I was really looking forward to the Pan Pacific Championships 2014. I made a game plan. I worked toward it. I blogged about it. I had my team working with me on it. I changed work rosters (mine and other peoples). I hit the grind hard, pushed past it, ate right, slept right, planned right. I. Did. Hill. Sprints.
Fkn. Hill. Sprints. I said no to all the new tattoos, all the cakes, all the wine, all the travel and all the social events I wanted to enjoy during that time and put my focus purely on that comp. I even tapered lifting. For the love of god, I gave up even that! You have no idea how much that last one felt like the final straw of sacrifice...And then come the day of division allocation, I had no one to compete against.
No one. Not one. Competition null and void. Over.
It kinda broke my brain. A surprisingly large sadness overcame me and fast. One that I am only just now, two months later, feeling free of. I see myself as a competitor. I define myself as one in fact. I do everything I can to become that chosen self image. I surround my life with it. I'm immersed in it. I am it. Or I want to be at least...it's an ideal that I work toward daily.
I was experiencing a situation for the first time (and first hand) that was completely out of my control within the broader sense of 'competition'. Ironically amidst trying to be ALL the self control across ALL aspects of my life. A slap in the face when realising that no matter how great my plan and preparation, I didn't ever think to plan for no actual competitors. That element I missed planning for entirely. And back up plans were not there to catch me. This I judged myself harshly for. Where was your self control there Jess? Surely you can control ALL THE THINGS?!!!
Ew. Horrible. Adult. Self. Realisation. Moment.
But I dunt wanna.
And so comes realising that the only thing for this situation is acceptance. Which of course is what I had to do and would be dignified and classy....but it didn't come right away. Cards on the table? I wanted to have a Richter scale breaking style tantrum and go back and eat all that cake I fkn said no to! And to not waste those weeks tapering. And to sleep in all those mornings. And have a meal with my partner rather than choosing the gym yet again. Every day. For weeks. Sadly. I'm an adult and am expected to behave sorta like one. I strive to personify that 'good sport' we always tell children to be. Tough goal, that's for sure.
In my sport, you compete against who turns up but the realisation that this is not something you are always guaranteed is a truly hard one for me. As a competitor I aim for the top of the podium. I have always felt, if I can't be at the top of the podium, I'm at the bottom. The feeling that I'm at the bottom without even the CHANCE to be at the top truly felt worse than losing a match. I couldn't face it. And I didn't even attend the comp to cheer my team mates on.
It was aaaalllll bad.
I am not at all upset with my potential competitors on a personal level. I certainly don't hold anyone accountable or in any way want insinuate blame/ownership or whatever. I am purely disappointed that I invested heavily in something that I could not see through to fruition. It's the strangest feeling. One that is new to me outside bad boyfriend #17 type relationships.
So, confused, I disappeared for a while to force some self reflection. Still training but feeling very, very disappointed and definitely directionless. Off social media as much as possible. Not attending events etc. Kinda withdrawn.
What these past 2 months has clarified for me now though is worth much more than any outcome competing at the Pan Pacs could ever have given me. This I am certain. I know more about myself. I know more about others. I know more about my sport and more specifically, competition. I know more about my future and where I want to go with my career. I have gained insight that will change me forever. I've also experienced this all and will be better equipped to help mentor and support my team mates and other competitors in the future. What I know clear as day right now is that I hope the very best for ALL my competitors in the future.
I hope their training is perfect. I hope their food preparation and knowledge is the best it's ever been. I hope their weight management is perfect. I hope their fitness is extremely good. That their cardio is incredible. That they can afford the event & travel costs involved. That their kids are healthy and have quality minders for the day. That they can get the time off work they requested. That they sleep well the night before competition. That they are nervous enough for a spark and and edge but not too nervous to perform. That they remain injury free and functional. And that they come 100% confident and assured that they did absolutely everything right in the lead up to facing me out on those mats.
I hope all of these things because this is what I hope for myself. And I can't wait to tap hands with that woman on comp day. Because essentially, she is me. And I want her to have her moment to shine. Or to challenge herself. Which ever one comes. I want that whole heartedly for us both.
Years ago I met my idol, BJJ Hall of Famer Luanna Alguzuir for the first time. She shared words with me that I hold in my heart in high regard. I understand them now more than ever.
"Jiu Jitsu is a game. And you cannot play alone."
My entire view of competition has completely changed. So thank you Pan Pacific Championships 2014. You thought me much more than the 3 Pan Pacific Championships I have won leading up to you.
ps. I fought a few days ago against a much higher level and more experience fighter than myself. Here's the link:
(TBC - you need to watch this - rocky moment!)
