Fit as a Fiddle? Or Flabby?

bodybuilderI thought I was fairly fit until last week when I started training with some of the karateka from our organization who are going to the USA National Championships in Pittsburgh this summer.  After all, I can run most children, teenagers, and new beginner college students into the ground when I lead warmups for Karate class.  I consider an hour of Zumba to be a great warmup for ninety minutes of Karate on Saturday mornings.  Sure I find pushups difficult and I’m still carrying a little extra weight, but I can do more than a lot of people my age and younger.  So am I in shape?

During the first days of Nationals training (5/26/16-5/28/16) I realized I’m not in as good shape as I could be.

Yeah, I can outperform most children, teens, and beginner twentysomethings.  When I lead warmups I have them at my mercy for only ten minutes and many of them drop like flies.  But that’s not necessarily because I’m a super athlete.  I think it’s because these youngsters have lead sedentary lifestyles.  That puts my fitness level in a whole new perspective.

I’m not athletic.  Last week I had my first taste of what true athleticism involves.  Due to a myriad of different circumstances, I have not been training with the group this week and will not be training with the group until next week.  Nationals training group meets only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  I’ve had to make some major adjustments in order to not have to start over at square one when I resume training with the group.

It’s intense.

Last week on my first day, I didn’t think I could do three hours of brutal training.  On the second day, I was even more amazed that I had survived.  At the end of the third day I was too tired to care.  But during my rest day I realized that this is do-able.  So this week I pushed myself.  Hard.  It was lonely without the group, but I did it.

These are the things I am now doing until I can train with the group again…  I am jogging for about 15 minutes.  Sprinting uphill about 25 yards.  When I come home, I’m doing brutal exercises for abs, arms, and legs.  Oh, and have I mentioned an hour of practicing karate?  All this on top of my usual Karate classes.  And I will continue doing these things every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from now until Nationals.

By the way, dear reader, when do you think I wrote this article?  Thursday night, just before it was published (Midnight Friday, 6/2/16)?  Nope.  I am actually writing this portion of this article on Sunday (5/29/16).  Five days before publishing.  Sure I will do some light editing and add pictures throughout the week.  But yeah, I am writing this portion of this blog post on Sunday.  Why?  It’s an interesting exercise in perspective to write as if all these brutal workouts are already done.

Will this exercise in perspective motivate me?  Will I work hard to make these things come true?  Will this optimism continue if things get hard for me?  In this next section I’ll write little “journal entries” as I have time this week.

Wednesday 6/1/16

So far so good.  Something I hadn’t anticipated is that my dog and I had to work some things out.  I have never voluntarily gone jogging bef

17 pounds of cute!
17 pounds of cute!

ore.  As far as I know, neither has my dog.  He had to learn not to cross in front of me.  I had to come up with a command and physical cue to get him to correct his position.  I had to learn his cue for “I really do need to go potty,” and I’m proud to say I can now tie a knot in a poop bag while jogging.  My dog had to learn that taking exception to my sprints is unacceptable.  I had to learn that giving him a warning that a sprint is coming up helps him control his impulse to herd me into “good” behavior.  I think my dog and I are going to benefit a lot from this change of pace.

I am soooo tired…  That said, I made it through class at Home Dojo last night just fine.  At College Dojo today I only went a little more easy on the “kids” than usual when I led warmups.

Thursday 6/2/16

It’s my older daughter’s birthday today.  Very soon after I was invited to join those training for Nationals I notified Affiliate YMCA Sensei that I wouldn’t attend tonight.  In anticipation of an evening of celebration, I got my workouts done and over with this morning and this afternoon.

This morning I got up, jogged, and did a bunch of fiendish exercises for arms, abs, and legs.  After work I gulped down a substantial snack and went to the pool to splash around with my younger daughter in order to kill time before birthday gal arrived home from her classes at the community college.  I came home anticipating going out to a nice dinner with the family.  I was already showered and ready to go.

Question5_SickWhen I got home my husband told me Birthday Girl was sick.  Not severely so, but she was definitely green around the gills.  My husband fortunately was working from home today so he had gone out to collect her from her last class so she wouldn’t barf on the bus.

