Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The WKC is moving to the 20kg at the Toronto meet this year. I’m in total agreement with this move in terms of the Professional Women’s division. Knowing that, I wanted to make a very good showing in Vegas and in Hamburg with the 16kg. As many know, we didn’t get our chance to take the platform in San Diego at the IGSF Worlds. So, Hamburg was another chance to compete with some of the best in the world.

This winter and spring, I trained very diligently. I missed maybe one snatch and one Jerk workout in 3 months, and most weeks snatched and jerked 6 days in a row. I snatched even when my hands hurt and even when I didn’t feel 100%. I would throttle back the pace or duration, but I lifted the Kettlebells.

In May, I had a disappointing set in Vegas. I didn’t hit what I had planned in Jerks or Snatches. What I didn’t disclose to many folks was that one week prior to Vegas I was in a car accident. Luckily, I was uninjured ($6500 damage to the truck), but didn’t really account for the toll on my nervous system. It showed in my final training sets, but I didn’t really put two and two together. I just fatigued faster and unable to move with the same precision that I had the week before the accident. It wasn’t until after I returned from Vegas that I had really given it any thought. I shrugged it off and focused on Hamburg.

When I got to Hamburg, I felt good. Sure, there was jet lag. But, I hydrated (something I didn’t do in Vegas very well). I slept. So, when I only managed 187 reps (That is a competition low for me since Latvia), I was extremely shocked and disappointed. There was a lot of second guessing myself. Like maybe if I had come out at this pace or that pace, or did I really push hard enough? Clearly, I couldn’t sustain the 24rpm pace I had planned. I had 114 reps in 4:40 but found it hard to breath and slowed down significantly in the last 5 minutes.

I tend to set lofty goals for myself. In some respects, I am very much a risk taker. With risk there can be reward but sometimes there is disappointment.

That being said…I did what I had trained to do and it just didn’t work out on that day. I took the risk of coming out fast. Now, if I had paced myself differently, I may have had a shot at first place. The first place winner did 211 reps. That was not anywhere near her best effort. Then again, I had a number in mind and not a place or medal. So, that is where the experience comes into play. Even though it was a competition, I looked at it as more of a platform for me to push myself.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I realized that while I’ve been training consistently on the KB lifts for several years, I’m still relatively inexperienced when it comes to competing. Before Kettlebell Sport, I had not really seriously competed in anything since 10th grade Track and Field 20 years ago. I’m certainly not experienced when it comes to any sort of International competition. One attribute that I still lack is the ability to gauge how I feel on competition day and make the necessary adjustments to my pace. It’s funny that I do this in training all the time. For all the awareness I have now that I didn’t have prior to this training, I know that it could be much better.

Upon returning from Hamburg, I started training again. I realized that I’m not defined by one or two competitions. I am defined by my ability to keep training and keep competing. I am a Kettlebell Lifter. I am resilient. In my opinion, Resilience is the hallmark of a Kettlebell Lifter. I’m not just talking physical resilience, but emotional resilience. It is the ability to look at the big picture and the long term goals in your training and learn from the experience of every competition whether it be good or bad.

Resilience is forged by the modality itself. It is further solidified by lifting when your hands are sore, or lifting in a hot or cold garage and of course lifting on those days when you don’t quite feel up to it….or bouncing back after some lackluster competitions ;)

When I got back from Hamburg, I reread a blog post from last year titled “Why do you Compete?” That’s the great thing about blogging, it is a way to get your thoughts down for future reference. There is much more to it than the number, the place or the ranking. I just need to quiet my ego and remember that more often.

The competition was but one aspect of the Hamburg trip. Certainly it was the facilitator for the travel and the trip, but the overall experience was indeed very valuable. Thanks again to all who participated.



Anonymous said...


If memory serves me, you train 5-6 days/wk...??

I was just wondering if it is at all possible to train 3 days/wk for competition and get decent-more than decent #s. This may not be a good example, i.e. marathon training has two different protocols: 5 days/wk or 3 days/wk.

TIA for your feedback,


Catherine Imes said...

Yes, I train typically 5 or 6 days in a row with one or two days off. This is what Valery recommended for competition specifically (not just for general fitness). Now, they weren't all 10 min sets, in fact most days were 8 min sets and 6 min if I was tired.

I really do think that I honed my snatch technique and conditioning doing it this way. It's just a matter of doing it on the platform.

