Not quite, dead…


Yesterday I coached a friend and workout partner to a 315 pound deadlift – almost.  I have said this to her, as I have said this to clients thousands of times:

“I will never put a weight in your hands, or at the ends of your legs, unless I am certain you can do it for at least one complete repetition.”

That turned out to be a distortion on my part yesterday.  She and I joked and made small talk in her car as we headed to a nearby urgent care facility to seek treatment for her back.  No broken vertebrae, just a muscular strain.  I was asked to leave them room as the nurse shot up her back with a strong anti-inflammatory.

I bought her lunch after we left urgent care, and I then watched nervously as she ate.  She was rigid and moved cautiously, with difficulty at times.  I cried some, and said I’m sorry over and over again.  I fought an increasing nausea as the day continued. I just couldn’t let go.

Humbly, she insisted this wasn’t my fault.  We had discussed earlier that often times earning the biggest rewards can require taking the biggest risks.  There was talk between us after lunch of her next attempt at 315.  There was also talk between us of no future attempts of a single-rep-max, ever.  I don’t even recall where we left off.

After my skydiving accident in 1993, I swore I would never deadlift again.  These days I deadlift about every 10 days or so.  Yesterday I watched my partner collapse to the ground after failing with 315 lbs.  I joked with her and laughed until I realized she was hurt – then I was horrified.  What purpose is there, I have been thinking ever since, in lifting such heavy weights…?  Or running marathons…?  Or driving cars in circles at 200 mph…?

There are blurry lines between what we want to do, what we can do, and what we should do.  Identifying these lines is a challenge to be sure.  Reconciling where we fit between those lines, or if we should fit between them at all, can be maddening.  There are no clear answers.  Still, we choose to do the things we choose to do because we love to do them.  I guess that should be enough.

At the end of most days I still believe that sitting still is simulating death.  At the end of the day yesterday, I had to wonder if sitting still doesn’t actually preserve life… rc

SEEN BELOW.  CARRIE SANDOVAL SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMING A RAISED DEAD LIFT AT 275 LBS.

6 responses

  1. Oh man, I feel your pain. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re responsible for a client or training partner’s pain. I have never had to drive a client to urgent care, but have definitely given several my physiotherapist’s number. Sometimes discerning the possible from the probable is a hard call. Don’t be too tough on yourself; your intention was all good my friend!

    • Thanks Tamara. It’s all good. It was my first EVER injury to a client, so it’s still setting in. That record had been flawless until yesterday. The bigger concerns are Carries recovery, and lessons learned — which have been many. We train so well together that sometimes it just becomes more fun than business.

      He had a great talk, workout, and email discourse today about how to proceed. Good things ahead… :-)

  2. I said it on your FB page & I agree with Tamara – we do our best & you are an amazing trainer… that is the best we can do…. well intentioned is right… all will be fine in the long run.

    One thing I don’t do – and I know this is NOT what you did but some do – they do a weight just to be able to say they did it & for really no other reason. that I don’t get… I do the things I do to be stronger & healthier & to stay healthy long term…

    • Thanks Jody. Different people have different bench marks, and I guess that’s the theme of my article. Why would anyone want to drive a car a 1/4 mile in 4 seconds? Why would anyone want to stay on a treadmill at a certain speed for a certain amount of time? Why would anyone stand on stage and pose…? Why would anyone say no to a pizza…? We all have our incentives, risks, rewards, and desires. It’s just not easy reconciling them some days…

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