We are highly skilled experts at focussing on the things we don’t want and our unconscious mind is trained to pick up on this, making us think of nothing else. Try not to think of a gorilla and you’ll find it’s the first thing that pops into your head.
I recently started seriously engaging in kettlebell sport. It’s something I have been talking about doing for over a year but kept finding excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. Truth is I was scared. The top kettlebell athletes in the UK were lifting weight way beyond my current capability and though my trainer insisted I could reach those dizzy heights, I was convinced I would fail and so here’s were I placed my focus and rather than get stuck into training, I procrastinated.
The fear of failing was holding me back and I couldn’t see a vision of me succeeding. I was stuck and continued to ignore the group of shiny kettlebells in my garage every time I went in there to workout.
It took a trip to a kettlebell competition to give me the courage to start training. The atmosphere was incredible and whilst there were athletes lifting some crazy weights, there were many who were there to lift a personal best, in competition with themselves.
I wanted to give it a go and so I engaged in the training, starting at the end of May 2018. It was gruelling but within a few months I’d progressed from lifting 12kg & 14kg bells to lifting 16k & 18kg bells for prolonged periods.
A kettlebell pentathlon competition was on the horizon in October 2018. The pentathlon discipline incorporates five different lifts, each done for 6 minutes with five minutes of rest between each lift. There is a maximum number of reps for each type of lift and you score points based on the kilograms you lift and the number of reps completed with correct form. I signed up for the competition alongside my 8 year old daughter and my husband who were both training too.
My trainer, Del Wilson was amazing and devised a programme that would accelerate my lifting capability. I, on the other hand, had other ideas. Del suggested I was capable of lifting heavier weights because I was achieving maximum reps well before the final whistle in all of my training sets. I’d created a mental block which told me that if I increased my weights and didn’t achieve max reps that wasn’t a good idea. Each time I attempted this and failed to reach the max reps I would feel like I hadn’t succeeded and it would set me back. I couldn’t grasp the fact the maximum repetition number wasn’t necessarily the target. Too many years in a corporate environment played a role in this I’m sure.
Two things happened to bring about change..
I’d completed a full pentathlon in a training setting and scored 1019 points, a great score overall. The weights I’d used in the training set were comfortable and I was able to max out in terms of reps. This gave me confidence to keep going and yet I knew it wasn’t a medal winning performance. To get one, I’d need to break out of the comfort zone and increase the kilograms I was lifting. It took some good old ‘management information’ or ‘data’ to help me break out. A pentathlon scoring calculator allowed me to see how many points I would score if I increased the weights but dropped several reps. I could score more points that I did with the lesser weights. It was my ‘a ha’ moment and I realised I could do it.
The next thing was a photo on Del Wilson’s Instagram (@kettlebelldel) of the medals for the competition. I suddenly had my eyes on the prize and my competitive side kicked in. I wanted a medal and I started to visualise myself wearing one. I was focussing on succeeding, visualising it with emotional intensity and there was no doubt in my mind that I would gain one of those medals.
These two incidents happened in the week before the competition and so I decided to increase my weight for cleans from 18kg to 20kg and my weight for jerks from 16kg to 18kg. I went into the competition having not completed a full 6 minute set with the new weights but I believed I could do it.
I did it with ease and finished each set ahead of time and with MAX REPS which of course tells me I could have pushed even harder. I bagged a silver medal, scoring a PB of 1119, a full 100 points increase on my previous PB. I was graciously beaten by a seasoned kettlebell lifter and former champ who has inspired me to carry on.
One of the best moments of the day was watching my eight year old daughter, Coral gain a gold medal. Whilst she was the only junior female, she had said in advance she wanted to ‘win’ a medal rather than get one by proxy for being the only competitor. She submitted her targets in advance and asked that she only be awarded a medal if she exceeding them. She smashed it and I am so immensely proud of her. My husband gained a bronze medal in his category so it was a real family affair, supported by our friends, Kate, Kathy and Andy who provided some amazing cheer-leading.
I am now so inspired, I have set some new sights. This time on qualifying for the England team in a new discipline of Kettlebell Marathon. 30 minutes of continuous lifting with a 16kg bell. I am learning from my experience and fully focussing on what I want to achieve rather than worrying about what I might not.
There’s a lesson for us all in that. x
I offer mindset coaching for those wanting to connect with their best-selves.. Find out more her