Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Wasted Energy of Semi-Committment

I started cross country skiing a few years ago in an effort to get out more in the winter, and keep the winter fat down. As it was the 'trend' at the time, I decided to skate ski instead striding with 'classic' skis.

Becoming somewhat efficient with skate skis has taken years and hundreds of kilometers of effort. I'm still nowhere near as proficient as I'd like to be. As it turns out, the tricky part of skate ski efficiency is the ability to glide on a single ski. The idea is to direct all of your poling and lateral ski pushing energy into a force that transfers onto a flat, single ski. Skiers call this committing to the ski. When done properly, you literally fall from your poles as you transfer all of your weight and momentum onto a (single) glide ski.

Unfortunately: 1) those skinny skis don't give you much ski to work with; 2) the absence of of a heel binding limits your control; and 3) mis-managing the outer edge of your ski could put you face first onto a snowy surface.

As a result, beginners tend to semi-commit to their glide ski by transferring weight onto an inside edge of the ski to reduce the risk of outer edge mismanagement (and falling). Consequently, much of the energy put into poling and lateral ski pushing is lost to the friction of an edge against the snow. Momentum is lost. As the skier's confidence builds, however, the level of commitment to the ski increases, and efficiency improves. But you need to 1st decide to commit for it to work.

Much of this lesson is apropos to reaching Health and Fitness goals. Are you willing to accept some risk and commit to a program, or will you waste energy by semi-committing to it? Can you make the commitment to scheduling your exercise 3 or 4 times per week in an unmovable place on your calender, or will you semi-commit and train as best as your 'busy schedule' allows.

Are you willing to set a concrete, meaningful, measurable goal in 2008? And commit to getting there? Or will you reduce your chances of failing by picking a 'soft' target on the inner edge.

Reaching your fitness goals will not happen casually. There are too many distractions. Too many obstacles. Too many excuses. Reaching your 2008 Health and Fitness goals requires a genuine, sincere, pull-no-punches commitment. You must commit to the ski.