It's been a decent week of training. Finally hit my ideal routine again after ups and downs with work load and health. As a result, now that I'm actually doing the training I planned, I am completely exhausted. Haha. Yes.
In full grappling mode with tabatas for around an hour in most mornings. Concentrating in staying strong but maintaining a leaner version of myself so I will make weight on Friday.
My week looked like this:
Monday am: Tabatas 60 mins.
Monday pm: Wrestling 90 mins hard, Gi grappling 90 mins technical.
Tuesday pm: Advanced grappling 90 mins. Basic lifts at 75% max. Deads, squats, bench (from floor), chins. 3 rounds of 5s 30 mins.
Wednesday same as Monday.
Thursday same as Tuesday.
Friday am: Tabatas 60 mins plus 30 mins of playful rolls (no attachment to outcome or goals - for sanity's sake).
Sunday 10x light 5min rolls with one minute rest. Mainly social & with females only.
So this week coming will be about maintenance. No crazy treats with my diet as weigh in is pretty tight for me and sometime on Friday.
It will mean that my treats come in the form of well timed starchy vegetables and comfy pants rather than chocolate, which is kinda my favourite thing.
Bring on the sweet potato fries and track suit pants!
Training log? More like confessional booth.
I struggle at times with body acceptance. Really badly when I'm bad, then totally proud and borderline mega vanity at other times. I run the full gambit of harshe self judgement over the arc of a month. Fkn hormones.
I was a bigger girl all through my twenties. My walking weight was 25kg larger than I am now. On average I was 86kg. At my largest I was an impressive 103kg.
Even though I've maintained 62-65 generally for about 8 years now, I am still that bigger girl in so many parts of my brain.
So now when I gain 2kg randomly, depending on the hormonal timing I either
a) think I'm a lifting beast and that I own ALL the muscle and I'm pretty much a super hero OR
b) think I'm pretty much a glutenous whale and should probably just give up on everything. Even phone calls. Too fat. Can't talk.
So was last week.
I lifted fine but then got a flu or something special that saw me not train for 4 days. I also puffed up like a water balloon and cried a fair bit for no reason. Hormones.
Soooooo what happened this week? The flu lifted and I was like an inmate being released. I've trained 2-3 times a day since. Hahahaha. Balance? What is this balance you speak of?!
I must make up for ALL the training ever missed of all time. And must do it now!
So this week has been tabata training each morning. I even roped in a friend and tortured her with my mania. Thanks Dan N.
Solid 5-10 minutes of warm up followed by 5x tabata rounds with one minute in between each.
I like to stick to the same movement throughout one full tabata round.
I also lean toward structuring my 5 tabatas as follows:
These were all done at 8am with night training being solely BJJ for 3 hours per night. One Gi session. One no Gi session. 90 mins each.
The idea of the tabatas being that I don't feel them the next day but aiming to get really breathing hard throughout.
In the first day I lost that excess weight that almost broke my soul last week. Hormones and water got me confused and self loathing. I wonder if I'll ever stop being so damn sensitive....
Now I'm lower than comp day weight, looking crazy lean in the upper body and looking forward to being photographed next weekend by BlackBoxPhotography!
Bring it. x.
I love hearing these popular comments on a regular basis:
Its different for you because you work at a gym so you get to train all the time.
Its different for you because you don’t have kids.
Its different for you because *insert any assumption you like here*.
So for 6 weeks now I’ve been working my full time 9 to 5 job, covering for a staff member that left that was also full time, re-writing our entire front of house procedure, recruiting new staff & training said new staff. All while trying to find energy and much harder still, time to train & prepare for competition.
But its different for me…
So yeah, last week I had a whopping FOUR opportunities to train for 60mins a pop to cover all my competition preparation, both lifting and grappling. In the end I also managed to drag myself to competition class for grappling on Saturday for 2 hours.
Man. Talk about fatigue.
Since we last spoke, I’ve worked the hours of 2 full time staff, ran 3 grappling competitions (in my spare? time) and tried my best to continue to train at a standard that is required for competition.
Here’s what I did on one of the days as an example of short and painfully draining work.
When time is limited, things get fast and hard.
Kettle Bell swings:
15 x 24kg every minute on the minute for 10mins.
Then 5 rounds of:
64kg farmers walk – 50meters
16kg Turkish get up – 1 each side
Then 3x10min rounds with my coach grappling, only seeking the new guard I’ve been playing with.
