Here are the personal metrics I use for staying on the mat. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. What I do works well for me, but could kill you dead in your tracks. I am not sure. So you should probably use your best judgment.
All that aside, I am able to train pretty consistently and make small consistent gains in my training, (I hope). Asking more of yourself, which is what we are doing when we decide to compete, has a strong zero sum game element to it. If you drive your car harder it will eventually need more maintenance. I know that I am not training enough when some specific aches and pains come up. Aches and pains that are sedentary based.
This immediately presents a problem because I also have a large number of “old injuries” that can hinder me if they are reinjured. I used air quotes around old injuries because I personally believe that that term is a big bucket where it is easy to throw things into it that don’t belong there. I have a large number of legitimate old injuries. One example is my hand. It got mangled when I was a kid. That is an easy work around and I can’t really reinjure it. It is what it is.
Another example is an ACL repair I had done a long time ago and never rehabilitated it properly. I eventually strengthen the muscles around it, but I believe that in the years prior to me restrengthening that area, my body took wear and tear in a manner it is not supposed to. So now, if I am too sedentary it troubles me. If I am active, then the muscles surrounding my knee are strong and I feel little pain there.
My shoulder is actually my newest old injury. I can’t remember when I hurt it first because my old habits were to train as much as humanly possible until I was absolutely broken. And then I would train through every single injury I had. I regret parts of it, but not all of it.
I broke my toe training with one of my best friends years ago. The dick made me keep training. He was what amounted to my teacher at the time and it was important to him that I learn to not accept pain as something that could defeat you. He wanted me to have more fight in me.
It worked, and it felt like a super power. I had felt that power before in fights, but not in training. From that point on, whenever I would get injured I kept training. I kept that attitude in the training rooms for many years. As a result I became more robust and better able to handle damage, but I also broke my body down pretty well.
The reason I am saying this is because that was not the best way to train. It wasn’t necessarily the worst, you should learn to be robust. But you should also respect what your body can and cannot do and modulate your training appropriately.
I started training smarter a few years ago. But that old behavior was pretty hardwired. This brings us back to my personal approach to staying on the mat. I hurt my shoulder who knows when. By now I know a little more about recovering and fixing myself, but I still will want to train sooner than I should after an injury, harder than I should with the injured area, or worse, let my ego get in the way and push it too hard and re-injure the area.
My neck is maybe my worst injury, but it is also best managed injury I have. When I injured my neck, similar to my knee I never fixed it correctly, but I did strengthen it right away. I personally believe that a strong body capable of the full range of motion is a healthy body. So when I get injured I try to rehab the area and strengthen it as soon as I can. The first part of rehab is often rest.
Rest is great, rest is fun, rest is best when there is nothing to be done. There is rarely time in our lives though when there is nothing to be done. We are all busy. In our culture right now there are a large number of injuries and maladies due to using our bodies like little humanoid automatons rather than the apes we are. So if I am staring at my phone too long not only does my neck not get stronger, it gets weaker and more prone to injury. Since my neck is attached to my shoulder, if I am not careful I will compound the injuries to both areas.
When my physical game is on point I can train lightly most of the time, and harder every so often. “Training harder” is another air quotes that is worth getting into, but we’ll do that another time. The reason I am listing off a few injuries is because we should have a pretty open dialog about physical health in a physical education environment. When you are injury fee, you can exercise and become more fit. A natural part of that process involves being sore. So it is important for us to distinguish between being sore and being injured. This can be tough because both of them are a type of pain. If I wish to appropriately make myself more robust I have to be a little bit sore, not much, just a bit.
When we started the competition training about 8 or 9 days ago I saw people struggling with the legs up exercise so I did a few rounds to see if I was asking too much. It was about as hard as a thought, not that hard. The next day I went for a long hike. When I first started walking I was a little sore from just the general training and exercises I do. That is to say the exercises and my training weren’t that tough and I was just a little bit sore.
As I started warming up and moving more I straightened my posture I felt just a little bit of soreness from the light ab work. Nothing crazy, just a little sore. I had a great hike and was able to get a lot of exercise in. I wasn’t sore the next day, I felt refreshed.
Sometimes I handle it a little more poorly. Sometimes I push it too much and then I need to recover so a more passive rest day is the best medicine. Sometimes I handle the recovery even worse. I’ll be not that sore from training, just a little sore….. But tell myself I need the rest when I don’t and take a passive recovery day when what I need to do is move around. One extra passive recovery day isn’t that bad, but if you string too many days of minimal movement together you begin to dehabilitate yourself.
So for me, the non doctor, I try to always keep my person right between feeling a little sore and feeling great. I would prefer to feel great all the time, but I need to get work in to make that happen and modulate my recovery carefully. It is a balance. If I am trying to do something like get in better shape for a tournament I am probably going to feel sore more often, but I shouldn’t routinely feel like shit.
I mention this for obvious reasons. Everyone is asking more of themselves so we need to find our own balance so that we can get there in the best shape possible. The working out is one part. The nutrition, rest, and recovery is probably more important and more often overlooked.
Just like I said at the start of the practice Saturday, it is easy to assume that we do the basics well and start looking for more advanced solutions or focus on our injuries. Talk with a physician about your injuries, (tell me if you are injured, don’t make me guess). Talk with your fellow students about training, rest, and recovery. The better shape we get in the better we will compete.
Holler if you have questions or need anything.