Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why do you compete?

I get a little reflective after a memorable competition like Miami. I re-evaluate why I do this sport, and why I will continue to do this type of training even when there are no competitions on the Horizon.

Anyone that embarks on training for KB Sport, or any sport for that matter should ask themselves some very fundamental questions.

Why this sport? How much am I will to sacrifice to get good? Am I willing to step onto the platform knowing that I won't win?

I've been competing in KB Sport in some capacity since January of 2004. I've got some name recognition thanks to this sport. I've won some competitions and I've earned a MS Rank. That stuff is all great...However, it pales in comparison to the real benefits of this training and the competitions.

Why is this sport right for me? Training for the sport has kept me focused. It has driven me to be a better athlete. I now move better. I eat better. I've lost 35lbs since 2006 and kept it off and while increasing my LBM.

My well being has been enhanced. I've compared this training to meditation. It teaches you to move and to breath. Yes, you have to do those things at the optimal level to be elite, but the process of learning those things are where the real benefits exist.

How hard have I had to work to get there? Well, I've been training off and on for the sport since Jan 2004. This past year, I've become much more dedicated. While other things are more fun or exciting in terms of training, I decided to give this a serious shot which meant that most of my workouts have been snatches, jerks and swings. The monotony and simplicity would drive many people crazy, but I have embraced it.

I wanted to be good at the exercises. It wasn't just the numbers or the rank. I wanted to be able to demonstrate the movements with fluidity so that when someone watches me they will aspire to move that way. Because I feel so strongly about the benefits of the training, I wanted to understand the movements. You can learn a lot by doing..if you pay attention. Anyone that thinks that these are just long boring sets, hasn't gotten it. You have to be mindful and focused. This is how you learn to be efficient; this is how you learn to move. It is time under the bells and if you are just going through the motions, you're missing out.

Why am I outlining these benefits? Because the competitive aspects of the sport don't always bring out the best in us. The desire for winning or rank is not a bad thing as long as it doesn't blind you to the fact that this is hard work and getting good takes a while for most of us save the few with genetic gifts.. That desire is fine as long as it doesn't keep you from competing just because you may not win or get a rank. Part of a competition is getting on the platform, giving it your best shot, and learning from the experience. If you only compete when you know you will win or where you know you can achieve a rank, YOU WILL NEVER GET BETTER . You will never realize the non-rank or non-winning benefits of this training. Quite frankly, you won't keep doing it and you'll miss out on the wellness-health benefits as well.

I spent 1500 or more last year to travel to Latvia knowing that I would not win. Why? Because I knew that the experience would make me stronger. I knew that going over there and seeing those Ukranian Freaks (I mean that in the nicest way) would be a good motivator. I knew that I would have a great time and I knew the experience would be one that I would cherish for the rest of my life.

Getting a high rank and winning a competition does require dedicated practice. There are no short cuts or easy answers. You can shop around for an easier road to obtain a Medal or a ranking, but in the end you will be selling yourself short.

You know when you've really earned it and you have respect for everyone who steps onto the platform whether they do 10 reps or 100.

I am so very proud of everyone who competed in Miami as they reflect the very reason I have stuck with this sport for nearly 4 years. The friendships formed and maintained through these competitions are probably one of the biggest benefits. We have such a great group of people. The atmosphere was so positive and everyone is looking towards the next competition.



Wildcard said...


That is an eloquent and well written post. Anyone having a background in any type of competition is sure to make a connection with what you say.

Efficiency that comes from practice, practice and more practice is the hallmark of a professional. Making it look easy takes a lot of work. You make it look easy, but it isn't easy and that really demonstrates your level of commitment and proficiency.

Anonymous said...

Catherine, Will you be a guest lifter in San Diego? I remember you told me you will be going to watch. I talked to Dmitri of the USGSF yesterday and it looks to be a good time. I will be going. I have been setting pr's since we met at Boston Common so I decided to be a guest lifter. Hopefully I wont choke under the pressure.

Catherine Imes said...

Hey Ryan,

Thanks for asking. Glad your trainng is going well. Some of us are definitely going. I'm going to leave the political stuff to the AKC (Valery).

You'll do fine.

So, I'm not sure if I'll compete, but I'll definitely be there. Looking forward to seeing you.


Catherine Imes said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks. These are things I thought about this weekend.

Yeah, sometimes we do a disservice by making it look so easy ;) I think people trivialize the level of skill required to be that smooth. I'm still working on it.

This competition was a great time. There were many people there who just love to go to the comps and jump up on the platform. Some trained really hard others wanted to see if it was something that is for them. The only way to know is to do. It is refreshing to see that and renewed my appreciation for the sport.


Scott said...


Nice post. I think you summarized it very well. Great job.


Wil said...

Great post, Cate! Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts.

Charley Allen said...


Mind if I link to this in my blog? This is a powerful message - in fact, your posts are an eloquent testimony to the sport.

Although I know there is nothing easy about this, your technique makes the exercises look easy.

And you're right - what a great group of people, what an abundance of positive energy, and when is the next one?


Catherine Imes said...

Thanks guys.

Charley, I don't mind at all. I think the next competition or the next big one will be in the Spring sometime. Ken Blackburn is definitely hosting a meet in Fention, MI in spring 2008. It sounds like the interest is growing in Texas. That might be a good place to have one sometime too.


Anonymous said...

To the guy who asked about the competitions coming up. Besides San Diego...I will be having competitions in Boston in 2008 there will be 2 competitions there. I have spent 2007 trying to find the right gym to get excited about Kettlebell Sport..finally have the gym...I talked to Dmitri of the USGSF and the competitions here in Boston will be USGSF events. As far as I know it will be the first USGSF events on the East Coast. I am working on the details and trying to coordinate everything but there will be a long cycle competition in the spring and biathlon/traditional probably mid-late summer.