Can ninjas have fans? (a tale of over-training)

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

With a lot of humility, I can admit I went through a phase of spinning my wheels, frustration, and ultimately experiencing burn out. Only because I lacked the self-awareness to slow down so I could preserve my progress: as an athlete, a hyperactive know it all, a mediocre writer, or even aspiring ninja warrior.  For the uninitiated, burn out is a miserable experience that feels and looks like a dozen disorders rolled into one, but during that time projects I had taken on felt unimportant. Anything that was easy enough to complete before losing my minimal motivation would feel like or really was just fluff. Cleaning out an inbox was a daunting task. Deleting spam email was challenging for a growth-oriented, hyper-competitive guy that asks for feedback on how to hole punch a binder more efficiently. I find myself writing out this experience first to give myself a task that can offer me clear feedback so I can refine, course correct, and continue to level up. Second record what writing while in the throes of burn out looks like **spoiler alert** more terrible than it reads!

To best capture this I have to say for the last couple of weeks, I was semi-conscious of the fact that phoning it in at work, actually that would be too kind. Not putting any effort towards my most important goals that mattered. Currently, I’m still not sure to why, but I would pick some “weakness” to work out, bonus points for any internet article that hyperbolized “If you aren’t doing X you might as well smoke a carton a day and binge on cartons of ice cream.” It didn’t have to matter, of course. Except to feel like I was doing something and then I would shift my focus on the next new thing influencers wanted to promote. Thanks obsession with over-training and love of all things novel. This was the first signs of burn out I was ignoring. I also could be seen regularly: training during lunch and after work; running more miles far beyond any reasonable returns; asking for and taking on projects I could have delegated to someone else on my team; and can’t forget going to bed later and later each night to get negligible things done.

In hindsight, I desperately needed a week off and 56 hours of sleep. What I chose instead was two more weeks of jamming multiple cups of coffee like it was a #challenge, terrible sleep, irritability and downright exhaustion, even occasional nausea after even low intensity conditioning work. I hope it goes without saying, feeling weak is terrible, but notion of having to slow down quite literally drove me mad. Getting visibly upset that running a mile hurt and would be giddy for the days that were schedule to work yoga or my meditation practice. This is the terrible lack of awareness I was meaning. Pretty sure I would have kept doing scores of kettlebell swings, pull ups and box jumps until I had a full blown injury. What prevented a trip to MRI scan city was the fact that eventually an hour of ‘power’ yoga was too taxing and heavy bag work was actual torture on my joints.
This gave me some serious doubt staying in the ninja warrior challenge; since it would involve climbing, jumping, and well ninja-ing about while warrior one made my hips tremble.

I was ready to send ‘a please cancel my registration’ email. Until the person who first suggested trying out for the American Ninja Warrior competition said “I still believe you’ll do well.” We chatted for a bit about how friends were dropping out left and right; also I may have admitted I was suspect of my ability to finish the course, at my current level of training, let alone in any semblance of a competitive time. (As selfish as it sounds, but it’s hard to see the point in something if I can’t gain value from it.) The effect I didn’t expect though was after having a fellow cynical jerk (*reads friend*) authentically say that they believe you can hit your own ridiculous benchmark for success was more powerful than expected. It helped! Maybe just short lived dopamine hit, maybe but my brain just wanted a platitude. Bonus points for the bit of validation coming from someone I look up to who’s been crushing it. Strangely enough despite my aching joint and commitment to doggedly throwing my body into training, working and not sleeping I chose a different set of workouts for the day to shake off the rust and see where I stand. Prognosis: Time to skip some yoga, take midday nap and remember sometimes it takes a fan/friend to share that they believe in you.

My morning and evening work outs.
A lot of resistance cardio, mobility and functional movements:

Warm up
Jog 10min,
Scapula push ups/dip
KB swing w/ T-spine twist (35lbs)
Cardio
5rounds 3minute round of heavy bag work
(used medium resistance band to stay mindful of footwork)
2 x 15 Threaded lunges (70lbs)
2 x 2hand KB Swing (70lbs)
<Some technical convoluted CNS strength based exercise?>
130lbs X 12 (3sec hold) Single arm cable lat pull

Evening ‘s effort to work out things I hate :
Front squat 3×10 @155, 185, 205lbs.
DB Snatch 3×5 70, 90, 110lbs.
Weighted sit up 3×20 & mason twist.

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Author: The Savage Scientist

Often high energy, thanks to coffee, I'm just a guy who filled most of his skill tree with points in wisdom(research), strength (athletics), dexterity (combat), and eating. If you haven't figured it out or stumbled on this blog by recommendation. My attempt with this blog is to explore ideas that begin under the umbrella of seeking enlightenment and personal development through: the traditional arts, sciences, and philosophies; along with arguably life's greatest teacher, the savage sciences of combat sports. Join me as we find out what we can learn together!

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