The above made me feel super nauseous and emotional for the rest of the day.
Not enough water throughout the workout & I didn’t eat soon enough after the session.
I prefer lifting a shit load of weight over a long time rather than smaller weights fast.
Have food immediately even when feeling nauseous. It will help with recovery.
Can’t wait to get back into my usual routine.
Excited to try new guard work for the upcoming competition but would love to have more time on the mats to work on it.
Here's what I did yesterday as day one of prep for the Pan Pacific Championships in October
50m Lunges with 40kg on the bar
10x fast up 60kg box squats
10x push ups
5 a side, kettle bell clean and strict press 14kg
3x alternating chin and slow toes to bar
50m body weight farmers walk
All to the Soundtrack of In-Flames
The farmers walks are gonna make me monster with grips and that is the goal of this phase.
I'm not a lifter but I'm in love with lifting. I train strength in support of my sport, which is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I'm bloody strong, and known for it amongst the girls in our competitive community.
Like lifting, BJJ is a male dominated sport. But unlike lifting, my 'weights' are not made of relentless and unforgiving iron, they're made of 90kg sweaty dudes in pyjamas trying to throw me, choke me, break my arms etc etc. At 62kg you either get strong or you get broken.
After a major LCL injury at competition that laid me off for 3 months of training, I was taught to deadlift. That was my rehab goal. To get to straight legged deads at the 12 week mark. It was the 'Summer of Guns' and I chin up-ed my way through 12 long weeks of rehab and stair step ups in a hip to ankle brace.
When I was finally able to deadlift I couldn't be happier. That's when the love of lifting began.
By the end of my rehab I was lifting 5x5s of 100kg daily. And about 50 chins daily. Yep. Daily. Obsessive much? I'm not saying that's a balanced or proper program but it's all I could do. So I did it. A lot. My cardio was rope work. And push ups (because I used to hold my breath throughout push ups so it became intense. Hahaha. Not on purpose).
I lost weight. And I got strong. Who knew you could do that without running that you haaaaate?! Hahaha yes! A fkn revelation and freedom from so many wrong ideas I had about training. Especially for aesthetic goals.
After I was given the all clear to train BJJ again, my first competition back at high level for wrestling was about 2 weeks later and wasn't exactly a quality display of BJJ technique. It was me kinda dead lifting chicks. And hard. It wasn't pretty. I won yeah. But I think purely by brute hulk anger. The girls wanted nothing of it. I can understand that.
Since then I've used deads, squats, push ups and chins almost daily as a way to stay strong enough to to continue to be injury free. Since starting to lift 2 summers ago Im happy to say that I've had an unprecedented run injury free. It's rare in our sport and very very high priority for me.
I usually work basic lifting movements after each of my 3 hour BJJ training sessions (I do 3 of these as 'heavy days' per week and 2 lighter 90 minute sessions per week). Heavy days include 3x5s of deads and squats at about 75% of max. All done relatively fast but with good rest in between. Plus 10 push ups and 5 chins between lifts. The idea being that if I do a little each day it accumulates over time. And that I don't feel these lifts as fatigue the next day.
When I'm in 'building strength' phase I structure my week better. And it's harder. Especially with DOMS.
3x 1 hour dedicated hard S&C classes so that I hit my BJJ classes afterwards fatigued. And less BJJ overall (which is actually cardio and KILLS my gains).
This structure means the technical aspect is all I'm able to really apply during BJJ classes though and though I feel worse at my sport when tired and can't win, I'm actually fine tuning the problem areas, which is kinda the point. It's an emotional time. I usually cry. It feels like I can't do anything right. But it's for a reason and yields good results.
So what's happening now?
Now I have a big comp in 5 weeks. I've been strength building for 3 months so now it's time for a switch it up. Now I have to lift sports specific. Get more functional with my movement.
I've been really unbalanced with my strength and my lifts during this last strengthening phase, which I'm not happy about. At 62kg, currently my squat is 70kg for 5x5s and my dead is 100kg for 5x5s and though I lifted an ugly double body weight dead last week (yay me, poor technique though), I can't even imagine breaking 100kg for my squat. After competition season I desperately want to fix that gap. And fix my technique. I know the bar is waaaaaay too far away from my legs in my dead. It needs work. It looks and feels shit. But I can't fix that now with my BJJ comp coming up.
So what's the plan?
I'm gonna smash some stuff to get me more explosive with posterior chain firing. And get killer grips.
So it begins. Again.