LGN 79: Mediocrity

Inside: Disposable body; On the mend; Mediocrity and the “meh”; Yoga photography?

The things we do to our bodies.

The MTB Strength Training guy talks about form a lot. He sees people who try to emulate the form of professional riders but he makes a point of telling his clients (and podcast/blog audience) that professional athletes sacrifice their bodies for their sport.

Athletes sacrifice their bodies on the altar of recreational entertainment. Concussions, torn ligaments, breaks, fractures, repetitive stress injuries, you name it. They’ll put their bodies on the line to eke out an extra bit of performance in activities where inches and hundredths of a second matter.

Hm. The word “hundredths” looks really funny to me right now. Hun. Dredths. Hundreths? Hundred. Hundreds. Hunnnndredth. Weird.

Anyway, they abuse their bodies for the win. It’s something to keep in mind.

Optimize and maximize for your long term health and fitness. I think that means proper technique, which is part of having a plan that suits your strengths and addresses your weaknesses. Unless you’ve got a multi-kajillion dollar contract coming your way for a few years of competitive sport.

ON THE MEND

I’m far from that type of intensity. Yet I manage to break down for no apparent reason on occasion.

I figure that life isn’t going to wait for a convenient time to throw physical challenges at me. If something were to happen. So it’s good to get in the gym and learn how to work through or around tweaks and glitches.

Concentrating on form and making sure to engage the core. Listening to my body when it complains. Does a pinch in the right hip at the bottom of the squat mean something? Should I go down in weight? Do I just need to get warmed up?

This is strange to me but Justin seems to know what my limitations are better than I do. He’ll listen when I tell him what’s up and he’ll watch. But sometimes I feel apprehensive about something — should I be squatting when I’ve had pinching in my hip? — and I don’t realize that I’ve gone up in weight just fine. I don’t know how he knows but he’ll see something off and tell me to just go down to parallel.

Like, there are times when I feel like crap. I physically feel weak, achy, fatigued and like I have no business being in a gym. He’ll bump the weight up on an exercise by an absurd amount and boom. I’ll knock it out and I’m like, “How the heck did you know I could do that?”

So all in all I’m on the mend. Not 100% but at the point where you realize that you haven’t thought about your shoulder or back or knee for half a day, whereas previously it was making sure it had your attention whenever you used it. That’s the time to be careful, though. You can easily get over confident, slack on form or just do too much and then you’re re-tweaked or straight up injured.

Stuff happens. Keep on keepin’ on, active people.

MEDIOCRITY

Let’s talk turkey.

What makes someone excel at what they do? How do they get to be the best? The best of the best of the best! Sir! (Name that movie.)

There are many things that I love to do that I’m not very good at. Soccer. I’m no good. Love playing. I was fast enough to get to the ball but handling, control under pressure, and so on? Meh. There were two and a half weeks of my life where I was as good as I wanted to be. I don’t know how that happened or why or why it stopped but it was amazing. Only a few people witnessed it. And then… poof.

Music. I was really good at what I was good at. Mostly jazz bass and occasional guitar gigs. Sight reading, making music, providing a solid foundation. A friend’s father, after a concert with the Oakland Jazz Choir, said my upright bass playing was like a fine Merlot. Now that’s a compliment. I’m a good composer and arranger.

But I was never a chops monster. My repertoire was and is non-existent. I couldn’t remember songs. Didn’t have a good ear under pressure. These are things that make a professional or in-demand jazz musician. It’s partially because I didn’t play enough to ingrain all of that. Partially because I didn’t practice enough (weekend warriors often have trouble finding the time). Partially because I was missing a form of musical intelligence that a lot of the best jazz musicians seem to have.

I could analyze all of my hobbies, passions and pursuits like that. Painting, drawing, music, photography, coding, you name it.

