Days till fight: 107   |   Current weight: 201.1lbs   |   Goal weight: 185lbs

There has been a conspicuous lack of new posts here lately, for a simple reason: I got injured, and had to halt nearly all my training for nearly a month.

Given that there's a chance my opponent has found this blog, I don't want to give too much detail about my training or my injuries - no sense in telling him just where to attack or what my skill-set (limited as it is) will be. Secrecy aside, I can talk in general terms about what happened and where things stand now.

At an "open mats" session at the beginning of June, I was rolling around with one of my fellow students, and they "took my back," meaning that they scrambled around behind me and wrapped their arms and legs around me. Taking someones back is a direct path toward submitting them, as you can attack their neck or limbs from a number of positions, with very little direct risk to yourself. In other words, it's great to be on someones back, and not so great to have someone on your back. Thinking quickly, I raised my posture so I was up on my knees in a sort of half-crouch, and threw myself forward as though I was starting a somersault, in the hope of throwing my opponent over my shoulder and regaining an offensive position. As I completed this move (which mostly worked!) I felt a nasty pain and immediately tapped out to catch my breath. After a few minutes of rest I felt okay again and dove back in.

Here's a nice animated GIF I found on Google showing what "back control" looks like, and how it can be used to set up a submission (an armbar in this case):

The next morning I met up at the gym with one of the coaches and another student who is also prepping for an upcoming MMA fight, so we could get some more combat-specific training done. Through the whole 90-minute sparring session, the pain that had started the day before grew worse, but I continued to "push through" and completed the workout. I knew that I would be attending a week-long management class after work and wouldn't be able to do any striking or grappling for 6 days, so I was happy to have some time to recover. By the time the next Sunday rolled around my soreness was minimal and I was really excited to resume training and sparring.

Pretty much immediately after starting the Sunday morning training session with my coach and classmate, I knew that I'd made a mistake - the pain went from "dull and annoying" to "holyshitholyshitholyshit." I hobbled through the session, but I was obviously suffering and basically unable to perform well at all.

For the rest of that Sunday, I was in terrible agony. Simple movements were excruciating, I couldn't stand, sit or lay down without making it worse, and I was terrified that I'd screwed myself out of competing in October by being stubborn and not recognizing an injury before making it way, way worse.

Over the next few days the pain didn't go away, I couldn't sleep, and I was miserable. I went to get checked out by a doctor and they confirmed that I'd badly pulled a muscle and torn some cartilage, and that I'd have to immediately halt all training for at least 2-3 weeks, and more likely 4-6 weeks. I took his guidance seriously (not like I had much choice) and spent the next two weeks icing, stretching and trying not to OD on Advil.

Happily, the injury has pretty much worked itself out. Other than some extra soreness in that area after a strenuous workout, it doesn't hurt much more than the rest of my poor, beat-up body. More importantly, I am still fully expecting to fight in October, and I've resumed my training (though I've eased back in to avoid re-injuring myself).

This whole experience has been an emotional roller-coaster, and I've learned a lot (I hope). As my coach phrased it, "You're a dad, you're a regular guy with a regular job, and you've never been a full-time athlete. Your body isn't accustomed to any of this, and you've gone from 0% to 100% effort in basically a month. You've taken on this borderline-insane goal, and you've got to pace yourself and find the lines between 'sore but okay' and 'I'm hurting myself.'"

So, my training continues, but with a new-found respect for my own physical limits. I'm terrified of showing up for my fight in October with crappy conditioning and no skills to attack my opponent or defend myself, which is driving me to push push PUSH past my limits... but I can't push so hard that I break myself.