On relaxing for long-term gains (or the perspective of competition)

It’s been a week since my first grappling competition. A week until C7T2, the next exam for the final block of medical school. The afterglow of adrenaline has fully faded and I’m back in the world: attending lectures, writing my reflections, returning to jiu-jitsu classes, recording interviews, and grinding for Step.

Resumed BJJ classes this week with my usual rotation of fundamentals on Monday and advanced on Thursday. Between my sprained big toe and my diminished need to approach every sparring session with a ‘competition prep’ mindset, I’m able to grapple with less than half the effort with reasonably similar results.

This reminds me of a story. A fellow rode his bike over a 15mi route, grinding his way to a finish in 45min. He would huff and puff his way through the winding mountain roads and grit his teeth with his head down. One day, he woke up with no desire to train. Rather than skip the day’s ride, he decided to complete the route with a leisurely and luxurious approach: stay upright, breathe mindfully, and enjoy the scenery. At the end of this relaxed approach, he looked at his watch and realized that he finished only 2min slower than his taut and determined approach.

Before competition, my understanding for maximal intensity came from training rounds at my academy. Now, with one full comp round and a quick tap under my belt, I can approach the twice weekly classes much more loosely. Working less and obtaining the same outcome, I’m realizing how far out on the diminishing returns I’ve been. I can feel more and spar more. Plus, less risk for injury.

I’m trying to set up a healthy relationship with jiu-jitsu that will stand the test of time. I’m looking at eight to ten years for a black belt. If I burn myself out at white belt, six months in, then that timeline can get delayed or lost entirely.

It’s not easy to maintain this approach. It feels great to put everything on the line for a sparring match. Doesn’t feel great to drain that way all the time. Same for medical school. I’m not allowing myself to burn out in second year while preparing for Step One. This is just the start of a long and difficult career. Laying down a sustainable practice and relationship with medicine is more important to me than completing all the question banks before the end of Course Seven.

I’ll ramp up the intensity and dedication as Step approaches. I’ve got less than ninety days to digest this mountain of knowledge. I’ll ramp up the intensity as that game day approaches. For now, I have some flashcards and an elliptical calling my name.


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

6 thoughts on “On relaxing for long-term gains (or the perspective of competition)

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