Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Minimum and the Maximum

The first thing one should consider in designing a personal movement strategy (conditioning), is to establish the parameters of the minimum and the maximum -- and not just fixate on the maximum one hopes becomes the minimum.  

The minimum has to be just that -- the absolute minimum one can do at any time, in any condition -- and not only once, when they are at the top of their game in peak condition, or they're discouraged and depressed because they know they cannot do it -- and so never try again.  They don't want to embarrass themselves -- in coming to the realization that they're no longer that once in a lifetime best -- and accept their momentary condition, as what they actually have to work with.  That is dealing with reality -- and not simply the wishful-thinking of what they would like to think.  That always gets one nowhere but farther away from their realities.

That is doing the most simple and basic things until they become automatic -- otherwise, that is putting the cart before the horse, thinking the horse will figure out what you want it to do.  That is the reason for practice -- and actually doing anything great; one has to begin by laying the foundation for that greatness -- which in any case, is constant and steady improvement -- beyond doing the same thing one always did before, and even getting worse at it.

Finally the cognitive dissonance (difference between one's thinking and the actuality) becomes so great, that one is convinced that nothing makes a difference anymore -- and whatever one wishes to think is sufficient.  That's how people go into irreversible decline -- suspecting the worst, but denying it until they are no longer capable to distinguishing any truth anymore.  They just think it is all "entertainment" -- some more entertaining than others, but nothing that has a reality beyond the moment -- lost in the next.

Therefore, nothing ever amounts to any progress -- or even just staying as good as one used to be.  All is simply lost, and there is no base from which they can ever get it back -- or know where "back" is.  Thus the necessity for developing a base, and baseline performance -- not to improve, but to know where one is, and starting from.  Then one can go places.  But first, one has to know where one is -- presently, before it is meaningful to discuss where one wants to be.  One might already be, where one wants to go -- but won't know that, unless they first determine where they presently are.

The minimum, is that baseline grounding -- of where one presently is.  That is what scientist call a "control" -- otherwise, they have no idea of what is different, or changes -- if in fact, there are any.  Most unscientific claims, have no such controls or starting point -- but proves anything the promoter wants to prove, because saying so is enough.

All such claims though, still have to stand the test of time -- that one is still doing it 10 or 50 years later with the same results and effectiveness, and not that what caused them to claim the world championship at one time, results in death or disabling injury in another.  Much of competitive athletics has that fine-line separating the extraordinary performance from a career-ending injury; one hopes not to cross that line, but most inevitably will -- and finally not return, no matter how much the spirit is still willing.

One greatly minimizes the risk of injury from common everyday movements -- by performing a minimum of movements that serve as a warmup and preparation for most movements they make in their daily lives -- regardless of whether they participate in athletic competitions.  That doesn't mean they even have to be competing with themselves -- which some think is a more enlightened thing to do, but is the same competitive mentality that predisposes them to injury and overtraining/burnout, which results in the same premature retirement from such activities -- with the same awful consequences of one going into irrecoverable disability and decline.

The desired maximum is knowing when one is approaching that line without crossing it -- at more infrequent bouts that allow sufficient time for recovery and adjustment to enhanced levels of demands -- over the normal.  But there is this need for both the minimum of daily exercise (warmup), and a slightly more demanding, but more infrequent higher capability of meeting a greater challenge and demand -- on a schedule of once or twice a week -- that can be maintained all one's life.

Just doing the minimum, or just doing the maximum -- is not sufficient.   One needs to do both -- for each to give meaning to the other -- just as the relaxation gives meaning to the contraction -- in the beating of the heart, and why focus on one phase or the other, in preference over the other, is dangerous and counterproductive -- just as it is with all the other muscles of the body.  So just to contract a  muscle for as long as possible, or to relax them for as long as possible -- is not how the body is made to work, but requires both -- or life ceases, and before then, diminishes and deteriorates over a long period of time.

Most people just drop out from these activities -- once their "competitive" days are over, because they have no strategy for lifelong health -- which is the much bigger picture, and greater significance of their lives.  Life doesn't end at 30, or sixty, or even 90 now -- and one hopes to be at their best throughout, although the accolades have long stopped.  Remaining competitive in age-groups limited by the participation, is mostly nonsense because it is not the competition that is important, but a distraction from the essential understanding required to uniquely be one's best.  That is way beyond the competition.  That is one's reason for being, and doing, that will sustain them all the days of their lives.


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