Sunday, March 13, 2016

How often do you train jiu jitsu? How often do you WANT to train? Examining the discrepancies

I am lucky to get to train jiu jitsu a lot. On average, I put in 1 long jiu jitsu training session, 6 days a week. But I think I am even luckier that I WANT to train as often as I do.

Meaning, I almost never drag myself to the mats when I don’t feel like it. Because I feel like training just about every day. To illustrate, enjoy this helpful diagram:

I should feel happy to have hit this sweet spot of training frequency bliss, right? Well, I'll let you in on a secret. There are people out there that train more than I do. And knowing this gives me anxiety.

Example: It’s New Year’s Day! There are 3 local open mats, occurring at different times. I attend one and feel good about myself for training on a holiday. Until my friends decide to go to ALL 3!! ::insert compulsive, guilt-ridden anxiety attack::

To put my feelings in perspective, I polled my Facebook friends about their training. I posted the following question:

“On average, how often do you train? Choose from the following: A) As often as I want. B) Less often than I want. C) More often than I want (I push myself to train when I don’t feel like it)."

Here’s what I found:

Of the folks who responded, only 21% reported training as often as they want. What do these folks have in common?  A love for training and an opportunity and desire to do so frequently. Here are some of their comments:

“I always feel like training.”
“My motivation is that I love it and that it’s the most fun thing in the world!”

 “Most of the time, I am able to get 2 a day in on weekdays and 1 a day on weekends.”

“@50 hrs of mat time per week. Love my life.”    (This inspired the below comment from his teammate, a category B-er).

I most often belong in this group. I have a lifestyle and family structure that make daily training an easy option. For me, having a flexible job, a spouse that trains, and no kids are big factors that enable me to train as often as I want, without sacrificing other priorities. 

But for a lot of folks, training that much is difficult. The largest group of respondents (68%) reported training less often than desired.  Work, kids, partners that don’t train, school, injuries, availability of training space and partners, and distance from the gym are the most frequent limiting factors.

Here are a few of the issues:

“Work, life, and jiu-jitsu balance.”

“Recovery…Training while still sore makes me slower, less precise, and injury prone. The last thing I want to do is drill that way.”

“School. I have to budget in training time and work around studying and hospital hours. Sometimes it's frustrating and I feel like I haven't progressed in months, but any training is better than no training at all!”

“I had disk surgery and it's hard to explain to people why I don't feel comfortable doing some techniques. I'm scared of being re-injured.”

While I mostly reside in blissful group A, I drop in on group B from time to time. I get motivated to ramp up my training before big tournaments. But when I add additional rolling sessions to my regimen, my joint health takes a toll. My knees, wrists, and elbows get grumpy without enough rest. While my muscles are still able to recover quickly from high impact sessions, my joints behave like petulant 2-yr-old assholes.

I'm stealing this meme from my above group B friend. But this captures exactly how I feel about my soon-to-be-35-yr-old-joints.

In the last group, 18% of respondents train more often than they want to. In other words, they push themselves to train even when they don’t feel like it. (If you are a smarty pants math geek who noticed that my percentages add up to more than 100%, please note that some people placed themselves into more than 1 category).

Here’s what drives people to train, even when they don’t wanna:

“I always feel better after having trained.”

“BJJ combats my, I have the invite to so many training sessions with really, really good guys that I just can't say no.”

“There are plenty of times where coming home after a long day could very easily result in total couch implosion, but I drag my sorry ass to train b/c I know I will always be happier about it after the fact (even if the couch is using its full, tantalizing power).”

“What drives me to go even when I don't feel like it is just being in the routine and putting it on my weekly planner and knowing I'll probably be glad I went afterward.”

So, where does your training fit in? Are you able to train as often as you would like? Like me, do you ever feel anxiety when others train more than you do? Post comments below!