Following on from a successful week of training, diet & routine I was challenged with change.
I LOVE routine when prepping for a goal. I lean on it heavily, just as anyone would.
Dodgy excel spreadsheet of training week? Check.
Meal prep and plan and favourites and things I can’t feel flexible about? Check.
Routine: work, train, refuel, sleep. Check, check, check, check.
Unfortunately, because I’m not a professional athlete nor am I paid to do what I do, life (even with the most well laid plans) often gets in the way, as it ought to. If your sport is not your sole source of income there are always going to be compromises and priorities to work around and on top of that there will be moments where its glaringly obvious that the decision to put sport second is absolutely the right one. This week was one of those weeks and it came in the form of needing to be available for, and to support, someone I care most about in the world. Some times there a priorities bigger than jiu jitsu and money (yep even for someone has obsessed about BJJ as me, lol), which is why I found myself in Queensland for 10 days in the middle of my Abu Dhabi Pro prep camp.
…It takes a village….
Rather than assume routine would just fall into place while travelling and away from my established routine, before leaving for my 10 days away I spoke to JT (strength and conditioning coach) Hannah (nutritionist), Teresa (myotherapist), Andrew (psychologist) and Martin (BJJ coach). And together we discussed and then scheduled a plan that could be actioned from any gym, with any wild cards being thrown my way.
…It takes a village….
In the past I haven’t addressed or pre planned these passages of time where my competition preparation has been somewhat interrupted and as a result I lost precious time and progress. This time we did a lot better and with pre planning were able to work as a team from afar.
During my session before flying JT and I mapped out the upcoming ten days. We knew that appointments and obligations in Queensland were likely to be last minute. We also knew we couldn’t plan around them with pre-set times or definite dates. What we did to work around this was look at the overall VOLUME I wanted to yield by the end of the 10 days. This made structuring the week pretty simple, even if I didn’t know where or when or who I would be training with.
3x heavy weights sessions (1x push, 2x pull)
4x HIIT training sessions
2 Active rest days
1 Rest day
4 Jiu Jitsu sessions
I planned the Jiu jitsu sessions by contacting local gyms prior to arriving and seeking out Gi classes that fit around my social commitments during the trip. The BJJ sessions simply landed where they could, regardless of my other training.
The weights training took a little more planning. Overall it was more like two training programs happening concurrently (even though for sure they effected each other’s energy levels. I just had to push through).
I considered fatigue and the feels of lifting heavy the day after HIIT vs the feels of HIIT the day after lifting heavy. Nothing quite like doing tuck jumps and weighted jump squats for time the day after deadlifting….the horror….the horror…
So decided to do the following cycle:
Day one: HIIT (1 of 4)
Day two: Lift heavy (1 of 3)
Day three: Active rest (1 of 2)
Day four: HIIT (2 of 4)
Day five: Lift heavy (2 of 3)
Day six: Rest (1 of 1)
Day seven: HIIT (3 of 4)
Day eight: Lift heavy (3 of 3)
Day nine: Active rest (2 of 2)
Day ten: HIIT (4 of 4)
This worked so well for me that it will be the way I approach programming in the future. Maybe even my weeks generally also because it feels good and is fun. JT’s approach of overviewing the weeks rather than the individual days is a thing of genius! I love this.
It is quite different from how I would have programmed for myself in the past. I used to look at each day and each timetable for BJJ in my area and plan my training based on what they were offering. This idea flips things on its head, looks at what I need for the week & finds ways to make the gyms fit me.
Sheeeeeeesh Jess, get some new material already!
I have forever been advising newer grapplers that ours is a sport of months and years (sheeeeeeesh Jess, get some new material already!), not days and weeks and that their progress should be assessed from this bigger picture lens. JT allowed me to see this wisdom as applied to my strength and conditioning.
Another revelation that has been pivotal for me is accepting that I no longer recover the same way as I used to when approaching training. I am 38 this year (or in BJJ speak, I’m a Masters 2). I am no longer recovering well if I smash out strength AND conditioning in the same session. I used to be able to for sure but now I can’t. It generally takes me 3 days to recover from a heavy lifting day+BJJ day.
3 days is too much time in recovery/stiff and sore mode, which I can’t afford time wise before this competition. Instead now I rest one day, I work conditioning the next, then the next I lift. This cycle repeats while my regular BJJ program ticks along based on the days of the week that classes are scheduled and available. Because my BJJ program is based on a calendar week but the lifting program is based on a three day cycle, the make up of each training day itself differs from week to week.
JT’s insight and advice to split them to seperate sessions has meant:
– I recover and DOMs is a non issue (it used to throw me out for 3 days and put me in danger of injury during rolling sessions).
– I am training MORE as a result. In all areas.
– The quality of my training has improved as well as the quantity.
– I am having less crying or anxiety outbursts (often the trigger started with exhaustion)
– I am feeling more confident.
– I am seeing faster results.
As a masters 2 aged person I can’t tell you how big a change this has made for me.
Also, because we have split the sessions it means I am getting in double the volume of pre-mobility work and post training stretching. ALL of this is adding up to a positive result = ready to take on the Adults division at the Abu Dhabi World Pro (masters divisions are not an option available to women at this time).
