Burnout is when you get tired of doing the same thing and lose interest in it. It is something anyone who trains regularly has to face periodically. Even if it doing something you enjoy doing, doing the same thing day-after-day gets boring after a while. Burnout is something you try to avoid, but, when it occurs, you have to work through it. If not, you are done.
Symptoms of overtraining may be physical fatigue, mental fatigue, recurring muscle strains, weight loss, increase in blood pressure, frustration, depression, or a marked lack of progress in spite of constant, hard training. Often, if students do not recognize these as symptoms of overtraining, they will increase their training to reverse the symptoms, which increases the deleterious effects.
Evidence of the results of burnout may be seen by looking at the number of students at each rank in a school. The higher the rank, the fewer the students. Students drop out of class for many reasons; burnout is one of them. After many years of training, burnout sets in and students move on to other things.
Some causes of burnout
- Training becomes more monotonous. When you first begin training, you have a lot of new information to learn and absorb. As you move up in rank, your emphasis shifts from acquiring knowledge to perfecting skills. After some time, your skills plateau and you no longer see progress. At this point, training gets boring.
- Ranks become more distant or far between. As you move up in rank, your testings become farther and farther apart. It is difficult to maintain your focus during these long periods of stagnation.
- Rank goal is achieved. When beginning a martial art, many people have the goal of making black belt. Once they reach the goal, they are satisfied. Some consider black belt as nothing more than recognition of “mastery of the basics.”
- More emphasis on teaching and less on training. As students moves up in rank, they inevitably be called upon to help teach lower ranks. At some point, they are teaching more than training. For some this is rewarding, for others it is a chore.
Some ways to prevent burnout
- Work on extending a technique. If the class is working on a specific technique, explore what follow-ups may exist and add combinations to the technique. Do the technique higher, harder, and faster than others in the class.
- Mentally consider yourself in competition with other in the class. Always try to do more and do better than everyone else.
- Take some time off. Do not let the demands of teaching take up all your time.
- Try some new sport to practice on the side.
When it comes to burnout, remember that you are not alone. Anyone who has trained for many years has faced it at some point, so when it happens to you, to not be afraid to ask for help in getting through it.