Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sick and Crippled

Sorry that this rant was so all-over-the-place... but I am sick, and I felt like rambling.  

Ugh, being sick sucks.  Being injured kinda blows too. 

That is one thing that friends, fans, family members, and just about everyone on the planet does not understand about an athlete being injured: it sucks.  It is not fun.  All you want to do is get better.  Regardless of the sport you partake in, be it football, tennis, hockey, or wrestling - whatever, an injured athlete only wants to get healed up so they can come back and contribute to their teams fortunes.  Or, in the case of those in individual sports, to get back into competition.

When an athlete is injured, their training, their routines, everything changes.  In team sports, injured players are often outcasts, as the healthy players continue on with their normal routines, and the injured players are brushed aside - to rehab in solitude, away from the team, so as not to become a distraction.  

At the beginning of May I actually hurt myself at my day job, due to an equipment malfunction.  This brought a ton of bureaucracy and red-tape into the mix, and I have essentially been sidelined completely from working out.  I have been able to work on some lower body stuff, and cardio, but it just isn't the same, and I actually get pretty depressed going to the gym.  All of the complications are frustrating. 

While injured, I am missing the camaraderie and the brotherhood of the lockerroom.  I hate watching others going out and performing when I cannot.  I hate missing out on big events, such as the 8th Anniversary Card for Black Diamond Wrestling, because I cannot participate.  I do not think that your average laymen understands that when you are injured, you no longer feel like part of the team, and that it requires a great degree of mental toughness to deal with the feelings associated with being injured.  You question your worth, your abilities, your toughness, your dedication, your heart, and your physical abilities.  You doubt your body. 

If this were an injury that I sustained in the ring, I would more than likely try to tough it out as long as I could.  When I realized I had a neck injury last year, I pushed thru with all of my wrestling and non-wrestling obligations for as long as I could.  I had no desire to let down the promoters I worked for, the fans I perform in front of, or the other wrestlers in the lockerroom down.  My work ethic, dedication, and desire fueled me to a point where I could relax and have the issue taken care of.  In fact, even though I have a physical job that requires a lot of travel, no one at my regular job even knew I was injured, for the most part.  I wasn't injured while on the clock for them, so I continued to give them as close to 100% effort as possible - and that work ethic actually won me an award for my department - somewhat of an "employee of the year" type of recognition.  The trophy was kinda wack though.  

What is the most frustrating thing for me is that I am being robbed of my ability to wrestle, due to a non-wrestling related injury. Although I have never let wrestling injuries keep me from work, it is not working the same way when the shoe is on the other foot. I would love to be able to return to full duty at my job, because I take pride in my work ethic and I feel I am letting down others - just like in the wrestling business.  Business is business. 

By nature, I am pretty passive-aggressive. I am very aggressive about things that I am passionate about, but I tend to procrastinate in other areas.  With this injury affecting so many parts of my life, I am eager to heal up and move forward.  I am finding this impossible to do. 

I went to the doctor that my company works with, because I had to go there.  It took almost four weeks for the doctor to schedule and MRI, and then another week to convey the results.  At that point, I found out that the treatment the previous four weeks was for naught, as I had a different injury than what was thought originally.  In two and a half more weeks, I finally get to see an orthopedic doctor, who says that both of the previous diagnosis are incorrect, and that the best course of treatment to get the injury healed, he cannot do for two more weeks due to further bureaucratic restrictions.  I am antsy.  I want and need to get back into the gym, and into the ring.  I cannot do this until I am released by my doctor.

  I want and need to aggressively work this injury; If I were cut open a week after the injury, I would probably be healed up by now.  I believe that I have missed a total of eight wrestling cards I was booked on at this point.  I have been working on restricted duty at my job, thus costing that company money.  No wonder so many people take advantage of the system and milk it for all that it is worth.  They make it so easy.  Here I am trying to do the right thing, wanting to work and rehab and get better, and essentially being told not to. 

I train ridiculously hard to be a professional wrestler.  While I certainly may not have the body of an Adonis or anything, that is also not my goal while training.  I certainly do not intend to go off on a tangent about "physiques  and the wrestling business", but it was never as important to me how I looked, as it was important how I performed. 

There is nothing more that I want right now than to be able to workout, so that I can work and wrestle at full-speed.  

