European Powerlifting Championship – Me against myself!

The European Powerlifting Championship took place in Dublin, from 21 to 23 September. It was a fantastic event, with over one hundred athletes from all over Europe competing in squat, bench press and deadlift. The age categories ranged from 14 to 74 years of age.

I competed in four categories, squat and deadlift both raw and equipped and I came first in all in my categories. I achieved two new world records in the equipped categories of squat (100kg) and deadlift (125 kg). It wasn’t easy to compete in four categories, two each day, as I had to conserve energy over a long day, and do my maximum best twice a day for the same lift. I had to stay calm but focused, relaxed, but watch what’s going on around me, be mindful of my fluid and nutrition intake. I did not beat my personal best and was a tiny bit disappointed. No matter what I achieve, the real competition goes on in my own head – it’s me against myself, hoping to do better every time I go out on that platform. The present me trying to do better than the past me.
Needless to say that I enjoyed breaking records. But as at every competition the highlight was meeting my fellow powerlifters, sharing stories of struggles and successes, what it took to get here and compete on European level. It was a great weekend overall.At the competition, I learned what I could do to get stronger. But for now I’m looking forward to a week of rest, indulging and eating all the chocolate I want 🙂

Preparing for the European Powerlifting Championship – Hoping for “Good Lifts” and “3 white lights”

Preparing for the European Powerlifting Championship – Hoping for “Good Lift and 3 white lights”

A big thank you to all wishing me well for the European Single Lifts powerlifting competition in Dublin next week. I hope I won’t disappoint you.

Over the last three months, I’ve been training hard, and now I’m in maintenance   mode. My nutrition is “angelic” the last time I had an alcoholic drink was at a wedding in August, a glass of prosecco. There I also had the last time sugary food – a beautiful dessert selection. From then on I ate lots of protein from different dairy,  plant and animal sources, good fats, lots of vegetables, nuts, fruit, some good carbs, but  no sugary food and no alcohol.

Ethically I would prefer to be completely vegetarian but once a week I have fish and a steak, to get the full spectrum of proteins from natural sources. I am lucky that I like cottage cheese, yogurt, kefir and buttermilk, all good natural sources of protein.

I have to stay at around 67 kg to compete in my usual under 70 kg category. The competition takes place over 3 days, Friday squat, Saturday bench and Sunday deadlift. I have to allow for putting on about 1 kilogram each day, as I will eat a lot to keep my energy up and stress levels down.

The biggest challenge is to sleep well coming up to the competition, and that is harder for me than sticking to good food. However, I’m working on it, with some relaxation exercises,  stretching and no scary movies before going to bed!

Powerlifting competitions are as unpredictably as any other sports competition.  Anything can happen! All the training and preparation has to come together and then each lift is over in less than 10 seconds.  Failure is public, but so is success!

The best image for a powerlifter is seeing the three white lights on the screen, showing that all 3 judges see your lift as successful.

The best sound for a powerlifter is the sound of the head judge announcing “Good lift!”

I’m looking forward to compete with the best powerlifters in Europe, I know what they all have gone through to be where they are now.

So, this is it – I can do no more – you hear from me again after the competition – hopefully in a good mood!

 

 

Yes we can! Women over 50 can get stronger!

Yesterday I came home from the European Powerlifting Championship in King’s Lynn, UK.  It was a fabulous weekend! I broke two European records, in squat with 105.5 kg and in deadlift with 137.5 kg. Including  47.5 kg with bench press I achieved three personal best lifts. So all the months of training and looking after my nutrition,  paid off! Even over 50 women can still get stronger!

 

Gestern bin ich von der europäischen Powerlifting-Meisterschaft in King’s Lynn, UK, zurückgekehrt. Es war ein fabelhaftes Wochenende! Ich brach zwei europäische Rekorde, mit 105,5 kg in der Kniebeuge/Squat und mit 137,5 kg im Kreuzheben/Deadlift. Einschließlich 47,5 kg mit Bankdrücken/Bench Press erreichte ich drei persönliche Rekorde. So zahlten sich das monatelange Training und gute Ernährung aus! Selbst über 50 Frauen können stärker werden!

My Powerlifting Journey

Yesterday a colleague asked me how I got into powerlifting – at my age. This is a question I was asked many times before, so I thought I write a blog about it, to describe the beginning of the journey, the painful lessons, the successes, the benefits and what powerlifting does for me.

