An Exercise in Commitment: Part 3

June 7th — June 20th

This is now my third post in this series tracking my progress along these goals.

It has now been 4 weeks since I started this challenge. This week will be a short post, as things were quite uneventful.

Here is a stock photo so theres a pretty thumbnail for this post. Tigers are my favourite animal.

Truly a beautiful animal. Fun fact: I was known as the “tiger chef” back in culinary school.

Lessons learned so far:

When I first started this challenge, I was struggling. As mentioned in my previous post, the four-minute mile goal was making things very difficult. Last week I switched my running goal to a squash related goal. It was hard to bring myself to make this change at first, but over the last two weeks I have realized that this was a good move. Having goals of approximately equal weight makes it much easier to manage my time, and has helped me progress in multiple goals at once.

When I was planning out this challenge, I decided on the following approach: I would start with Spanish, the one-armed chin up (OAC), and squash first, as I thought they would take the longest time and would be goals that I would want to be practicing continuously for the full 6 months. I decided that I would intersperse the other goals (juggling, harmonica, unicycle) in between.

For this reason, I spent this first month focusing on Spanish, OAC, and squash. I will bring in one of the other three goals around when I write my next reflection (in 2 week). I’ll likely start with juggling, then harmonica, then finish with unicycling. This is because I am expecting an injury from the unicycling, which may interfere with my other goals. If that does happen, I would want it to occur as late as possible.

Now let’s recap what happened these last two weeks in regards to my goals.

The major themes are as follows:

  • Establishing Baselines
  • Daily Routines
  • Implementing Quality Improvement

Establishing Baselines:

The first order of business was determining my baselines. I already had a baseline for my OAC and Spanish, but didn’t have much for squash. In order to determine this baseline, I recorded myself playing a game of squash with a friend. Below are my baselines.

Squash Baseline:

  • I used the following: Squash Skill Levels
  • I determined I was at either a 2.0 or 2.5 in skill level. For practicality sake, I will not be including the numbers of tournaments I have played in, as a measure of my skill level, as there are not enough available between now and November.

OAC Baseline:

  • Chin up — Can perform 3 sets of 12–15 reps. 1 rep max weight of bodyweight plus 80 lbs of weight added (May 30th, 2017)
  • Pull up — Can perform 3 sets of 6–8, 1 rep max weight of bodyweight plus 25 lbs of weight added

Spanish Baseline:

  • Little to no fluency in Spanish. Can read fragmented sentences, order food, and ask very basic questions. Vocabulary between 100–200 words estimated.

I found these baselines to be a useful exercise. Establishing these numbers gives me an idea of where I have started from, so that I can track my improvement effectively.

Daily Routines:

What has been most effective this week, was the establishment of daily routines. I started this on June 13th, after a few days of sporadic practice. I found I was doing pretty similar things each day to develop my skills.

In order to make this process easier to follow and improve my efficiency, I decided to establish a daily routine for each goal. My plan was to ensure these routines lasted 15–20 min for each goal (approx.), as it is easy to fit in 15 minute blocks into my schedule.

Spanish Daily Routine:

  • 10 minutes Duolingo, 15 new Anki cards from First 440 Words in Spanish.

OAC Daily Routine (5x per week):

  • Sub-maximal training. 4–6 sets of slow chin ups, 80% of max reps. Current doing between 5–10 chin ups per set.
  • During sub-maximal training you stop before muscular failure / fatigue. Doing so allows you to do multiple sets (provided adequate rest is taken between sets), without overtraining. Useful for training reps. Goal is to get to point where I can do 30 chin ups consecutively without struggling. Once I am at that point, I feel comfortable working more on strength.

Squash Daily Routine:

  • This one is a bit harder. I try to play games 5x per week. I achieved this the week of June 6th, but was unable to the 2nd week, due to a wrist injury. Took the week off. Hoping it will be good soon….

Implementing Quality Improvement (in a loose sense of the term)

I started tracking my progress on a spare sheet of paper, placing an x in each cell when I completed a task.

While I have limited data, I still have something to go off of. I have a few observations:

  • I clump together my productivity. I generally do my Spanish and OAC daily routine together (except on the 15th, when I did Spanish while falling asleep in bed, and had such severe wrist pain that I had to take a break)
  • One the 16th and 19th, I couldn’t finish my tasks because I got home really late. I generally complete these routines right before bed.

Based upon this, I want to try something. I am going to attempt to do my daily routines in the morning for at least 5 days in a row in the next 2 weeks. I think developing this habit may be more conducive to ensuring I meet my daily routines more often.

The goal is to eventually be at the point where I complete my daily routine every day.

NO. DAYS. OFF. !!!!!!!!

Anyways, that’s all for this week. Thanks for tuning in to this reflection.