Big bad stress….


Stress is a very interesting term.  In my experience it seems to be one of those words that people either misunderstand or don’t like using. Whilst sat in a nice coffee shop, with Mrs Munki on a chilly  Saturday afternoon we were discussing our training.  Yeah that’s a surprise for two people that practise jiu jitsu.

One of the topics we discussed was training volume.  We are two out of a large number of bjj practitioners that love their training, but have so much more in their lives to deal with. Being able to train bjj as much as we want, along with support training is always going to be a problem.  We were discussing some of our differences and those around us.

As part of the discussion a point came up that I thought seemed applicable to everyone.  That is the way we look at our training.  We can call it strength and conditioning, technical training or cardio, but as far as our bodies and their neuro muscular recovery are concerned it is all stress.  But then what also falls under this same title is work, relationships and day to day living to mention a few.

My weekly training consists of approximately 8 hours of bjj and 1 hour of judo. Now for me as an Old Munki this seems reasonable amount of training.  I’m not trying to be a world champ, just enjoy myself.  But then when you throw in an 8 hour work day and the travelling, the occasional crappy night’s sleep and some poor food choices, to name a few, the total amount of stress that I am putting myself through can start to mount up.

The main problem is I do find my training enjoyable, so sometimes I do ignore the obvious physical impact it has on my body.  So I have to force myself to consider my recovery requirements from this.  I have written about the GAS Principle previously here, in a more technical context.  But it seems that people do take their eye off the ball when it comes to not only to their training volume, but also the trials of daily living as an overall impact.  Looking at Mrs Munki as an example she does not look at her weekly activities (work, training etc) as a total amount of stress that she puts herself through.  She tends to ignore the “real life” issues and focus on how much training she has done that week. This is how she judges if she has had a hard week.  So I see this misunderstanding occurring very close to home.

You could probably make tagging a conditioning or weights session onto the end of your bjj class work for a while.  As the perception could be that you will have ONLY trained for 3 hours that day.  But eventually it will catch up with you.  Likewise when you go to the gym before work and then go to your bjj class after work.  You may think you have had a rest between sessions.  But is that the way your body sees if? Especially after your boss throws a tight deadline in, or even worse you work is physical as well.  You are just jumping to different types of stress.  I have seen this situation arise with a number of my friends and training partners and it always follows the same path.

Professional athletes have nothing to worry about but their training.  After a heavy training session they will be told to do nothing and just relax, even have an afternoon nap, which gives their body the opportunity to recover.  A lot of people I know including Mrs Munki are lucky if they get a lunch break on some days, never mind a nap or a massage.

At this point I am not saying training is bad at all, but just every now and again changing perspectives and re-evaluating the overall stress you put on yourself can help plot your recovery and keep you coming back to the mats.  As an Old Munki this is something I always consider.  I actively plan my recovery and stress volume to keep me coming back to the mats.  I do some yoga and mobility work to help my muscular and joint recovery.  I also occasionally see an osteopath and if necessary a chiropractor. This is what works for me, it might not be the thing for you. You may be more of a massage person like Mrs Munki, but considering your recovery and overall physical maintenance is important.  I also understand that these are expensive options. However, buying a basic foam roller and using this to self massage would be a much cheaper option.

The ultimate point of all of this, is that we should all consider our overall stress and not look at issues in isolation.  Then use this to plan your recovery to keep you healthy. There is only one of you and you need to take care of yourself, to keep you on the mats for as long as possible.  I hope that this all makes sense, but if you have any questions please feel free to message me.

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