After checking with birthday girl, I tore out of the house to the Affiliate YMCA.  I was only five minutes late 🙂

Mind you, Thursdays I work until 1:00, so I had eaten only a substantial snack around 1:40.  This in anticipation of a dinner at a restaurant (typical portions are twice what I normally eat).

I made it through two hours of classes in spite of all this.

So it came time for us to do fiendish exercises at the end of class – yup, I’d already done ’em this morning.  Did all right with legs and abs, but not so well with the arms.  Affiliate YMCA Sensei saw me struggling with the pushups and commended my effort.  While we were un-stacking chairs in preparation for more fiendish upper body stuff, Sensei told me I was done.  I held a chair for someone to do a fiendish arm exercise and explained to Sensei how my day had gone.  He told me, “You should definitely stop.”

No doubt I’ll feel all this tomorrow (Friday 6/3/16).  Tomorrow is my two year karate anniversary.  I never imagined two years ago that I’d be doing all this.

In conclusion

On Sunday, I wondered, “Will this exercise in perspective motivate me?”

It sure did.  Writing out what my success would “look like” kept me going, and tonight I ended up performing beyond what I thought I could do.

“Will I work hard to make these things come true?”

Believe me, I did work hard.  I’ve been feeling it all week.  Unfortunately I haven’t been practicing kata as much as I’d have liked- this is the only area in which I’ve fallen short.

“Will this optimism continue if things get hard for me?”

Yes.  Tonight, Affiliate YMCA Sensei told me to stop because I was pushing too hard.  I was convinced I could get through it.

So am I fit, or am I flabby?  I guess I’m both.

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

6 thoughts on “Fit as a Fiddle? Or Flabby?”

  1. Keep it up Joelle you are doing great! Your little trick with your writing / shaping reality makes me think of something I once read (forget where) about writing your CV with the things you wanted it to say – courses, knowledge, experience etc. NOT to falsely submit to any employer, but to give yourself a written checklist / structure for what you wanted to achieve in the coming months!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Kai! I’ll keep that in mind about the CV 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!!

  2. Something my sifu taught me a long time ago is when two opponents exchange in combat the greater skilled practioner will always be the Victor, as skill out weighs fitness, only when opponents are equally matched in skill, will fitness play a part in the outcome, after all aging masters who still can easily hold there own, do not have the benefit of youth on there side, rather the ability to sense and feel the opponent intent, and physical fitness can actually dull that ability, so maybe your leavel of fitness is just right and your sense was trying to slow you down and avoid the pitfalls of over training, but good luck

    1. Thanks for sharing your sifu’s thoughts! I’m thinking back to my tournament victory last month and I have trouble believing I’m more skilled than the two ladies who I fought against – they outrank me by anyone’s belt system, LOL. Afterward, some stranger in the locker room told me I looked like I didn’t belong in the Ladies’ 45 and Older division because I was moving too well to be that old. That and for the first time, I had a coach – I think that made a huge difference. That said, your Sifu’s teaching is still absolutely valid. I remember one of our older Senseis kept a young Shodan (first black belt) candidate busy for about ten minutes before the young man finally scored a point on him. I’ve sparred with that Sensei myself and it was a very “cerebral” game – sort of like combining the psychology of poker with the strategies of chess, LOL. All the best to you and thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting!

  3. The foundation of my fitness program is running. Maybe I was born to run, but it has worked for me. Yes, I do some HIIT but mostly long runs that gave me great endurance for the martial arts and most everything else, especially for a fast recovery time after exertion. Get good cushioned shoes with a low rise, midfoot strike (never heel strike, that causes plantar facciitis), and run on softer surfaces. Never on concrete, and avoid asphalt if you can. Dirt, grass, etc will be your best bet for being able to run over time without injuring yourself.

    It’s really nice to see how well you are doing after that long gap in your training. You have the heart of the martial artist.

    1. Thanks, Dr. J, for stopping by and for the encouragement! I recently bought new shoes and what a difference! I definitely prefer dirt and grass, fortunately there’s plenty of that along the streets and at an abandoned school (with a jogging track!) in my neighborhood. Thanks for the tips!!!

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