03 May 2009

The price you pay for fun

Yes, I'm late for my Day 10 entry, but I have a valid excuse. Like I did a while back, I went camping and so instead of sitting at my computer, typing up my thoughts that have grown in the last 10 days, I was treading up the seemingly endless stairs leading to the top of a mountain in Mui Wo with some good company. It was lovely, it's been ages since I'd seen so many stars in the sky and heard nothing but the sound of the wind as I lay there on the uneven ground looking forward to my great trip the next day taking me to Discovery Bay. Of course, nothing goes so perfectly and halfway through setting up the tent, I sprained my right ankle in a little ditch on the ground and found myself lying there holding on to the injury, really upset because now I knew this injury is going to affect me in a whole lot of ways you couldn't imagine. For example, I'm a very kind of guy and now I'm going to be an on-the-guy type of guy, and now with this, I'm going to be a very oooonnn-ttthhheeeeee-gggggoooo kind of guy. The last time I sprained my ankle, everywhere I wanted to go would take me twice to three times as long. This is really not what I need :(. Well hopefully this sprain isn't as bad as last time, though previous injuries always mean the healing is going to suck more. Darn.

But on a brighter note, I'm home safe, I've managed to give myself a killer 13 hours of sleep to recover and the foot, well it's feeling better. To make things sweeter, I'm watching some drum performances from Modern Drummer 2008 and oh man, it is awesome! Speaking of drumming, I've decided to go back to basics once again and re-teach myself everything because I was reading an article about muscle memory and it finally made sense to me, how the masters differ from the typical players. You'll notice the same advice from all of them "Practice it slow.... really, really slow" and it used to always annoy me because I'd wonder "so when can I go faster?" There's so much confusing advice on the Internet now because you'll see someone tell you to practice something slow, then someone else will say, the only way to c condittion your muscles to go fast is to, well, practice until the speed you need to be at! Which makes sense! I mean, no sprinter is going to practice light jogging and expect to rip apart a 100m dash! The thing is, now that I've done so much more research about fitness, muscles, nutrition, etc. I've come to realize that the reason there is actually a lot of lacking information in terms of drumming. People tell you to practice slow, but no one stopped to say why. The reason, from what I can understand, is that slow is the way to go for muscle memory training. Slow allows your brain to see every nuance of a movement and accordingly write it down. Much like a teacher telling you something to write down in your notebook, he/she has to say it slowly, so you can record it down in time, every word, correctly. Once you've done that, when you go back and re-read what you wrote, you don't need to do it slowly, you can read at your own pace. Following that, is where the real development occurs, you start to learn to read faster, and faster. This is where everything differentiates, the person who wrote down the notes clearly and properly to start off with, can read them faster and faster, the person who scribbled or even left out a few words to start off with, no matter how fast they go, will always have the wrong sentence read.

Interesting. In fact, this takes me back to why this blog was even started. As you can see from the subtitle, this blog is for me to find connections between a lot of things I am passionate about. And in many ways, it has helped me a lot! I've always been a firm believer that everything in life is interconnected and so improving in one field, always has some sort of help to any other field, even if it's only a small amount. My learning more about fitness, muscles, nutrition, has in turn helped me better realize the mechanics behind drumming. I'm able to go and strengthen my muscles through more than just vigorous drumming/practice, but at the gym. A marathon runner doesn't just run, run, run run, they also have to eat right and also weight train to keep the body freshly stimulated and growing.

In fitness, there is a phase called the plateau where your body has got it, it's understood what you're trying to do and it's adapted to it. The body reduces the amount or even stops growing through the same stimulus because it's got it. It knows how to handle this now. And this is a good thing. But if our goal is to continuously grow, then it's not. In the same way I've come to realize, even with drumming, I can't keep doing the same thing and expect to grow. Sometimes I have to go to the basics, work on that, then go back to what I was doing, and I'll notice an improvement in it already!

With weight-training in the gym, there's a very important part that people often forget. It's rest. Your muscles do not grow in the gym, they grow out of the gym. The gym is for you to stimulate your central nervous system (CNS) and muscle fibres, then give them a chance to grow so they can handle the load, should it be given to them again. The same goes with my aim to train my muscle memory in drumming (please note, muscle memory in terms of fitness is different from that of learning techniques), I don't go all out the first time I'm learning something, because I've come to realize, there's a period of time my CNS takes before it can really learn something, and usually the next day when I come back to something, I realize I'm much better at it! I used to think "oh well, I just learnt it while sleeping" but now I know it's my CNS at work. In fact, knowing this, allows me to reduce the chances of myself getting fed up the day before when I feel like my progress is lacking or I'm greedy to grow faster.

I've found that when you know how things work, you learn to appreciate it better, rather than just say "oh, I don't know how it works inside the black box, it just does". Perhaps this is just me, I'm a curious person and constantly seek out information, but when I learn the truth, it usually helps a lot :). Now that I've learnt the science behind muscle memory, it motivates me to literally practice slowly. I don't do it because I should but because I know why I should.

Speaking of the CNS, I've been reading a lot about stretching your muscles/body and boy has this improved my flexibility! I used to just stretch my muscles and, well stretch because that's what I was told to do and I just stuck with it. Then I decided it was time I stopped and understood why stretching your muscle and holding it helps with flexibility. I mean, what's stopping my body from just allowing the muscles to stretch in the first place?! I mean, if I can make them stretch within 10 minutes, why not now? So I got my hands on the book Relax into Stretch and it taught me a lot of concepts about stretching, how it actually has to do with our CNS and why relaxing is so important. I realized that very often, I used to stretch in a non-relaxed state, like I'd put in effort while doing it, thus making me concentrate while stretching, when it really should be a relaxing event. I used to have heavy metal blasting into my ears while stretching but now I make it a point to play nothing but relaxing tunes like Akira Jimbo's Four Colors album. I've heard that album a thousand times and I'm still in love with it. Speaking of great bands/albums, I newly discovered this band called DGM and woah, their song Hereafter has completely blown me away. I really, really like these guys! And all thanks to the website MetalStorm which I visit daily to get my dose of new metal-related news, videos, reviews, it's great and exactly what I was looking for!

So why The price you pay for fun? Well, as you can see in this post, I've done a heck of a lot of research about the things I enjoy. It's a price I have to pay. A lot of people around me actually get annoyed at me when they see me borring lots of books from the library and always tell me I'm not focused enough, I really should specialize in one field and work towards it. As I've said before, I believe everything is interconnected and the only way to find new connections is to try new ways. This is the price I'm willing to pay, to enjoy my passions. I often consider it a problem, I even tell people, my having so many passions is a hassle. I spend hours each day working at them, while still trying to balance a typically normal life of, well, earning money. While people can find time to sit and channel surf, I'm stuck slaving away at my drum pad, or reading about why my CNS is not letting my hamstrings stretch fully. In many ways, I'm a victim of my own addictions.

But that's passion.

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Blogger 傑森龍 GS Jackson said...

i totally agree... if you do not rest after workout - you are just doing more destruction to your body than helping it...

10 May, 2009 11:58  
Blogger Vivek Mahbubani said...

haha yea, it's one of those weird things that "constant hard work" doesn't work :P I'm realizing more and more that just working at something over and over again doesn't work as good as working on it, stepping back, then going back at it again :)

10 May, 2009 13:53  
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