May 14, 2012

Soreness is addicting - by Curt Tomasevicz

I can’t remember the last time in my life that I went an entire week without being sore. It seems that my athletic life is a non-stop cycle of soreness and recovery. I guess that this cycle comes in the nature of the sports that I have chosen to play.

I started playing tackle football in 7th grade and I still remember how sore my scrawny neck was after the first day of practice from wearing an over-sized helmet. I must have looked like a bobble-head doll. Even as my muscles began to adapt to wearing the heavy equipment for the first time, my entire body was covered in bruises from the full-contact practices. I learned the importance of “icing” after practice and games.

As I grew older, I continued to abuse my body by playing football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track in the spring. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings after high school football games and barely being able to roll out of bed. My bones were growing and so the pounding my knees and ankles endured during basketball and track took a toll and added to my cycles of soreness.

Soreness was probably at its peak when I played college football and spent two years as part of the scout team. I think the Blackshirts found a certain joy in punishing the scout team running back (me) play after play. I took (and delivered) some hits that caused my ears to hurt.

Eight years ago, after football, came bobsled. At times, on television, bobsled my look like a gentle sleigh ride on smooth ice, but it is anything but that! A fourteen-hundred pound sled going 90+ miles per hour doesn’t do anything gentle. As a brakeman, I’m in a vulnerable position that can often times cause joint adjustments each time we go down the track. The shaking and vibrating sled causes your head to rattle resulting in that same sore-neck feeling that I experienced fifteen years before in Jr.High football. Any person that has ever taken a real bobsled ride can attest that there is an inevitable soreness that will follow.

Throughout all the sports I have competed in, I also began to spend time in the weight room and, by pushing myself regularly, I found that I could be sore in places that I didn’t even know I had muscles. I found different exercises and lifts to do in the weightroom to increase strength, power, and speed. But with that, came a certain amount of pain. I’ve heard a saying that pain is just weakness leaving the body. But scientifically, when you strengthen muscles with resistance training, you are actually causing tiny tears in the muscle fibers. The pain and soreness that ensues is the body repairing and recovering from those tears. I’m sure every farmer knows how a sore back feels after a day of digging and putting in new fence posts. But after a day or two, as the tiny tears in the muscles recover, the soreness and discomfort goes away.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I’ve become addicted to that type of soreness. I’ve subconsciously taught myself that soreness is a sign of working hard. And hard work breeds success. Soreness is a way to measure gains in strength. If I am not sore after a long workout, I don’t feel that I pushed myself to the limit during that workout. This may not be a healthy approach to training, but I’ve found it is a way that I push myself daily in the off-season.

May and June are crucial months for bobsled training. It’s the time of the year that we can make great gains in strength and speed in the weightroom and on the running track. And although I spend almost as many hours trying to recover from soreness through massages, ice baths, sauna, and even yoga sessions, I know that I’ve become addicted to soreness and that’s what will make a successful bobsled season even more rewarding!
Click here to watch a video of me doing one squat rep, or here for a video of me doing a power clean - that will prove the soreness!

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