Sunday, May 24, 2015

Athletic Competition: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

I've been sick the last few days and it has sucked, particularly because this is a very busy week for me. We had the last day of judo practice of the school year held at Gompers Middle School on Friday followed by the absolute last practice of the school year on Saturday at Ogden Judo School.

After having the privilege of teaching these really good kids for a year, or two or three, many of them I won't see again, so there was no way I wasn't going to show up. Besides, someone had to pay for the pizza!

I'm a big hypocrite because I lecture my kids all the time about staying in bed when they are sick and not making it worse.

There are lessons I learned from sports, and although I did judo most of my life, I ran track in college as well and I think these are lessons anyone learns who sticks with sports until at least the varsity level.

  1. You can always do part of something, even if you can't do everything. There were plenty of times when I was competing that I was recovering from a knee injury  -  I had several operations - but that didn't stop me from doing bench presses, curls, sit-ups, push-ups, swimming. Although I did not do all of the circuits with the students on Friday and Saturday, I did some of them. While Brian, Gabriela and I shared the instructing on Saturday, I did some of it.
  2. You can suck it up for a while. I've trained when I had the flu, with stitches still in my knee from surgery. Less than two months after Maria was born, I won the U.S. Open. Yes, I was exhausted, but I sucked it up long enough to win. I may not have been at my best on Saturday but I think I did a credible job teaching armbars and transition to armbars. 
  3. When you can't do what is best, do what will help you when you CAN do what is best. The best thing for training is often to go a bunch of rounds of randori, but you don't always have the training partners for that. The best thing for soccer is probably to play games. If you can't do what is best, you can run to build up your endurance, you can do drills with anyone who is willing.  Then when you get into games, randori, whatever you'll have better conditioning and better skills to take advantage of the opportunity.
  4. There is a difference between injury and inconvenience. I have snapped a ligament in my knee in competition and kept going to win the match. No,  I did not have it repaired, such surgery didn't exist back then. Ligaments are over-rated. On the other hand, I got pneumonia once. People die from that shit. I got some medicine and went to bed. When I had my first knee surgery - before there were orthoscopes and they had to slice you open - I was in the hospital for a week. It took me a few weeks before I could get back on the mat. Sometimes you really do have to take off and sometimes you're just sick and it sucks but you work out any way. 
These lessons wouldn't matter all that much if they just applied to sports, but they have stuck with me all through my life.
  1.  You can always do something. While I'm not at my best at the moment, I've spent most of today working for a half-hour or an hour, then lying in bed for an hour and repeating the cycle.  When I got too tired, I finally just took my laptop and went to bed to work there.
  2. You can suck it up for a while. I had to give a biostatistics lecture online on Thursday night. I muted the sound whenever I needed to cough or sneeze. It may have not been the most brilliant lecture I ever gave but by the end of it, I'm pretty sure the students had increased somewhat in their understanding of hypothesis testing and power analysis. The class is only one month long and it ends this week. It's the last class I had committed to do this year, but I had committed to do it - so I sucked it up.
  3. When you can't do what is best, do what will help you when you CAN do what is best. The best thing for me to do is work on the games we are planning to issue update versions of in the next few weeks, to analyze the data coming in from the games, to work on the designs of the new games. I know that being under the weather I'll probably be at 50% productivity on all of that. So, while I'm laying in bed, I graded a bunch of student papers and homework, wrote three blog posts and fixed a couple of minor bugs. Once I get over this annoying cold/flu thing, I'll be able to focus 100% on the games because the other responsibilities will be out of the way.
  4. Learn to make the judgement call between injury and inconvenience. No one dies when they have a sinus infection or cold. Some people do die of the flu but I don't have the kind that kills you. I'm just miserable, not dying, so I probably got 6 hours of work done today. Not what I had hoped but you can't always get what you want.

My sister and mom always lecture me that I work too much and tell me that a sane, normal person if she wasn't feeling well at 11 pm on Sunday night on a three-day weekend would stop working.

I suppose that's true.

Another thing I have learned from sports, though, is that if you have a goal, pursuing it won't always be comfortable, won't always be convenient.

But it will be worth it.


james said...

off-topic questions.
- Manny Pacquiao's mom can't watch her son fight for so many years. Even now that she attends her son's match, she usually closes her eyes. Is it also very hard for you to see Ronda enter a cage? Or is it easier because MMA rules, and Ronda's style don't allow too many punches to hit her? I ask because I am just a new parent, and I can't even watch my son get a vaccine.

- I think many MMA fans believe Ronda can kick Floyd Mayweather jr.'s ass in MMA rules match. Assuming Floyd will agree to drop to 135 and the financial aspect is right, would you allow such a match?

LsP said...

I hope you're feeling better. What is everyone supposed to do when Mom catches a cold? Mom is the one who normally fixes the antidote *shrugs* #LostWithoutYou

Anonymous said...

Sanity and normality are overrated.

Anonymous said...

Tough honest advice. Ligaments do hold your limbs straight but i guess you can manage without a few. Sounds like you and my old coach Dickie Marcroft are made of the same stuff. He decided to win the world masters aged 72 after 40 years or so out of competetive judo. The world needs a few more tough honest trainers like you and him.