Competing with passion

She mentioned it in passing, almost just as a matter of fact, when we were talking about her trip this week to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Tiffany Maskulinski needed a year off from pole vaulting to work on some back pain issues. It was an entire year off from her sport, spent working with a strength and conditioning coach at  The University at Buffalo.

“I had a lot of muscle imbalances. I have scoliosis and we focused on a lot of basic stuff, therapy stuff, real simple motions to regain small muscle strength. It was a long process and it took a long time to get where I am,” Tiffany told me for an article in today’s Buffalo News.

It caught me off guard, the simple way she talked not just about her back pain but about her scoliosis. When I spoke with her coach, Vicki Mitchell, she noted that so many other athletes would have quit a long time ago. But Tiffany’s passion for the sport and desire to compete pushed her through the trying times and physical challenges. This week, she will be competing for the second straight year in the NCAA championships.

It got me thinking about women go through in order to compete.

Recently, I had the chance to report and write a story on the increasing number of women participating in figure competitions. An off-shoot of traditional body building competitions, figure competitions continue to emphasize weight training and muscle definition, but without the “bulk” associated with other strength training endeavors.

The discipline it takes to get in those workouts and to adhere to a strict diet around competition time amazed me. And begs the question, why?

Most of the women I spoke with wanted to get into the sport because, well, they were already doing the work. They were already working out at the gym, lifting weights and watching their diet and they wanted a competitive outlet. They wanted something tangible to show for their hard work. They wanted a new challenge.

Some days your passion is all you have to get you through that challenge.

But the lesson from these women — if you listen to your passion, the challenges suddenly lose their ominous edge.

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