Long road trip today.....9 hours in the car. Tried to get in my workout, but conditions were suboptimal. Not much eating or hydrating during day and I was outside in 40 degree weather. Didn't effect my jerks much, but my hands got pretty cold during my snatches only adding to the grip/hand issues. Also tried the liquid skin on my troubled pinky with equivical response. Although I didn't re-tear the skin, the liquid skin seemed to bunch up and peel off the troubled spot.
Warm Up (if you can call it that)
Jerk(2x28kg) 7 min @ 8 rpm
15 min rest
Snatch(28kg) 8 min @ L16/16/16/8 -----> R16/16/16/8
Starting to think I might need a back off week soon as I am becoming tired both mentally and physically.
I seem to keep tearing the skin/callous on my left pinky. The initial injury was a blood blister following some 40kg swings, then the skin was pulled off during snatches and now I seem to keep re tearing this area. It is by no means a major injury but it continues to cause persistant problems. Will see how the finger is feeling tomorrow, but may have to take the long weekend off to try to heal this once and for all.
Jerks continue to feel better. My knee is back to normal. I think adding some regular leg work into my GS routine has made a significant improvement in my overall knee health. Snatches also went well. My legs really fatigued by the end of the set. Also re-opened a small skin tear on my left pinky. This is pretty minor and should not give me much trouble by Thursday. OAJ and swings with the 40kg are getting easier, but are not particularily enjoyable, especially the swings. However, I am beginning to see how they are improving my snatches and are helping me groove my pelvic shift and use of my legs on the ascent of the snatch. Off tomorrow.
Snatch(28kg) 8 minutes @ L16/16/16/16 ----> R 16/16/16/13
CC Full Squat 30/30 x 2 sets
Snatches felt good today. Last minute on the right was getting ugly, but I had the reps until I caught the bell a bit too far on the fingers on the descent of rep 13 and dropped the bell on the backswing. Next time........
My hands were feeling much better today. I drained the blood blister on my right pinky yesterday which seemed to help. Coach is slowly increasing my snatch volume to 8 minutes at 16 rpm. Was a bit worried about today, but I just gave it a shot and things went very well. Once again, I was in the zone during the early minutes. Today, I tried to block out all other distractions. During the last minute on each hand I was able to stay calm, focused, and in the zone. I hit 62 reps easily on the left with reps in the tank, the right side was a bit more of struggle with dead snatches during the last 3 reps. Overall, I was very happy. Hands actually feel very good tonight. I did tear the skin off the old blood blister and wasn't aware until after the set that I was bleeding pretty significantly and there was a fair amount of blood splattered around my basement gym. The good news is that it is from a very small tear and I don't think it should effect my snatching tomorrow. I decided to bag the 40kg swing set just to protect the hands for tomorrow.
Snatches actually went pretty well. Not much in the way of hand issues. That didn't occur until the swings, especially the second set. Developed a blood blister on the left pinkie. Day off tomorrow - should give my hands adequate time to recover. Beginning to wonder if my old thick handled 28kg bells are one of the reasons that I am struggling with the snatch. My 32kg and 24kg bells have the newer narrower handles and it is easier to get into the hook grip and I seem to develop less hand related issues. Just a thought.....
Most of what is written on the various kettlebell sport forums and blogs is focused on the physical aspects of the sport (ie. technique, approaches to training etc.). Very little is written about the mental aspect of this sport. It takes tremendous mental strength to complete a full ten minute set of jerk, snatch, or long cycle; especially when your body is screaming for you to put the weights down. I have also found the sport to be meditative. The repetative nature of the lifts combined with rhythmic breathing patterns place me in the present, the here and now. There is no time for outside thoughts about work, relationships, or bills. At the completion of my work out, I am always refreshed, both physically and mentally.
The real mental challenge comes in the competative arena. It is here, where the athlete is attempting to perform at a top level, that the role of the mind can help or hinder your outcomes. As Timothy Gallewey writes in his book The Inner Game of Tennis, the real key to peak performance is the elimination of Self 1 (the ego) thereby allowing Self 2 (the physical body, including the brain, memory bank - conscious and unconscious, and the nervous system) to reach its full potential. This essentially equates to allowing yourself to play in the "zone". We have all been in the "zone" sometime during our athletic careers, but the elite athlete is able to get into the "zone" with each performance and can STAY there throughout the entire event. Tim Gallewey states,
"...even though you don't know much about what is happening in the "zone", you can know a lot about what is not happening. You can remember that you weren't criticizing yourself; you weren't congratulating yourself either. You weren't thinking about how to do the (snatch) correctly or how not to do the (snatch). You were not thinking about past (reps) or the (time remaining in the set), about what people would think or even about the results to be obtained. In other words what was missing was Self 1 (the ego). What was left was Self 2. Interestingly, this state of being (the zone), when Self 1 is absent and Self 2 is present, always feels good, and allows a more vivid consciousness and usually great excellence in performance."
