Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Form the Habit of Training

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to form a good habit, but how easy it is to lose one?

Below is an excerpt from an article from Zen Habits on working out. I believe it is as applicable to martial arts training as to anything else. The full article may be read here.

For myself, I've formed the habit of getting up quite early everyday so that I can work out without unexpected events hijacking my time, or some arbitrary deadline hanging over my head. It's been working wonders. 

Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan

Post written by Leo Babauta.
In the last few months, I’ve spent a bit of time working with a group of fantastic fitness experts to create a fitness program that I think could change people’s lives.

But what I’ve found in doing research and working with beta testers is that the most important thing isn’t some secret ideal fitness plan … but forming the habit of fitness.

It’s the habit, not the plan, that makes all the difference in the world.

It’s fascinating, really. I’ve found that you can give beginners 10 different fitness plans — yoga, running, Crossfit, TurboFire, P90X, bootcamp workouts, MoveNat, etc. — and they can all fail. Why?

Because it doesn’t matter how good the workout is, or how good the diet is … if people don’t actually follow the plan.

The problem isn’t that people don’t know what kinds of exercises to do … they generally do know what they should be doing. And really, no matter what people choose, it’ll (generally) be better than nothing. It’s much better to do bodyweight exercises, or run, or do yoga, or play a sport, than to do no activity at all.

So how do you get people to do something, rather than nothing? It’s not even a matter of motivation. You can motivate people to get active — for a day or three. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is figuring out how to get them to stick to it.

When I first started running, in late 2005, I knew that I could get myself to run for a few days, because I’d done it a dozen times before. But never, in those dozen attempts at running, could I stick to it for long enough to make any difference in my health, fitness level, or weight.

Then I applied the same principles that worked for quitting smoking, to running, and it stuck. A year later, after running a handful of races from 5Ks to half marathons, I ran my first marathon (and have run a couple since). What was the secret? Motivation? A good running plan? No: it was learning to create the habit of running, and figuring out how to make that habit stick.

It was that simple.


walt said...

It's a big step upward in life when a person real-izes that habits can be created and used to support one's aims. Prior to that point, most folks just seem buffeted by habits willy-nilly.

The early morning thingy seems especially conducive to practices such as yours. I've been doing the "early to bed, early to..." routine since my early twenties; a short nap after lunch makes up any deficit.

Rick Matz said...

Deliberately forming habits to support our goals seems like a good strategy. That and breaking up bad habits whenever we notice them.

Paul said...

Morning workout routine is the most common habit for folks in HK training for chi-related disciplines. Every morning from 5-6am, many public parks in HK are virtually jam-packed with people doing this kind or that kind of routines with or without a coach. Tai-chi is most popular, with zhan zhuang getting more popular too. In addition to forming a good habit, I believe setting specific training objective is important, which however, may demand a certain level of proficiency in the practice if a practitioner is not working out under the supervision of a coach.

Rick Matz said...

I think that's wonderful to have whole parks full of people doing this stuff. I can't imagine ...

The Strongest Karate said...

I used to say to my wife, when she would get home from a long day and just want to crash on the couch that it would be better if she just put in 20 half-hearted minutes in the gym rather than stay home simply because she wouldn't be giving it her all.

"Protect the habit" is what I would tell her. And she would remind me of the same when I would be reticent to go in to the dojo after a particularly grueling class the previous day.

Rick Matz said...

Good habits are hard to preserve.

I had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago and didnt' work out. I continued to get up early though, just to preserve the habit and make it easier to start practicing again once I felt better.

Patrick Parker said...

"Preserve the habit" is good advice. I have been successful thusfar in the advent challenge- I have done 5-10 minutes of stake standing each day except for 1.

Rick Matz said...

Good stuff, Pat! Maybe you'll soon be up to choking out someone your own size!