Do you practice? You should

I was at the gym the other day and I saw something that, to me, was unexpected. There were two teenagers on the basketball court, practicing. Not just shooting around, but really practicing. Practicing the sort of drill that, even as a practiced basketball watcher, I had to see a couple of times before I understood it.


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One of the two stood on the foul line, while the other dribbled two balls from center court to the top of the point, passed one ball to the guy on the foul line, and stepped to one side, maintaining a final dribble, and took a three-point shot.

The shot was not the goal. The shot was the reward. If he lost the dribble, made a weak pass, or didn't set himself cleanly, he didn't even take the shot. He took the other ball back and did it again.

About 10 years ago, I spent six months or so volunteering on the East Woods Skate Plaza project. They'd already been at it for a couple of years, and it took until a couple of months ago to open a park. It was an unlikely project, I think, spearheaded by a retired couple in a nice neighborhood, in cooperation with high school and college skateboarders.

Neighborhood merchants wanted skaters off the sidewalks. Drivers wanted skaters off the streets. The art museum didn't want the skaters, which is a shame, because that patio is perfect. The one skate park in town was 10 miles away with no safe route.

For the couple, this was an important project, not because the skaters were a nuisance, but because they weren't. "Have you ever watched skateboarders on the sidewalk?" one of organizers asked me. "They practice the same tricks over and over, trying to get good at them. They're not causing trouble, they just want a place to practice."

It took a dozen years and a lowering of expectations (they wound up getting about a third of the park they set out to get, but they got a park, and when I went recently to see it, it was getting plenty of use.

As I came home from the gym thinking about practice, I arrived to an email from James Altucher, asking if I could write one page a day. That was great, because of course I can, and I was already thinking about it.

One page is about 300 words. This post is longer than that, and what does a post take to write? 45 minutes? Even if I edit the hell out of it, 2 hours? One page a day for 25 years is over 9,000 pages, 2.7 million words. That's thirty 300-page books by the time I reach retirement age (like I'm really ever going to "retire" from stuff like writing and reading and such).

Practice I shall, then. You?

End-of-summer to Thanksgiving fitness challenge: Let’s lose 20 pounds together

OK, we're winding down the season of barbecues (read: overeating) and laying around. And for me, hopefully we're ending the season of poison ivy and wasp stings, which laid me up, collectively, for a month this summer.

There are about 13 weeks from now to Thanksgiving; to lose 20 pounds in that time, we'll need to lose an average of a pound and a half a week.

Here is the tracking table I'll use; feel free to use whichever fields work for you. I'll weigh in once a week; miles will be the number of miles I've run each week (I'll use the app RunKeeper to track outdoor runs and the pedometer on the treadmill to track indoor runs). I'm an on-and-off runner, so I don't imagine this will fluctuate a lot, and if I have more than one week at 20 miles I'll be surprised.

2-minute pushups is the number of pushups I can do in 2 minutes, measured every other week. Pullups will be the number of unassisted pullups (overhand grip) I can do in 3 sets to failure, also measured every other week. These exercises are both good measures of strength. I expect a little but not large growth in pushups (they're already a favorite exercise of mine), but hopefully substantial growth in pullups.

If you're going to join me, let me know in comments, or catch me on Twitter, and we'll link to your tracker, too, if you like.

ยป Blank tracker (PDF)

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 N/A N/A
9/8/2014
9/15/2014 N/A N/A
9/22/2014
9/29/2014 N/A N/A
10/6/2014
10/13/2014 N/A N/A
10/20/2014
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014