My trainer had some new strength-training routines for me today, including some assisted pull-ups, which, while I’m looking forward to the day when I can do unassisted pull-ups, were exhausting and frustrating. See, it turns out that while I’m now fairly unafraid to do such things as take a hit to the face, I’m apparently petrified of dropping from a height of less than 12 inches off of the ground. So before I could even do one of the dumb things I had to practice dropping off of the contraption. Was this really a difficult exercise? Not at all. I was making it much harder than it had to be. I don’t normally have a thing about heights, but I do have a thing about dropping (the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney World, while beautifully done, nearly finished me off for the rest of my Disney vacation last February), and I do have a thing about not trusting myself to carry my own weight.
Fear is one of the first things you have to get over in boxing. Fear makes you tense, and tension causes you to tire more quickly. (As a reminder, I actually have the word “relax” tattooed on my forearm starting right about where my glove cuts off. Apart from all the Frankie Goes to Hollywood jokes I have to endure from my friends, the permanent reminder seems to have served me well in the ring and in life. So far, anyway. I’ve only had it for a few months.) Being tired keeps you from thinking clearly, and then you start thinking about how you’re not thinking clearly, which makes you tense, which makes you more tired. So much of it is keeping a clear head and staying relaxed.
So of course after a few circuits of completely tense, pulling-teeth-esque pull-ups (not to mention all the other stuff on my new strength training plan), I was fairly well ready to curl up and take a nap, but then we were on to padwork. The nice thing about doing padwork when you’re tired is that you make mistakes that you can then work on correcting. I repeatedly made one big one, which tells me that it’s not as internalized as I thought it was. My trainer then came up with a bag routine in which I am basically spending nine rounds repeating this over and over in different ways with different combos, so hopefully it’ll become so second nature that I do it while I’m brushing my teeth in the morning.
(Oh yeah: padwork, for the non-boxers and non-fans out there – someone else puts on these big mitts with a big flat surface called focus mitts, and you practice throwing combinations at them. Generally my trainer and I do this a little bit in every session, but I have also been trying – unsuccessfully, so far – to convince my significant other to hold pads for me whenever I need a little more practice at something. Also, if you are one of my local pals and you would like to learn how to throw a punch, I will be more than happy some afternoon to let you borrow my gloves while I hold the pads for you.)
(It appears that I should probably have a boxing lexicon somewhere on the site. Eventually, when people are actually, like, reading this blog, there will hopefully be some readers who are boxers, some readers who are very familiar with boxing, and some readers who don’t know anything at all about boxing and wouldn’t care about it except that they are just humoring me. For that last group, I’m willing to demystify the jargon a little. For the rest of you, I hope you don’t find that stuff too condescending.)
All the same, this was a good reminder of how far I’ve come. When I started training, I was winded and light-headed after just a few rounds of padwork. Now I can go out there twice as hard for twice as long and that serves as a cooldown. My body and the things it can do never cease to amaze me. Which is, of course, why I keep doing it.