Just Get on the Mat

First Published, 3rd February, 2015

Training is a hugely important part of my life. I need it for my job, I need it for my health and I need it for my own sanity. It gives me focus, it creates structure and it allows me to create and achieve goals. Most importantly it shows me my weaknesses as well as my strengths, which helps to remind me I am not perfect, I am only human, but I can always improve. And there are times when I really depend on it to give me perspective or just distract me for a while.

Not every day is a spectacular training day. I don’t always get ready for a session thinking HELL YEAH I’M ABOUT TO TRAIN!!! Some days I literally feel like f*** this s***, because I’m tired or unhappy or feeling weak. There are other things to think about each day like work, relationships, family. Sometimes priorities have to change. Sometimes you become so preoccupied with something else you can’t pull yourself away from it to go and train. Life can really interfere with things but actually so can you.

Making progress comes down to consistency and that means being able to switch the over-ride button when that lack of motivation hits. I believe this is a learnt skill and it comes about when you realise that training is a tool you use in someway to help better the rest of your life. However, even if you know this there are still times when the over-ride button appears to be broken and you kind of get stuck.

Last saturday I rushed into the gym with a ton of energy, seriously excited to train. After about an hour of doing a few other things which had to take priority, I felt like it had sapped all my energy. I suddenly felt drained and then became frustrated because I thought I couldn’t do the one thing I wanted to do that day. It was my time to train, and I am so fortunate that I even have that time, but I was about to sabotage this.

I was about to take a step forward but I stood on my own foot and tripped. When this happens it’s my inner child coming out, standing there, crossing her arms, looking at the floor and refusing to move. She appears when I’m unable to trust myself and I didn’t trust that I could train because I didn’t feel SPECTACULAR. I had expectations that I didn’t think could be met. So in this situation who will win? Even as an adult with the voice of reason, it can be hard to get a child to listen. And It can be hard to ask a child to be quiet. One huge benefit of having a coach is that you have someone you can hand over that doubt, fear and control to because they won’t indulge it. For them it isn’t relevant, they just care that you do what you need to do each day, and they will shout louder than any screaming child can. I was told to “just get on the mat”. Just start. I kind of protested against this. I didn’t win.

You think you don’t have it in you to train. You can’t see that the lack of energy is a temporary. You don’t trust that you will succeed so you don’t even start. A little is not good enough. This is simply the self doubt, lack of trust and insecurities we have dictating how we feel. But why can’t you do it when you already have everything you need? You have a body and you know how to move it. You have space in which to do so, so why is it so hard sometimes to just get on the mat?

There is always something you can do. If you have a bad day forget about your programme and do something different. Forget mindfulness and do something mindless. Jump rope, practice balancing, work on an animal movement, lift something heavy, throw a ball, stretch. Anything that for you, requires minimal focus.

I am lucky, I have someone I can trust when I don’t trust myself, which is something that will continue to happen every time I am faced with something new in Japan. I have someone there to help me when I get stuck and who will give me a kick when I don’t listen to what I already know. Because it’s easy to forget that what we are looking for is already there. And that’s why we need reminding. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Let everything be quiet and just make a start.

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