Last year, I had a resolution of making significant progress at my gym, and I did it by passing my Level 1 test. I buckled down and trained almost five times a week while eating as many good calories as I could afford, sometimes doubling up on classes. Even when I traveled to Las Vegas three weeks before the test, I ended up finding a place to train for a couple days. I gained about 20 pounds of muscle in preparation for the 5 hour event, and it was grueling, but I had my certificate by the end.
There was a very brief period during that time–or was it after–that I had a minor disc issue as well as occasionally over-stressing my wrist or blooding up my knuckles for weeks at a time. But overall, I accomplished my other goal of not getting hurt this year.
Since then, my weeks have been inconsistent. My endurance hasn’t been where it used to be, but strength-wise, I still have most of my power. Due to my intense metabolism, I haven’t quite kept up my mass as well and have been hovering at 165 pounds (down from where I was). This isn’t bad. I gained weight before because I knew that such a long test would really take it’s toll on me as my weight can fluctuate very easily based on the work I do.
I’ve been trying to think about what my next goal is going to be. I think that if it’s an option, it’d be great to get to Level 2. Unfortunately, none of my cohort have really been showing up as consistently (and neither have I even if it’s a little more than them), so it’s hard to say if they’ll even offer it this year.
Here’s what I know: Through my cycling, running, and now-more strength oriented workouts, I’ve always relied on my natural endurance and agility to get me through everything. But I’ve known for months now that I should probably work on flexibility and mobility. Most would probably look at me and not think that I would have trouble reaching my toes, but it’s tough. I continue to get stronger, but I can feel myself lose a lot of the little grace I had.
Also, when I was training for the test, my life was basically consumed by these work-outs. While I did try to train a little smarter in terms of not getting injured, I was still kind of–as people have pointed out–taking a blunt approach to my training, that is, going as hard as I could every time. Additionally, I was eating as much I could, which really took a toll on my wallet. Several people in my cohort managed to not double up on classes every day and still passed the test, although I’m also fairly certain they weren’t eating as much as I was either. I know I can’t compare myself to others, but I think I can at least ease up on the hammer-approach to training and eating.
Last but not least, I also need to pay attention to other areas of wellness: sleep, hydration, and skin care. These tend to all vary wildly from day to day, which probably affects my mood and my ability for injuries to heal. Skin care, incidentally, was something that was mostly cosmetic when I use to ride my bike prolifically. Now it actually matters if I get scratched or if my knuckles get worn down from straight punches.
What’s this all lead me to? Well, I think it comes down to being more detailed-oriented with how I manage my physical endeavors. And, of course, I think that balancing all of these things is also important. But in terms of a goal like I had last year, I’m still not sure. I have talked with a couple of friends about doing long bike rides, but I’m not too worried about it yet. Is it that Level 2 test? Sure, if it comes up. But that seems like a relatively “easy” goal compared to becoming more flexible, balanced, and mobile. I’m not sure what smaller goals to set around these. Being able to do the splits? Consistent handstands or other things that require me to balance on things other than my two feet? This is going to take some research, I think.
Final somewhat non-sequitur thought: I can’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t have sold my kettlebell. Oops.