Athlete Journal: Valerie Worthington, Entry 8 – The Not-Training Sessions

If your favorite thing to do in your downtime is walk around in your home dressed like the Hamburglar and watch Yo Gabba Gabba, embrace that sh*t. I’m making the most of my training downtime.


Welcome to the Athlete Journal of world-class grappler Valerie Worthington. Follow Valerie as she trains and competes in various events over the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition season. Val’s journal will be posted every Thursday.

You can catch up by reading her previous journal entries!

This week’s journal entry was inspired by feedback I received on the last article I wrote about the hidden costs of indulging a passion. So thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your comments are gratifying, and they also make me think.

In that article, I described how when people indulge a passion, they tend to spend more and more time thinking about and engaging in it. But even the most rabid fans of jiu jitsu <or insert alternative passion here> don’t train twenty-four hours a day, no matter how much they claim to wish they could. Even if they only stopped for vital bodily functions like eating, sleeping, and building small forts (my apologies to the Simpsons), that would still add up to multiple hours in a day spent not training.

This got me thinking about how I spend my not-training time, especially during the stretches when I’m training more than usual. I always knew this subconsciously, but the discussion this week brought to my conscious awareness the fact that just as I want to spend my training hours purposefully, it also behooves me to spend my not-training hours just as effectively.

What I mean is that since my downtime is so scarce, just like everyone else’s, the things that fill it should not be wasteful. But my definition of “wasteful” is pretty forgiving. For instance, I am fully able to justify spending some of my downtime watching Judge Judy and playing Facebook Scrabble. I’m not proud of it, but I know myself well enough to know that doing so is something I simply, blithely, all-encompassingly enjoy. Another thing I like to do is sit and drink coffee with friends, talking about how the world would be a better place if we were in charge, particularly if we had people who could go out and fulfill our mandates while we continued to sit and drink coffee.

Of course we all have jobs, lives, families, chores, errands, and the like that eat further into our downtime, and those can’t fall by the wayside just because we might be weary and trained out. But that is all the more reason for us to take the most advantage of our free time as we can, to make sure it is as gratifying and restorative as possible. And what each of us finds gratifying and restorative is going to differ from person to person. So we must be honest with ourselves and with what we find rejuvenating.

This means that if your favorite thing to do in your downtime is walk around in your home dressed like the Hamburglar and watch Yo Gabba Gabba, embrace that sh*t. Allow your downtime and how you spend it to do what it’s supposed to: give you a break from the rigors of your commitments, allow you to express a different side of yourself, and provide enough distance so you have the chance to miss training (or your passion) and feel excitement at the prospect of doing it again.

So the next time you have downtime, notice what you’re doing during it, and also notice whether you’d rather be doing something else. If you would, go do that other thing. And tell us about it in the comments section. Maybe you’ll have a suggestion that I will use the next time I’m waiting for all my opponents to make their move in Scrabble.

What do you like to do when you’re not training? How does doing this rejuvenate you?

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