When I first got into the wrestling business, I weighed 185lbs.  I was expected to be a high-flyer at that weight (and at that time), which I was certainly not capable of.  After a few nasty bruises and bumps, I decided that I wanted to get to above 225lbs, so I would be a legitimate "heavyweight".  Little did I know it at the time, but deciding to gain weight to better myself as a wrestler was the first time I decided to physically alter myself to better prepare for the rigors of professional wrestling. 

Look at that skinny white boy in the year 2000.  Sorry about the ring gear - I was a rookie and that was what I wore.  :-(

By mid-2001, I was up around 220lbs.  I was able to gain that weight naturally, simply by eating a shit ton of chicken, milke, and rice.  I was certainly not ripped by the time I was to 220, but I was not a skinny little bastard either.  I quickly realized with my workouts that I was able to get thicker quicker in my lower body, and that I plateaued a lot sooner in my chest.  I was wearing singlets back then, and it didn't really flatter my physique that much, because I was too worried about my torso, and I ended up covering up my thick muscular legs. 

At around 225lbs, I was doing myself no favors by hiding my muscular legs with singlets.   
So, over the next few years I made it my goal to expand my chest, but to also solidify everything else.  In many ways I actually neglected my legs, and focused on my chest, my core, and my cardio.  In 2004 when I became one of the trainers at the NWA's Pittsburgh Wrestling Academy, I changed my workout routine again - I had to put on more thickness to deal with all the bumps I was going to be taking training young boys.  At this time I slowly worked my weight up to around 245lbs - and I infact changed my officially announced ring weight to 110kg, instead of 100kg (which is just above the maximum weight for a light heavyweight, if you didn't know).  At this point in time I began to realize that I was never going to have a physique that could carry the amount of weight that I liked, and to be "ripped".  Since I was spending so much time in the ring with training and matches, I focused more and more on lifting heavy weight, and getting my cardio via work in the ring. 

At about 245lbs around 2005
As you can tell by the picture, I started experimenting with trunks here, and by 2006 I would switch over to them primarily full time.  I also got away from big bulky kneepads at this time, and would soon ween off of kickpads.  By mid-2007 though I somehow let myself creep up a bit to around 260lbs, which was primarily from no longer being in the ring often (due to leaving the Pittsburgh Wrestling Academy) but not making up for it with cardio at the gym.  I was soon quickly back down to around 245-250lbs, which is where I typically hover. 

Hovering around 250lbs in 2007. 
After moving to Cincinnati, I started training different.  I didn't really care as much about my weight, as much as I did about style.  I didn't have a "home promotion" as I was truly a freelance independent wrestler - so I had to do a lot of my preparation for opponents and stuff outside of the ring. 

The way I train, which is perhaps unlike most wrestlers, is a modified boxer or MMA fighter workout.  The big difference is that those types of athletes only have so many fights per year, that they can spend weeks preparing for one opponent for a fight.  As a wrestler, I cannot do that, as I have a fight nearly every weekend - sometimes more.  So, having a "camp" where I focus on a single match is totally out the window.  Since there is no "camp" to get myself in shape and to work towards a goal, I also have no "off season" - so I have to maintain all the time. 

What I would do was look at my upcoming schedule, and spend the week before my match preparing for that opponent.  If I was facing a smaller wrestler, I would increase cardio.  If I was fighting a heavyweight, I would work on strength training.  I would also change things up based on how well I knew the opponent; I would change things to strengthen a weak area, or to exploit their weakness.  This would usually work very well, as I would essentially have an entire week to prepare for a match. 

Occasionally I would have a week or so with no scheduled matches, so I would look at my upcoming schedule and decide if I needed some rest, or if this was a great opportunity to push hard, since I didn't have to worry about a match.  Often, this would simply depend on how beat up my body was.  If I was a little worse for wear, I would usually use this as a chance to rest up.  If I was feeling good, I would push myself even harder.  I would get chances like his more often in the Summer and in December, simply because there were less shows at those times of year. 

Right now, I do not have the ability to train.  I cannot take bookings.  I have a lot of things going on, and I am really excited professionally to get going with them.  I am ready to get in shape for a nice "comeback" of sorts.  Psychologically it is killing me.  Here I have an open window where I could be training hard for a comeback, and instead I can do nothing really, but sit. 

I have tried to cope with this by viewing it as some rest, and a way to recharge - and in a way I have.  At this point, I just want to have a timetable.  I want a doctor to tell me that I should be ready to go by a certain date, that way I can start working and planning for it.  I am just frustrated beyond belief about this. 

I am ready to have some good matches and to draw some good crowds. 

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