If you are training long enough, at some point you will have to take some time off. This is inevitable. Work, family, friends, relationships, injuries — these can all demand significant amounts of your time (and, rightly so) and pull you out of a comfortable training routine.
Coming back from a long layoff can be extremely tough. You are dealing with the loss of your physical aptitude, as well as a severe feeling of being “left behind” as you see all your regular training partners having made some significant progress. It feels sometimes like you are basically starting over.
Honestly, the hardest part about coming back from a long layoff isn’t actually returning — it’s staying. So here are a few tips to help you get your mind right while you deal with the inevitable challenge of building yourself back up.
First, be kind to yourself. It’s OK to fall behind a bit, and it’s OK to not be at your best at all times. Nobody is.
Second, comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to be disappointed. Our journey in the martial arts is unique to us, and ours alone. We have our own specific challenges and responsibilities both on and off the mats that make comparison to others actually impossible, when you think about it!
And third, take advantage of the opportunity to re-learn some things you might believe you already “know.” Progress in the martial arts isn’t about running from point A to point B, it’s about running laps and passing through the same landscapes over and over and over again and picking up new pieces of information along the way.
Lastly, remember that everything we do here is supposed to be fun. So, relax a bit, have fun, and just enjoy the moment. We are extremely privileged to have the time, health, and energy to participate in such a great activity. Many are not so lucky.
So if you’re struggling right now with a comeback, I applaud you and your effort. Keep at it and, before you know it, you’ll be right back to where you left off!