I’ve gone on a few mountain bike rides with the Gears and Beer meetup group. I’ve got some basic skills and decades of experience riding. But then I ride with other people who are enthusiasts and they’re rocketing through the trails. They’ll do a few fast 10 mile rides a week and then go on a 25 mile ride on difficult terrain out in the mountains on the weekend. And these aren’t even the people who compete.

Ho. Ly. Crap.

In the gym I get stronger and fitter. The longer you keep at the more you grown into your — thing. Your power. Your new body. Your new capabilities. It’s hard work but worth every minute, bead of sweat and maybe even the burning muscle agony. Maybe. 🙂

I’m surprised by how strong I’ve gotten. And yet I’m not anywhere near close to the strength and fitness levels of a lot of the people I train with. If you ever get cocky and need a reality check, ask the coaches what they’re doing in their workouts and what kind of loads they’re working with.

I’m not putting myself down. I’m pretty kick-ass. It’s just an eye opening perspective to realize where you are on the food chain, so to speak.

HOW TO BE BETTER

I’m not competitive. I usually don’t care if I’m not the first.

“Are you going to let a girl beat you?”

Eh. It’s not a matter of let. She’s a machine. Rock on.

Not a blow to my ego. All of my competing is good-natured and fun. If we’re racing and had to go through a door my instinct is to hold the door for the people behind me. Or to stop for a person that falls. (I will not survive the zombie apocalypse. It’s true. We both know it.) Being the most superlative isn’t my goal or desire. Being better, always better than I am — now that’s moving.

Here’s something I learned doing the Landmark stuff years ago. I have, of course, bastardized it to my own ends but I’ve always held to the “word is bond” concept. I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

If I say I’m going to do something I’m going to do it, give or take ten minutes. Maybe that’s why I tend to keep my mouth shut. And why I’ll wait until the last minute to make decisions about something. Hm.

But I was introduced to the idea that you create reality with your thoughts and then your words. A lot of power comes from your words. From what you say and your ability to make them real, to follow through.

And by “words” I mean intent and commitment. Your words are a promise. Sometimes to other people; more often to yourself.

If your words and your actions aren’t consistent, if they aren’t inline, then you’re operating at a fraction of your potential.

Imagine if you followed up on all of your good ideas and your good intentions. With no procrastination. Just think of everything you’d accomplish. Heck. Even committing to one good intention a day would probably make a huge difference for a lot of us.

Now imagine if you have the idea of a lifetime and then sit in your recliner watching [name your TV show vice] while that brilliant idea fades into oblivion. Imagine how that lack of awesomeness could accumulate over the course of a lifetime.

This is something I’m dealing with right now. All of these ideas I have for things I want to do. Lots of misfires recently and I’m definitely feeling … out of sync. Translucent. Blurry.

A little more doing to complement the thinking would go a long way. Por ejemplo…

PHOTOGRAPHY

I think the deadline on that artist-photographer grant I was thinking about applying for is about to pass. I’ve been thinking and thinking about it. I looked at some of the past winners and that kind of put me off. I couldn’t think of a concept that was on par.

It’s not that I don’t think I have skills. But the level of artsiness and abstractness — not really my flavor.

Aside from that I’ve been wanting to do a photography project of some kind. I’ve been wanting to photograph yoga for a long time, although I don’t quite have a clear vision for it. As always, I want to do something … different. Captivating. Non-rote. Something more interesting than well-lit, attractive people in yoga poses.

Oh. This evening I was thinking about a photography project of “natural hair”. People sporting their hair au naturale. It’s not original but it could be a great one, especially since there’s been a lot of discussion about hair recently (which I think is bizarre but oh well what can you do y’know).

Anyway, that’s one idea to follow up on, right. Or two.

See what I mean? But to be honest it’s more like the daily, “I should ride my bike to Whole Foods.”

“I should go for a walk.”

“I should get out of the house and do anything.”

Oh wow. It’s almost 11 already. Time flies when you’re writing.

I’ll catch you later, you crazy kids. Party on, Wayne.

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