There’s that saying that goes something like, “Smart people learn from their own mistakes, geniuses learn from the mistakes of others.” So, let’s reflect a bit on my 2014 year, which had such major ups and downs, in a hope that it will make me smarter. If the saying really is true, then I hope you become a genius. Remember to come back and help me out after that happens.
I don’t really want to go back here, but it was a major highlight. All the feelings and emotions I went through during this time was intense. I usually am pretty chill otherwise, but writing this blurb has already raised my heart rate (seriously, I measured). It makes me angry, it drives me forward. I only need to think about this and I have instant motivation to do anything. Of course it’s a highlight, because it moves me so much. Never again will I want anything like this to happen, and I have grown from the experience. But I have not forgotten it. Perhaps it’s like the intro to an epic movie. Something bad happens to the protagonist, and a bit of him dies at the beginning. However, he picks himself up as it motivates him to finish his task. Since this is my own epic and my own story, I think it did make a difference, looking back from today. I’ve learned. I’ve grown. I’ve evolved.
Lesson: Put yourself first. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone.
Diving into Strength & Conditioning
|(Dean Somerset trying to get me to relax my stomach)|
Sometimes you just gotta dive in, and it’s sink or swim. I’ve totally felt this way about strength & conditioning, and getting involved with training at Fortius, joining the UBC Thunderbird Strength & Conditioning Club, attending Charlie Weingroff’s seminar, attending the BC NSCA Conference, attending Dean Somerset’s seminar, and doing an FMS Mentorship with Fit To Train, as well as helping out at their Level 1 & 2 Combo course. That is some significant money spent, but I feel it is well worth every cent. If you want something done well, it’s better to pay someone who knows what they’re doing to tell you what to do, or at least teach you what you should be doing. Trying your best and believing that everything will be okay only get you so far, if you’re using archaic techniques. At least that’s what I believe.
Lesson: Have an open mind and keep learning. Spend the extra money to learn from the best; I’d like to think of it as quality learning over quantity.
Finally Out of School
I did graduate in November 2013, but I was still registered in 2 courses from January to April. I took 2 kinesiology seminars, including functional anatomy and clinical exercise rehab (both great courses, UBC KIN 489E and 489B respectively if you wanted to know). I started off-season training at Fortius at the end of February as well, and continued it for 4 months. It was nice to train almost full time for 4 months and I think it really made a huge difference, even up until recent tournaments. However, I can feel the training slowly fading and another couple months of off-season conditioning would be great before starting the Olympic year. Though I’m out of school, I’ll never be out of learning something new. Being open minded is useful, although you need to combine it with critical thinking. Sometimes, things just don’t make sense and it’s okay if you don’t want to believe in nonsense. It’s everywhere nowadays.
Lesson: It’s nice every now and then to have a set schedule which you don’t deviate from. Routine can bring great results.
Despite the hiccup at Nationals, I barely made the Commonwealth Games team (although my National ranking has suffered). Fortunately, we took the top spot by a few ranking points, so we got to go to Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Prior to the tournament, we had an optional staging camp in Ireland, which a few of us participated in, and I was happy I went along for the experience. The Commonwealth Games were very well run and it was a wonderful experience overall, especially getting to see Michelle Li win that semifinal match against India. Unfortunately, most of us missed the final and award presentations, but I think most of us believed she would have little trouble taking the gold medal after than amazing performance in the semifinals. Great performance by rising star Rachel Honderich as well, as her and Michelle had a huge win against Australia in the team event. It was nice to be part of a team and to see some players really pushing forward and getting results. It’s inspiring.
Lesson: Celebrate the work ethic of others. I say this because the expression typically says to “Celebrate the success” of others. Sometime people succeed because they get lucky, and celebrating luck may compromise our own work ethic, especially if we give up and wait for luck. Make your own luck through a strong work ethic and have the best of both worlds.
Although my match itself didn’t last very long, it was an interesting experience in Denmark overall. After not getting a hotel reservation, our coach, Jeff White, did all he could to find us accommodations and made sure we had a place to stay for a few nights. Additionally, he ended up staying at a crappier hotel so that the other players could stay at a nicer one. I would also like to thank Thomas Stavngaard for letting me stay at his house with Derrick and Adrian. The tournament was run quite well except for a minor transportation hiccup (the bus driver left without half of our team…), and getting to see some of the world’s best duke it out live is always a treat. This tournament also highlights the efforts of Jeff in taking the time to talk to Alex and I and our partnership, and acting as a bridge to improve our communication with each other. In the end, I would say it made a huge difference.
