Sunday, June 01, 2008

Falling off the treadmill

No, I didn't fall off my treadmill literally, but I sure fell off the wagon, which was my treadmill running, when I got a bad cold a few weeks ago. I was so very surprised when I finally tried to do a regular run again 1 1/2 weeks later how incredibly out of shape I felt! I had read in my running books that when you take off time for whatever reason, injury, sickness, etc., you need to allow yourself double the time you take off to get back up to the same running fitness level. That sounded so weird to me when I had read it. But boy has it rung true as I've had to run shorter distances and work my way back up!

Funny thing is, when I read this in the books I thought immediately of my piano playing days, back when I was practicing up to 3 hours/day. I certainly felt a noticeable difference in my fingers if I ever missed 2 days in a row. Well, we are borrowing Tom's cousin's digital piano and when I sat down to play it for the first time once the kids were in bed I was so happy to be able to play and play with no one listening (partly because of the noise I make, partly because of the mistakes I make) that I ended up playing for over 1 1/2 hours. I was not surprised to feel how out of shape my hands and fingers were in playing well and smoothly, but it did surprise me to feel they were actually sore like muscles will be when worked more than usual.

Since I'd just had this experience on the piano right before the experience on the treadmill, I found myself contemplating the "falling of the wagon" idea and wondering what other things people have felt this phenomenon with. I have 2 sisters-in-law (well, one of them is a nothing-to-me :) --love you Ang!) who took years and years of ballet. I can easily imagine that being something that you would feel the difference between just a few days of not practicing vs. being really off the wagon for a while. Then I thought about another sister of mine and wondered if baking daily as she does creates a fine-tuned feeling that could be lost after a long period of no baking :) So my question to you, my readers, is this: What is something that you have done to such a degree as to feel the difference in fine-tuning when you stop for a short break and then it's even worse when you take a longer break from it?

My last thought, and why I'm actually putting these thoughts in a post is that in reading over the conference issue of the Ensign I've been reading the talks (3 in a row there) on testimonies and feeling the Holy Ghost. It made me think of times I've definitely been "practicing" more, and hence could feel the immediate effects of a short break: When I was in my senior year at BYU I was taking advantage of the Sunday School Scripture Study at Six am to get myself up and going each morning before my student teaching. I'll never forget the one day I missed it for sleeping in. I was walking across the busy campus and when someone cut me off abruptly where I was walking only to move very slowly in front of me I felt such an irritation that it caught me off guard. At that time, being in regular practice, I was certainly used to such occasions (which of course are plentiful for a chronically late procrastinator on a large busy campus) and my usual, unthinking response was always a calm and peace. It took me a minute or two to realize that I hadn't read my scriptures and had a good prayer to ask for the spirit for the day. When you're fine-tuned every little adjustment is noticed. I'm sad to report that I've had such a long break from this level of fitness that it almost seems impossible. Comparing spiritual fitness to the truly physical counterparts can help me believe in it, even when it feels like I'm not sure that regular prayer and scripture study can bring me that level of peace and calm. I just have to compare my attempts at spiritual fitness to pre-treadmill attempts to physical fitness, and pre-digital piano scattered attempts at practicing my music, for they both did not avail physical fitness, nor musical fitness. And with that I need to go get fit in more ways than my treadmill can offer (though it is a great place for thought and meditation.)