Training and Coaching

Injuries!

The first half of every season is always interesting.

As it is, everyone has different approaches, different goals, different vacations and different values. I notice that when I evaluate my first half of the season and discuss it with others. My results this season have not been so great. I was 1 touch from a 64 in Bern, and during the team competition, I got an injury which held me back the rest of year.

But it did not stop me!

Training

Some stop fencing until they are back on track, others come gradually. But everyone seems to agree on the following: The best thing you can do is keep your body, and especially the area around your injury, active. But it must not hurt! So the rule for me is: Live life as you do normally, as long as it doesn't hurt.

Having quite a busy schedule with fencing and work, I always look for ways to optimize my training, and in this case recovery.

First I take a break of a week to evaluate the gravity of the injury. Seeing as injuries often happen at competitions for me, this is combined with a small recovery from an intense weekend. This means that in that period of time, I can still go training, but I do not stress the part of me which is injured. For example: in my case, my knee got a problem, so I still went to the gym to train my arms.

After that week I have a week where I am back in training and slowly evaluate how my body feels being in the environment where the injury occurred. This might sound silly, but in reality, there is both a mental and physical aspect to injuries. When you get injured, your body gets hurt in a specific body part, but you also lose confidence in that part, and you get a fear of it happening again. So in your recovery strategy, you also have to build up confidence in your body again, before you can use it as you did before. To do so, you have to use your body and be active, so the fear gradually disappears.

On the third week, I evaluate once more how my injury feels: Has it worsened? Has it improved? Has it stagnated? Based on the answer to those questions, I decide on the intensity of my training that week. If it has worsened, I have a slow week again, and my strategy is to keep the area quiet until I feel there is a great improvement. If it has improved, great! I can go training again. If it has stagnated I take care and evaluate day by day how the training affects my injury.

Competitions?

First match in the pool at the Legnano WC 2017

Yes, should you do competitions? It's not an easy answer. Every doctor or 'reasonable' person around me have always told me: NO! But as I said before, these same people told me to keep myself active.

So why can't I go to competitions? If you scrap the results from the setting, it's just a place where I can fence with the best fencers in the world. It might as well be a training camp.

So I decided to do competitions, despite my injury, but rearrange my focus. My focus can't be, how it always is: to do the best I can and to fight till death! That would mean that I would push myself to the limit, thereby risking hurting myself even more.

That's why my goal was:

1. Make sure my injury doesn't get worse, which entails finding a fencing that protects me from harming myself, but perhaps not bringing the best out of me

2. Do the best I can with the cards I have been given. This means I will not compromise my injury to win a match, I have to stick to the fencing I have decided in advance to solve my problem.

I did this in Legnano, and I had to evaluate it to be a mission complete! I managed to stay in control of myself and my knee, and it didn't hurt once. Also, I managed to pass a tough pool, and win a DE which is also not bad when you are not at your max.

Getting back

The best thing you can do with the bad things that happen in your life is looked at it constructively and see what you can learn. Today my injury is done, and I am back on track, and I have learned a lot about my fencing and how I can integrate slower movements and more patience to my game. I also learned I am able to control myself and push myself within reason.

So I am ready for what's coming ahead, and I am happy to say that I am once more ready to train hard to reach my goals!

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