Tag Archives: sprints

Injuries Before Major Competitions

It seems that jiu jitsu and judo athletes get injured at a higher rate closer to major competitions. Partly, this is just a matter of misperception, since what probably happens is that athletes complain about their injuries more publicly leading up to tournaments. This is because they are more disappointed at the possibility of their injury preventing them from competing. And in the modern day and age, when you’re disappointed, you turn to Facebook 😉

However, there’s probably some reality to this observation as well. For example, in a  attempt to improve my cardio, I have started doing more sprints, hills, and steps than I would ever do before. I turned up the intensity on this cardio-training as well. As a result, a few slips ups here and there have led to little issues with my knees, lower back, ankles, and toes. Any of those little tweaks could’ve been major injuries with some small likelihood.

It seems that the solution is to be very smart about how I turn up the training. I don’t push myself into new things when I’m exhausted, and I don’t try stuff that my muscles are not ready for. For example, I haven’t been doing Olympic lifts, and while they are a great heart-rate-raising exercise, this is not a good time to get back into doing them.

Also, I should mention “mental injuries”. It’s important not to burn out. I have to work a lot every day (as most of us do), and turning up training in any way can certainly be destructive to my motivation to compete. There is about 9 days left before Worlds, and I have certainly felt a few moments where I’m sick of jiu jitsu. It’s a fine line to walk. I have to remember that I have no chance of winning unless I step on the mat on May 31 truly excited to compete. If I’m too stressed, dreading it (in a negative way), and just want it to be over with, I might win a couple matches, but I will not be able to beat the tougher guys.

To beat the best of a big division, I have to really want it, and for that I have to remain injury-free, both physically and mentally.

Now, back to work… I have so much left to finish today… Sigh.

Back Against the Wall: Overcoming Cardio Limits

I’m learning a lot about myself in the last couple years about how I best can summon the will to “survive” physical challenges. One of the things I learned is that I’m much better at overcoming in the quiet of my own mind. So, for example, for me, a 20 minute 3-mile run is about the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It requires being in extreme discomfort for about 15 minutes (the first 5 minutes are manageable). But I accomplished it several times last Spring and Summer. On the other hand, I seem to be incapable of doing the same on the mat in grappling with lots of people around me, coach yelling, uncertainty of what the goal and time are, and many other factors coming into play.

In the latter case, I feel like my back is up against the wall and every second in that state wears on me mentally until I start quitting a little, and once I start doing that, it’s over. I’m not sure I’m explaining any of this well enough, or whether people experience similar things. Of course, I’m becoming a better and better grappler, so I find myself put to the test less and less cardio-wise which in one sense is good, but in another I know that there will always be guys especially in competition that will push me to a place where all I want to do is quit. I can overcome that when I’m alone on a hard run, but I still can’t do the same on the mat.

Jared told me a while ago that it’s something I have to find inside myself: the will to overcome the exhaustion, the fear, the uncertainty. It all sounds awfully dramatic. It’s not, in the larger scheme of things. But I find the same situation plays itself out in the rest of my life in my work, in my reading, etc.

I’m not sure why my mind takes on challenges much better in isolation, but perhaps the key to my success in competition (and in the rest of my life) is in finding the kind of focus that is equivalent to isolation.

PS: I mean isolation in a positive productive sense (as in distraction-free, flow state) not in the melancholy existentialist philosophy sense.