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Written by: Nicole Stout
The start of summer 2023 has been an exciting time for myself and anyone that has been following my journey. It is thrilling to recognize that you are living a career-high. Obviously, my goals are beyond what I have currently accomplished and I hope to achieve many more career highs, but it is nice to take a moment and appreciate how far I have come. In 2022, I saw successes in both the 70kg and 78kg categories with a daring shift to the latter in the second half of the year. What makes it a bold move? Your points, your rank, your results, none of that transfers between weight classes. I took the risk of starting from scratch because I genuinely felt I could accomplish more at the higher weight. Reaching a career-high within a year of that decision makes me all the more confident I had made the right choice.
In 2023, I qualified for the World Championships, had my best ever performance at a Grand Prix, won my third straight US national title, and am currently qualified to compete at the Pan-American Games and the Pan-American Championships. Those sound like the same thing, so what is the difference?
A Pan-American Championship is a top level international sports competition between athletes or sports teams representing their respective countries within their region, being the Pan-American region. Typically these championships are recurring, the most common format being annual.
The Pan-American Games is a continental multi-sport event in the Americas featuring summer sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The competition is held among athletes from nations of the Americas, every four years in the year before the Summer Olympic Games. It’s the oldest continental game in the world.
It is a huge opportunity to be able to compete at both by the end of this year. The Games are in October and the Championships are in November. So how am I preparing for these events? Well first order of business, my sponsor provided me with enough SR CarnoSyn® sustained release beta-alanine tablets to help fuel my endurance and speed my recovery through the rest of the year. SR CarnoSyn® serves as the backbone for all of my training and competition-prep needs.
Judo never has an off season and I personally feel at my best the more often I compete. So, I signed up for one tournament every month leading into October and November. July is the Guayaquil Open, August is the Zagreb Grand Prix, and then I will compete in the Baku Grand Slam in September. Competing often helps keep my weight low and my mentality “tournament ready”. I have given myself roughly 3.5 weeks in between each tournament. The first week is recovery focused. The second week is strength focused, the third week cardio focused, and the last few days leading into the tournament are for strategy (opponent prep and study) plus technical work.
This is a strategy I have been fine-tuning for 6 years of high level international competition and I take pride in knowing my body down to a science. As I age, accumulate injuries, and continue in my career, I will update my regiment as to what to fit these new scenarios. I am of course one person, a woman, 26, 180lbs, 5 ‘7, so not everything I do will necessarily be ‘best’ for every person/body. I only hope that I can at least inspire other people to write down the fascinating ways their body responds, maybe try some of my own strategies, and use this to improve both their athletic careers and overall health.