Taking time off karate sucks. I really hate missing a practice session.
But this past week, my kids and I have been isolating for Covid. And I know I’ve needed rest more than anything. Taking some time off will help me recover, so that I can get back to my training when I’m feeling healed and ready to go.
Getting back into it too soon—or too intensely—will do more harm than good. And as restless as I am, I need to keep that in mind so that I can keep making progress. Setting myself back by overtraining or not prioritizing recovery will only stall my improvement.
This has been a hard lesson learned. For much of my life I have had an all-or-nothing mindset. Never skip a practice! Never skip a workout! No matter how much I feel like resting, don’t fall for it! I might never get back into it!
And the consequence of that mindset? Exhaustion. Injury. Aches and pains. Diminishing motivation.
All of those unfounded worries about stalled progress ended up doing exactly that: stalling my progress. Instead of using my energy to heal, I used it up during crappy training sessions, which messed up my energy for the next session, and the next, and the next.
I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m much smarter with my training now. Here’s my personal guideline for martial arts training when sick:
- Any headache or fatigue? Skip those planned training sessions.
- Fever and chills? Forget about it. Don’t even think about pulling out those weapons for kobudo.
- Worsening cough? Or worsening symptoms of any kind? Get thee to a healthcare practitioner. Don’t even think about putting on that gi.
- But above-the-neck symptoms only? No muscle aches or any of the other above symptoms? You’re good to begin, but at a low intensity until you get your mojo back.
When I do get back into karate after an illness, I prefer to go with leisurely activities. Kata or weapons kata, for instance, are awesome ways to get my body moving at an intensity level that helps boost—and doesn’t suppress—my immune system.
Practising my basics and kicks works well when I have my energy back, so I can start to put some power into my techniques. Sparring drills, however? I skip those until I’m feeling totally back to normal. High intensity training like that will wipe me out too much if I haven’t allowed enough time for recovery.
It’s hard to skip those planned karate sessions, but if I’m experiencing any symptoms indicating more severe illness, recovering from that illness has to come first. Allowing myself a full recovery will help me get my energy back so I can put my all into my training once again.
If you’re feeling sick, and not sure if you should do that planned karate session or workout, check out the Precision Nutrition infographic* I’ve included below. Feel free to print it and refer to it to help optimize your training and recovery.
Here’s a printable infographic from Precision Nutrition* to help you with this:
*(This content is used under license from Precision Nutrition Inc. and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or otherwise used or reused in any way without the express written permission of the owner. Copyright © 2020 Precision Nutrition Inc. For more information about Precision Nutrition, visit www.precisionnutrition.com.)
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