Travel and dieting: The perfect storm for slip ups.
My next step was in sorting my discipline and plans around food while travelling. Travelling and keeping on track with a weight cut is extra hard. Not having your own kitchen is a roadblock. Eating out options are tricky to navigate. Sticking to a financial budget like my own is also near on impossible…(It’s always amazed me how food is seemingly priced differently for different Marcos: Carbs = Cheap. Bad fats = cheap. Good fats = expensive. Protein = expensive…annoy.)
Travel and dieting: The perfect storm for slip ups.
I spoke to my nutritionist, Dr. Hannah and we revisited the plans. This pre travel refresher was important to keep me on track. It set the path right for the 10 days left to my own devices.
Over the week I stuck to the plan by:
– Cooking for (and being ready to) eat breakfast at home each day.
Cafes for breakfast are fine but FULL of temptation for me. Staying on track from the very first meal of the day really helps set up success for the rest of the day.
– Tracking food, macros and calories on MyFitnessPal. This was a HUGE helper to keep me colouring between the lines.
– Starting the day by smashing a litre of water. Even before coffee, which gives life meaning.
– Having pre-made desserts (Strawberry jelly & low cal whipped cream in a can) in the fridge meant I could treat myself at the end of the day if I had cravings throughout. I would use this carrot to distract my greed donkey when faced with raw cheesecake displays at coffee shops. The trade off… don’t eat the cake, you have treats at home for later.
– I saved all carb blow outs for after hard training. There’s nothing wrong with carbs during a weight cut. They’re actually your mate and are pivotal for me in recovery and have the biggest impact on how my training will feel the following day. I took the ‘earn them and ENJOY them’ approach. It served me well. I wasn’t hungry most of the time and recovered from training well as a result.
– I had big volume portions of vegetables on hand at all times to fill me up when feeling sad about missing out on chicken parmas and beer. A late afternoon snack of steamed broccoli covered with 30g of melted sharp cheese is awesome, low in calories, huge in volume and takes ages to eat. Thanks Anna from The Barbelle Club for hooking me up with this idea.
– I stopped watching television. The commercials and programs make you crave everything. Don’t watch Master Chef. It’s designed to make you a consumer, of both food and products (check their sponsors list). Don’t watch the Food Channel. You might as well watch porn when you’ve given up sex for lent…You might have the discipline to do it. Me? Not so much.
During this week the current Glory World Champion (my good friend and teammate) Tiffany Van Soest Skyped me and gave me extra tips for boosting my metabolism also.
Imagine a life where one the greatest athletes on the planet call you to help you with your goals. Holy shit huh?! Sometimes I pinch myself. The bruise comes up in a welt that reads: I am grateful beyond measure.
So now I’m also sipping green tea loads and added a few more good fats to my morning routine as well as upped my water intake. I can see the results immediately (I went out with an ex boyfriend for dinner… best response/timing ever… “You’re looking FIT!”. Pretty much everyone’s fantasy moment when faced with the bloke that broke your heart).
I had seen my myotherapist, the amazing Teresa, just before departing Melbourne. She gave me specific stretches to stay on track and I implemented them before and after training. These daily steps are going a long way toward my overall healthy state. We organised for a ‘post Queensland’ check in and tune up so I felt safe and confident to train hard while away.
I spoke to my psychologist who gave me the task of writing down my journey and creating an advice column for the general public. We both see the value in this work.
And as a result I, obviously, finally got my website launched. Welcome 😉
Setting and achieving goals that aren’t purely BJJ performance or progress related are an important part of conditioning myself to succeed. Doing so also takes the pressure off specific competition results and the upcoming event itself and helps place the importance of this goal back into balance and where it should be and that is: part of my life and achievements, not the only thing. One of many things that define me and make me happy.
A shot gun method of sorts. An eggs in a few baskets type scene.
I spoke to Martin my BJJ coach and head coach of Vanguard BJJ in Richmond, Melbourne, is epic in his attention to support, process and preparation. We had had the best training session of my life the night before I left for Queensland and though ‘that single leg sucked’ all other aspects of the session (that he designed specifically around my needs), was amazing. We worked hard and I definitely feel like we’re back to where we were pre ‘retirement years’ Jess Fraser.
So in leaving Melbourne for 10 days, I felt reassured even though knew that BJJ might not be possible as often as it is at home. I didn’t get that ‘I’m not training enough’ anxiety that we all dread. I was happy enough to work a little where I could, stay safe and injury free (a BIG priority when visiting unknown gyms pre competition) and ensured I spent a load of time visualising my game, grip sets and responses when not able to hit the mats up north.
Martin and I stayed in contact throughout the week as he continued to check in with my weight cut /energy levels/sanity levels/strength programs/progress.
I might not have had the opportunity to train with him or my team throughout the ten days away but I felt so strongly part of the team and their priorities that it gave me inspiration to keep focused and on track. The support was essential in getting another successful week under my belt.
A big week. An amazing one where I was able to balance prioritising a person that means the world to me while also keeping my personal goals on track.
This in itself is a MASSIVE achievement for me.