Becoming the best fighter you can be takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work. A lot of people only see whether you win or lose; people rarely see the hours you have put into the process of getting to where you are.
Media tends to glorify pushing yourself mentally and physically every day to achieve your dreams; and research began the notion of 10000 hours as a rule to become an elite athlete (‘expert’).
However, what we are missing is how to make those 10000 hours count. If you are going through the motion of those hours because you are exhausted, can’t concentrate or are limited by injury; your progression will be minimal.
This is why recovery is vital.
If we do not get enough recovery to balance the intense training and other pressures that come with training to fight, life and work; we are progressing towards burnout rather than our goals.
For some athletes to recover from burnout it can be weeks, month, and for some it can be the reason why they end their career.
Mental overloading is a key component of burnout.
Mental overloading means we are experiencing more stressors and pressures that we believe we can cope with. For example; if you are double training, experiencing a lot of work stress and stress at home you will most likely be heading towards burnout.
The first signs of burnout are the mental symptoms:
- Signs of depression
- Lack of enthusiasm for the sport
- Irritability at minor issues
- Defensive attitude
- Sleep disorders- Insomnia
- Consistent tiredness (often we feel tired before training after hard day at work- so I noting down how you feel on a rest day weekend very helpful as a measure because you have less stress than a work week)
The physical symptoms tend to come after:
- Increased injury
- Increased sickness
- Decreased appetite meaning we have even less energy for sessions.
- Pains in muscles and joints
- Decreased ability to train at high intensity for long times.
- Hormonal and neural imbalances
All these factors impact how well we train- so the quality of those 10000 hours. If you want to become the best you also have to maximise your recovery.
Ways to track burnout/overtraining:
- Track your resting heart rate every morning – That way you can find out what your normal resting heart rate is; and if you notice your resting heart rate is increasing that is a sign you aren’t fully recovered.
- Training diary- Not only is a training diary good for confidence and maximising learning but by logging how you feel each day (tiredness/energy/less enthusiasm) you can begin to notice any downward trends that suggest overtraining leading to burnout.
Tips to maximise recovery:
- Finding ways to reduce stressors in and outside of sport.
- Keep doing things you enjoy- Schedule in a day to do something that makes you feel good.
- Daily habits that make you feel good or calm- Listening to your favourite place list, talking to friends, making a nice meal for yourself, making some quiet time for yourself where you don’t have to respond to emails, others etc.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Active recovery (for example, going for a walk and mobility work).
- Good nutrition.
- Include an ‘off season’ in training.
If you do find that you are burnout or very close to it; just take some time off and do things that you might not have had time to do when you are in training camp. It’s always easier said than done to take time off but to achieve your goals in the sport recovery time has to be just as important as training.
‘Recharging’ is not a luxury it is a necessity.