Tag Archives: Pontificating

Negative Nancy

I always make the mistake of checking the blog at some point during the day before I go for a workout. I definitely had some reservations about going last night when I saw “Nancy” listed.

Cedar Park Crossfit had just finished their “Caveman Nancy” challenge when V and I joined, so this was my first go at it. As I have been Rx’ing more workouts, I have that “should I or shouldn’t I” debate before almost every workout now.

When we got in, I saw the bar and gave a few OH squats a go to see how it felt. Heavy, but OK. I decided to go with it.

Again, the workout was “Nancy”:

  • 5x { 400m run, 15 overhead squats  (Rx 95lb) }

My time was 19:23 which shocked the hell out of me. Honestly, I felt great on the first run and did the first set of OH squats unbroken. The sets got consistently harder and my running (if you even want to call it that, I’d call it "walking really fast”) got worse and worse. I got a really bad cramp on my right side (again) in both my side and in my shoulder.

I am going to back to KF class tonight! I haven’t been in, I would say probably over a month for various reasons, mostly schedule conflicts, work, and just the general busy-ness of this time of year.

I have been thinking quite about my goals in this area. Sometimes, I wonder if I really need to have hard set goals for KF, then I remember that you can’t really be good at something if you just sort of float down the path of said thing. I think I do need some goals for KF and I have lost sight of that. I need to re-evaluate what I want out of the kung fu and tai chi programs so that I can feel like I am working towards something and making progress.

Are goals really necessary all of the time? Is it possible to just go along for the ride? Yes, I think it is and I think you can do that for a long time. Eventually thought, you might reach a point where you feel that you are at a crossroads. Do I continue floating along or do I do something else? Why am I doing this, anyway? I have done this with a few things throughout my life. The most notable example that I can think of is music.

At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I was really good at the French Horn and I didn’t really have to put all that much effort into it. I didn’t really have to practice all that much as it mostly came very naturally to me. I never really had clear set goals with music. When I was in high school (at the HS for performing arts in NYC), I had very vague goals like “play in a professional orchestra” and for a while “play in groups for soundtracks” or “study with <so and so>, but they were very abstract and I never really implemented a plan for achieving these goals.

When I graduated high school and started out at Manhattan School of Music, it became really clear to me that I couldn’t really just be along for the ride anymore and still succeed in this area. No, if I just stayed on the ride, I would end up with a bachelor’s degree in French Horn performance with no leads on a job, living from gig to gig, miserable with my existence. It was at this point, that I had to make a decision. Do I suck it up, control the ride, figure out what I want, and get it? Do I just stay on the ride and hope for best? Do I bail out, re-evaluate, and choose a new path? Clearly, I chose #3.

I have been going to Shaolin-Do for close to five years now. I have met amazing people and made great friends there. I have learned so much information that I could quit right now and have enough material to practice, perfect, and analyze for the rest of my life. Do I want to quit? No. I don’t. But…

What I have been feeling, I’m guessing is this transition between being along for the ride and choosing my goals and what I want to get out of this. In that vein, I have a bit to think about.

When I first joined, I never thought that I would get in as deep as I am. I didn’t think that I was getting into something that would have such a large influence on my life. I joined the tai chi program so that I literally would not kill someone when I worked for big blue. I was stressed out and needed an outlet to calm me down. That eventually blossomed into almost five years of physical activity, learning (A LOT of learning in many areas), friends, and other various positivities (I know that isn’t a word).

Can I continue being along for the ride? Yes. Do I want to? I am not sure. This is something to think about. Do I want to be good at it? Yes. I certainly don’t want to do something looking like a schlep being out there just b/c I feel like I have to. These are the things that have been on my mind.

I think that one of the things that is making this difficult is progress tracking. I am not sure how belt ranking goes in other arts, but in ours, when you first get started, your tests are pretty close together and you have this semi-constant feedback on your progress. You learn stuff, you test on it, you pass or fail (no one ever fails, but yin has to have yang, right?). When you pass, you get that feeling of accomplishment to fuel the fire of the next round. When you get past the “every 6 month or so” testing plan, you move on to no testing for two years, three years, or more. I suppose this is the time where you are left alone with the art to really get to know each other. How do you measure your progress during this time? I’d love some feedback on this from the 2 people that read my blog =).

Are your katas better, faster, more graceful, more powerful, less taxing on your system i.e. more output for less perceived effort? Can you do more push ups, more sit ups, more knee bends? Can you hold a plank longer? Can you retain your information (katas) better? Can you learn new katas quicker? Can you apply the concepts that should be internalizing from katas? Can you hold your own in sparring or “not get your ass kicked as bad”? Can you fight your way out of a 12 man attack when previously you would have been bested by one dude?

Do you even need to measure progress or again, is it OK to just be on the journey? Is measuring progress important in this respect? Maybe it is to some people. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t know.

When compared to a traditional workout plan, for example, if you track your numbers it’s really easy to see progress or slide backs. If you have ever been a gym rat (like I used to be), you know that if you write down your weights and reps for every set of curls you ever do, you can do some stuff to manipulate that raw data. You can make fancy charts that show you if you are progressing, staying stagnant, or decreasing in strength. It’s right in front of you in plain sight. How do you measure this with a martial art? Is it even important? I don’t know.

To be clear, this is strictly a personal question and something that is completely up to the individual. If you don’t have specific goals for your training and you just go along with the journey because you like it and it’s fun, that’s great! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I also don’t think it’s up to the particular institution to push clients/students to have to make goals or evaluate their needs (unless that is part of the services they offer and something that the client is expecting from them, of course). If they are paying and are happy with the product they are getting, more power to them. This is something that is very personal and differs quite between individuals.

Well, as you can see, I do have some things to think about and you have just read what I would a call a stream of consciousness that I wasn’t even intending t
o have come out in this post. I would love to get feedback from my friends/readers on this and what they think about some of the ideas here. If you’ve made it think far, thanks for putting up with my pontification.