Monday, March 20, 2017

Digging Out

Both literally and figuratively.

After one of the mildest winters I can remember, including a week of temps in the upper 60s in February, we finally had a big snowstorm this week. We had one day of Trapped Inside and another day of shoveling out of 2 feet of snow.  Now it's starting to warm up and melt everything, just in time for the first day of Spring.

In the figurative sense, I'm digging my way out of what feels like a deep training hole.

I'm a one-stripe Blue Belt, and have been for a very long time.  It's probably an appropriate resting place for someone who (in my own self-assessment) has a lot of very good technical knowledge, but can't put most of it into practice during a competitive roll. After about 6 months of taking it easy, choosing the safest options, teaching instead of training, and generally not taking risks, I feel weak and shitty, I've been stuck under stronger and heavier opponents (all but 2 outweigh me), and I've spent too many months now squirming around at the bottom of a bad position.

Blue Belt Blues is a Thing, and it's worse when you're trying to bounce back from an injury. The drop out rate between Blue and Purple is dramatic.  Injuries play a factor, of course, as do work, financial issues, and family responsibilities.  But a big part of the Blue Belt Blues is the fact that you feel like you should have enough knowledge and skill by this point to deal with lower belts, and this isn't always the case.  Eventually, this becomes frustrating; you feel like you're not improving, people are catching up to you, you're tapping to less experienced people, and generally feel like you're making backward progress.

It's hard, but knowing that this is a Thing actually makes it a much easier thing to deal with.  It's part of the process, everyone has been there, everyone understands the frustrations involved at this stage. Many of the lower belts are stronger, younger, and more athletic, Branching out beyond your most comfortable techniques and experimenting with new stuff is going to get you swept, passed and tapped - a lot.  It's the only way to grow, though, and it's crucial to check the ego at the door and not beat yourself up for getting tapped.

So says the conventional wisdom, anyway.

All of this is true, but I'm getting tired of being here.  And I'm not inclined to quit.  It's time to get off of this endless plateau.  So I'm doing that. My coaches have been wonderful, giving me increasing levels of teaching responsibility this year, inviting me to seminars, and being generally accepting and supportive. This week, they both encouraged me to start lifting, but not in a general way.  Download this book and this app, says the Coach.  The Girl Coach walked through each of the items with me, showing me proper technique and tips on using the app.  They've both been working with me on the trouble spots in my rolling. I'm eating more carefully, torturing myself with foam rollers and lacrosse balls, maintaining my 3 days / week PT regimen, and reminding myself that I'm an athlete and need to behave as such.

Hoping this all makes a difference and I get back to where I was.  So much easier to maintain than to dig my way out of a hole.

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