Autumn has arrived right on schedule here in The Netherlands. Today is dark and cold, a chilly 11 degrees Celsius with steady rain, a taste of what is to come after what has been a truly glorious summer. I like autumn. It is my favorite season of the year. I especially enjoy it in a country like The Netherlands which sits far into the northern latitudes, thus enjoying especially moody and foreboding times of darkness. Add to that the fact that the country is below sea level and the mists, fogs, and general murky nature of the environment gives comfort to those who appreciate this time of the year.
At 8.30am I left my house, bound for the small city of Leiden and my first gym session of the season. The last 8 weeks have not been kind to me in regards to attending the gym. Work and sickness contrived to keep me away for most of that time, and as a result my numbers have dropped off in a depressingly dramatic fashion.
The only way to beat it is to get your butt back in the gym.
The gym opens at 9am so I was right on time, just me and another guy. We were next to each other but as I limbered up for the squat I noticed that he had skipped ahead to the press. After a few warm-up sets I asked him what program he was following. Turns out that he is also on the Starting Strength program, but he only had a short time to be in the gym so he had decided to skip the squat in favor of the press and the deadlift.
I processed this information with some envy.
My weights were nothing short of abysmal. The squat is down to 65kg from well over 90, although at least I closed out all 3 sets. The press has dropped to 42.5 from over 50, and I didn’t even close out 2 of the 3 sets. But the deadlift was sheer demoralizing hell. From a number well into the 130s I found myself failing the 5th rep at a measly 100kg.
The iron has no pity and cares not for your misery. It cares not that you had excellent reasons not be here at the gym. You were not here and that is all that counts so your numbers are now in the shitter. Sorry, not sorry.
The guy lifting next to me remarked that he too had had to take some time out a while ago due to an eye injury which meant he couldn’t put pressure on it when bulging his eyes out of his sockets on a massive lift. And like me his numbers had crashed, but he gave me hope when he remarked that his numbers had recovered quite quickly.
“How old are you?” I asked him.
“37,” came his reply, which seeing as he has 10 years on me probably means that I’m screwed and I have a long slow slog in front of me.
At least the weather is right for it. The sky as gloomy and dark as the grey iron weights which I struggled to slide onto the bar.
I felt my shoulder go a little on the very last deadlift pull, so I backed off and called it for the day. The shoulder feels fine now though, as does the entire bod. It’s good to be lifting. Makes you feel like you’re alive.