Last night, for the first time in about 8 months I went back to Krav Maga.
In September I had a knee operation to repair a snapped ACL in my left leg. For 6 weeks I was hobbling around like Blind Pew, my knee feeling like it had sunburn and taking prescription painkillers.
After a couple of months I was able to get in the passenger side of a car without doing advanced Yoga and ongoing physiotherapy plus 3-monthly consultations with my 'specialist' at the hospital meant we could get an accurate time frame for convalescence.
Problem was that Mr Robertson (a surgeon so important that he had transcended the realms of Doctor and had no prefix to denote his status, merely the knowledge that he was walking godlike amongst lesser men) specifically said to me:
"Back in training in Spring 2016 we hope. But don't even THINK about grading again until at least October."
This kind of stung.
I mean, I know he'd spent 2 hours scraping gristle out of my knee cap and stitching back the flapping ends of my busted anterior crusciate ligament. I know he was a renowned specialist in knee surgery. And I knew that he was speaking the truth.
But....there was that other part of me that wanted so much to just go back to Krav.
I've stayed in touch with my club, blogging on gradings, seminars and popping in occasionally to say hi. They knew I wanted to come back but agreed with my doctor's advice that I should wait out my convalescence period until I was fit for duty again.
Guys who were taking P3 when I took my P4 (my last successful grading) were now P5s. Newbies I'd never met were P1 or P2. New faces were on the mats every time I showed up.
8 months is a long time to be spent laying on the sofa watching Breaking Bad and eating Jaffa Cakes. My fitness has dribbled away, my belly has started pushing against my jeans in an uncomfortable fashion and overall I have felt grumpy at my inaction and grounding.
Last week I visited the club and Bartosz, the Chief Instructor said to come back in on Tuesday 26th to see how I got on. Geared up and ready to go I got to the venue 20 minutes early and saw Bartosz pull up in his van. Upon seeing me he started chuckling to which I replied "You're not exactly boosting my confidence here!"
As we got into the training I realised just how hard this was going to be. My stamina was down, my cardio was almost non existent and it was only my determination that kept me going to the 10th push up or the 20th burpee. We then moved on to kicking and punching combos with a melon bag. My front kick was lacking, mainly due to it being my left. Upon seeing the lack of power, Bartosz told me to stick to punches only as the leg wasn't up to repeatedly kicking just yet. Moving on to stick defences I could again feel the lack of fitness and knew their were gaps in my knowledge and rust on what I thought I knew.
Before when I both trained and graded, I would find reserves of energy and use them to finish what I was doing. No matter how tired or sore I was, I was always able to draw from a well somewhere. Now, I found that that the wells had run dry. There is a difference between running on adrenalin and keeping on solely because you know that things can only get better next time and the times after that.
We finished the training with 20 push ups. Twist was that we formed a line and then got onto the floor, with our arms touching, meaning that it was a genuine "push up" each time and not a "push sideways". This was more tiring after the 90 minutes that had preceded it and worse (albeit for less time) than my last two gradings for P4 and P5.
I went to the supermarket on the way home and wondered why I was getting funny looks off the staff. Later I realised that I'd been so knackered I'd forgotten to take my groin guard off. Walking around in a posing pouch is one way to get attention.
Once I hit the sack I woke up about 20 minutes later to excruciating cramps in my inner thighs. The pain was unlike any other cramp I'd ever experienced and it took walking and down the stairs repeatedly to shift it. I returned to bed a short time later, treating my body like an unexploded bomb as any movement could trigger the cramp again. It was only the next day when I finally found out that this unpleasantness was caused by the high kicks I'd been doing (or any kicks above knee level tbh) that had overstrained the pudgy muscles that had only faced cycling and yoga in the 48 weeks since I last had a groin guard on.
Today it has been a case of feeling tired with a huge appetite spike. I am bruised. My inner thighs hurt from the cramping. I'm swearing every time I bend over and I'm walking like my trousers have too much starch in them.
Was it worth it?
Course it was.