The Week Before the New York Open (Athlete Journal 42)

Aside from a minor back strain, I’m feeling confident and ready for the New York Open this weekend.

It is my final week of training before the New York Summer Open. Unfortunately, I’m chugging through this week with an injury. At the end of last week I felt a tweak in my back. I was fine all weekend, but I woke up on Monday with some serious back pain.

In my opinion, it’s just a muscle strain and I should be okay by Saturday. I don’t remember what I did to hurt my back in the first place, but I think it’s just from overtraining.

Usually leading up to tournaments, I get scared that I didn’t prepare enough. For this tournament, I trained BJJ twice a day, did strength training, and tightened up my diet. Part of me will always feel like I didn’t do enough to get ready. But in a weird way, I know this minor back injury is a sign that I definitely worked hard enough. It sounds strange, but it makes sense to me.

Because I hurt my back, I took it easy this week on the mats. I didn’t roll at all on Monday or Tuesday because it hurt too much. I was still able to teach, though, which warmed up my muscles and made it feel a little better.

I even got to teach a class at a local summer camp on Tuesday! Camp Zeke is a camp dedicated to teaching campers how to live lives of strength, confidence, and good health. Our friend, Isaac Mamaysky, founded the camp in 2012 with a vision of sharing the benefits of an active lifestyle and a healthy diet.

The mats we trained on were inside a building with open garage doors facing a beautiful lake. I had the opportunity to teach a group of four young girls while I visited. I showed them some mount escapes and even some submissions from the guard. They picked up on the moves easily and seemed to enjoy it. I hope I get to go back soon!

On Wednesday I didn’t train much either, except for the one round I rolled with our black belt, Doc. I figured if I’m going to roll with any person on this earth right now, a doctor who’s aware of my back issues and is also a black belt in jiu jitsu is probably my best bet. I actually felt pretty good.The one thing that bugged me was being stuck on the bottom and trying to hip escape. I think I’ll definitely be back 100% by Saturday, though. If not, I’ll push through it. I worked too hard to let a silly muscle strain ruin it for me.

I don’t like the fact that I didn’t get to train this week, but if I don’t know what I’m doing by now then I have bigger problems to worry about. This week is all about resting. Of course I’m trying to move around a little bit to keep myself limber, but I’m mostly concerned with letting my back heal and mentally preparing for my matches on Saturday. Stay tuned for my next journal entry to see how everything turns out!

Jess Papi is a blue belt at Scranton MMA and also pursuing her degree in exercise science. Read her entries every week for insights on competing, training, and juggling BJJ and life.