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Hello Dear Readers,

I’ve posted about this issue before, but it hasn’t gone away. I am still struggling to find balance in my life. When my schedule gets too hectic, my body has an ingenious way of reshuffling the deck–I get sick. That’s where I’ve been for the past two days–down and out, sleeping most of the day but still feeling completely exhausted. Worst of all, I still get to feel like I’m letting everyone down–my kru, who had a specialized training plan for me this week; my workplace–which is in the midst of Spring Break, our busiest time of the year; my novel–which I still haven’t been able to work on since the one quick rewrite I did before getting it to my editor. Not to mention that my house is a mess;I haven’t seen any friends for awhile (except the ones I’m lucky enough to train with); and I never feel like my relationship gets the energy and quality of time it deserves.

As so many of them do, this physical breakdown seemed to start with an emotional one. So far, my training has been an emotional rollercoaster. Whenever I feel like I’m finally on top, and everything is great, I’m in for a crash. My kru has been attempting to pair me with people who are better, stronger, and faster than I am, and for the most part, it has been great. I’ve learned a lot, worked with some terrific people, and been inspired to improve my own skills. But sometimes, it’s also really hard on the psyche.

Monday night was one of those times. For some reason–be it exhaustion, self-consciousness, or a combination of the two–I just couldn’t get the combinations. I didn’t rotate my hips enough on the cutkick; I forgot to put my arm out when I kneed; my leg checks were unsteady and weak. Worst of all, my blocks were consistently too slow, which would have been dangerous if I’d been in an actual fight situation.

My partner was one of my kru’s assistant coaches, and he’s a great guy who’s always willing to help. But there’s only so much kindly correction I can take before it begins to get discouraging. Nothing was ever right, or good enough. When I did land a knee well and remembered to put my arm out, then my target should have been an inch closer to the middle, etc. By the end of the class, I felt like a complete buffoon, which was only exacerbated when my partner expressed shock at how many years I’ve been training. To be fair, he was probably only surprised because twelve years is a long time, but to my self-hating mood that day, he was clearly saying, “Wow–twelve years and you still suck this much?” It’s what I say to myself plenty of times, too, because as a martial artist, you never get to perfect anything. Everything always needs work in one way or another, or as The Boy told me he once heard a martial arts teacher say: “Everybody sucks. They just suck at different levels.”

Lately, I’ve felt like I suck at many levels. I need to find a way to excel in my training without failing at every other aspect of my life. While it’s tempting to put my writing dreams on hiatus for the year, I simply don’t feel like I have that luxury of time.

The only possible solution I can think of is more sleep. Maybe, if I get more sleep consistently, I’ll be able to fit in my writing in the morning again and have a bit more energy after muay thai. Getting enough sleep is always a challenge for me, and while I’ve been doing better, I’ve been far from perfect. Other than that, I just don’t know what to do.

How does one fit more hours into the day?

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  1. Cigarista

    How does one fit more hours into the day? You don’t. You fit more day into the hours.

    There is a reason that the highest martial arts awards are often given post humorously. No one alive can be that good.

    Be happy with your progress and know there will be much more and many good days. We believe in you.

  2. Vanessa

    I think that once you decided to not be your worst critic your energy will come back. I am working on myself too. When I catch myself “beating myself” up, I try to reframe things. Many times I use sleep to avoid and block out the stressors (almost always caused by that negative voice inside my head). Ironically when I’m stressed, I never get a full night’s sleep.

    I try to remind myself, of the following things: I can only do what I can do, not everything can be perfect, and to try to remember my priorities.

  3. Story Teller

    @ Cigarista – thanks so much for your kind, encouraging comments. I hope you’re right about the good days! I will take your word for it. 🙂

    @ Vanessa – thanks again for your encouragement. I actually really tried to talk myself out of the negative mindset after class on Monday, but I found it nearly impossible to do. I never feel like I choose to be my worst critic, or hard on myself–it just seems to be who I am. If I’m not hard on myself, who is going to push me? No one else cares as much as I do whether or not I succeed. It’s a Catch 22 that I can’t seem to overcome–the drive that can bring me down is also the reason I keep going in the first place.

  4. Elspeth Cross

    Lack of sleep can be deadly (literally once it reaches certain levels). I agree with you that this should be your first priority.

    If you were already getting sick, a bad workout will be exponentially bad. Try to work on having a “new day, new start” attitude when you get back.

    I don’t remember how long this green training is supposed to last but perhaps your fiction writing can take a back-seat till you can give it your full attention. I know your paying jobs can’t wait. But hopefully, soon that massive push will be over too so it will be one less thing to worry about.

    This too will pass. *hugs*

  5. Story Teller

    Welcome, Elspeth! Thanks for your comment. Ugh..the green prajioud training will last pretty much all year. My test will most likely be in August, but I’ll go right from that into fight camp, with my first fight in November. I’ll be able to relax by Christmas. 🙂

    This is fairly intensive training, as it really should take years to properly prepare for this test. So you can see why I don’t want to neglect my writing that long!

  6. Crazy Ali

    I know that I only went through 7 weeks of “fight camp” , and although there was no contact, I know what you are going through. I literally wrecked my body (and honestly even my mind at times) to make it through what was expected of me. And I did it until I literally couldn’t do it anymore. 3 stress fractures and my health was the shits.

    I read this on a blog awhile back and it resonates with me still….

    “See, what it took me so long to realize was this: more does not always mean better. We live in a big society, with big appetites — and this attitude bleeds over into our gym culture. We (mistakenly) think that more time in the gym means that we’re achieving more. Not necessarily so. What matters is effort and skill and attitude, not just time punched on the clock. That’s pretty much true for success in all walks of life — so why would we think that things would be any different in the gym?”

    I’m not telling you that what you are doing is wrong and I think you have the BEST intentions. You have your goals and you will achieve them, I have no doubts. I’m just wondering if having scheduled, true to the word, REST days will in fact get you where you want to be faster and with less effort.

    There is a ton of research done regarding this subject. Our bodies need dedicated time to repair the muscle fibers that have been torn, to regulate hormones such as cortisol you are activating during your workouts (which is probably why you can’t sleep – it is a sign of overtraining) and to rest your mind.

    Again, I don’t mean to preach to you. But listen to your body, regardless of what anyone else tells you. If you take the time to tune in you will know what you need to do to be the best you can be.

  7. Story Teller

    Hi Ali,

    Thanks for posting. I agree with a lot of your comment. I do have two rest days during every week–the challenge is not to try to squeeze the rest of my life into those days, because then they don’t feel that restful.

    At least KWest doesn’t seem to be as crazy as other clubs in this regard, which pressure you to “suck it up” and work through an injury–I was once yelled at for not punching hard enough with a badly sprained hand (NOT at Kwest). If you need time, Kelly will give it to you, but he’s also concerned about my safety as I approach the green prajioud. I have a lot of work to do in too little time!

    Thanks for the info about sleeping, too. I had no idea the training could be playing a part. And thanks for sharing your experiences–ouch! I just wonder how some people manage to spend their lives at the gym with no noticeable ill effects.


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