For a couple of days now, I’ve been planning on how to write out my experience in Lisbon pre, during, and post matches at the Europeans. I planned to simply talk about my mindset going-in, what worked and didn’t work for me in my matches, and what I hoped to gain from this first major tournament of the 2018 gi competition season.
But, now I’m glad I stalled on writing it because I feel that, firstly, it is the type of post we have come to read way too many times and secondly, because a bigger issue has arisen for me personally that I feel will be much more beneficial for the readers here.
So, with that said, let’s go…
This past weekend I competed in Lisbon on Sunday and took the earliest flight I could get back home Monday morning and ultimately ended up back at my Hoboken apartment late Monday afternoon. Once I got home, even though I was going on very little sleep and had competed on another continent less than 24-hours prior, I felt like I had to go train that night. So I did some laundry, packed my things and went to Hoboken Jiu-Jitsu for their 7:30pm class.
I have always prided myself on keeping up with my training schedule regardless of how I feel or regardless of what I really want. But, my big mistake this time was training that night in Hoboken. Once I got there, I realized I had no desire to be there. But I simply pushed through the practice, convincing myself that it was what I had to do.
Then the next morning, I went back to MG’s for my usual routine training from 11:30-2pm followed by strength and conditioning at 2:30pm. Later, I wrapped up my day with a 5:30pm drill session and 6:30pm training session back in Hoboken. The issue again was that I still had no desire to be there. But still, I willed myself through it, feeling as though I had to be there.
Then on Wednesday, things finally boiled over when I went to MG’s in the morning. By the final half-hour of the morning practices I had mentally checked-out. I found myself counting down how many rounds were left until the practice was over and mostly just going through the motions. I had completely burnt myself out.
The burn out wasn’t physical. Physically I felt fine after the tournament, and physically I was ready to get back to work–but my mind wasn’t.
Not only did I compete on Sunday, but I spent days in Lisbon being at the tournament and focusing only on the tournament. Prior to that, I spent weeks physically and mentally preparing myself for the tournament. What I needed after all that mind power focusing on Jiu-Jitsu, was just a small amount of time where I wasn’t focusing only on Jiu-Jitsu to reset–and I didn’t give myself that.
I realized on Wednesday I needed to adjust my training routine for the rest week to overcome my burnout. So, with that, here are a few things you can do to help overcome a burnout:
Socialize with friends outside the mat-
This was my first counter. A friend of mine offered to take me to a post-Euros, post-diet Cuban spot, but he could only do Wednesday night at 8pm while I’m usually training until 9pm. But, when I realized my mind needed the break, I took up the offer and had a good time grubbing up on some of the best Cuban cuisine I’ve ever had in my life.
More importantly though, it was simply important for me to talk about something other than training. We talked about his job, family and some of his future goals while I aired frustration in my inability to make a meaningful relationship with any girl last. Simply, it was refreshing to talk about things other than training and competing which can help one feel renewed once they get back to the mats.
Read a book-
The good part about this one is that you can do this without having to miss any training time and I believe it can help you avoid a burnout.
The worst thing we can do for ourselves is to always have our minds occupied on one thing, regardless of how important it is to us. So, when you aren’t on the mats try to spend down time occupying yourself with something else to think about. Just like talking with a friend, reading and maybe learning about something that you didn’t know before can help you go back to training feeling refreshed.
Do something physical other than Jiu-Jitsu-
If you’re someone who can’t sit around and read or watch TV for too long without going stir crazy like me, but you’re looking to do something different from your regular routine, go do something you wouldn’t normally do. Go for a run or a bike ride, find some friends and play a game of pickup basketball somewhere. Another release from the stresses or burnout you may have with your training can come in the form of doing a different physical activity your body isn’t use to. Sometimes a new challenge is just what the body and mind needs.
Side note: To adjust my own routine, after Friday morning training my friend, Rich Van Houten and I plan to go indoor rock climbing, which is something I’m completely stoked about.
Adjust your training-
Lastly, if there is just no way you can get away from actually being on the mats the best thing I can suggest is that you adjust how you train. Burnouts can come from doing the same thing over and over again. Maybe spend a day working on your half guard if you’re usually a de la riva guard player. Or if you normally pull guard in your rounds, try to work some takedowns. This can also mean training with different people. I believe many are accustom to rolling with the same 8 to 10 guys everyday. Ask someone you normally don’t train with to roll, perhaps they will help bring out a different part of your game you didn’t know you possess.
I can attest to this, as the last time I was feeling unmotivated in training was right after No-Gi Worlds and I was simply tired of repeatedly during the same things. So, I adjusted by experimenting with guard passes only from my knees–working over/unders, double-unders which is the farthest thing from my A-game. Now, while my attempts were mostly futile and in the beginning I kept getting stuck in triangles and omoplata’s, it made training fun and new again. I was able to laugh at myself for how much I needed to improve in that aspect and is was refreshing to focus on something I hadn’t put too much thought into before, while still working hard.
There’s no shame in admitting to when you’re suffering a burnout, just be sure to address it properly. There is also no shame in giving yourself a couple hours, an evening or a whole day to get away and readjust by putting your focus and attention on something else.
Your Jiu-Jitsu isn’t going to get worse by giving yourself a window of opportunity to take a mental break (as long as we’re not talking about 6 weeks here). If anything, the rejuvenation that time may give you can actually help make your game even better.