The Chalk Bucket of my Insecurities and other Random Anxieties

That has to go down as one of my odder titles for a post.  And also be foreworned that this post get’s a bit vulnerable. The genesis is from something I noticed about myself a few weeks ago.  As I was putting chalk on my hands before snatching, I became aware that each time I walked over to the chalk bucket, I would take an almost imperceptible extra few seconds to stare deeply into the bucket, as if the chalk covered bottom of the orange bucket held some ancient secret to executing a snatch with perfect form and little effort.  As I gazed into the dust, I willed myself to stand up and walk away, to approach the bar with confidence and manifest the perfect snatch of my dreams. And I noticed that with each addition of weight to my barbell, I returned back to the chalk, committed to finding the truth in the bottom of that bucket, as if my body would magically absorb the power and efficiency of my peers and coaches via chalk osmosis, as if the 14 months of coaching would somehow sink in and I’d suddenly be as beautiful in my performance as the weightlifters I emulate on Instagram.

And yet, each time I return to my barbell after spending a few too many seconds standing over this seemingly innocuous bucket, nothing has changed.  I still don’t have the confidence that the chalk bucket promised me. And I definitely didn’t absorb the power and strength of my peers and coaches.  The coaching of the prior 14 months just WON’T sink in.  And so help me god if my coach tells me not to limbo under the bar one more time.  The chalk bucket let’s me down again and again.

Why do I keep coming back? This is so hard to answer for me. On one hand (and this is something I’ve espoused a million times), I HAVE gotten stronger, fitter, faster, more muscular etc.  This is something that I’ve debated ad nauseam with my primary coach Martin: he will go to the ends of the earth to convince me that more lifting and less running has benefited me in ways that targeted speedwork, coaching and mileage never could.  And I do agree, mostly.

On the other hand, it is so freaking hard.  I’ve shared with close friends that each day I show up at EpiqX fully expecting today to be the day that I fail.  That today is finally going to be the day where I walk out utterly defeated.  Why do I think that? I’m not really sure because nothing in my past would suggest that this is some sort of inevitable outcome. There seems to be some rogue brain cells that show up each day, maybe in an effort to sabotage me, who knows.  But they’re there and they can get really loud sometimes.  Similarly, I also assume that today is going to be the day when the hard part of the workout gets cancelled because the coach decided at the last minute that it’s too hard and we shouldn’t do it.  That hasn’t happened ever either.

What’s the point of all of this? Am I quitting and returning to ultra running? No.  But I think about it.  A lot.  I was on ultrasignup.com two hours ago.  But nothing happened, I swear.  But if I did one day want to go back to running long distances, that’s ok too.  Today, I want to show up and feel the fear AND the failure.  I want to be not good at something because what I do know from past experience is that when I finally succeed, after struggling for so long, the success is that much sweeter.  The cliche of “if it was easy, everyone would do it” (which I hate to be honest) is true.  I think a part of me likes that it’s hard or else I wouldn’t return, rogue brain cells and all, day after day.

So I’m going to go back to the chalk bucket and continue to stare intensely at the tiny bits of chalk and the dust contained within the bright orange container.  Maybe today it’ll release it’s wisdom and I’ll finally learn the secrets of the snatch.

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