Staying in shape

So I’ve been playing in this ultimate frisbee league this month. And that first week was great for my confidence. The second week I slipped a little, didn’t play quite as well. The third week I missed entirely due to that trip to Toronto. So I got to the fourth week after not having done any sort of exercise for two weeks. And it showed. I was out of breath after a single point. My legs weren’t working well. Either night.

The interesting thing to me, though, was that it affected aspects of my game that I would think would be unrelated. Things like catching the disc. You’d think a simple pancake catch (catching the disc with one hand horizontally above, and one horizontally below) would be trivial. But on that Monday night back, I dropped the first four throws sent my way. Even when they were right to me, I had both hands on it, and just dropped it. And I’m convinced that it was due to my bad conditioning from having taken a couple weeks off. I was tired enough from running around that my concentration wasn’t there even to make an easy catch.

So that was frustrating. But I played both Monday and Tuesday evening last week and that helped. And I went for a two hour bike ride on Saturday up to Skyline Blvd, which is basically an hour straight of climbing from my place. And, sure enough, tonight, all aspects of my game were much better. My cuts were cleaner. And I was catching everything in reach. Even ones where I was jumping over people, reaching with one hand. The score was tied 9-9 when the 10 minute horn blew. We ended up scoring the next three points, with a hard zone D forcing some turnovers. And when I say we, I mean me – I caught all three scores, one on a breakdown in coverage, one where I had to bull through to catch the disc after my defender accidentally tripped me, and finished it off by skying over their best jumper to ice the game after the final horn blew. Overall, I think I caught half of our 12 points. So that felt pretty good. And I really think it’s all conditioning.

Of course, before I get too cocky, I should point out that I also managed to throw the disc away every single time I caught the disc not in the end zone. I threw it long and over people’s heads. I threw it short into the ground. I threw it straight at defenders. I even missed the dump once where I only had to throw it five feet to my teammate. Come to think of it, I did connect on one score, but even that one was an adventure – my teammate was wide open in the end zone, but I threw it over his head, and he had to run to the deep corner and lay out to catch it. Oops. Anyway.

It’s all conditioning. Now that this league is ending, I’ll have to find other ways to exercise during the week. It’s especially important for me, I think, because the other thing that happens when I’m tired, besides me losing concentration and dropping easy throws, is that I get injured. The time I sprained my ankle this spring was during a really long point. I was completely winded, and tried to make one more sharp cut, and the ankle just buckled. And I’m convinced it’s poor conditioning. I have a theory which says that in normal operation, the muscles take up the stresses associated with sharp cuts and changes in direction. But when you’re tired, the muscles don’t take any of that stress and it’s all transmitted straight to the joint connective tissue and that’s where you get sprains and strains. And since I’m a big guy, this is a particular danger for me, because changing the direction of a 210 pound mass travelling at high speeds places a lot of stress on those joints and muscles. And it’s just not as easy as it once was to stay in shape. Durn this getting old thing. Alas.

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