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No Man’s Land
By Donny Shankle

No man’s land is defined as an uninhabited place or undefined state. A place between something neither great nor bad. A state which has no up or down. It is existing without living. It is footsteps which eerily lead to nowhere. It is black space. Some weightlifters will enter the no man’s land and then soon find themselves not competing anymore. The passion felt at the beginning of their career slowly fizzles out and they either prematurely move into coaching or onto something else. Yet, other weightlifters enter this land and come out reinvigorated after honing their skills like a samurai on a Shugyosha. They have a better understanding of lifting and conversely themselves. 

I found myself in this land after recurring injuries, but used the time wisely to travel, teach, and learn even more about myself as a weightlifter and the sport of weightlifting. While in the no man’s land, I reflected on what I had been taught by my teachers. Half of this book was written in the no man’s land. My own system of training and competing was created here. Notwithstanding all the potential wisdom found here, the no man’s land can also sometimes lead to permanent unhappiness if you let it.

I’ve struggled with domestication and find it difficult to call anywhere home. However, as fun as the life of a rolling stone may be it is not for the champion. If you want to win you have to get out of the no man’s land and get rooted in somewhere. Put in consistent and uninterrupted training. Find a partner, stay away from riffraff, surround yourself with good people, and train diligently. Continue to grow and use every possible situation life brings you to make yourself stronger. You may have to cross the river Styx to do this but it’s there. Live again. Get out of the no man’s land once you have awakened inside what you needed. Apply the genius you found in yourself and lift like you love and love like you lift.