Injury denial – it’s only a twinge.

Death_to_stock_photography_wild_3

Lost in the injury wilderness?

I’ve been reading about injuries and talking about injuries quite a lot over the last couple of weeks. I’ve noticed in a number of articles that there is a tendency among many amateur athletes and weekend warriors to ignore and/or deny that the injury exists. We carry on training hoping that it will resolve spontaneously. If not spontaneously, we apply various balms to the affected area and hope this has the desired effect. If we’re feeling especially worried we may resort to massage. We consume copious material online in an effort to self-diagnose and find treatment option. Consulting a medical professional seems to be the last thing on the list.

The reason I’ve been doing the reading is because my elbow hurts. It started when we were doing clean and jerks during a morning WOD not too long ago. I’m not too good on the clean part of the move and I think this is when it happened. During the movement, you are meant to push your elbows forward and up to catch the bar in the front rack position. I was able to do this but I don’t think I execute(d) the move quite right and repeating it incorrectly for however may reps we did that morning probably didn’t help. It wasn’t too bad after the workout but I haven’t stopped training regularly since it happened. I’ve also been attending my regular Kuk Sool Won martial arts classes during this time. We do a number of different techniques and movements which require extension and flexing of the elbow. I’ve felt some pain during the classes but not enough to make me feel I should stop.

As you can tell, I’ve one of those sportspeople who carry on regardless and hope for the spontaneous change which will signal that I’ve trained through the injury and it fixed itself. This morning I skipped my WOD. When I woke up my elbow was too sore. Might be time to take this more seriously. But this post is not meant to be about how I choose to treat/not treat the injury. It’s more about why I avoid admitting I have one at all.

It’s not the first time I respond in this fashion. Any time I have an injury or think I have one, I immediately go into denial mode.

I don’t get injured. It’s a minor ache which will pass by tomorrow. If I keep working out, it will just go back to normal. Once the muscle is warm I won’t feel the pain anymore. Pain is where the growth happens. Etc., etc.

Why do I do this? I think one of the reasons is that most of the time it works. Most of the time it is a minor twinge that I can work through. That passes by that same afternoon. Most of the time. Another big reason – probably the main reason – is that I don’t want to stop training. I don’t like missing a day. Sport is my bliss. Sport is my passion. I feel out of sync with life if I am not participating in some form of sport or exercise on a regular basis. When I’ve been able to maintain consistency in my training schedule for a number of months, the mental anguish I feel at the prospect of missing a day, a week, or more, outweighs the physical pain I’m feeling because of the injury. I know fitness and strength don’t work like this but I imagine both draining from my body drop-by-drop and the only way to stop the leak is to train.

So I train. I make the injury worse. Knowing that I am going to end up with a longer lay-off eventually but hoping against hope that the injury just disappears.

Good grief. I think I need help :-).

Anyway, I took today off from crossfit but I still cycled to work. I’ll see how my elbow feels tomorrow and have a chat with my coach to find out if he has any advice.

How do you deal with injury? How do you deal with the time off training? Any tips on not going bananas? Any studies out there on how long it actually takes to start losing significant fitness and strength gains?

 

 

 

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Tuesday Testing and Wednesday WOD

Robin kick testing

Stepping Axe Kick – one of my faves. That’s me in the background in the yellow belt

Last night I tested for my blue belt in Kuk Sool Won at my dojang, Kuk Sool Won of Dublin. For those of you not familiar with Kuk Sool Won, this is taken from our school website:

Kuk Sool is a comprehensive martial arts system that is derived from the rich and varied martial art techniques and traditions that have arisen in Korea through the ages. Kuk Sool is not a sport, nor is it simply another method of self-defense. Kuk Sool is a complete martial art that is dedicated to the cultivation of mental strength and well being. It also focuses on the preservation of traditional Korean Martial arts.

My dobahk (uniform) was soaked with sweat by the end. I was happy with my progress – my kicks felt more powerful and my fellow students complimented me on my form. Hopefully I’ll move up a rank to blue belt. There are some cool techniques and the challenging blue belt form. We’ll see on Saturday.

WOD 17.2.15

WOD for 17 Feb 2016

This morning’s I Will Crossfit WOD was all about strength. After a tough warm-up which included 100m of jumping jacks, 150 mountain climbers, 60m of bear crawlers, and 60m of frogger, we gathered at the WOD whiteboard.

I was feeling quite tired today but decided to follow the advice of the point at the bottom of the board which said, ‘Challenge Yourself.’ The front squats were ok but the last 3 reps were tough as I reached ~70% of max. Initially I thought I was doing well on the chin-ups but then Coach Matt told me to continue pulling at the top so that my elbows came alongside my chest. This changed the chin-up completely. I was getting my chin above the bar but I couldn’t finish in that position. Need to keep working as this is good practice for muscle-ups (a move I want to conquer).

The single-leg, one-arm, Romanian deadlifts were a great test of balance. As the weight increased, it became tougher to maintain my balance. Ring dips are always tough for me as my upper body strength is severely lacking. I’ve improved over the last couple of months but they’re still difficult. However, this is another move to get right as I pursue muscle-ups.