Lesson: Spread the good karma. Help someone out if you can, because you can’t always pay the same person back. Maybe it will eventually get around full circle.
Taking about a month to train and study after World Championships, I finally got around to doing my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. I signed up in March, but really didn’t get around to anything until September. I said I would start after my classes ended, then I decided after my summer tournament schedule, and then… I set a hard deadline and met it. September 30th was the deadline, so I pretty much crammed as much info as I could into the 5 days before my deadline (procrastinator at heart). Fortunately, I’ve covered a lot of the material in University courses at UBC. The certification is very good because it combines half nutrition and half coaching. What good is information if you don’t know how to communicate it? I wonder if people are still reading my blog… Anyway, it’s nice to get a bit of nutrition information and I can always do some more research or find an expert if I need to go deeper into a certain concept. Additionally, now I have a better idea how I should eat!
Lesson: A little knowledge about nutrition can go a long way, especially when I have a family of my own. Coming up from a Chinese background, it took a long time to throw away the idea of multiple bowls of rice each meal. Maybe I also threw away a greater risk of diabetes as well.
Pan Am Championship (Pan Am Tour)
|(Source: John Lei)|
The tournament started really rocky, with losses to two teams in the Team Event. Fortunately, Michelle and Rachel pulled off an amazing win in the WD for Canada to take the Team Gold against the top Pan Am WD team. Not that Michelle’s WS and Adrian/Derrick’s MD wins are worth any less, it’s just that the odds were probably in favour of USA for that deciding match. Continuing into the individual tournament, I’m glad I didn’t give up. It was depressing and I was trying really hard to understand what was happening, but it felt like everything I tried didn’t work. I asked many people for their feedback and I got a lot of great feedback from everyone, and fortunately it was just enough for that week to get us through to reclaim our title. However, even though we won, I still learned from our mistakes and it was in Orlando the week after that really changed everything.
Lesson: Sometimes, all you can do is to try and initiate the process. Getting started and waiting to see if someone will meet you halfway is all you can do, because you can’t always do everything yourself. But if you never initiate the process, maybe things will never get started. If you really want something to happen, you gotta take that chance. You gotta open the box; curiosity killing a cat is better than inaction. At least you know.
6 of us went to compete at the Scottish and Welsh Internationals at the end of November and we ended up using AirBnB for accommodations, and I would recommend the service as an alternative to hotels. We booked an entire town house in Scotland, and a couple of rooms in Wales. The tournaments went well and Alex and I were able to continue training as much as we could before, during, and between tournaments. Sometimes you just have to make the most of the situation, and in the end, I think we did fairly well with our results, making a quarterfinal in Scotland, and a semifinal in Wales.
Lesson: Taken from Dan John, who took it from Dan Gable: “If it’s important, do it every day. If it isn’t, don’t do it at all.” We didn’t have much time to train and practice, so we just kept honing the most important skills we needed for the tournament.
Being certified with Precision Nutrition had an additional perk of getting the change to be and affiliate with ThorneFX. They have some really high quality supplements geared more toward fitness people and I’ve had the opportunity to sample most of their products. Additionally, I recently got enrolled with USANA, a network marketing supplement company through an old friend, who has been quite successful with USANA. I took the opportunity to see if I can make some extra income as an athlete, and selling supplements seemed like a reasonable thing to do, with a small background in nutrition. I like USANA because they don’t make any crazy claims to their supplements, and they offer a wide variety of products for one to ‘supplement’ their health. Additionally, learning to sell is a huge skill to have. However, I don’t want to oversell anything to anyone. I stand by my product because I use it as well. Not to enhance performance, but for general health.
Lesson: If we ate healthy, exercised regularly, slept enough, and drank enough water, would we need supplements? Maybe not. But be honest, how often do you eat well enough, exercise enough, sleep enough, or drink enough water? I won’t lie to myself, that’s why I use supplements.
I was offered an opportunity to coach in Winnipeg for Badminton Manitoba and I jumped at the chance, despite the cold weather and increased chance of getting sick. Despite the amount of people falling to sickness, I think the camp went pretty well. It was nice to get to meet new people and I would like to thank those who helped to organize the camp and billet me. The exhibition was pretty fun as well, and it was nice to see so many people come and support the event! It’s always nice to get a chance to coach a good group of motivated players, and I wish them all the best with their new knowledge and skills.
Lesson: I did the camp 2 years ago, and I have changed the way I view certain things. I probably will have a different stance on other things in the future as well. With that said, it’s okay to take information and use it if it’s useful, but be sure not to hold onto it forever, especially if there is a need for change.
Live, learn, and pass it on. As we begin another year, I wish you all success in your goals. I know I have mine…