What is the most important thing about training? The best answer I can think of today is simple - your training partner. Without a good training partner, it is difficult to test and measure results - and often, even difficult to summon up the motivation, particularly if you are tired or depleted.
My average week sees me teach anywhere between 25 and 30 classes, depending on whether or not I am conducting seminars on the weekend. This weekend, for example, I have five to conduct in Sydney - so not too much rest on the short term horizon! On top of that schedule, I need to do other work such as e-mails, articles for mags, the odd personal (outside of martial arts) business stuff - though mostly my wife takes care of that - etc. So then it comes time for me to do a couple of periods of personal training for my own fitness - so I am more able to keep up my workload. Of late I have been doing two sessions a week in the pool for my aerobic base - and on top of that, two sessions of plyometrics/core work with an anaerobic bias to build up my facility to go hard and explosive for short periods.
These kinds of workouts have tremendous benefits, however, there is a price to pay in recovery times, DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) etc. This morning, after my private classes, I was due to head to the pool and get in a quick 30 laps before lunch. I had a tough session yesterday though, doing short sets of bounds and jumps - forward, backward and laterally over different obstacles - while my partner was applying resistance via a long rubber band and harness - so I was not looking forward to the pool. I felt like sleeping!
But my wife, a great swimmer, athlete and martial artist (for those who don't know her) came to my rescue and accompanied me to the pool. She coached me as I did my laps - making the session more enjoyable and the time fly by.
Great training partners can push you harder, and make you do work that you simply would not do by yourself. The are hard to find - and once found, should never be taken for granted.
I encourage my students to buddy-up on the mat - get a partner that they can discuss techniques and problems with - when one doesn't feel like training, the other probably will, and will encourage his or her partner to get off their butt and get to training.
Training partners are our backup when motivation takes a holiday.
Train smart - Train safe!