“Don’t get tired.” This is a saying I tell myself. A lot. Rather than taking it at face value, let me explain what I actually mean. Now I’ll be the first to agree that we all have physical limitations and that our limitations can be pushed in every training session that we do. You will get tired, this is inevitable.
What I really mean is that you can get tired, just don’t show it.
Putting your hands on your knees, sprawling out on the mat, uncontrolled heavy breathing, and moaning and growing when one more round is announced will not quench your thirst any faster. Nor will mentally giving in to the fact that you’re fatigued stop your muscles from burning. I’m not saying don’t listen to your body. I’m saying be mentally strong and push through whatever challenge that is in front of you. I should really be saying, “Don’t get mentally tired.”
It’s my belief that these signs of fatigue are developed just as bad habits are. They develop from whatever environment you’re exposed to. The intensity and philosophy of the dojo you are training at also play a key role in the development of these poor habits. But how can we handle the reality of fatigue and break some of these habits along the way? I list a few tips below.
1. Push yourself further and be honest.
Are you really exhausted to the point where you have to sprawl out on the floor? If the answer is yes, sprawl out and catch your breath. Perhaps you’re severely dehydrated or injured. Take your time. On the other hand, are you just doing it because you’re used to seeing it done around you? It’s become acceptable behavior, a habit of yours, so you do it. Ask yourself, is this measure absolutely necessary? Unless your ill or injured, probably not. Don’t accept the fatigue.
Try this instead. Stand up, fix your gi, and just watch the next round. Stay mentally sharp and don’t give in to the physical or mental need to lay down. You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll get your wind back.
2. Control your breathing.
A friend recently put me on to this specific Joe Rogan podcast where he interviews Kron Gracie about his father’s unique breathing methods. And rather than start up Ginastica Yoga, I simply took away the fact that you should be conscious of your breathing while training. Simple right? But you may find yourself either holding your breath or breathing too rapidly, without even knowing it. So while your training, remember to breathe and actually focus on it. Control it. Breathing properly will stave off fatigue.
3. Build your mental toughness.
When others dread one more round after the final round was already announced, cheer for it. When you feel like you can’t do another round, do one more. When you feel that your out-skilled and out-classed, fight your best anyway. When you feel like you have to lay down, stand up. When you feel that you can’t take a beating, smile, you’re alive. If you aren’t on the mats to get better, in your own definition, why did you show up? Remember this when fatigue hits.
Challenge yourself to your own limits, not the limits of those around you. It’s you vs. you.