Working out is a challenge. That’s why I love it. It’s something that I could do for myself and something I was self motivated to do. With the confidence of Alex, a professional competitor, I was able to take the next step and train for the championships. With this new external motivation, I felt unstoppable.
Unfortunately, once I hired a coach, that feeling didn’t last. I still felt strong. I was still making gains, but I didn’t care anymore. Instead of loving every moment of training, instead of feeding off the sweat and exertion, instead of pushing myself to new limits, I just wanted each session to end. I didn’t care about throwing up 35’s for the first time. Besting myself was no longer important. Reaching new goals did not matter. I realized without that fire to drive me, I couldn’t compete. The kettlebell championships were not going to happen for me.
This was a difficult choice. I trained for weeks, I dieted to make weight and I invested a lot of time and energy to prepare for this new challenge. In the end, I forfeited. Going to the championships without a competitive spirit would have meant failure. I needed to restore my spirit.
I dropped kettlebells for a little while and went into my weightlifting routine. I’m a meathead, I missed it. It felt great to be in control again, to do what I love, to push it to the extreme. Currently, I’m playing around with drop sets and single side training, adding yoga and swimming (which I haven’t done in nearly 7 years), are keeping me balanced with strength, flexibility and endurance. And of course, I am throwing around the kettlebell regularly.
Talking to friends and other trainers keeps me focused on the exercise. It challenges me to keep my routines intense and gives me that little nudge to be better, faster, and stronger than last week. The right coach can do the same thing. He can inspire and challenge an athlete to perform at levels unimaginable. The wrong chemistry can de-motivate an athlete and suck the joy out of training. As grueling as it is, athletes love to train. We love the pain and the push. We love the fight and the fatigue. That’s what keeps us going. That’s what got me back in my “Zone.”
Admittedly, I’ve been looking at the International Kettlebell calendar (and the IFBB schedule, just for the fun of it). I’m in no way ready to compete (physically or mentally), but I’m still thinking about it. I still haven’t given up on that dream.
Competition means commitment. It means that the goal you set is going to rule your life until the final second on the clock. Diet, exercise, even my social life would have to be regulated, my commitment to the end result unwavering. Win! It’s a great ambition, just not the right choice for me yet. I’m having too much fun with the flexibility of working out, trying new activities, and designing my own programs. But, when the competition bug bites again, I will be ready.