Mercedes Dickerson, CEO of Hitechplates and champion Olympic weightlifter, proves that being a Master’s athlete is something to embrace. Not only was Mercedes a Gold medalist at the 1998 World Masters Games, but last October 2011 she set seven International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Masters world records in Limassol, Cyprus.
She shares her words of wisdom about what it takes to continue challenging yourself to be better each day and what perspective she takes on her training as a Master’s athlete.
Mercedes: Change is unavoidable — my quest is to make the most of it. Blend that into a life of weightlifting and you progress gradually with scheduled rest and milestones. The main objective is to eliminate injury. If seasonal nutrition and peace of mind are optimized, performance is maintained or even enhanced.
My body is constantly reminding me that I must be active. Flexibility, for example, is an on-going issue. Warm-up time may increase, but it cannot be compromised. I also change my stretching routines.
I have experienced a change in self-awareness around movement. I think, ”Am I dipping forward?” I don’t feel like I am, but posture and body mechanics is high on the scale of consequence.
So you see it’s a simultaneous equation: you are changing with change.
Mercedes: Besides being referred to as “ma’am” these days, it does not bother me to be humbly at the back. In the end I have nothing to prove, and I compete only with myself.
I remind younger lifters that aging gracefully is not a coincidence. To be able to lift at age 50+ will require “life” technique!
Mercedes: To live to be 50+ and still be able to train, to be athletic, and to compete at a world class level (and WIN!!), you must first give yourself a chance… develop a pace…
In mid-life you have the perspective of having as much life behind you as you have in front of you, so your values are clearer and your lines are more defined.
Health has a position of prominence. Just being alive is not enough; you want happiness embedded in your being, with spirit and body matched as much as you dream it to be. Weightlifting has been my joy. Find your joy, and focus around it.
Personally, I shed anything that takes from my enrichment and adopt everything that builds it. I change my lifestyle(s) and adjust my day-to-day schedule(s) as needed for optimal exposure and experiences with health. Just recently, I changed gyms to reduce commute time and energy. It has made for more time to relax, decompress, and devote to my personal projects.
Mercedes: Master’s athletes, while they may be “humbly at the back” or not show it, do need a “coach’s eye” and attention. Not like an Olympic hopeful, of course, but believe me the passion is there!