This weekend I had the honour of competing as part of the England Team at the International Kettlebell Marathon Federation World Championships in Poland. I did so with very little training and instead adopted a strategy that might not be conventional, but it certainly worked for me! I can’t call myself the Mindset Mentor and not practice what I preach. If you want to compete in the big playgrounds and after months of injury, mindset is the only way to turn up and not flunk it!
So, where did this crazy journey begin? Back in May 2018 watching my husband competing at a kettlebell sport event, I decided I wanted to start lifting too. The atmosphere at the competition was electric and I loved the supportive nature of the people involved. I wanted a piece of the action.
Kettlebell marathon sport is a mix of cardio and strength in which a kettlebell is lifted above the head repeatedly and continuously for either 30 minutes or one hour. Points are awarded based on the number of reps and the weight lifted. Back then I could barely lift a 16kg bell for more than a few repetitions, but I knew it was something I wanted to master. 16kg is the average weight of a filled medium sized suitcase, just to give you an idea!
I trained hard for 6 months and managed to go the half hour distance with a 16kg bell for the first time in November 2018 at the British Championships, scooping some gold bling and hitting 384 reps. I improved on this at the England Team qualifiers in February this year finishing on 389 reps and creating a new UK record. I got my place on the England team and signed up for the World Championships.
Fast forward a few months to June 2019 and with encouragement from my coach, I decided to use the English Championships as an opportunity to qualify for the Worlds in a different discipline, a full marathon which is a one-hour lift with a 12kg bell. I’d never lifted for more than 40 minutes when I stood on the platform at the English, but I had faith in my training, and I pulled off another UK record performance with 866 reps, qualifying for another event at the Worlds.
Sadly, I also came home from that event with an injury, one that had been brewing for a while. I could barely lift my arm above my head, let alone lift a kettlebell and despite lots of sports massages and physio appointments, it wasn’t improving. In September, after 3 months of zero lifting, I found a chiropractor, who eventually noted that the problem with my shoulder was due to an issue in my ankle. At the beginning of November, just three weeks out from the World Championships, he deemed me fit to lift again.
What a strange day that was. I came home almost fearful that I’d been given the all clear. Going into a World Championships fully fit was daunting enough. Entering it with hardly any training was a huge deal and I was certain I would make a fool of myself. I picked up the 12kg and started to lift and sure enough, after 6 months of no lifting, it felt hard, ridiculously hard. I put it down after ten minutes and it was another week before I mustered the courage to pick it up again. This time I managed 15 minutes, which was a long way from the hour I would need to do and what’s more I hated every minute of it.
My mood flicked from thinking I would withdraw from the competition to deciding I’d turn up and compete in the 12kg event only. I was convinced there was no way I’d be able to lift the 16kg so resigned myself to not doing that one at all. Mr Cox had other ideas and paid the entry fee for both events ‘just in case.’
I found my sabotaging behaviours interesting. I’d get up each morning and do a HIIT workout whilst staring at the kettlebells in my home gym, knowing full well I should be lifting them, but choosing not to. I knew from my work, that this was about self-preservation. Not training meant I had a get out of jail free card if I decided to withdraw. That knowledge simply served to annoy me.
Two weeks out, I sat at my desk and decided that as a mindset coach I needed to do something drastic. Operation ‘Just Do It’ was about to begin.
1. I came up with three affirmations which I cited repeatedly.
2. I created a detailed visualisation of me lifting at the Worlds which I called to mind every evening before sleeping
3. I asked my Business Coach, Steve Crabb, his advice. He happens to be an incredible hypnotist and he sent me a recorded hypnosis session aptly called ‘Just do it’ which I listened to each evening
4. I carried out a PSYCH-K® new direction balance focussed on the goal of competing with confidence
5. I used Havening Techniques® to install confidence and courage
6. I adopted my STARS reframing technique to tackle negative self-talk
A week before the Championships and 8 days into using the mindset tools, my husband convinced me to come along to our kettlebell club. My coach, Del suggested I try a 16kg lift to see how I got on. I put the bell down after 20 minutes having kept great pace but feeling exhausted. The