Mary Theisen-Lappen was kind enough to discuss with us her journey into Olympic weightlifting. Mary has twice been the USA National Champion and twice been the Pan American Champion. She currently owns the American Record in the clean and jerk at 163kg.
You can help support her efforts and save at checkout when you use her code Mary15. You can also follow and root for Mary on her Instagram.
Can you introduce yourself and your journey into the world of weightlifting? How did you start?
I'm from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and got into weightlifting through the transitional athlete program with USAW. Basically they search for athletes that did other sports that have potential in weightlifting.
What has been your favorite achievement/proudest moment or competition to date and why?
My favorite achievement was probably breaking the American record in the clean and jerk at the Arnold 2022. It's a cool moment because no woman in US history has clean and jerked more than I have!
What does your current training routine look like? (How many days a week, time per session, etc).
I train in the morning and afternoons on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, in the afternoons on Tuesday and in the morning on Saturdays. I'm usually in the gym between 2 and 3 hours.
What are you currently training towards?
I am currently starting my training for IWF World Championships in September, in Saudi Arabia.
Being an elite-level weightlifter, How do you stay motivated and disciplined to train on days when you don't feel like it?
I have a really fantastic group of people around me at my gym, with my coach and my teammates and gym owner. They keep me motivated on days where I don't want to train.
How do you manage stress and pressure during competitions?
I like competitions better than training. I'm a competitor through and through. I do feel stress at competitions, but I try to use that stress and channel it into adrenaline and make me feel stronger. I have done a lot of breath work to help me with this.
Can you talk about the importance of nutrition in your training and performance? How is your diet structured?
As a super heavyweight lifter, I think people think I just eat everything and anything I want. That is simply not the case. I try to eat a large amount of protein each meal. I try to combine it with a lot of rice so I don't get hungry during training and a vegetable of some sort. I've found that I need to make sure I eat enough, or I can't recover or feel strong.
Could you tell us about the psychological challenges in weightlifting and how you overcome them?
I work with a sports psychologist weekly. We work on whatever I need to that week - sometimes it is weightlifting related and sometimes it's not. I'd say the hardest psychological challenges are just not feeling strong when I think I should, and working through why... whether it's a physical issue or a mental or emotional issue holding me back.
Can you share a significant obstacle or setback you've faced in your career and how you dealt with it?
I had a pretty severe injury in July of 2022. I knew I wouldn't be able to weightlift fully for about three months minimum so I decided to dial in on the things I could control which were PT, chiro, massage, sports psych and nutrition. I tried to work on the things I could control while my body healed.
If you could share some encouraging words with athletes who want to get into the sport of weightlifting, what would it be?
I would say it's the perfect sport for someone who likes to focus on small changes that lead into huge improvements. It's individual but also you have teammates that support you and take care of you as well.