Is It Ever Too Late To Start Over As A Masters Athlete?
I am reaching that age where my mind is telling me I am still young, but my body is telling me this is not the case. Sometime after my 35th birthday my recovery started to slow down, but I kept on pushing. After 19 years as a Paratrooper in the Army, serving all but 3 years of that time on jump status, and multiple deployments my mentality has always been keep pushing no matter what, always give 110 percent into everything I do, and don't quit.
This past November I competed in the Master American Championships at the Anderson - Cohen weightlifting center in Savannah making 1 of 6 attempts, my worst meet performance at that time. Post meet over some double bourbons and Crown Royals my good friend and coach Cody Sharpless and I went over where we went wrong. We came to the conclusions that I was not as healthy as I had thought ( during this time I had been nursing a bad hamstring that would have me limping some days during training), and my programming had not prepared me for this meet.
On the four and half hour drive home to Fayetteville, NC I decided if I wanted to continue to compete I could not continue the way I have been; it was time for change. So for the entire drive home I begged Cody to program for me (I was using someone else for programming). After about 2 hours he finally gave in under one condition, that I take two full weeks off from anything physical to fully recover, and get healthy.
Not touching the barbell for two weeks was a challenge in itself. During this time I went to work putting together a better support team in finding new programming, and getting my body healthy. After the two weeks were up Cody turned me onto Greg Everett's double squat program to address the weakness in my legs, since my squat clean was much weaker than my power clean. (In all my meets I had only power cleaned my weights.) I changed my technique to what was better for me as a 6 foot 4 weightlifter. I found a great physical therapist at Advanced Physical Therapy Solutions in Fayetteville, NC. These guys were phenomenal in not only rehabbing my near torn hamstring, but also taking care of some old injuries that I had ignored throughout my military career.
During this time I signed up for three weeks of free programming from Competitive Edge Performance, and was put into contact with NPGL athlete and nationally ranked USAW weightlifter Will Hall. Will went right to work getting me ready for my next meet; the Masters National Championships in Savannah, GA. During this time I made the biggest adjustment in my life, and that was purging all the negative stress in my life due to unhealthy personal relationships. This had probably the biggest positive impact to starting over than anything else I had done.
When it came time to step on the platform Cody and I had one goal and that was going 6 for 6 and putting up a solid total, and squat cleaning all lifts. Well I went 5 for 6 failing my last clean. I tied my Snatch platform Pr at 102kg and had plenty left in the tank. I went 114kg in the clean posting 216kg total. Not close to my platform best but I was happy with it. My physical performance had improved so much that event staff came up to me to congratulate me and complement me on how much better I looked.
Im 38 years old. To start completely over this late in my life would probably be unthinkable for some older athletes out there but it paid off in the end. Im healthier, my legs are stronger, and I feel great. It's never too late to start over if things aren't working for you. Listen to your body it will tell you when it doesn't like what you are doing. The secret to years of longevity in sport as a masters athlete is taking care of yourself and staying healthy. Its never too late to start over, and take care of yourself, especially if you want to continue to be competitive in whatever sport you are in.