So, what does this have to do with me? Well, for the past several weeks, as I continue to work towards those last 10 reps per arm in the snatch to make Candidate for Master of Sport I have become aware of the role of the ego in my training sessions. Today for example, I was in the "zone" on both my left and right hands for the first 3 minutes. I was not thinking about technique, the reps were consistent, efficient, and they were adding up. My nervous system (Self 2) was running the show. However, as I entered the 4th minute on both hands my ego (Self 1) entered the picture. I started telling myself how good I felt, that I was going to make the numbers, that I only had 1 more minute to go, and that I needed to focus on catching the bell early on the descent, not shorting my backswing, and using my legs on the ascent. Next thing I know, I am no longer in the "zone". I start to struggle, my technique falls apart, my grip begins to fail, I begin to doubt my ability to finish the 4th minute, I begin to question if I will ever reach CMS. MY EGO HAS WON.
I was a bit concerned about the planned 10 minute snatch set given how tender my hands were/are. This high volume snatching is taking its toll on my mits, especially by Friday. It would have been easy to just scratch the workout, but I decided to give it a go......
I was surprised that I was able to go the distance. I was able to get into the zone tonight and the time really passed quickly. OK, the 10th minute was tough with a fair amount of dead snatching, but my hands survived with no new damage. I was also happy with the OAJ and gutting out the swings with tender hands. The weekend will be a welcome rest.
Hectic day today. Still sleep deprived from last weekend call. Home late afternoon, with short window of time to workout. Just didn't have it today with the snatches. Hands still remain tender. Developed blister under the left pinky finger, but had to stop the set early. Ironically, the blister formed from the tape job I rigged up to protect the skin tear higher up on the same pinky last week. Remainder of the workout went ok.
Ran into grip issues on the 4th minute on the left, worried I would drop the bell if I tried any more reps. On right, I did drop the bell at the 7:45 mark. Conditioning was also an issue with this set. Right knee is essentially back to normal. I think the combination of rest and introducing some squats into the mix has worked wonders.
Was looking forward to snatching the 28kg with my new focus on leg extension. Things actually went quite well with the set. I was able to hit the full 8 minute set at 15 rpm. Essentially no struggle on the left side, the last 7 reps on the right were a bit troublesome (dead snatches).
Was supposed to do second set of 40kg swings, but I tore a callous on my left pinky finger with the first set and decided to call it a day. Not sure if I will be able to workout tomorrow due to the finger. May just give it a 3 day weekend to heal.
Over the past several days, I have had some interesting discussions with my coach concerning my snatch technique. After my recent 28kg snatch video post from last week, she pointed out that my timing was off with my leg extension as I was coming out of the backswing. This was leading me to pull more with my hand instead of relying on my leg strength to get the bell overhead. Clearly, this leads to early grip fatigue. She also noticed that my knees were not locked out until the bell was essentially overhead. My coach urged me to focus on extending my legs to full lockout as soon as possible as the bell passes through my legs on my ascent.
Yesterday, I really focused on early knee extension during my 40kg swings and I was very surprised to find the bell traveling to chest level with relative ease and very little pull with my hand. Previously, the focus of my swings was to pull with my hand, which didn't get the bell very high, fatigued my grip, and led to very tender hands. Prior to yesterday, my leg extension durning my swings was lazy.....not any more.
Today, I had a 32kg snatch set on the agenda. I really focused on the early extension of my legs during the ascent and I clearly felt a difference. The bell seemed to get overhead easier, my grip did not fatigue nearly as much as previous sets, and my hands didn't become so tender despite the longer set. I think this could be the technique breakthrough that I have been waiting for. My legs are clearly a strength and to be able to better utilize them on my snatches can only help, not to mention decrease the grip fatigue issues which have plagued my prior CMS snatch attempts. See the video of my snatch set below. Compared to my 28kg video from last week, I think my leg extension is significantly improved. As I further fine tune this technique change, I am hopeful that I will pick up the remaing reps needed to make my CMS snatch numbers.
My knee issues really seem more muscular than anything else. Last night I hit my quad, hamstring, IT band, and calf with the Tiger Stick and my knee felt amazingly better today. No problems with jerking today.
Snatches went well. I lost my grip and dropped the bell on the backswing of the 12 rep on the 8th minute. Although I was dead snatching, I think I could have completed the last 3 reps.
I have decided to try to work the one legged squat progression from Convict Conditioning for my leg work. This is a very interesting book of body weight exercises that someday I will tackle when my GS addiction is complete. For those who travel a lot, this book will provide you with excellent body weight exercise progressions that could easily be done in a hotel room. The ultimate goal of the book is to get you to do a one armed push up, one leg squat, one armed pull up, bridge, one armed handstand push up, and a leg raise. Each exercise is broken into a 10 step progression that is designed to accommodate couch potatoes to elite athletes. Check it out here.