Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tournament 8 - Lesson 1 - Pain is your greatest opponent

This weekend I made my first trip to Brighton to play in the UK mixed tour 1. The results aren't up yet, but we (Flump) had a good weekend once we started to learn each other's game and become more of a team.

My first lesson for this tournament is related to pain. Pain is part of an Ultimate tournament. At least from my start in the sport at around 22 to 23, till present day at 31 (quickly approaching 32) every tournament involves pain. In other words, Ultimate is hard work that strains the body.

Pictured Above: A picture from Gender Blender Friday night. The reason for the Monkey? You got me. Maybe someone can comment (picture stolen from Waren Tang).

There are different types of pain too. I would say we have:
  1. One point pain - your body is pushed to a limit in terms of exertion. Your lungs are burning, your muscles are weak, and it hurts.
  2. Cumulative soreness - this type of pain comes from muscles and body parts breaking down over repetitive stress. You feel sore and sometimes tight.
  3. Damage or Injury - this type of pain is from a damaged part of the body.
There are more types of pain, but these physical ones are the main types of pain I've experienced over my Ultimate career.

This weekend I was the fortunate to experience 1, 2 and 3. Three is the hardest one for me to deal with. I, actually, enjoy being sore from tired muscles, but playing with injuries and damage is difficult, and even worse, in Ultimate it is usually focused on the lower extremities. In my case, I got kneed in the thigh early in the tournament, my feet were a mess from small abrasions on each toe, my groin popped a few times on Sunday, and my Achilles was ever present on the nerve highway of pain.

What was interesting was the cuts on my toes were the hardest to deal with. These small cuts, though not limiting movement, would shoot pain on every step. The thigh and the Achilles were dull pains in comparison.

Pictured Above: Some BEAT Gender Blender action (picture stolen from Waren Tang).

The lesson, however, is that even though you may feel like hell, you can still play if nothing is actually broken. It's all an inner battle in your mind.

The funny thing is, for all the people who deal with pain types 2 and 3, how many times have you seen teammates or yourself submit to pain 1.

This happened to one member of the opposing team in our final game of the weekend. His team didn't support him from the sideline (they were clumped together in the middle of the field), and the player was left to fight the pain battle by himself. As a person on the sideline, it is one of your jobs to help your teammates battle pain. Our team helped me through the weekend, and that's the type of team I want to play for.

Now, as I sit in pain and write, I'm still battling over the pain to gain ratio of the weekend. Fortunately, I found some topical ibuprofen, which seems to ease my Achilles, and I'm wearing flip-flops instead of cleats. This is part of Ultimate, and it's part of life.



rich(ard) / dean said...

Interesting thoughts (and I concur that the sideline should help out!).

I knew someone who thought Ibuprofen should be banned from Ultimate.

At first I didn't agree but his reasoning that it is a performance enhancing drug (could you play otherwise?) is actually quite convincing.

This is not to mention the harm that we could be doing to ourselves playing when our body says no!

"as I sit in pain ... this is part of Ultimate"
True, but should it be?

Jeters said...

I ask that question every game I play. I also watch people play and push themselves with more serious injuries than myself, and none of us get paid.

There's something to be said about loving a sport.


jaleel said...

That's Bubbles. MJs pet monkey.
You pet him and if he gets excited he 'discharges' vodka into your drink.

Christa said...

Hey that's me in the pic against Beat (the girl with the hope t-shirt on). Could you possibly e-mail me the pic at: