Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mind Over Matter

I’d like to thank everyone that read my first blog. Was a bit of an experiment, but got good feedback... so here I go again....

This topic is something that gets forgotten about...mental preparation when training and fighting. If you watch an athlete, in any discipline you think of their diet and their physical training. But it takes a lot more than being physically ready to be able to get in the ring and perform at your best. Any sports person reading this will know exactly what I’m talking about. I have been at shows, where I hear people sitting in the crowd say ‘I could do that easy’ but guarantee all they are thinking about is physically being about to do it.

From day one of training, already there is so much to mentally prepare for. Training 6 days a week for 8 weeks is a lot to put yourself through, like I say physically AND mentally.  It is evitable that you will get tired, will hate the thought of training again tomorrow and just want to eat comfort food....I get home from some sessions and just want to give up....but for me the long term goal out ways the short term effects. I find it is important to have an outlet away from training, or someone who can relate to you. Either team mates, or someone at home. Train hard in the gym then rant at home at how tired you are, but still get up the next day and train again. I guess with me emotions play a key part in the mental side of things. I’d say I hide what I am thinking pretty well, if I am tired, I still try and give 100%. I hope that if I do that during training, it will happen when fighting. ‘get on with it’ is what goes through my head alot!! People say I always look so calm before a fight, sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m like a duck in water, looks calm from the top but legs are going crazy underneath. Everyone deals with adrenaline, nerves and emotions different.
Another part of the mental training for me is your opponent. More often than not we are told who we are fighting, whether we know who they are or not, it is nice, for me anyway, to have that name in my head. In my first couple of fights I didn’t know who they were, and there wasn’t much on the internet about them. But now I have had a few more fights, I am fighting people who also had a few fights, so there is much more footage about. Some fighters aren’t fussed about who they are fighting, and don’t even care for a name....I am not one of those fighters I am afraid. I Google, I search and watch to find out information about my opponent. Some might say this is unhealthy, but for me I like to have that image in my head during training. It spurs me on and makes me train harder. I don’t like to watch footage of them to change my training to how they fight; I just like to know who she is.
Now there is a disadvantage to this. Although, like I said I don’t change my training based on my opponents style is does play on your mind. If you know your fighter a strong kicker, there are certain aspects you will work on more. However the disadvantage of this is opponents dropping out, or a change in opponents. That’s why I try and keep my training the same each time. At the end of the day you want to make it your fight, so training how you want and not concentrating too much on how the other person is training is 
probably the best way to look at it.

I wouldn’t say nerves disappear with more experience, I still get nervous, and I guess the likes of Ricky Hatton were still getting nervous in his last few fights. With adrenaline pumping round your body, nerves are inevitable. Dealing with them changes. Each individual finds their own way to deal with things; I like to chuck my head phones in and get on with things as normal. Obviously that doesn’t work for everyone. Finding your own way to deal with nerves is key to your performance. If you can manage your nerves better you will perform better. Some people loose before they have even got in the ring, purely because they have talked their way into a loss through nerves. ‘they are bigger than me’ ‘she’s taller than me’ ‘he has had loads of fights’ these are obviously natural thoughts, but don’t let them loose you the fight!

This topic could go on and on. There are different times like meeting your opponent at a weigh in and your walk out that people have different techniques for. I try to just act normal, if your opponent thinks you are nerves they will be at an advantage, but you will have the advantage if you are calmer and more prepared. Always think if you’ve trained hard, then most of the work is done, the fight is simple the time to show off your skills.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ikf British title

Defending the IKF British title fight in September 2012 at casino rooms, Rochester, Kent.

Running... Good or Bad?

This afternoon I am getting the results of an MRI scan on my right knee. Which made me question the effects running has on your body. Is it good for you, or actually are we causing more harm than good. 

