My latest moment of "Try Harder Isn't The Answer" was after my first in-the-gym workout in a couple months. I've been training with bodyweight nearly every day, but today was the first time I got into the gym and got in squat, bench, deadlift.
The workout was rather brutal. I over-did it. (That's not humblebragging, I like, stupidly overdid it. I'll be more sore tomorrow than I need to be. I wasn't paying enough attention and should've started lower.)
Combine this with two new protocols -- multi-purpose clothing that can function for business casual or fitness meant I had on a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and boots for more heat than normal, and training at a more rapid pace for metabolic development...
...and I get out of the gym nearly about to keel over and throw up.
Well, good enough.
But then I get to a major intersection where the green pedestrian-can-cross sign is flashing down to 5 seconds. I'm about 8 seconds away at walking pace.
Plenty of time to make it if I run, not enough if I walk.
I don't like waiting at traffic lights.
I say to myself, "Run!"
And my body... just... won't.
I don't think it was straight depletion of glycogen or anything like that. If it was life-threatening, I could have run. But the interesting thing is, I didn't have an internal mental battle. It wasn't, "Run! -- oh, but wait, do I really want to run? Umm, well..."
No, it wasn't that. My body just didn't listen to my conscious higher-thinking command.
It didn't argue. Just... nothing happened.
I wrote about something in a slightly similar vein about half a year ago, in Flashes of Nondecisionmaking.
This was an interesting, humbling experience. After really hitting my 99th percentile of physical effort today, my body didn't so much refuse to sprint for the light as it did just ignore the command.
I suspect mental performance works similarly at times -- why wouldn't it? If so, "Try Harder" isn't the answer, and a smarter answer would involve having more optimal biochemistry, timing, advantages, scopes, and environment.
Lots to mull over. Interesting experience. "Run!" ...nope.
When you suggest to people that they train their willpower/habits/control, there's a really interesting objection you'll sometimes hear them raise:
Lack of trust in self. Like, "that's too much power, I'd do something bad with it, to myself or others." There are a few variations on the objection, but they boil down to that.But the "guy riding an elephant" metaphor is a great one for people. Your body, the elephant, totally has veto power. Even a very well-trained elephant will, on occasion and with good reason, simply ignore what you tell it to do. There is a huge difference between "my elephant is well-trained and trusts me a lot" and "I have no elephant, I'm just a guy with elephant-like power!"
Nope. Elephant still gets veto, and in extraordinary circumstances will still use it.Don't worry about training your discipline until you can commit negligent suicide. Your body, your elephant, is too smart to let you. And even the best discipline training you can muster is unlikely to ever change that.
In 2006, I quit the vast majority of intoxicants. I don't drink, I don't use recreational drugs, I don't smoke tobacco, I don't drink soda, and I am working on quitting all sweets entirely, and largely succeeding. I am not one for fine dining, and not frequently one for other forms of hedonism.
I usually do not advertise this - I might write about it for people who wish to know what I do, but I do not bring it up in conversation unless it comes up. But occasionally it does come up, and a common reaction is someone saying, half-joking, "Then why bother living?"
I think I understand. Many people do jobs they dislike for causes they feel nothing about. This must wreak havoc on a man's spirit. Most people spend more of their waking time on their work than any other thing - I can only imagine what spending the bulk of my time on something I disliked would feel like. Or worse, not even something I disliked - but something I felt very neutral about.
If a man's occupation becomes a slow crushing of his spirit, then of course he would need high energy, and high impact to free him from it. He needs to fit all of his leisure into his remaining waking time - from 6PM at night to 10PM when he is home from work, on the two days of his weekend, and his vacation time each year. Of course, not even that time is all his own - he still has to commute, run errands, do admin, do necessary little things. The reality of the situation is far worse - most people don't live bad lives, they just move slowly and quietly through things they don't particularly care for.
Of course, if a man only had 5% of his waking time to himself, he would want to maximize this time in the easiest, most surefire way of producing pleasure and relaxation. Who could blame this man? I don't. If I was suffering through a soul-killing occupation and had very little time, I would want to make sure that the time I did have was very enjoyable.
I can't believe it just happened. I've finally done it. 2 Miles. Under 10 Minutes.
For the past few months, I've been waiting for the moment where I can make this my Facebook status. I've been working every day at this goal: sub 10. No one (before this post, at least) has known of this goal.
Last spring, I broke the 5-minute mile barrier. With the current training I've been doing, I've been looking at breaking the 10-minute two mile barrier this March.
Academically, I'm not the smartest person. I've always faced rejection from every single school I have ever applied to. I contacted a couple coaches at DIII universities that are academically world class. They said I would have a shot at making their cross country and track team if I could get my 3200m (2 mile) time around the ten minute boundary (plus or minus a few seconds).
My junior year track record was 10:41, eons away from 10 the flat. But, running was perhaps my only chance to finally achieve that dream of getting into a great college. I would have never thought a few years ago that I would use athletics to help gain me admission into a university. It became a possibility this year.