Being Athletic vs. Being an Athlete

I probably shouldn’t be making any decisions in my monthly hormonally induced insanity, but I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking the past few days and was searching for answers. I think I found one, but I seriously don’t like it. I’ve done more weeping in the past two days than I’ve done in the past 2 years (I’m very, very tired. If I didn’t schedule in sleep, I probably wouldn’t get any).

After my test on Saturday, I think I’m going to take a month off from Tae Kwon Do. Writing that right now was painful. TKD has been what has kept me sane, no joke. But I’ve been running through scenarios in my head regarding my injury or whatever you want to call it and I really think time off is the best decision I can make. I think I’ve been in denial a bit about what’s been happening. I’ve been treating it like it’s a bruise that will magically get better on it’s own. I’ve been thinking and behaving as though I’m still 20 years old.

Reality is, I’m not. I don’t heal as quickly as I used to. My joints complain sooner. I know I sound like an old woman right now, but I need to see the truth. Worst case scenario is that I don’t back off, I don’t really heal, and sometime in the next month, or three, or whatever, I rupture a tendon and get a forced break or less severely, am in therapy indefinitely and go bankrupt and still can’t perform at 100%.

Best case scenario is that I take some time off, do no jumping, running, twisting or whatnot on that leg, stay off of high heels, and hopefully heal fully, then slowly work up to the level of training that I’m at currently.

I’m sure to most of the three of you reading this, it sounds like a simple decision. It probably is, but it is twisting me up. Firstly because of the sanity issue. In the 9 months I’ve been practicing TKD, my mood and confidence is at a place I’m really really happy with. Secondly is the great unknown as to what happens later. Does it flare up again no matter how slowly I ease into it? Thirdly is that black belt testing only happens twice a year. I’ve got fantastic momentum going and I’m terrified of breaking it.

There’s also this feeling I have (I think it’s denial) that my injury isn’t that severe or serious. I do have one more therapy appointment this week before my test, and I might talk to my PT to see what they think and what input they can give. I want to ask what can happen if I don’t let up or if it doesn’t heal completely, and if I do take time off, what a timeline might look like to getting back to my current activity level.

I realize through all this questioning that I went from someone who is doing something athletic to someone who is an athlete. The difference being that an athlete is someone who finds it difficult to stop an activity even when hurt.  Or is that a moron?

If anybody reading this has ever dealt with tendinitis in the foot (primarily the Achilles tendon) and is involved with martial arts, I would appreciate some input and personal insights and experiences. What worked for you.



  1. You have mad ninja skillz!

    Women are more at risk for certain types of lower-extremity injuries related to hormone flux, particularly the knees. Martial arts can be really hard on those joints, especially sparring which tends to be less controlled.

    I think you’re wise to take a little time off. While you rest, don’t forget the power of using stuff like visualization and guided imagery practice to keep up that fantastic momentum! What a great opportunity to bust out your favorite martial arts whoopass movies.

    My personal faves: ice, rest, NSAIDs, massage as tolerated. Also, trigger point therapy.

    Rock on,

  2. I started tkd 2 years ago in July. I’ve only taken time off to get married and go on vacation. While it’s probably smart to take time off and let yourself heal, I don’t know if I could do it. I might go insane. Tkd is my only real escape from every day crap. I injured both my feet these past 3 weeks training for 2 tournaments. I should buy stock in icy hot. Now that the tournaments have passed, and nationals are looming ahead I’m definitely taking it easy. No bag kicking, just poomsaes and whatnot. Maybe to keep you sanity you can practice (lightly) at home. Whatever you choose I wish you luck and peace of mind 🙂

  3. 1) Read Zen Body Being ( by Peter Ralston.

    2) Listen to your body. It’s smarter than doctors.

    3) I’ve taken breaks. I’m taking one now… sorta. And there are people who say you aren’t really dedicated if you take a break but I think that’s crap. Besides, just because you’re not going to class/the gym/sparring practice doesn’t mean you’re not training. The martial arts are about so much more than punching and kicking.

    And black belt isn’t the goal. It’s a gateway you have to get through to continue towards the goal. You were given an awesome opportunity to advance quickly and I think it’s a testament to your courage and preparedness that you took it but really… there’s no rush. Forget about what the Grandmaster thinks, forget about what your classmates think, forget about all the voices in your head besides your own telling you what to do. Listen to your body. If it says rest, then rest. If it says keep going, then keep going. But know that there’s plenty of time.

    My friend John is 69 years old and tested for his 4th degree black belt last summer. Even though it takes between 5 and 8 years to get to 5th degree, and it’s probable he won’t get there, he still trains to the best of his body’s ability. He’s slow and he rarely kicks above knee-level, but he gets tossed around and takes punches and hands out whuppins like nobody’s business.

  4. bitch

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