After a couple months of prepping for my first BJJ tournament the big day finally arrived. I was ready, mentally prepared and looking forward to testing my new skills against some new opponents.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance.

Like I mentioned in my newsletter on Friday, I popped some cartilage in my ribs and I had to pull out at the last minute. When it happened I knew that it wasn’t good and that I was more than likely not going to be able to compete but I held out hope that ice and a positive attitude would result in a miracle.

On Friday I woke up and had to admit that the miracle wasn’t coming.

Oh well, that’s life. Like I tell my clients – there is “optimal” and then there is “reality”.

Optimally I would have been injury free and able to compete, putting my 8 weeks of hard training to good use. The reality, though, is that I suffered a freak accident (I had been in the same position many times and never had my ribs pop) and now I have to deal with letting it heal and then easing myself back into training.

Dealing with injury related setbacks is part of life and if you don’t know how to mentally deal with them they can easily be your undoing. It would be easy to panic and look at this negatively since I did just waste 8 weeks of hard training and now I have to watch my fitness and strength decline while I sit around waiting for some stupid rib cartilage to heal.

However, this way of looking at it would only result in me pushing too hard too soon in an attempt to make up for that “wasted time” and I’ll probably end up injured again or worse, not fully healing and having my strength and fitness forever limited.

A better way to look at the situation is to realize that life is a marathon and not a sprint. As much as I don’t want to slow down and let myself heal I also know that I need to keep the long view of the situation and not panic in the short term.

This means backing off of anything that hurts, which is especially tough because this is a rib injury. Injuring an arm or leg is easy to work around – just train everything else as hard as you can. But your ribs are a major part of your core and when you hurt them you quickly realize that everything involves the core, including rolling over in bed and getting up and down off the couch.

So this means that, as hard as it will be, I literally can do no training for a couple of weeks. I can do some light aerobic activity like trail running or riding a stationary bike but anything that causes me to have to bend or twist too much is out.

Starting next week I’ll be relying on my No Gym, No Problem Bodyweight Workout Programs to start building back my movement and strength. Bodyweight training is such a great tool because it allows you to get strong without placing a lot of wear and tear on the body. Plus, the progressions for each bodyweight exercise in the program makes it perfect for when you need to build strength using a safe, progressive approach.

BW Workout Medium

I’ll also be starting a new Aerobic Energy Systems Development Block using some new workouts I’ve created after re-reading Joel Jamison’s Ultimate MMA Conditioning book. My goal is to work on my aerobic energy system’s ability to both create power and to re-fuel the anaerobic energy systems in the process, which is a crucial part of trail specific cardio endurance. If they work out as well as I think they will I’ll be sure to get them into some future programs.

So, the take home message is simple – keep things in perspective (this is a marathon, not a sprint) and have a plan to get yourself back into training knowing that you’ll need to take a step or two back at first from where you were. Having a setback from an injury (or illness as well) is part of playing hard enough to have fun and the worst thing you can do is make things worse by being your own worst enemy.

Or, in the immortal words from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Don’t Panic!

-James Wilson-

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