Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Burnout/The Grind is Real

Was talking to my girlfriend the other day and mentioned I hadn't even looked at any upcoming competitions after my next superfight happens May 16th.

She responded, "that's probably a good thing," in her usual, concise way that means a lot more than it may state in words.
I asked her what she meant and she replied, "you don't seem to really enjoy doing Jiu-Jitsu lately. You're training hard and training hard but you've forgotten why you like doing it. It's like you've stopped having fun at all in training or remembering why you like doing it in the first place."

I've hit a point where I don't have many days I enjoy training. Training feels a lot like it did when I competed in Judo: training is for tournaments. It's practice. Practice doesn't feel or sound like fun because it's usually not. I've had one or two gaps in my training since being promoted to purple belt that total more than a few consecutive days off the mat.

Over the course of the past year and 5 months I've competed 22 times: 17 BJJ tournaments, 1 Judo tournament, and 4 Superfights. I've been to Delaware, Chicago, Norfolk, Richmond, Maryland, and Virginia Beach (among others) to train and compete.

The paradox of competing is on a day like today when I worked until after 3am last night/this morning, I'm still going to train at noon because this superfight for May 16th is booked. It's good because I'm going to train rather than go home and nap.
It's bad when enough days in a row you force yourself to do something and then you begin to resent it and training becomes a daily chore. There's going to be days when you're not feeling it but enough days in a row like that and it becomes problematic as the quality of the time spent training begins to decline and that emotional discord manifests in your performance.

I'd be remiss to not mention that a part of my discontent is training harder than ever before and not getting the results I want.
I can keep grinding because I competed at blue belt for quite awhile before I began winning divisions. I've always been an incremental learner (go read "The Art of Learning") and so I am intellectually and emotionally prepared for prolonged disappointment in the face of what feels like ever-increasing investment on my part. At blue belt I never even won a division until after I returned from knee surgery and was very much near the last 6 months of my blue belt time as it turns out before I began to win my division.

I've never found myself to be naturally good at anything. Even as a kid, when artwork and drawing were my passion(s), I would draw for literally 6-8 hours straight. That obsessive/addictive quality to my personality which has caused strain in my personal life, is also why I'm any good (if at all) at Jiu-Jitsu. I'm simply willing to grind and slog it through hours and hours and days and days of little discernible improvement.

The old adage that, "you don't love something until you've hated it," comes to mind. If blue belt (at times) felt like an interminable period of time, purple belt feels like a constant spring uphill in a wind tunnel with people watching. Granted, this is all self-imposed expectation and pressure of my own creation but as you get better, you begin to expect more of yourself and your performance in this positive feedback loop that builds over time.

When I get butthurt or aggravated about not performing as well as I would like, I remember Keenan talking about how he had been training a solid 5-7 years before he won anything of note or Caio Terra saying he thinks he was literally the worst blue belt in the world and that his coach gave him his blue belt out of pity.
Things like that keep me going when I'm working until 2am or 4am Friday night, waking up and driving to Charlotte by 830am, reffing and/or competing all day, then back in Raleigh Saturday night to work from 10pm until 3-something-am like I will this weekend....then Sunday morning up for Open mat.

At any rate, it's time to go train.

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