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A Look Back At One Year Of Training at MDUSA

While signing some paperwork and needing the date, it dawned on me that today is the 1 Year Anniversary for my time with Team Muscledriver USA.  After being invited following the tryout in May of 2013, I worked and saved for the trek across the country.  I competed in the California State Games in San Diego on July 21st and left with my car packed up and my girlfriend in the passenger seat.  We spent time  in a few cities and then arrived in Charlotte where she flew back to California.  From there on, I was on my own, and my first day of training was July 28th 2013.

Just drove across the country Sean.
Just drove across the country Sean.

If I remember correctly I came in with a measly 296 total (James Tatum was totaling somewhere around 306 at this time) and last week at USAW Nationals I totaled 321 (James did 324 that sonuva’….).  This is a 25 kilo improvement, nearly 10%.  I forget what the classic Soviet standards for year to year progress are of lifters between Classes 1-3 and Candidate for Master of Sport, but I don’t think it was as high as 10%.  I like to think that’s some pretty good improvement from a statistical standpoint.

Nearly 1 Year at MDUSA Sean
Nearly 1 Year at MDUSA Sean

Aside from the numbers, which are great to improve because that is the point after all folks, there are a few other crucial things that have changed.  The first is my technical style and understanding of technique.  Despite my best efforts, I was a very raw lifter when I came in, probably much less technically sound than a lot of the lifters I coached at the time.  Even for the first few months until Don McCauley came to MDUSA, my technique did not improve much.  It was him who pointed out I was using my legs entirely wrong.  We have started there and continued to progress.  This has completely changed my Clean which has seen most of the progress in my total.  Unfortunately the Snatch is more fickle, and there was a great deal of unlearning to do first.  I feel that just now my snatch is in a place where I will be able to make PRs in the near future.  That’s how messed up this sport is.  A year of training 9xWeek to unlearn and then begin to truly develop.

Beware the dreaded Catapult.
Beware the dreaded Catapult.

The second important lesson is how to train.  By this I don’t mean programming or exercise selection.  It has taken me a year to adapt to the workload and understand the responses my body will illicit given a certain tonnage week to week.  I know how much sleep I need, how is best for me to hydrate, what foods to eat, how I need to warmup, what stretches work best for me, etc.  I’m not saying I’ve got it 100% figured out or that I’m not open to learning new methods in the future.  But I have a much better understanding of what it takes to train like an Olympian, and what is going to help me aspire to that ideal.

Super secret, serious Super Heavy warmups.
Super secret, serious Super Heavy warmups.

I don’t believe either of these lessons can be written in a book, or filmed on a dvd, in anyway packaged or condensed.  Training, like life, is a process that you have to practice at and learn from everyday.

One of the more difficult lessons I’ve learned is how hard it is to be away from your family, friends, and most of all the woman I intend to spend the rest of my life with.  A year apart from Katie has felt both simultaneously longer and shorter.  I feel as though I just put dropped her off at the airport yesterday, but somedays at home alone it has felt like an eternity and I would give just about anything to have her walk through the door and be able to make her dinner.  Without her steadfast support to follow my dreams, I don’t think this would be possible.  My family has also been more supportive of me now in pursuing this than any other endeavor in my life, and without them also this would not be possible.  They however are forced to put up with me, why Katie does I’ll never know.

Miss this person a lot.
Miss this person a lot.

I have been blessed to be given the opportunity to train in a wonderful facility, with the best coaches and teammates an athlete could ask for.  The athlete support at MDUSA is second to none.  I feel we athletes show our heart and spirit everyday in training and utilize our situation to help spread the sport to others through multiple outlets (despite recent accusations that we are less dedicated and deserving than other competitors).  It takes a great deal of commitment to put your life on hold, move across the country with no idea where you’re going to live, who you’re going to live with, or where you’re going to be able to make money, leaving your family and significant other behind.  Trust me, I know.  But the ticket is worth the cost and I’ve got a long way to ride.

Miles and miles of Heart.
Miles and miles of Heart.