Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Musings 236 The fickleness of muscle memory

Monday Musings 236 The fickleness of muscle memory

As a wannabe writer i feel i do not have range. I tend to write about only a few things more and more. This self view haunts me. I guess i will have to live with it or keep struggling to expand the range. This preamble was needed because the trigger to this musings is yet again my ongoing relationship with running. 

Last week i ran another of my half marathon amidst the picturesque locale of durshett - a jungle track in the western ghats, amidst drizzle, lush greenery, a stream flowing along and grey and cloudy skies and hints of waterfalls in not too distant hills. I struggled through the distance that i had believed that i had mastered over the last 5 years through and having participated in almost a score of such runs of 21 kms. Nothing is more damaging to a runners self esteem than the sight of his timings plummeting to practically what it was 5 years ago!. It is the equivalent of a writers block or a stars next movie going bust (i like the comparison - it glamorizes my grief!). 

Last 6 months have been a case of poor practice and irregular running and it showed in the timings and the over exhaustion and limb aches even before i had reached the mid way mark. I should have known better than to be surprised by the outcome because i have had one of the most erratic running discipline in the last 6 months ever. However buoyed by pure self confidence and a notion of past achievement, undeterred by the grim face of truth, i ran and faced my comeuppance. 

So here are my lessons from the fall from grace in a manner of speaking. 

1. Muscle memory is weak. So is talent and capability. Even a brief slowdown in practice would show. A famous violinist allegedly said is once "if i do not practice for a month the audience know; if i do not practice for a week my wife knows and if i do not practice for a day I know'.

2. Muscle memory is also fickle. It goes away sooner than the click of a mouse (blink of an eye is so passe). So is expertise - which has to be kept on its toes all the times. I have never experienced the 'sharpening the saw' phrase in stronger force ever - what if i was jolted by it. 

3. Muscle memory is not a dependable ally. Self confidence based out of the comfort of 'i have done it so many times in the past' can be unpredictable and delusional. It usually sets us up for a royal fall. 

While i am determined now to train myself back to the capability levels of yore, the big question that has been haunting me since the run is - "what other areas of my expertise is rusted for the want of practice and i am not even aware of the rust"
What about you?



  1. Thought provoking blog sir!!
    reminds me about the days when we used to play many complicated guitar tunes together in a group without seeing the strings even once easily...and now its difficult to play them consciously...Practicing develops unconscious perfection whereas conscious imperfection is the result of not practicing!!

  2. Very thought provoking Guru Bhai! Infact need for keep sharpening the saw is being felt the most in this era. It is now assumed that with age, people stop sharpening their saw .That is the reason , the new breed of investors are not willing to bet on entrepreneurs who are above 30-35 years of age. Era of basking in old glory is gone and there is no substitute for keep training hard for facing the new day. I don't know about running but your uncanny ability of raising the right issues with right intensity seems to be fully intact

  3. In the process of running in our own lives, we forget see one's self. The series of metamorphosis, one go through is phenomenal. The question you have asked, has given a jolt.