Last week I published part 1 of this blog giving the reasons behind why I tracked my training for the year as well as some of my initial findings. This week I’m looking at the key thing that affected my training and how to keep your mat hours up.
1. Don’t get ill or injured!
Yeah it sounds obvious but a week off being ill can make a serious dent in your training which is one of the reasons I blogged about it last year . Colds and flu pretty much wiped a whole month off my training alone this year when I added it up! It really is a case of listening to your body and ensure recovering time. If you do fall in ill then not training through it but instead making a concerted effort to get better is generally the best method back onto the mats!
With regarding to injury I have tried to take a prevention route and have had regular ish sport massages and check ups. I had massages every 2-8 weeks depending on my training programme and how my body was feeling. They were definitely worth the investment as although I did pick up a small number of niggles over the year I generally was able to train around them and wasn’t forced off the mat. Although with the power of hindsight a few more rest days might have helped with some of my healing and the quality of my sessions!
2. Plan your competitions carefully
Comps are a great focus for your trainings and a fantastic learning tool but they also take you away from the mats i.e the tapering pre comp, comp travel and the recovery post comp. Yes I know some people don’t take time off post comp but I find I have to take at least a day or two otherwise I end up dealing with point 1 (injury and illness)! So be careful about competing too frequently. Whilst competition can give you a great focus you might actually be limitig your mat time and development.
This year I roughly halved the number of competitions I did. On the positive I didn’t really feel inactive at any point of the year and it did give me some bigger blocks of steady consistent training time. Yes I didn’t have the high pressure training all the time (and if I’d done more competitions I might have pushed myself to train more) but it did enable me to other things I want to do in life. I also didn’t feel pressured into any competitions like i had done in the past. Everything was very much more my choice rather than anybody else’s.
The negative side of it was that I only really did pretty large competitions and ended up using what would be considered quite large competitions as my warm-ups for even larger competitions (such as the World’s)! This did create a lot more nerves and I put myself under a lot more pressure to perform (I felt every competition mattered that much more). Also let’s be honest if I had completed more I might have won more! But I can’t be disappointed in the slightest with my achievements this year and ultimately I did achieve my goal for the year. At the end of the day it’s a personal choice I wouldn’t say there is a magic rule to this other than listening to your body, chatting to your coaches and working out what works best for you.
3. Private Lessons
I still really value my private lessons which is why I’ve blogged about them but I did have less of them this year. There are a host of reasons for this but I have come to realise that they’re not really about the quantity of my mat time. It’s not like squeezing in extra training. They are very much more about adding to the quality of my mat time. A big reasons for having less of them now is that they are structured to add shape to my learning and training over the coming weeks. It’s no longer a weekly catch up on sessions I’ve missed (although I still use them for that when work gets in the way) now there very much more personalised and tailored and very much about adding polish and helping me with map reading (ie which direction to evolve my BJJ in next).
4. Try to link your sessions / Go to Seminars / Value your time on the mat
One of the things I’m going to try and do this year is to push myself to stay on the mat for sessions. Once you’re at the gym you’ve spent the petrol money and done the travelling so you might as well stay for extra training. For me it’s going to be doing an extra few rounds at no-gi after the gi class has finished. At the point in my training week I still will get home earlier than usual so I can catch up on sleep but those extra 30 minutes of training could be another 20hrs plus over a year. Similarly I have a new reason to love of seminars and road trips. There not just a great chance to meet people and get some great instructionals but also a good boost to your overall mat time with minimum effort!
I guess this is also the place to point out the almost obvious – value every time you’re on the mat! It might be a good or a bad session but you’re still putting time in and will see the results longer term. Obviously don’t take your mat time for granted and try and focus at least during the main time of the session. You can still have jits and giggles and I’d never not advocate not to have that but try and make sure you stay focused on the learning even if it’s not a move you think you’ll play or use. My overall mat time would have been huge if I’d included all the chatting time! But at the end of the day it’s not all about the hours on the mat but how you spend them.
5. Just accept life gets in the way and that you’re a part time grappler
Finally sometimes you just need to accept that life gets in the way and to just do what you can. Refereeing costed me several hours of training over the year but I do enjoy doing it (most of the time) and without sacrificing my training to do it I wouldn’t have been able to fund my trip to the World’s and have had that fabulous experience. Similarly life does get in the way. I do have to work, take time off to have holidays, see parents and family and generally be a good rounded human being!
Although BJJ can be all consuming there is more to life than BJJ and it is your hobby (yup i said it!). Just pause and make sure you enjoying it! Enjoyable BJJ can be a fabulous life enhancing hobby whilst the alternative is just hard work without the payback!
I hope you’ve found my reflections useful and that it’s given you some food for thought regarding your own training. I’m probably going to repeat my spreadsheet experiment this year as it was easy and personally it’s been a useful reflection point. I guess we’ll find out next year and throughout my blog to see if I’ve actually been able to put any of my suggestions above into action to ensure consistent and balanced training through 2017!
Feel free to let me know any tips of tricks you use to maximise the frequency and quality of your training as let’s be honest – “every little helps”!