I’ve been here before. This place, this sanctuary of mine; not your typical sanctuary, though, I’m not your typical person to feel such a way about such a place. As you enter, you get a feeling and understanding of calm aggression. Opposing as these two emotions may be, one must recognize and admire both qualities because both will be realized in training. As you see the weightlifters, stand to be amazed by the talent. For these movements are fluid; they are art in motion. The snatch and the clean and jerk; different, but the same. Both display great speed and strength; one more of finesse, while the other is more brute strength, in nature. This is my sanctuary and this is what we experience…
The room becomes completely dark as I close my eyes. All sound has faded and I am suddenly alone in this sanctuary. No light, no sound; as if I am truly 20,000 leagues under the sea. Though, strangely, I can breathe easy here. And the smell, the smell of chalk and sweat fill the air around me. Inhaling slowly, I notice just how sweet this smell is; how truly it has been missed all these years of my incapacitated movement. This smell would be frowned upon elsewhere, but this is my sanctuary. It is welcomed, along with the sounds that often follow these artful movements. Sound vaguely returns as other lifters around me finish movements and let their weights fall to the platform. Silent, dark, I am alone again.
Sitting, I suddenly see myself. It is as though I have stepped outside myself, a ghost of an image, and am seeing the future lift that is soon to ensue. Chills run through my body…this is a max lift and one that I’ve never attempted in the snatch. I watch as the “other me” chalks up, stares ahead, past the bar, standing a few feet behind the platform. The chalk from his hands hovers around his body, also seeming to wait in anticipation of this big attempt. I wonder what he is thinking; hopefully nothing, as a cluttered mind at this point in the game would prove to be ill-fated. He is now, or rather, I am now looking at the bumper plates that engulf the sleeves of the bar. Oh, how colorful are they! Like a rainbow, colors of the full spectrum; beautiful, graceful, and fluid like the movement that must happen in order to raise this rainbow of bumper plates overhead.
I approach the bar to begin my starting position. It is the same, it is always the same. If one maneuver is off or out of sequence, I will know and this will ruin the lift. Everything is planned, even the intricacies of the setup. I set my feet under the bar and descend down to get my grip. The steel of the bar is warmer than normal, while the knurling is sharp; my hands have been prepared for this struggle. My hook grip has never failed me and it will not in this moment. My arms are loose; all the tension dissipates. Next, I set my back, hips, and knees; my sight ahead, now fixed upon a certain spot on the wall. This spot has been stared at so hard, so many times, that I’m surprised there still stands concrete where there should be a hole. Imagine, to think that Superman himself would, and could, use his laser vision in this way right before an attempt. This is sometimes who I become in my mind’s eye.
I begin to break the bar from the floor. It feels light, moves quickly, and stays the course in which I command it. The bar listens to me and in that moment I am its master. I feel my feet glued to the floor, very secure. It is in this relationship of two objects, my feet and the platform, where the attempt will see success or failure. The forces of both must flow through each other freely, without apprehension, following the Laws of Newton. There is no room for hesitation in this relationship, as so many others have failed in this regard.
I am now at the top of my pull, about to pull under. The bar becomes weightless; remains close. It is in this most pivotal moment that speed becomes my biggest ally or, if a lack of speed is present, becomes my biggest downfall; inevitably leading to failure. Luckily, speed is present as I successfully pull under the bar, while quickly ripping the secure bond of my feet and the platform to move them into their receiving position; again, securing the relationship.
As quick as the attempt began, it has nearly finished. I sit for a moment at the bottom of this attempt, contemplating and enjoying what has just happened. Still contemplating the previous movements that resulted in my current position and all the training over the years that has allowed me to move in this most skillful way, with this load, I begin to stand with the load overhead. With a smile on my face and the feeling of great accomplishment due to the hard training that has culminated over many years, I allow the bar to fall to the ground.
That’s one rep…