There's a great quote, “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will realize they were the big things.”-Kurt Vonnegut. Couldn't agree with this more. It can be applied to all things in life but I'm going to be referring to how it applies to training/fighting.
We often think it's one thing that will turn everything around for us, whether that be good or bad. Do we really believe that it was one, magical thing that got someone to where they are? It's about consistently making small, seemingly insignificant, steps each and every day. Those late night commercials are full of shit. Get rich/skinny/ripped fast? Are you serious? Nothing worth doing in life comes easy. It takes countless hours, a lifetime, of continually pursuing your goals in order to achieve them. Sure, certain things will speed it up, or slow down, that process but there really is no secret to success. Hard work, dedication, sacrifice, never giving up...period!
What you do in the gym is what you will inevitably do in the fight. Funny thing, however, is usually the people that go too hard, have no control, in the gym are the ones that often freeze up when it comes time to actually fight. It's all about balance. Giving 100% doesn't mean going 100%, but that's another topic.
There are times for technique, taking your time, working on specific things, and then there are times to kill yourself and put the work in. I see people hitting pads, conditioning, etc, and it becomes pretty obvious to me why they are constantly gassing out and holding back when it comes fight time. What did you expect?
It's easy to slowly start heading down that road and before you know it you are giving up in a fight, wondering how the hell you got there. All it takes is one little misstep, not giving your all, maybe taking a day off when you really didn't need it, etc, and then you wake up one day a shell of your former self. Now does this mean you should kill yourself all day everyday, never take days off, never have a break in your diet, no, of course not. Again, it's all about balance.
It's helpful to have someone there who can push you, keeping you in check. Whether that be your coach or training partners, but we don't all have that luxury. There were long stretches of time, back in the day at Toddy's, when it was just the heavy bag and I. No real training partners, no one holding pads for me, but you gotta make do with what you got. You will never have every single piece of the puzzle that you need. What you have in one area you will probably be lacking in another. It's easy to look at someone else and think, “If only I had what they did then I could get to where they're at.” No you couldn't! You have no idea the things they have had to deal with and if you really knew there's no way you would trade your struggles for theirs. It's always easier having someone else push you but regardless, you need to be self motivated because they won't always be there. We all have things we have to overcome. Your struggles don't make you special. What you do in spite of them does.
I find the best way to stay on track is to schedule yourself breaks, not that I listen to myself :P I'm working on it! Have a scheduled “easy” day, a “cheat” meal, etc. It's when we try to make everything 100% perfect, 100% of the time that we end up failing. It's just too much. When you know you are going to get that break it can be a lot easier, not only to stay on track but to give that much more when it's time to work.
We are all different and what works for one won't work for another. Find what works for you, even if it goes against “the right way”. There is no right way, only the way that works for you!
“Face your fears, live your dreams”-El Presidente'