Sunday, August 30, 2015

An "unlucky" injury

I've been forced to pull out of my September 11 fight due to an injury.

There are so many thoughts that go through your head when you have an injury right at the end of training camp. The most tempting, the most pernicious, is "fuck, what bad luck."

It's a dangerous thought because it's partly true. You do need some luck to survive a training camp without a major injury.

Poker players know that losers blame bad luck when they lose, and call themselves geniuses when they win.

Winners know that while you can't control the luck, you can do everything possible to stack the odds in your favour.

MMA training camps are hard things. The best way to train for a fight is to simulate a fight. A fight is a mess of fists, feet, knees, elbows flying all over the place while two guys tangle themselves up in a struggle to control the other guy's arms, legs, heads, and spines. And the best way to train for a fight is to find people who are as good or better than you at all the chaotic punching, kicking, and limb-tangling, and try to fight off their attacks.

If you don't train hard, you don't get better. If you train too hard, you get hurt. It's a hard tightrope to walk. Athletes and coaches always want to do more. The great sprinting coach Charlie Francis always said that he spends 90% of his time holding athletes back and only 10% of his time pushing them to do more. Balancing overtraining and undertraining is a hard task; there's no magic test or formula that tells you what to do.

It really sucks to pull out of a fight two weeks before it, right as training should be tapering off. I was very much dedicated to this training camp. I invested hours and hours into my mental and physical training and I felt like this was going to be the best iteration of me in the cage, ever. And now I don't get to prove that to myself. It's rough.

You'll notice I haven't talked about the details of how I got hurt. That's because it doesn't matter. I could blame this, that, or the other, but the blame lies with me. Maybe it was because I didn't warm up properly. Maybe it was because I hadn't rested and recovered enough for that session. Maybe it was because I didn't have the mental focus in that moment. Maybe I should have asked the training partner to take down the intensity. But the bottom line is that I have to look in the mirror and say that I'm injured because of me, because of decisions that I made. It's my body, it's my athletic career, and at the end of the day, I have to take responsibility.