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Running & Martial Arts: More Similar Than You Might Think

It’s pretty common knowledge around the Finish Line Physical Therapy office that I’m one of the few runners on staff. I am proud to say that I completed my first half-marathon in San Diego in 2010, but my passion is in a different practice: Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Kung Fu/Ch’i Kung, a form of Chinese martial arts. Similar to the finish lines our patients pursue on a regular basis, my practice also challenges me to reach new levels of learning – my own finish line.

Last month I was notified by my Shifu (teacher) that he wanted to test me for the next level of learning at the martial arts school I attend. I had a feeling this might happen soon, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it now. On top of that he gave me a test date of early October – only two months to really prepare and fine tune what I need know. Even though training is constant and never ending, my perception always shifts in preparing for a test. Just like the build-up to an upcoming marathon, there are certain things one should do in training to both achieve a certain goal and prevent injury in the process.

The first thing I did was focus on my nutrition to keep my energy levels high. I also looked at everything I’m expected to know for the test and created a detailed, flexible training schedule (similar to running, sometimes you need to change the plan according to how you feel on a given day).

Much of the martial arts is anaerobic in nature—requiring fast, explosive movements—so developing a strong aerobic base to help me endure the 8-9 hour test was a priority. I asked Michael Conlon’s advice, and he gave me a running schedule designed for my needs that would also fit within my October timeline.

The final piece of the puzzle—and a key component to my preparation—was to meditate more and practice Ch’i Kung (slow, moving meditation which mimics the faster/martial style I practice). This helps to keep my mind calm and to increase my strength, flexibility, and balance.

Keeping with this schedule has proven to be effective. I’m feeling more and more confident about the upcoming test. I’ll admit, it is very easy to stray from each component – and at the same time, very difficult to return to them at the same level as when I stopped. But I am aiming to stay consistent so I will be best equipped to reach my goal.

If there’s any advice I can pass on from my experience in a different type of training, it’s this:

  • Trust in the training schedule your teacher or coach develops for you. They have been through the experiences you are currently going through – and have most likely felt the same aches and pains as well.
  • Pay attention to your body. If you feel like you might be injured – or if a nagging pain is becoming worse – seek the advice of a professional as soon as possible. To think you can heal yourself will only prolong or worsen the injury.
  • Stay focused and keep your eye on the goals you have set. Achieving them will strengthen your will, perseverance and resilience in everything you do.

Stay tuned for an update in October after the test!

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