What Are You Practicing?

During my workout with Erik this morning, I had troubles with the obstacles. My vertigo varies from minute to minute. My first obstacle set was great. My second set was not so hot. He was using his drill sergeant approach with me, “Come on, Johanna. Just step over it. It hasn’t changed from 12 minutes ago.” The obstacle hadn’t changed. I had, but it hadn’t. I picked up my right leg and promptly fell backwards.

Thank goodness I fell backwards. I am tired of the face plants, falling directly on my face. This means I am practicing getting my weight further on my heels, which is a good thing. And, since we practice the hurdles on a rubber floor, I didn’t hurt anything except my pride. I got up, practiced without a hurdle once, put myself back into position and finished the set.

That’s when Erik explained about the problems of waiting. If I wait, straddling the obstacle, I will learn to wait. I won’t learn to step over the hurdle. I need to train my muscle memory to step over the hurdle. That’s why the BrainPort only solves part of my vertigo problem. I walk, I don’t just stand still. The BrainPort has helped me learn to stand still. This is good. But I am helping myself learn to walk with balance. And, so is Erik.

When I work with Erik, he pushes me to walk fast in the gym, to keep up with him. I call it super-walking. No ambling. No strolling. “Come on, Rothman, move it!” is what he says in between our sets of whatever I do. It’s safe for me to super-walk in the gym, because the gym floor is relatively flat, I have my cane, and there are no cobblestones. I am learning to walk at a reasonable pace by walking quickly in the gym.

This is the same idea when you practice timed writing to eliminate writer’s block. In timed writing, you write anything, even blah blah blah just to keep writing for 10 minutes, or whatever your timebox is, to get accustomed to the feel of writing. It’s the same idea in martial arts, when you practice the katas. It’s the same idea in dance, when you practice a particular step–you ingrain the step into muscle memory.

I’ve started to practice stepping over things at home. Maybe (ok, definitely!) not as high as at the gym, but if I can train my brain to tell my hip flexors to bend and my knee to bend while balancing on the other leg, no matter what my eyes see, the practice will be worth it.

I learned something big today. I knew it before. But I had to relearn it. That’s okay. I’ll probably relearn it a few more times :-)

It matters what you practice. Purposeful practice makes perfect. Go on out there and practice something today.


One thought on “What Are You Practicing?

  1. Marianne Tromp

    Answering the question: “What am I practicing?” is valuable in many contexts. I’ve become aware that I practice criticizing rather than complimenting. Or I practice seeing myself as not being competent in certain areas, rather than looking forward to learning.

    Becoming aware of what I’m practicing has helped me change. It takes some time and awareness to practice something new. Another key to successful practicing is to not criticize myself when I forget to practice or practice old patterns. To be able to say “Oh, well. I’ll do better next time” and really mean that gives me the courage to continue practicing.

    Thanks for the article!!

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