But first why should you read this blog, who am I to tell you stuff about sports, fitness and martial arts that the next person can't. Well I am a full contact kickboxing fighter, I have been fighting since February 2011, and have since gone on to win the IKF World Classics tournament, become the IKF British Champion and I have recently won the WKA Commonwealth title. I train 6 days a week with a kickboxing fight team at a high intensity for a solid 8 week period, combining running, circuit training and kickboxing. 
Despite only fighting for the past two years, I have actually been training for the past 11 years, and instructing for about 5 years. I definitely do not know everything about fitness, fight training or martial arts, however wanted to share different areas with you that I have learnt from my personal experience. My next fight takes place in 8 weeks times, so each blog will cover something related to my experience within this training camp. By no means is this going to be a scientific blog, but purely my personal experiences, emotions and views. 

So.... back to running....
When training for a fight, I run about 4 times a week, ranging from 2-8 miles at a time. I train for 8 weeks to ensure I am ready for a full contact 3 or 5 round fight. so you do the maths.... quite a lot of running. Obviously you see pro boxers and other athletes running a hell of a lot more than that, so why do we do it? 

I do not choose to go for a run, it does not relieve my stress or put me in a good mood as some may say, in fact i sometimes have to force myself out of the front door. That's the reality of it!! I use running for two reasons only when training; one stamina and two weight loss. Running is the best way, I believe,  to get your fitness up. When fighting you are working at a high level for periods of time, maybe over 3 rounds, or more depending on level of fight. I normally do five rounds for a title fight, but obviously world boxing fights span much longer over 12 rounds. Getting your body from round 1 through to that final bell is no easy task and will not happen with out any help. 

At the start of training I may run a slow 3 miles, maybe even 2 depending how fit I am feeling. but as i train i can do that same run much quicker and much easier. I normally have one run that I use as a measure, hopefully doing it quicker as the weeks go by. I also use sprints as a tool for getting my fitness up. either sprinting from lamp post to lamp post or hill sprints. I find it allows your body to practise being in a intense environment. If you have a fighter who comes at you in a burst of punches (and kicks in my case) you need to deal with that, pushing back with your own bursts of work. That's where sprints can be really useful, pushing your body to the max for a short period of time, get your heart and breathing working hard! I really try to mix it up with fast short runs, to get my lungs pumping to give me quick bursts and long slow runs to improve my stamina. Its easy to get bored with running, so its important to have some variety, both in distance and the routes you are doing. a definite change of scenery is needed when running week in and week out. A long run doesn't have to be  hours and hours of running. I class anything over 5/6 miles a long run for me. I know everyone is different but like I say this is based on personal experience. if you don't like the thought of running 6 miles, it sounds such a long way, try setting a time. Just run for 30 minutes, distance is not everything. I personally prefer knowing how far I have to go, that kind of gets me to the end. I think it doesn't matter what your 'minute a mile' is, a long as it pushes the individual. I may do a 8 minute mile over 3 miles and be out of breath, and had a good run, but the next person may do a 10 minute mile over 3 miles and still be out of breath. Everyone is different so i find as long as your pushing your self and not cheating by making it 'easy' it doesn't matter on speed. 

I mentioned earlier that I used running for weight loss, but think I'll hold on to that for another blog. so we have talked about how good running is, the benefits for your fitness and the amazing things is can do for a fighter..... but there are definitely bad points. As I started this blog I told you that this afternoon I would be getting MRI results. Now I am not saying my knee problems are solely due to running, I train in the gym 6 days a week, with running on top of that, so the pressure i put on my knee is quite high. When I fist saw a consultant he suggested something called 'long knee' (this is not the scientific name) the length of the knee cap and tendon is different causing pain. However this afternoon will tell us more. people say it is important to have the right trainers, normally costing a fortune, however years ago running barefoot was the norm. Although don't expect to see me running the streets with no shoes on any time soon. I guess the only thing I suggest, the same as most others is warm up. I am culprit when it comes to this, its so easy to chuck your trainers on and just go out the door, I always forget to warm up. But i guess when my legs ache the next day and my calves are killing I only have myself to blame. 
Running puts a great strain on the knee joints and leg muscles....But i personally think the advantages out way the disadvantages. Obviously there is swimming, cycling, cross trainer and more ways to increase fitness but you just cant beat getting your trainers on (expensive or not) and getting out on the road.   

So my first blog complete....harder than I thought.... and now I wonder who will even read it (if anybody!!!) I will try to cover different topics; motivation, weight loss, diet and anything else I think of during this 8 week fight training. Enjoy!!