Staying Healthy Is The Key
Gem I were fortunate enough to get away for the weekend and it gave me some time to reflect on some things that have happened over the past year. We have actually achieved way more of our goals than I thought we had which is a good thing but one that stood out for me was how I have managed to escape some of the major injuries this year compared to last.
Around this time last year I was preparing for my first jiu-jitsu competition which was Pan Pacs held down in Melbourne. Being my first comp I wanted to make sure I was successful and I didn't want to let myself, Gem, my family, Fishy, Bruno, Az, or Igor down. They have all helped me a lot in life and even though the result wouldn't change much, to me it is a way of saying thank you by giving everything I have. I will never half arse anything. This is my problem a lot of the time. Anyway, because of this, about 3 months prior I really upped my training. Turns out it was too much.
I kept doing my morning weights session as I always do but I added in some modified strongman in the afternoon to make sure my conditioning was up to par. I was also doing much more jiu-jitsu than I had ever done. Normally I would do 1 to 2 sessions a week max but I started getting up to 5 to 6 sessions a week. This may not sound like much but when you have to travel up to 2 hours in traffic each way to Crows Nest it adds a huge amount of time and energy to your schedule.
Things were going great for a while and then one day in the gym I heard a tearing sound like I ripped my shorts doing some split squats. I felt three pops in my right quad at the same time but not all that much pain. I put down the dumbbells and started checking my shorts thinking it had to be them but it turns out I ripped my quad. This should have been a big enough warning but I just kept on training like it didn't happen. I could split squat but squats didn't cause me too much pain, so I just kept on with my schedule and substituted split squats for some step ups as my assistance work.
About one month before the comp I blew my back out doing a warm up set of deadlifts. It wasn't a maximal weight. It was another sign to back off and recover. The picture to the right is my thinking I am standing straight. It is around two days after hurting my back and when I thought I was getting back to a decent point. The picture was an eye opener. I could barely walk for the first day or two and I wore around an ems type unit on a low pulse continuously for about 4 days till I broke it trying to get my back sorted. I missed my lower body gym sessions this week but still done upper body and I still went to the comp class at jiu-jitsu on Saturday morning after doing this Tuesday.
If this were one of my clients they wouldn't have gotten to this point as they would not have been doing so much volume and they would have definitely stopped at this point. But as they say you can tell people what to do better than you can yourself.
So I got through the back injury and thought that was all I would have to handle come comp day, a bit of discomfort in the lower back. I was wrong. The last session of my prep, which was a Monday morning, I was training with Graham and in the first minute of the session went for an arm bar. As I pulled back I felt a huge crack/pop/bang on my left top Ab area. I thought I had popped some rib cartilage. It was very painful. I called Gem and said not to book our flights etc. for Melbourne but she had just finished doing it. We left Thursday and the comp was Friday. I thought I was no chance. To drive the car was killing me and I had to brace and breathe my way through any turns to the left.
On the Wednesday, when the swelling had gone down a bit, I looked in the mirror and realised I had ruptured my top left Ab. It was gone, and still is gone. Never to come back.
I asked a few people I respect if they have ever seen this before and they hadn't. Charles told me the only thing he could think might help would be stem cells. So I couldn't do much for this injury in the short time I had other than to treat it like I do most of my other injuries and up certain supplements and use the tools I have at my disposal for some relief. I never take pain relief but the day before the comp I had a Panadol to help get some sleep.
I did not think I would compete but Gem said we are going anyway. She said "you'll get to Friday and say you could have pushed through, so we'll go to Melbourne and just see". The Friday morning I couldn't bridge to my left side, was in a heap of pain. We went for a walk and I could feel the adrenaline building. We got back to the room around lunch time and I said I was competing, Gem knew already. We got ready and went to the stadium. I saw Bruno as soon as I walked in and he asked if I would be right, I looked in his eyes and said yes and from that moment I was focused solely on winning. I wasn't going through all this pain for nothing. Fortunately I did win. It wasn't great jiu-jitsu but to push through all of this made me pretty happy with myself, which doesn't happen all that often. It was a massive relief once the comp was finished.
Now the point of this whole long winded story is to show you that you don't have to train maximally and that it is actually dumb to do it. You have to find what is optimal for you. If you don't you will continue to get injured and you will not progress. After this comp I could only just start to lift in the gym lightly around Christmas and only started jiu-jitsu again in late January.
Consistency wins. This year I have made a conscious decision to train smarter and it has paid off. A lot of my lifts in the gym have increased by 15-20kg and I have had no major injuries. I haven't changed anything other than the fact I haven't been injured. So stay healthy and live to train another day. Keep getting each session in and before you know it you will be smashing your old records.