Last semester, for the first time, I had a pretty intense, but orderly schedule. Monday and Friday I took off. Tuesdays I had training with my coach then I would go back at night to play with people, Wednesday I had training with two other coaches, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday would be playing for 3-4 hours with whoever was around. So in 5 days I would play 6 times. But never for more than 3 days in a row.
Then during the winter holiday I had a pretty erratic schedule because I was traveling and there was a holiday and what-not. But the weird thing was I didn’t lose any skill.
In fact I started playing better. My reaction time was quicker, my thoughts were better. I began to play more regularly with gao shou (experts) and not only was I not embarrassing myself, but I ended up convincing a few of them I was worth their time to play with.
I know that rest and recovery are a vital part of training, and I know that “hacking” ‘your way through things can bring big improvement in a little amount of time. So I started thinking that maybe, perhaps, this semester I should cut down on training a bit.
And then life got in the way.
My coach began a new doubles group specifically for gao shou and of course he invited me (’cause I’m teachers pet, not because my level matches theirs). They play Monday, Wednesday, Friday nights. Meanwhile my two other part-time coaches changed our training to very early Wednesday morning in a court far, far away from my house. Then one of my coaches invited me to play with his group (a high level group) on…you guessed it: Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
Meanwhile, Monday and Friday nights I’m busy until later. Wednesday I now have training. Tuesday, Thursday and the weekends are the days I’m most free to play. But I’ve given into this pressure and even though its a pain in the ass and tiring (and I arrive late), I go Mondays and Fridays. I also go Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend because that’s when I have more time and I can play with the more regular people.
So now you see my problem. Last week I played everyday for 6 days without even realizing it. Meanwhile my game play began to suffer and by the last day my coach couldn’t even believe it. I played a short game of singles (5 points) against this so-so girl and lost. My coach kinda looked at me and mouthed quietly (so the other girl wouldn’t hear) “Her? You lost to her?”
“I know,” I said going over to him. “I’m just too busy this week.” I should add that after a 2-month break this was also the first week of work and paperwork and seeing returning friends. So I was waking up early, busy all day and then playing until late at night.
And my level went down drastically in those six days. So much so that finally, Saturday night, I refused to play even though my coach tried to get me to come. (“See you tomorrow,” he said as I got out of the car Friday night. “No! Tomorrow I’m taking a rest day,” I said back. “See you tomorrow,” he said out his rolled down window and sped away before I could respond.)
But I don’t want to lose the newfound respect I’ve been getting from the gao shou and I knew that if I kept playing I would. I had gotten that much slower and weaker throughout the week. So I ended up taking two days off.
Logically I know it was good for me. Rest days are important. Illogically, I felt guilty and also like I really missed out (I love playing with the experts). I also felt a bit like a pussy. So it’s physically good for me to take a break but emotionally bad and I can’t figure out what to do about it.
So here I am back at Monday with the same damn dilemma. If I don’t take today off, I set myself up for a whole week with no break. But, if I don’t go tonight I miss an opportunity to play with some real experts and I’m gonna kick myself for not doing it. This is now my weekly dilemma for the next 15 weeks of my semester.
(Notice I also haven’t mentioned anything about training with my coach. We can’t find a mutual time we are both free yet and we’ve been taking a break from formal training, though he teaches me regularly in short bursts.)
I know it’s not the end of the world here and there are a lot bigger problems then this. But with school starting, and my training getting back into full swing, I feel a lot of angsty type pressure where I feel too stretched, can’t get a peaceful night sleep and never feel sure if I’m doing the right thing. I’m a logical “planner” type girl and until I can hash out a workable, satisfying schedule I’m gonna stick to, I’ll feel unsettled and unsure. I hate feeling unsettled and unsure.