Girevoy Sport – Chalk, Calluses, Pain, Etc.

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” ~ Sun Tzu

When I saw this quote from the great military tactician Sun Tzu, I knew immediately that it applied to building longevity in sports training.  Knowing when you can push further and knowing when to hold back are hard concepts to master when your goal is always to push forward and go farther, faster, heavier or longer.

Unfortunately, we’re not always wise enough to heed our bodies and back off in order to fight another day.  In training for Girevoy Sport, the same principles apply.  If you can keep your ego in check, progress is almost assured (provided you mix in the appropriate amount of smart hard work).  However, when you insist on pushing past the pain threshold or ignore obvious warning signs, you may find your training delayed or stopped altogether.

Girevoy Sport, Chalking and Calluses

Here’s a “for instance”.  I’ve been training the Long Islander since mid-April or so.  I haven’t had any problems with calluses ripping and neither has my wife.  I’ve been spending time sanding them down and using Corn Husker’s lotion nightly to soften them up.  With the dry Winter air gone, my hands haven’t been cracking and life was good (callus-wise).

Today I decided to challenge myself by moving up to level 17.  At this stage, we’re exercising at a three minute per hand pace with two minute rest periods.  Our max reps for cleans are 48, half snatch-30 and long cycle push press-30.

We’d previously missed a few workouts and had bounced around levels 14 and 15 a bit.  Nevertheless, I didn’t think the extra 30 seconds of work or handful of reps would make an enormous difference.  And really, they didn’t.  For me anway.  Tougher, yes.  But still do-able.

However, for my wife, a different story.  Today she ate a late breakfast which meant her stomach still felt full at lunch.  So she skipped lunch.  And skipped a snack.  And then got home and into our kettlebell fitness workout with longer timed sets and more reps.

Result:  No food=weak=form deterioration=blisters.  Had I been paying attention to what she was saying I would have spared her the agony and suggested an easier level.

As for me, I decided that a bit of chalk would be a good idea to cut down on the slippery handles from sweating in this hotter weather.  Except…I took a shortcut in the interest of getting our session started more quickly, so we could get dinner going.

There Are No Shortcuts In Girevoy Sport

(I’m pretty sure I remember reading that somewhere before, hmmm.)  Anyway, instead of properly chalking the kettlebell and my hands, I just chalked my hands.  And not a heavy application either.  Just enough to make a callus loosen and rip on my right pinky finger during my first half snatch set, and then to build up a decent-sized blister on my left index finger as I finished my second snatch set.

My wife, meanwhile, was losing energy by the rep and cut her snatch sets short at two.  She thought she had enough gas left to power through all three long cycle push press sets, but I could see her form going and told her that she should stop for the day before she wound up hurting herself.

Perhaps a smarter man would have joined his wife inside for a cool one and rested his beat up mitts.  Unfortunately, my pride wouldn’t let me give up so easily, especially when I’m on track to finish Level 20 in three weeks.  I can’t quit now!

I finished up my third set of push presses and then, feeling guilty for not doing the third half snatch set, grabbed one of my 12 kg bells and banged out 30 (full) snatches on both sides before calling it quits.  Honestly, that felt just groovy on a torn callus.

girevoy sport workoutThis Workout Kicked My Butt!

Mentally and physically.

Now, if I’d stopped fighting when I should have, I probably wouldn’t have one torn callus on my right hand and one blister about to burst on my left.  If I stopped and cleaned my hands and bells off, when it occurred to me that the chalk was not a good idea, I would most likely not be worrying about finishing level 20 when I had planned to.

Some days you know when you have it.  Those are the days when you push yourself and everything flows.  Then there are days when, if you’re paying attention, your inner voice starts telling you that maybe you should back off a bit in order to keep progressing. You should listen when that happens and make adjustments to your workout.  Otherwise, you may find yourself marking time when you could be getting stronger and faster.


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