Training Scars and How to Avoid Them

Here’s an awesome post from Maria on how the WG-Fit ideal of having no training scars helped her through the world championships. This is a vital message you all need to hear, so over to Maria…..

Last year I went to my very first World Championships all the way over in Kazakhstan. It was something pretty special travelling all that way with my trusty sidekick Sicknote, just to lift kettlebells.

SIcknote and his green jeans…..


Well, that and get arrested for jay walking.

Oh, and almost arrested for lying on the airport floor.

Oh, and eat horsemeat for the first time.

But mainly it was about lifting kettlebells.

The night I arrived, we got a secret text to say the venue was open and we could have a sneaky peak, maybe lift some bells.

SSshhhh, tell no one.

We high tailed it over there – couldn’t miss an opportunity like that! The venue was out of this world. The whole outside of the building was decked out for us. Inside, we were to compete in a massive hall, and there was a lighty up kettlebell to parade out through prior to our lifts.

Through the lighty up kettlebell….


It was impressive!

But there was a serious problem – the bells.

They were Ural bells. Uh oh!

Jesus wept, not the urals, anything but them!!!! Or perhaps it was Wolverston. Or wolverine….

While the others debated the pros and cons of what we beheld, I did the only thing I could – I shut up, stood with a blank face, and waited to see what would happen.

It seemed a bit dumb to be all the way over in Kazakhstan, lifting at a world class event before I even knew there were different types of bells. Scarleh for me ma fer havin’ me, like!

(Dave here, for our non Dublin people, that line line means: “How embarrassing” …back to Maria…..)

In the end I warmed up and did a few sets to get a feel for them. Yeah, true, they were not what we used in WG, but I figured they were ok. Plus, everyone had to use these bells so what harm?

The only people who would maybe have an advantage would be people who actually trained with them.

I couldn’t do anything about it now anyway, so I did my sets. My arm didn’t fall off or wither, not even a hint of a rash – so I decided it would be ok to proceed with trying to conquer the world.

I’d like to say I’m now a world authority on all types of bells. That I came home determined to plug this gap in my knowledge and save future embarrassment. Alas, I still don’t know what bells we have in Wild Geese.

I don’t really care.

My mind is simple, I can’t be remembering too many details. I try to find a bottom line that sums up the important information I need and then I promptly forget everything else.

So here’s my comp bell bottom line: I lift the yellow bell.

Dave is fairly adamant that we minimise training scars. That we don’t get attached to too many habits, or notions, or THINGS THAT ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAPPEN OR WE JUST CAN’T LIFT.

I agree wholeheartedly.

It’s obvious really that having any training scars – unbreakable routines for warming up, or 100 check boxes that have to be ticked before I lift well – could easily come against me.

It might be ok while training in your own gym, but you can control nothing at a competition – not the bells, the temperature, the noise, the warm up space, the judges, the timers, the timetable – so I shake things up as much as possible, and whenever possible.

I do most of my competition sets with competition bells, but I also train a lot with the black bells .

I’ll do some comp sets with the black bells.

Even our comp bells are different, we have fat handle 20s and skinny handle ones – I use both.

We have a clunky 16 – you know you’re getting better when you do your set with no rattle!


I train near an open door to stay cool, but also in tiny sweaty gym with 40 other people, far away from the door. That SUCKS! Slippy handle, no air, all of the sweat. I really don’t like it but I know that I can and I know that there’s little chance any competition venue will ever be that gick.

I train with kettleguards, and sometimes without – I might forget those one day!

I train barefoot and in my vibrams.

I train with a happy bladder and sometimes work through a set when I’m bursting to go!

I train with music blaring, people talking bullshit and walking too close and shouting crap at me, mid-set.

I train stupid early in the morning when no one else is there, with my music, and the shutters down, with only the essential lights switched on, happy to simply be with myself and lift bells.

I train in the evening.

I train at lunch time.

I train alone in our tiny reception, away from everyone, when I can hear my own thoughts, hear my breathing and feel how the bell and my body dance with each other.

Because at the end of the day all I really need is some hard floor, and a bell. (and all the chalk).

So, my opinion:

by all means do lots awesome sets with everything in your world perfect.

But do plenty to challenge your habits too.

Train at different times, in different places, with different bells, facing a different wall, somewhere hot, somewhere cold, wearing a hat, with different people watching, with a timer, without a timer, with a fucked up timer, without your lifting shoes, with someone elses belt, without your lucky charm or those socks or that headband you think contains all your lifting mojo.

It doesn’t.

You train your body, your body knows how to lift. It will still know how to lift if you forget your lucky wonder woman knickers that are so old and grey that they’d fall off if your shorts weren’t so damn tight. But, on the day, when you open your bag and they are not there – that could fuck up your head so much that you can’t concentrate.

If you can’t focus, you’re doomed and all that effort is for nothing.

Imagining how devastated I’d be if I screwed up a competition over something simple, something under my control, something that I could have identified and easily addressed in the run up – that’s enough to motivate me to eradicate as many training scars as I can.

Maria Moran

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