The following subject is one which I personally know a lot about as I have been there quite a few times. This is about pushing yourself hard for a long time, or indeed just pushing yourself too hard. We all push ourselves for our own reasons, but there is a breaking point and we need to be aware of it as it can lead to a real problem if we don't notice it.
NamingThere are at least two different names for this condition, one is Over-Training the other, more common name is Burn-Out. This is when your mind and often the body have had enough. You feel lethargic about going to training, and will make any excuse in the world to skip it. If you find yourself making excuses more than a couple of times a month for not going to training, put yourself on a "watch list" for this condition.
Who is Susceptible?We are all susceptible to it, indeed all athletes are susceptible to it. The older ones of us are more susceptible to the condition because they feel that they have to push harder to keep up with the younger members of our clubs. This pushing harder, if not maintained by ourselves and our friends can lead to Burn-Out and some real negative effects.
Warning SignsThe warning signs for Over-Training are sometimes subtle and sometimes a little more overt. One of the warning signs has already been described above.
1. Giving excuses for not going to training. This has to happen more than a couple of times a month for it to be a worry. These excuses come in the form of, "I don't feel like it." or "I am not in the mood." or "I would rather do [something else].". These kind of excuses show a problem forming.
2. There are constant clashes between your personal and training schedules, which are stressful.
3. The thought of going to training does not interest you, or fill you at least with a level of interest.
4. At training the drills are not interesting for you or your attention regularly slips.
5. You feel there is no improvement in your level of skill.
If Warning Signs are Ignored...If you ignore the warning signs and continue to train at the same rate and allow these warning signs to go unheeded you can find yourself in real trouble. Here are some of the results which can happen if you ignore the warning signs.
1. Your excuses take priority over finding reasons to go to training, so you miss more and more. This means you fall further and further behind in your class.
2. The clashes between your training and personal schedules will increase which will only increase your level of stress which will only distract you more at training. This will result in a poor performance at training leading to a feeling of lack of skill.
3. Your lack of interest and attention slips will result in a poor performance at training which will result in you missing vital information about skills. It will also result in a poor performance in drills which will mean people will be less likely to partner with you to train with meaning it is harder to find people to train with.
5. The feeling of a lack of improvement in your skill will affect your performance, which will lead to a plateau and a decrease in skill and then more negativity resulting in a downward spiral of effects.
What should be noted here is there is a distinct downward spiral to the effects of ignoring the warning signs. So in short, don't. Take note of these warning signs as there is something that you can do about it.
What to do?
1. Prevention. Prevention is the best way to deal with this. Recognise the warning signs early and think about what you can do to change what's happening. Change your perspective.
2. Talk to someone. In your class the best person to talk to is your instructor. They should be able to help you with what's going on with you. Even just talking about what's going on will help you. Your instructor should have some good advice as to how to combat your problem, or even prevent it from getting any worse.
3. Find activities outside the interest of a physical kind to relax. Find cross-training activities that will still assist you but are not directly related. Walking is a good example of one of these.
4. Rather than focussing on the physical aspects, change focus and explore other facets. The martial arts regardless of what form always has a wide mind game. Read books about the subject. Investigate the social background to the martial art.
5. Find the social experience behind the physical one. Engage with your classmates on a social level, broaden your knowledge of them and you will find that there are many interesting people out there.
Burn-Out can be more dangerous to a person and their martial arts career and their health than people often give it credit. Through this condition a person can push themselves in to severe bouts of depression and also take a severe toll on their bodies in physical ways as well. Through Over-Training people have destroyed their own martial arts careers simply because they did not know when to step back and have a break, or take a breath. Watch for the signs, get help, take care of yourself.