Do as I say

I will be the first person to admit that I train too much, I even talked about it in this post. This doesn’t only mean that I spend the majority of my free time training (I do) but also that I am sometimes (often) guilty of training when I know that I shouldn’t. Specifically I have trained through an injury in the past and I know that should I get injured in the future, I would probably do so again.

This is a hard thing for me to admit to everyone because I know that it is wrong. In my brain, I am thinking the same thing that the non-BJJ people in my life are thinking…are you nuts? I am nuts. My drive and desire to train jiu-jitsu is so strong that the physical discomfort I feel when I have an injury is often secondary to the mental anguish I suffer by staying off the mats.

Sure there are times when I have had injuries bad enough that I had to stay off the mats because I just couldn’t do anything. But even when this happens I know I come back before I should. Whereas in the past I would have used the excuse to not be active, now I am coming up with excuses why it is still ok to train. The longest I’ve had to abstain from training was for one month when I had concussion last year and I was MISERABLE. I found myself getting angry at everyone and everything and sitting on my couch depressed at night because I couldn’t go train. I even started watching WWE because I was so hungry for anything combat related. I started watching wrestling people!

This is just something I’ve learned to deal with when training and I know I am not alone. Someone once told me that if you are not nursing at least two injuries at a time than you are not doing jiu-jitsu right. So there you have it. I train while injured even though I know it’s probably not the smartest thing to do.

However I found myself in a somewhat uncomfortable position yesterday while chatting with another woman who trains at my gym. As I have mentioned before, I teach a women’s only class on Saturdays and this particular student was not in attendance yesterday. I was not surprised by this as I had heard through the grapevine that she had hurt her ribs. She asked me how class had gone and I asked her how her ribs were doing. She said they were still sore but she was coming back this week to train because she couldn’t stand being off the mat any longer. My mind immediately started thinking of the logical replies:  “don’t rush back”, “BJJ will always be there, take care of yourself”, “health is the most important thing”. But before my fingers could type what my brain was thinking, she sent me another message in which she basically said that she knew I would do the same thing.

Now besides being a person who overtrains, I also pride myself on being a woman of my word. I try my best to live an honest life and carry through on all my commitments. So when she said that she knew I would do the same, I found myself struggling to figure out what to say to her. She was right, I would do the same. I have done the same. I will most likely do the same again.

I like to think of myself as a mentor-type person to the newer women who train at the gym. I teach the women’s only class and I try to talk to them about what it’s like to train as a woman in a male-dominated sport. I try to tell them about mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned in the hopes that they can avoid them and maybe have a little smoother time as they transition into BJJ badasses.

So as someone who thinks of themselves as a mentor-type person, I couldn’t encourage her to train while injured, that would make me the most irresponsible mentor ever! However as someone who tries to be honest, I couldn’t lie and tell her I wouldn’t do the same. So we started talking about our mutual love of BJJ and the frustration of being injured. I eventually suggested to her that she come to class to try to drill but not roll at first. I also suggested that if there was an uneven number in class that she should work in the group of three so that she could take a break or not be grappling dummy while drilling if it was a move that hurt her ribs. These are things I have done while injured. While I miss rolling I find that drilling is better than no BJJ at all. The hardest part is making myself leave when the rolling starts.

But looking at the situation from the point of view of someone who is supposed to be something of a role model to the women who are just starting really made me think about my own training while injured. If I feel uncomfortable telling someone to train through an injury, why do I do it? If I had to answer that question I would say that my psychological need to train sometimes outweighs my physical wellbeing. Is this smart? No, probably not. But it’s true. So next time I am injured I am going to try to think about what I would tell one of the new students to do in the same situation. Does this mean I’ll stay off the mat an appropriate length of time? Honestly, probably not. But at least I’ll feel remorse about my bad decisions. That’s a start!

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3 responses to “Do as I say”

  1. Sarah says :

    I hate it, but I’m the same way. Before my knee injury, I overtrained my ass off, but that was What I Did, so it was Okay. Taking a month off after I injured my knee was awful. Mental anguish: you’ve got it in a word. I got depressed, irritable, I wanted to hurt anyone who asked me how my knee was or didn’t understand how horrible it was to be out. I was miserable.

    Finally I begged my instructor to let me go back to BJJ. His condition was: no rolling. I have… mostly… stuck to that. If he hadn’t’ve said yes, I don’t know what I’d’ve done. I couldn’t stay away much longer.

    I know my knee is crap. I know that standing martial arts are completely out of the question (because I tried to go back to that too early, too). I know that I’m risking permanent damage if I’m not uber-super-special-careful. But I feel like I’m losing my mind when I’m off.

    I think many of us are like that: better at advice than modelling. Thankfully, my instructors are pretty sensible people. When he said “anyone can train, even if they’re injured – they just have to be limited in what they do,” and, “sometimes watching from the side is better than sitting at home,” I knew I’d found home. 🙂 Folks who get my obsession!

    • camamyd says :

      Yeah it’s really hard to explain to people the drive to just get back to the mats when common sense tells them and you that it’s silly to do so when injured.

      My instructor is very understanding of health issues as well and will not let us push it either. He also encourages us to come in and watch while injured which I’ve done but that also makes me cranky because then I see all the fun everyone else is having and I want to get out there. Then I’m like a 5 year-old pouting in the corner.

      I hope your knee feels better soon! Hopefully you are learning some valuable lessons about how to protect it. I hurt my ribs once and for months they were sore. Whenever someone got on top of me and I was flat on my back it would hurt so I learned to never get flat on my back if I could help it, a good thing to learn for BJJ!

      • Sarah says :

        It took me a month to be able to go watch judo and karate classes after my injury. I went and made myself sit through the whole thing… but it was killer not to be able to join in! I had a fierce debate with myself (both times) about whether I could maybe TRY to do Just A Little Something. Thankfully, my smart-self left my uniform at home, and kept me from no-gi-ing it up. B’cuz I really can’t.

        I absolutely COULDN’T watch before then – it hurt my heart too much. 🙂 I’m determined to make myself watch at least one class a month until I’m back – to stay connected and not let those parts of my brain turn off – but I’m not sure I can do more than that!

        At least I can do BJJ! And I’m definitely learning (with my instructors help) how to protect it. And all sorts of things to focus on when you’re favoring one leg.

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