Monday 11th December 2017

So a weird thing happens to me after a tournament.

Swordfighting tournaments are gruelling affairs.  Using Stewart’s calculations from the weekend of 6000 calories for 2 tournaments, let’s assume that you are looking at around 3000 calories for a single tournament.  I’m not sure that’s exactly correct as I’ll have a burger in the evening and still put on weight despite sweating myself to dehydration but that might just be me and my weird metabolism.

The point is that they are incredibly active (as much as half a marathon) and that’s before you start adding in the fact that you’re doing all this in a padded jacket and a mask that restricts airflow.

It should therefore be no surprise that they are exhausting, leaving you physically fatigued for days.

However, there’s another aspect to tournaments… a mental one.  There’s the excitement and stress leading up to the event.  Everyone seems to cope with it differently.  I almost get myself to a panic attack to just wear myself out and calm down, my friend Josh cleans his sword as a displacement activity.

Everyone approaches the mental game slightly differently, but even once you get to the venue it doesn’t stop there.  The environment is just designed to engage your flight or fight response.  You’re watching your opponents even before you fence them, trying to ascertain how they’re fighting today.

And then once you fight, you’re making a million different calculations in your head trying to anticipate what move your opponent might pull off and how to counter it.  For some people this can be akin to a full blow panic attack, with your mind racing to keep up with the unfolding situation before you.  For some, the decision becomes so much like fine sand that everything is like white noise, decisions made seemingly unconsciously.

I find it takes me up to a week to physically recover from a tournament.  During that time, I’ll feel tired and fatigued.  It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get, I’ll still feel like I never got any.  And my muscles will go beyond normal tournament aches and pains to include a fatigue I find it hard to shift for 4 or 5 days.

The mental aspect and recovery is what interests me though.  I’ve found for a good 10 days afterwards, I’m on a mental low.  It’s very close to depression.  I find things bother me more, I feel more emotionally unstable, I have less drive, I’m more negative.

I think, although I’m far from sure, that the expenditure of adrenaline causes a lack of vitamin B which gives rise to the symptoms.

I’d like to be able to speed this recovery up, as I tend to be a person who picks myself up and carries on, and yet after a tournament I’m just in a self-pity party for days.

I’m going to experiment with some vitamin B supplements and see if it results in any improvement.  If it’s taking me close to 2 weeks to recover, then I’m hardly recovered from one tournament before I go into the next.

If that’s the case, it’s no wonder I feel so burned out right now.

If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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