The last super set definitely extended me. The overhead reverse lunge was not only a test of strength but also balance. Initially I couldn’t do a rep properly without losing my balance. Another tip from the coach made all the difference. “First learn balance!” he said. Then added the more valuable information :-): as you’re stepping backwards into the lunge, keep your weight on your front leg. As the weight increased through the set, this tip became even more crucial. Quoting the Karate Kid, however, gave him an idea for another move which he dubbed the Miyagi Reverse Lunge. This would involve adding a front kick after you complete the lunge. That’ll be interesting to see. Especially if we have a barbell overhead.

Recently I have found that I’m a bit better at toes-to-bar than before. Again, I thought I was doing pretty well until the coach came to watch. He said it was good but that I could challenge myself even more. Apparently my legs were not quite straight on the way up. If I pointed my toes my form would be better. Thankfully this advice came for my final rep. It makes quite a difference as your abs are fully extended when you’re hanging from the bar so it requires complete flexing in order to lift your legs up towards the bar and let your toes touch. Something more to work on. Yay!

Today’s WOD was fun – lot’s of laughs, some good-natured ragging. I did challenge myself and I was happy with the outcome. I’ve definitely improved but there’s still much to work on. The Crossfit Open is in 8 days’ time. I hope I’ll be ready.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

2015: The Training Awakens

Hi Readers

force choke

The Force has not been strong with this blog but I believe it was strong with my training in 2015.

It’s been a long time since I last posted anything on this blog (March 2015!!!). I just had a look at the stats and was surprised to discover that I’ve still had a few views despite the lack of activity. Thank you! I plan to blog more regularly this year and I also plan to focus the blog more on running, triathlons, fitness and martial arts and less on just general ‘remarkable’ topics. That’s a nice big clue as to what I’ve been up to in 2015 and what my plans are for 2016. 🙂

In 2015 I changed the way I approach my training. It started in 2014 already when I used my commute to-and-from work for my training runs and cycles. Instead of just having one workout or training session a day, I was now doing two on many days. It was tough to begin with and I struggled most evenings. However, as I stuck with it, things did improve. Then I started thinking about the training regimens that pro-athletes and elite age-groupers follow. These fit folks spend 6-8 hours a day training. Even with two sessions, I was still only doing 1-1.5 hours a day with longer runs on weekends. I reckoned that it was conceivable that I could up the daily sessions to 3 or 4. So towards the end of May 2015, I started doing 3 or 4 workouts on 3 or 4 days of the week. Again, it was tough to start with but it was manageable.

At that point, the training mix consisted of running, biking and martial arts. I started doing Kuk Sool Won twice a week for an hour. More on this martial arts system in a future post but you can find some insight into the practice from the point of view of another student (my lovely wife) in the posts on Junbi. The running was still mainly my commute and weekend long runs. I started cycling more often – substituting some of my runs with a bike to work and also going on weekly lunchtime rides with a couple of colleagues. As my body adapted to this increased regimen, I started seeing a general improvement in my endurance in particular. In June and July, I added 9Round training to my workout mix. This is a 30 min workout based on kickboxing where you move from one station to the next every 3 min. There are nine stations or rounds. It’s a high intensity workout and definitely boosted my fitness level. I feel that it took me through a plateau. I had bought a two month membership on a deal website and didn’t renew afterwards.

KSW family

It’s a family affair

In September I started crossfit of all things. There is a fantastic crossfit gym close to my home and they have a 5:30 am class – perfect for someone with a busy schedule trying to squeeze in a workout. I Will Crossfit has definitely taken my results to another level. I’ll write more about the classes but the workouts I’ve been doing there have benefited my running through heightened strength and endurance.

weekend iwc

Saturday Partner WOD – me in the Green Lantern Shirt

Event-wise, I took part in my first triathlon in the USA – the 29th Annual Tri For Real event held in Pleasanton. This was a shorter triathlon consisting of 700 yard swim, 19 -mile bike, 4-mile run. I also completed the Berkeley Trail Adventure half marathon course (the toughest half marathon I’ve ever done). Just look at the course profile!

 

BTA

After you’re done climbing, let’s climb some more

The California International Marathon held in Sacramento was my final event of the year and my first marathon since 2013. This, for me, was the true test of all the training I’d put in over the year. I had three goals depending on how the race progressed.

  1. A new PR (my previous best as detailed in my last blog post was 4h28)
  2. A sub-4h15 race
  3. A sub 4h race

I managed 1 and 2 – I finished in 4h11. My training came through – I managed to run the full distance (no walking) and I recovered faster than expected (I had a 1.5 hour drive home following the race but was nowhere near as stiff and sore as I expected to be). I definitely felt stronger.

CIM

We’re all wearing the same colours!!

So all-in-all, 2015 has given me hope for further improvements in 2016. I have entered the San Francisco Marathon  which promises to be incredibly scenic and incredibly grueling. I have plans to try a Spartan Race and/or a Tough Mudder and I’m eyeing the Ironman 70.3 in Santa Cruz. In crossfit this week we started with our baseline check. We were doing 1 rep maximum testing. It’ll be interesting to see our improvements in 12 weeks time. I’ll keep you posted. If I’m feeling brave, I may post some before and after photos.

I look forward to sharing my training journey with you.

What are you goals and events for 2016?