There is a saying – “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. On the whole I have to agree, particularly in my professional life. However I sometimes find the opposite is true when I’m training. Perhaps I should say “A little understanding” helps from time to time.
Very often trainers are full of instructions, ” Put your feet, like this, stand like that, breathe!” I do my best to comply without questioning but not always understanding and am sometimes able change my regular form and sometimes not. As I’ve become more skilled; worked with more sophisticated trainers and attended workshops alongside trainers and coaches my understanding has deepened and this has changed my performance profoundly.
For example, my RKC trainer was very picky about how I stood and where my feet were placed. He never explained why so I just thought he was overly exacting, after my RKC he was better at explaining why and I began to understand how important stance was, preventing injury and improving efficiency. Knowing this I now try to remember to think about these factors when starting a set.
The same is happening with breathing at the moment. I do tend to forget to breathe, particularly when concentrating on form or getting to the end of a set. A number of interesting articles about breathing have been posted on Facebook recently. Reading these has helped me make sense of why I should breathe (I don’t feel skilled enough to go into the specifics about why here, but take a look at the Facebook pages of Brighton and Manchester kettlebell clubs). Now I know some of the theory behind why I should breathe, I am making a real big effort to learn the breathing patterns and embed them in my practice – not easy but worth it as I’m going to improve both my performance and well-being. In fact I experimented with breathing and not breathing during some work on squats during circuit class a few weeks ago. Concentrating on breathing and ensuring I breathed properly reduced the pain and extended the length of time I could squat. From this I recognised that I could use this to improve my response to the 10 minute sets required for competition. Easy to say, harder to put into practice!
My resolve to run and improve my aerobic capacity has also hardened since the workshop in Newcastle and I’ve been out running more regularly. In fact I ran as often as I used kettlebells over the Christmas break. My trainer has written me a program based around reps and volume for a few months. Each session has a weight ladder: 6-10 heavy reps ( 14kg for jerk, 16kg for snatch), 20-35 12kg reps and 40-55 8kg reps. This is programmed for both jerk and snatch every session. I then have some swings and presses for assistance work. Last week I completed 472 jerks and 538 snatches in these sessions alone. I also do two circuit classes and a run. As the circuit classes include some kettlebell lifting, I can complete well over a thousand lifts in a week. Over Christmas I noticed my shoulders and arms feeling quite stiff and painful. So I gave myself a rest over New Year. A rest for me involved joining Park Run for two 5K runs and walking 8 miles over Losehill and Mam Tor. However the break was good and my upper body feels much better.
Going into the New Year I’m coming to the end of this program and my first test sessions with 12kg loom. Not looking forward to those, feel quite nervous. However our small band of athletes may expand as others begin to show interest in competing so we may be able to take a bigger team to Manchester. I was particularly pleased to meet Maxine, who contacted me through Dragon Door, at class today. She is so strong and well motivated I know she’ll make a great competitor. Despite the challenges ahead, I’m looking forward to some great kettlebell fun this year.