Thursday, October 06, 2022

On Giving Up Throwing

So I am going to stop throwing in Highland Games.

I originally starting throwing in 2012.  It was something that I had wanted to do since the mid 1990's, but never thought I could because (frankly) I thought I lacked the body weight and strength to do it.  And so I delayed for another 15 years or so until we moved and and I saw a posting for "Throw in Highland Games" and I said "why not?"

I found I quite enjoyed them, much more for the people than the any actual athletic ability I demonstrated.  They were not the sort of people I would have "naturally" interacted or made friends with, but I found them to be engaging. It made for a great day.

My involvement gradually increased as time went on - I think my busiest year was around 2016, when I threw in 13 games, I got volunteered in a local group, I attended regular practices.  I was a throwing fool.

And then, as things always do, they changed.

Part of it was simply that I found that getting up early, driving on average 2-3 hours to throw for 8-10 hours, and then drive back 2-3 hours, was exhausting and detracted from the overall fun of the event.  I pulled my involvement in to games that were no more than 2 hours away.  

Part of it - an exciting part for the sport overall - is that it is becoming a more popular sport.  That is great for everyone throwing in it; it is less good when you are at best a mediocre thrower with limited upward mobility.  While the point is not ranking, it does kind of detract from the competition aspect.

Part of it was the fact that as my involvement in Iai grew, so did my training and practice of it.  At some point, one can really focus on a limited number of things.  A choice was made for Iai (both because I enjoyed it and frankly, I could go to Japan to train), which curtailed my throwing even further.

And then, of course, The Plague hit.  Festivals ground to a halt in 2020 and most of 2021, only really restarting this year.  My limited throwing range was even more limited.  Add to that the fact that I started going to The Ranch to see my parents effectively two Saturdays a month (and the other two for Iai class) and either I threw on Sunday or had to miss Iai to do it.

I have thrown twice this year:  once in Spring and once about a month ago.  Which brings us to the final point of decision.

I apparently did something to my right shoulder when I was throwing last month - I do not know for what event (my guess is the Heavy Weight for Distance, a 42 lbs. flying extravaganza), but it manifested itself over the next two days.  And then every day thereafter.  Now, I have had to lessen my weight training and train far more deliberately with Iai - and it both cases, far less heavy that I would like.

My future, if I stick with the Highland Games, is not great.  I am not a great thrower and with so many talented athletes in the mix now, I am not really going to advance.  But more importantly, if I am tearing my body up for something I do a few days a years which prevents me from things I do every week on multiple days, that is not a reasonable tradeoff at all.  People practice Iai and train in weights well into the 80's and 90's.  Most throwers barely make their 60's, if that.

I do not know that I have ever been this deliberate about giving something up before.  It is an odd feeling.  But having made it, I will follow through.  I have one more game this year that is terribly local. I  will go out, throw, have fun (and take it easy on the 42 lbs. weight), and be done.   With new people entering the sport all the time, selling my equipment should not be an issue.

It is always good to try things you have never done and enjoy them.  But I suspect it is also good to be able to give something up at your own choosing, rather than delaying until something awful happens.

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:35 AM

    Sounds reasonable to me. I think that body injury / damages is cumulative, until we recognize when 'it hurts when I do that' was self done on purpose.

    We don't have events like that here. Maybe the most closest, done in the past, was Watermelon Seed Spitting. Argh - now THAT is a sport ... :^)

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    1. My understanding is that it can be cumulative, depending on the injury of course. Repeated tears and re-healings will make something ultimately weaker. And I know plenty of people in my age bracket that cannot do simple things based on shoulder injuries.

      I have heard of but not seen watermelon seeds spitting. I have also seen cherry pit spitting as a contest.

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  2. For me, hobbies are like many friends, they come and go with time. Mostly it is because like you, I find that I am mediocre at best at many of them or they become too much of a burden that prevents me from doing the ones I enjoy more or am better at. The one thing they all have in common though is that I almost never regret having tried a new hobby.

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    1. Much the same, Ed. And I certainly do not regret the time spent here. That said, I would rather end of a high note and be able to continue to do other things unimpeded rather than go out on an injury and not only not be able to do that, but other things as well. I have seen it happen.

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  3. Thanks Nylon12. I have every confidence that actually resting the shoulder and not aggravating it will take care of the issue. The bigger issue to deal with, of course, is my own obstinance.

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  4. The old body does wear down over time. And heavy, odd work a few times a year will find the weak spot. It's a given. Due to the extended healing time I'm in, I've lost a lot of tone. I have to really think my way through moving furniture or any other work. It's really easy to max out the weakened muscles and tendons.

    I found the same things when I did Kung Fu and Tai Chi. The practitioners were strong and nimble into their 80's and 90's. Few "sports" can boast that. I may need to "rediscover" that, now that I think about it.

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    1. STxAR, I think that is exactly the issue - currently I am doing it a few times a year. And the recovery process always takes longer when one gets older.

      One thing I find even more attractive about the martial arts - or at least the ones I am aware of - is the fact that they value the ability to practice well into late life. It is a feature, not an extra. Western sports often do not take the same view of things; thus many of our activities that we do as sports when young cannot be practiced when older, simply because we no longer have the strength or stamina (or ability) to do so.

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  5. If you throw one more time and it does damage to your shoulder what would be the effect on your Iai?

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    1. Worst case, complete inability to practice Iai as the injury is on my right shoulder and we do almost all our sword work with our right hand - so catastrophic. This is why I am taking it so seriously.

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  6. It is, John. Leaving Throwing is a minor wistful thought at best. Leaving Iai or Weight Training would truly depress me.

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  7. You wanted to try throwing, and you did, is the best way to look at it. You want Iai as a way of life, so to speak, so yes, stop throwing. You want no torn rotator cuff.
    God watch over you, TB.
    You all be safe and God bless.

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    1. Linda, that is a fine way to look at it. Desiring to destroy one's self (I read up on the surgery) is not really a goal worth pursuing.

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