The Tao of Pugilism

Ever since my dreaded illness, I've been bemoaning a change in my daily rhythm. During the week or so I was sick, my sleep cycle got totally screwed, and from there, my morning exercise regimen has been nearly nonexistent. Going to sleep late means getting up late, and getting up late means no time to work out, and no workout means low energy, and low energy get the idea. Subsequently, I've been noticing how hard it has been to get that rhythm back and have even tried drugging myself to sleep early in the hopes of breaking it. Sadly, no luck. The rhythm I had is gone, and I'm compelled to work much harder to get it back again.

Conversely, at the church of pugilism on Sunday, I was hitting the speed bag (real boxers call this working the speed bag, but I'm not a real boxer nor do I play one on the internets), and I noticed that my rhythm there has hardly changed over what seems like years. Slow, and methodical, 1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2, my sluggish raps of the bag made me realize that I needed to try to pick up the pace a bit. I was in a speed bag rut and, in order to raise my skill-level, I was going to have to willfully shake up my rhythm.

Cue the 30-second clock.

Generally, at the church of pugilism, our circuit is based on 3-minute rounds. Three minutes of one heavy bag, three minutes of another, three minutes of the speed bag, and so forth. However, once in a while, those 3-minute rounds are divided up by the 30-second clock in order to induce some sort of change. Such as, 30 seconds hard punches, 30 seconds light punches, 30 seconds hard...until the 3 minutes is up. And in some cases, such as when you're on the speed bag, the 30-second clock can either be ignored or it can be used however you want it. In my case, the 30-second clock gave me a measured opportunity to fluctuate my rhythm on the speed bag in the hopes of making it faster over time.

To me (and many others, I'm sure), it's, mentally, much easier to change a behavior for 30 seconds than it is for three minutes. In life, three minutes generally isn't all that long, but on the eighth round of a seemingly brutal circuit, three minutes can feel like an eternity. So, focusing intensely on a different rhythm for 30 seconds works much better for me than even contemplating doing it for three whole minutes. And even though the 30-second clock does break up my rhythm, periodically, my rhythm could use a little breaking up. Like when I get too comfortable with what I'm doing, and consequently, I'm not getting any better at it. Other times, like when I'm in a good rhythm, having it broken makes it all the more difficult to improve. Rhythm is a nuisance.

Nonetheless, it would seem that, in order to get my sleep and exercise cycles back to where I want them, I'm going to need to find something that works like the 30-second clock to help me change my behaviors. Some sort of disciplinary tool I can use to induce a change. I'm guessing that either reward-based or punishment-based would work equally well. It seems the trick is to make it relatively short-term and direct. So, I'm going to go for reward-based (who wouldn't?) to get me back on track. After three weeks of resuming my workout schedule, I'm going to do something nice for myself. Maybe a relaxing weekend. Maybe a pleasant massage. Either one would be waaaaay zen.

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Nothing New byslag at 9:09 AM

2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here):

Gye Greene said...

Such philosophizing... :)

From what I remember of my Behavioral Psych -- positive reinforcement works better than negative (i.e. rewards, rather than punishments).

And smaller, incremental, immediate rewards work better than larger rewards that are pushed far back in time.

Also: regarding the rhythm -- try searching the intertubes for some snare drum exercises, to break up the rut. A good one to start with is a "paradiddle":

1-2-1-1 2-1-2-2 (repeat all)


slag said...

gg: Philosophizing? Are you being sarcastic with me again? You know how I encourage that.

Good to know about positive reinforcement! That seems right to me. It's something that I wish more people knew and understood. That fact alone undermines the entire Republican "disciplinary daddy" approach to everything. Assuming their goal is to achieve positive results and not just punish people, that is.

Good idea on the drum exercise. I've give it a try. Thanks!

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