Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Road So Far

I said in my last post I'd post my practice regimen "soon," so over a month later, here it is!  I've decided on the tag "The Road So Far" to delineate which blog entries are for this Guinness attempt and which are not.  Yes, 'tis a Supernatural reference.  Last time I discovered it was indeed about the journey and not necessarily the goal, so I chose my tag accordingly this time.  Although there is no journey without a goal -- then it would just be called "wandering about aimlessly."

So if you want to read about this Guinness attempt and filter out my other musings, click on "The Road So Far" in the word cloud to your right.  If you wish to read about my previous Guinness attempt, click on "The Impossible Goal."

So.  Practice.  In order for this blog post to make sense, I'll have to drag my current celebrity obsession crush into this.  *runs to Lux, fetches Tom Ellis, and plops him down here*

If you're a big fan of the show Lucifer, you'll notice that Tom, who performs the titular character, got incredibly ripped between season 3 and 4.  Heck, I certainly noticed. (What??  You seriously think this is an entirely professional blog?  You have a lot to learn about this town, sweetie.)  In this article for Men's Health he described how he achieved incredible results in a short period of time.  His trainer said that as long as he faithfully kept to the system, "...there’ll be a point when you wake up one day and your body will look different."

What does Tom's training have to do with my training?  Honey, I went to Bible college.  I can relate any illustration to any sermon.  Here's the connection:  If you plot the lines for fitness training and stenography training, you'll see they are parallel.

We started slow -- 80 words a minute was my first speed class after theory -- and worked our way up.  When we were in theory class we asked the teacher to dictate at 225 words a minute, just to hear how fast our exit speeds were, and we couldn't even comprehend writing at such speeds.

Then when we were in our 160s, we asked the teacher to dictate at 80, and it was incomprehensible that we once struggled at that speed.  We woke up and our writing skills were different.

Same with strength.  I started bench pressing with a bare 45-pound barbell, and my personal best at my peak was 110 pounds.  I wasn't conscious of getting stronger over time -- I simply followed my plan, and as time passed, it felt like I could suddenly achieve more.

Another article online has to do with training Marine women to do pullups.  It was common "knowledge" when I grew up that women didn't have the upper body strength to do pullups, except for those unusually strong women.  This is 100% false.

The TL;DR of this article is that you gotta stop it with the assisted pullup machine, because it's a crutch.  It doesn't force your entire body to get in on the act.  Jump in with both feet.  Hang from the bar.  Do negatives -- where you hold on at the top and descend as slow as you can.  Practice it daily, if you can.  (That's what the ARTICLE says, not me.  I've tried this and now my shoulder is jacked up.)

How do these two articles about strength training apply to my practice regimen?  Besides Tom Ellis being my inspiration for both steno and fitness.  (heart-eyes emoji)

For starters, I'm taking off the crutch of practicing slow until I'm accurate and working my way up.  In the past I've always -- ALWAYS -- passed speed tests after I practiced at speeds well above my target speed.  This was true for school, RPR, RMR, and speed contests.

I BEGIN my Guinness speed practice by increasing the speed to 420 (heh) words a minute, using the add-on to Google Chrome that is aptly named Video Speed Controller.  THEN I decrease the speed incrementally until I'm getting something for everything.  It's rough as all get out, but I'm getting SOMETHING.

And guess what -- that speed is hovering around 360-370.

Second, the quote from Tom's trainer has bounced around in my brain ever since I read it.  From day to day, it's hard to see improvement.  Until you look back a few months later and see just how far you've come.  If you've ever seen my Failure seminar, you've heard me say something like this before -- trust the system and results will follow.  Don't focus on the goal; focus on the system.

I distinctly remember training for the RMR back in the days of cassettes.  I had a fancy cassette player that allowed you to increase the speed.  I practiced with speed contest cassettes, and sped it up.  One day I was practicing (for the RMR, remember, which is 260 wpm as opposed to speed contest's 280) and thought to myself, "Oh no, I forgot to speed up the dictation."  Yeah.  I had indeed sped it up, but my system was getting results.  It felt gettable.  And of course I subsequently passed the RMR.

So I am trusting the system once again in that before long I will not recognize my skills; they're so advanced :)

Much thanks for the support of my 100-Day Challenge club, where we encourage each other to practice daily for 100 days in a row.  I highly recommend you start such a club.  The benefits aren't just accountability; it's the friends you make along the way.

When's the fifth season of Lucifer coming out??