 

The Beginning of the Journey

I started lifting heavy weights in summer 2015 at the tender age of 54. As I had a month of work I thought it would be nice to get really fit and in shape, see what I achieve with exercise and good nutrition.
I had been a member of a lovely hotel health and fitness club for 20 years. However, none of the fitness routines such as treadmill, stepper and bike aerobics had improved my body, perhaps just kept me in reasonable shape.
I asked one of the fitness staff in the gym to tell me what else I could do “to get rid of the wobbly bits”. I was lucky as the guy I asked was also a strength coach in another gym. He advised me that I should start lifting weights.
I told him that I did not want to get bulky, look like a bodybuilder, but he said that there is “not a chance” as I would not have enough testosterone in my body to build big muscles.
So I thought I’ll give it a try. After a few weeks I saw results, my clothes felt more comfortable, I felt more energetic and lifting heavier and heavier weights made me feel very good. I slowly changed my nutrition, mainly more protein, less sugar, more vegetables. I learned about the importance of sleep, as the whole strength building process happens while sleeping (I’m sure there is a scientific rationale).
Soon I noticed in the gym that I lifted heavier weights than the young guys working out beside me. I looked up the weights I lifted on the web and the world records in my weight/age category were not miles away, in fact, I had already beaten the standing world record in deadlift many times in the gym!

Painful Lessons

So, thinking that I may have a talent for weightlifting I went to get a few lessons in powerlifting. Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting in which contestants attempt three types of lift in a set sequence, squat, bench press and deadlift, which is called “Full Power”. Competitions are also held that include just one of these lifts which are called “Single lifts”, or a competition of two lifts.
In August 2015 I joined the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Federation and in September I took part in my first competition in Ballina, Co Mayo, a “push – pull” competition, meaning bench press and deadlift.
What a (painful) learning opportunity! Similar to boxing, powerlifters compete in weight category and I thought, and still think, the weigh-in in the early morning is the worst part of the competition. Then I made so many mistakes, wrong shows, wrong belt, wrong technique, nerves….
I was disqualified after not being able to get one successful bench press. I wanted to drive home and cry! What had I been thinking! However after many encouraging words from another female powerlifter, I partook in the deadlift part of the competition, even though none of the lifts would be counted. I achieved three successful lifts, got a lot of applause and again I got a lot of encouraging words. Even though I left Ballina empty-handed, I decided to try again in another competition.

Successes and further goals

By now I took part in four world championships, in Wales, Italy, Belgium and Boston, USA. I broke and set some World and European records. I met other powerlifters from many countries, also passionate about powerlifting. My next goal is to partake in the European full power championship in the UK in May and beat my personal records in all three categories.

Benefits of lifting heavy

So far, I am enjoying the sport. Other powerlifters have described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. No matter how much is going on in my life, I can put it out of my head for a few hours every week, without taking drugs. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose – to get that weight of the ground. This is a quiet and meditative moment, I notice nothing else but the bar.

What does it do for me?

I think that my competitive sport enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – my hectic personal life, my managerial role in Trinity College as well as my scholarly work. Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week.
I am now in better shape than ever. I am stronger, feel calmer, the best is really that the training, the discipline and determination gives me the ability to face better everything that life might throw at me!

World Powerlifting Competition in Boston, USA

 

The World Full Power Championship took place on 4th and 5th November in Boston. It was a tough competition, toughest ever, with lots of drama, strong contenders from all over the world, and VERY strict judges. But the hard training, good nutrition an early nights paid off!  I set a new European Record in Deadlift at 136.5 kg, and 1st Place in my category!

 

National Full Power Competition

On 30 September and 01 October 2017 the National Full Power Competition took place in Letterkenny, County Donegal. I had been training hard since July,  four times a week, eating healthy, nutritious food, drinking very little alcohol. But now just after the competition I have to say it is all worth it. I  had my best ever competition, breaking two National Records, winning the Best Master Category and lifting more than ever in one competition.  I qualified in all three lifts, squat, benchpress and deadlift, which means I can partake in the World championship in Boston, USA, in November. But what makes me happiest is that I am  now  – at 56 years of age – stronger than ever. Boston here I come!