However, I do think you can see a lot of progress (especially if you are new to the sport) with 3-4 days a week training; or if you do other things this may work for a while. I made good gains with that protocol. I think in order to advance, I needed to go with Valery's plan.


climber511 said...

What kind of taper etc do you do immediately prior to a competition?

Catherine Imes said...

A week out from the competition, I switch to 6 min sets and slow down. These are just technique sets, and I'm very careful to not do anything to my hands (wear blisters/tear callouses) I usually don't do any sets 3-4 days before the competition. In past competitions, this has served me well. I usually have good sets after a break, but then again those haven't been international comps.

I cut out any supplemental work at least one week out, maybe 2 weeks depending on how I feel.


Boris said...


Nice post. I'm curious how many comps/year most European GSers do. How many competition do most Masters of Sport have before attaining that rank?

Anywho, on to bigger/better numbers for you no doubt. I look forward to seeing and reading about you accomplishments.

Will you be at Ken's meet in July? If so, I owe you at least a dinner for letting me participate in MO.


Catherine Imes said...

Hey Boris,


I think the Eastern Europeans may compete in 6-8 a year. It depends. Some probably do more. Some do less, but I would imagine they have more local meets.

In terms of MS, that would be hard to say. Number Comps may not be the best indicator. What most of us have to remember (especially the guys in this country) is that the EE may be training this stuff exclusively at least for a given duration.. So, their road to MS may be shorter; or not depending on their background.

I would imagine that Marty's time under the bells for MS wouldn't be uncommon for anyone in any country if they came in with his size and a similar background. I believe it took him 2.5 years of serious training. So, his story is probably a good indication of the time involved. Someone like Andrew may hit it quicker, but maybe not because Andrew does Strongman and other things. I do think Andrew will hit it this year and that would mean it would have taken him < 2 years.

I will be in Flint. I think the meet will be well attended. Not sure if I'm competing. I may just do demo stuff. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Scott said...

Great post Cate. As usual you make a lot of excellent points.


Catherine Imes said...

Hey Scott!

Thanks. It was great to see you this weekend. Looking forward to seeing what you do in Flint!


Wildcard said...

Nice post, very insightful. There will be speculation as to overtraining, etc. I don't really know you well enough to speculate, but i doubt it. you said so yourself, in high level competition, there are intangibles that come into play. Much of this is psychological. Going out too fast too early is a common mistake in endurance sports. Experience is a huge component of good performance. It takes time and introspection, two things that you have demonstrated an ability to effectively use. I'm also very glad that you weren't injured in the accident! You can always replace a car, inconvenient and expensive, but nothing in comparison to bodily injury.

Catherine Imes said...

Thanks Tom.

Who knows? I may have been slightly overtrained. I'm ruling out nothing except the fact that I need more experience :) I do know that I got very burned out with the 16kg bell. It was just too light and constantly working at 24-25rpm pace definitely took it's toll. I'm definitely starting to feel better going heavier again, i.e. 20kg snatches and even heavier Jerks.


Wildcard said...

Cate, that certainly could be a consideration. a high volume and intensity in such a narrow parameter will eventually fry the nerve, as it were. Yet, this is required to satisfy a goal. Eventually though, you reach a deflection point of diminishing returns. It is perhaps at this point, a switch to a more generalized program offers benefit. something that encompasses a broader array of physical tools, whilst giving the mind a break. My secret, back in my competitive days, was street basketball. 2 on 2 or 3 on 3, full-court, You had to hustle. Picks, box outs, sprints, jumps, etc. Good shizzy. Perhaps the rower, long-cycle, varied weights, whatever works for you.

Catherine Imes said...

Very true.

I typically do stuff like that after a comp. My focus right now is getting acclimated to the heavier 20kg bell for snatching. To prep myself for that, I'm doing 28kg Jerks, double jerks with 16s, 20s, ect. This is stuff I really enjoy doing but it will also adequately prepare me for 20kg specificity (Jerks and Snatches) in a month or so.

I'm also going to do some barbell work this summer as long as it doesn't negatively affect the training for Toronto.

As a side note...I really don't think as a training protocol, anyone thinks that snatching the 16kg that fast (25rpm) is really a good idea long term. There is a point where you adapt and the only way to go faster is to alter your technique. It kind removes some of the benefits of the snatch like overhead stabilization because you are simply moving too fast. So, the 20kg is definitely a good move, and it will take us a long time to outgrow it.

I will be interested in seeing the 16kg numbers after the September competition. Something tells me that I will have no problem regaining my speed for Milan in November. That bell should feel pretty damn light!