition. She is that feeling of wanting to cry when you miss a big lift and the whole gym is watching.
She is everything that makes me want to quit. She wants it more than I do. She wants to win more. Or so she thinks.
And that’s where I start to win, because I never give up. And I allow the amazing women in strongman to inspire me, and encourage me, even when I want to be intimidated and let her tell me “you’ll never get there.”
Trust me, it’s intimidating. It’s a scary sport. But, it’s a mental game as much as it is a physical game. Your body can handle it, it’s your mind, it’s her, telling you you can’t. So keep your head strong, and fight on.