Last Thursday I hit a huge landmark in terms of training: I sparred for the first time.

I went for 4 x 90 second rounds with three different opponents

So it was hardly the Thrilla in Manilla, but still, I was pretty pleased with myself at the end of it.

I was nervous and excited before getting in the ring. It was all I could think about two days prior to getting in there, to the extent where I had a bad dreams about it.

In the end though, it was nowhere near as dreadful as I feared.

In fact, I really enjoyed it – which I’m sure is how a lot of people feel after their first time.

I was relieved to get on with it but also really pleased with myself. People knew I’d never done it before so went pretty easy and made me feel really comfortable.

So, what did I learn?

Concentrate

The thing that really hit home coming out of the ring was just how intensely I was concentrating for the period  I was in there.

When you’re working the bag or focus pads, it’s easy to slip onto auto-pilot. This really isn’t an option when you’re sparring.

Even though I was in there for such a short period of time, it was mentally exhausting.

Get side-on

The second big wake up call from sparring was just how square my stance was, without me realising.

When nobody’s hitting you back, it’s not a huge concern. However, when you get in the ring, being too square presents a huge target for your opponent and they’re going to land more punches.

A slight adjustment makes life a lot harder for them and spares you a few bruises.

The morning after…

The next day I didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as I thought I might. Don’t think this will always be the case, power levels were definitely toned down with it being my first time.

One part of my body that did hurt that I really didn’t expect was my arms. I guess when you’re body sparring these are the part of your body that take the pounding as you try to block and defend.

Road-work

I’ve been carrying on with my road-work as well. After an awful run last week I felt much better today, carding a good distance and good time in baking conditions.

I’m doing the Leeds Abbey Dash in November, which is 10k. My goal is to do it in sub-50 minutes, so I’ve still got a long way to go.

As for sparring, I’m in Berlin and Aberdeen for the next two weeks so won’t be able to get in the ring again until the end of the month.

Looking forward to it though.

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