For weeks ago I decided to sign up for my SFG Level II certification and immediately got anxious about being able to press a 22kg bell over my head. I was starting to map out a plan for how by May 10th I could get to where I needed to be. I was all riled up and ready to go…. then I got the flu for the first time in years.
I don’t even remember the last time I had a fever; it might have been when I was in high school. Fever, sore throat, the whole deal and I was out of work and training for a week. Then when I was finally feeling better, I went back to training, started light and everything felt heavy…. then and was hit with a relapse of my chronic back pain. Another couple weeks and a few chiropractor visits and I think I’m finally starting to feel right again.
For someone that only used to take one day off a week from training and not even take more than three days off after a fight. It got me thinking about how my views on setbacks have changed. When I tore my knee in 2009, I sat at home, drank bourbon and read all of the Twilight novels while sulking. As soon as I could walk, I was doing bench presses and pull-ups. I booked a fight before I was even 80% better and just told myself I would be better. In truth, I was a bit nuts. Today, while I might be a bit peeved about an injury or illness, I try to put things in perspective. TRY being the keyword.
Sometimes Life Gives Me the Breaks I Need But Aren’t Willing to Take
As a workaholic, I know what I’m doing wrong when I get sick or injured. The same pattern has been following me my whole life: I’m trying to do TOO much. And at the exact moment when I have some important events coming up, my inbox is overflowing, I have deadlines approaching, and I am planning to tackle a new goal in the midst of everything, I get sick and/or injured. My body knows what up. It’s telling me to chill, and when I don’t listen the first time, it puts me on the sidelines with horrible back pain that doesn’t let up even when I’m laying down until I finally get the message.
I get it, universe. Chill. Take a day off. The emails will be there tomorrow. The gym will be there tomorrow. My goals haven’t evaporated. I’m just taking a break, even if I still feel like pouting and giving you the finger.
Strength and Technique Stays with You Longer
Remembering that my strength and technique stays with me like a loyal dog is helpful for not getting too bent out of shape over a setback. It takes about two weeks before muscular strength is diminished, and even then only slightly. While this varies according to genetics, muscle mass, years you have been lifting heavy, and what you are doing during your time away from the weights (sick vs. partying vs. just relaxing, but eating well and sleeping well), it’s still nice to know strength is a loyal friend. Just one more reason to #bestrongfirst. Speed, agility, and flexibility also have a good amount of staying power, and you are not likely to notice a fall in those areas once you return to training. Any diminished strength after a longer setback of 3-4 weeks will usually be gained back with just two weeks of solid training. Often, the rest will have done you good, especially if you took care of yourself during that time.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over that Slut Named Cardio
Oh Cardio, you are such a fickle demon. One minute I feel like superwoman and can run up four flights of stairs without a care in the world, the next I wake up alone, in bed, wearing last night’s makeup, without so much as a goodbye note telling me you had a good time, but I’m not really your type. Cardio, while quick to gain when compared to strength, drops us like a bad habit at the first sign we are taking a break. Don’t despair! You can get back your lungs in just a few days after taking time off. It will feel like hell, but after a few workouts, you’ll feel right again. P.S. Screw you, Cardio!
Ramp Up S L O W L Y, Stupid
I can’t tell you how any times I’ve seen people get injured or discouraged because they tried to crush their workouts the same way they did a few weeks ago on their first day back in the gym after a break. Take is easy, tiger. Program a light few days, increase weights slowly, do some light bag work or sparring. Be nice to yourself. Don’t try to “crush” anything, bro. Trust the ramp-up process.
Remember There is More to Life Than Your Workouts
This last one took me a while to learn. Maybe I’m still learning. Sometimes I don’t feel like me if I’m not working on some goal in the ring or the weight room, but since I retired from professional Muay Thai fighting, I realized that there is more to me than my athleticism. I’m a writer, a coach, a business owner, a friend, a daughter, and a girlfriend. While being an athlete made me who I am today in the best way possible and taught me so much about life and happiness, it is not the only part of who I am. Sometimes I try to imagine what my life would be like if I could never train again. I would be sad, yes, but I’d still have plenty to live for. In my downtime, in my breaks from training, I think about how I can improve the parts of me that are not an athlete. I want to love the woman I have become for more than just my physical accomplishments. It’s not just about a healthy, fit body. It’s also about discovering a strong mind, and a strong heart and those qualities have the most staying power of all.