You had planned on going to the dojo tonight, but now you’re thinking of skipping out on your karate class. Are you being lazy? Should you get off your butt and do your training anyway? Or do you actually need more recovery time?

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Karate Training is a Stressor

Your karate training itself is a stressor. And as with all stressors, your training takes its toll on your body. We need sufficient time to recover from each training session so that we can perform well at our next planned session. An easy session requires less time for recovery, and a harder session requires more time for recovery. This is pretty basic stuff, and I think we all understand this.

But what many of us might not consider is that it’s not only our training that affects our recovery; our recovery time needs to account for the other stressors in our lives as well.

Your Total Stress Load Matters

Think of all the stressors in your life apart from your karate training. Stress at work, conflict in relationships, a less-than-ideal diet, illness or injury, pandemics, poor sleep, an overly full schedule: there are so many areas in our lives that can potentially cause stress for us and affect our recovery.

Let’s consider two scenarios to illustrate this:

Scenario 1:

You have an intense training session on a Tuesday night, and you’re planning on attending a karate class at your dojo the following night as well. That night—Tuesday—you have an awesome sleep. You wake up Wednesday morning feeling rested. You go to work; everything goes smoothly. Your co-workers are all in a great mood. The sun is shining. You get a nice walk in at lunch. Traffic is easy on the way home from work. Your kids are excited to see you when you get home. You get in some cuddles before dinner. You make a healthy meal, and enjoy a pleasant dinner with your family. After such a great day, you’re more than ready to head to your dojo for your planned karate class.

You have most likely recovered from your intense session the night before.

Scenario 2:

You have that same intense training session on a Tuesday night, but that night you have a horrible sleep. You wake up feeling awful. Work is terrible. Everything goes wrong. Your co-workers are stressed, customers are crabby, and you can’t wait to end the day. But then at work you get a phone call: one of your kids needs stitches. And the day continues like that: crazy, stressful. Traffic is terrible on the way home, and by the time you get home you are exhausted and have no time to cook. So you order some greasy takeout, and have a crappy meal with your exhausted family. You had planned on heading to your dojo that night, but have you recovered? You’ve had the same amount of time to recover as with scenario one, but you have experienced a huge amount of stress in the meantime.

Chances are, you have not recovered from your session the night before, and might want to give that karate class a miss.

Allow Time for Recovery

If you want to feel your best and perform your best at your karate training sessions, you need to give yourself ample time to recover from ALL the sources of stress in your life, not just your karate training. So if you have a particularly crazy day, or are going through a difficult time in your life, you might not recovery as quickly from your sessions as you like, and you may need to make some adjustments.

Make Adjustments

If this is the case, if you are under a lot of stress, there are two possible adjustments you can make:

Option 1:

You can adjust your training sessions. To account for the extra stress in your life, you can do any of the following:

  • Train at a lower intensity.
  • Train for shorter periods of time.
  • Allow more time in between sessions.

Option 2:

You can try to decrease the total stress in your life. Any of the following could be affecting you:

  • stress at work
  • issues in personal relationships
  • a poor diet
  • inadequate sleep
  • not enough time to relax every day
  • illness
  • injury
  • a career change
  • grief or loss
  • a world pandemic

Make any adjustments you can to decrease stress in these areas. Deal with conflict; improve your diet; get more sleep; give yourself downtime every day, etc. Do what you can to get these stressors under control.

If you’re feeling run down and not ready to go for your planned karate training session, and you are experiencing a lot of stress in your life, try not to beat yourself up. You’re not lazy; you’re not a wimp. Your system is just overloaded. Make adjustments wherever you can—to your karate training, to the other areas in your life—and you will most likely see an improvement in your rate of recovery. Even small tweaks can make all the difference.

Your karate training does not exist in a vacuum. You do need to consider all the elements that affect your recovery.

What adjustments could you make to reduce your total stress load in your life right now, so as to boost your recovery from your karate training?