A tweet by Brian P. Hogan sums up brilliantly what I’ve been doing in the last two weeks to stay sharp.
Whether you’re playing scales, shooting free-throws, or writing a web page, repeating the basics keeps you ready to perform.
I’ve started using this practice in the last two weeks to help me stay sharp both mentally and physcially.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve started learning Python. To do this effectively I needed a list of problems and solutions in Ruby that I could compare with Python. I didn’t have anything so I started building Ruby implementations of basic data structures like lists, queues and stacks.
The solutions themselves are not complicated but that practice of writing simple classes and tests is something I’ve been doing almost every day for the last two weeks. What I’m hoping to do is to have a repository of code examples that are easy enough to do in thirty minutes, but can be used a starting point for other programming languages.
So far, I’ve been implementing similar data structures in Python and so far I’ve found the learning process to be much easier than if I had simply just started reading a book in Python.
They say you never forget how to ride a bike, what they do forget to tell you though is that your body usually forgets rather quickly how much effort is needed to ride a bike.
Over the last twenty years I’ve had gaps in my riding that has sometimes amounted to months. Technically, I’m good on the bike. Shifting weight between the wheels, getting the right gear in place for tricky climbs and maintaining balance on the bike for when things almost grind to a complete halt. These little tips and tricks have been amassed over years of riding bikes. They never leave you. What does leave you though is the rest time that your body needs in between intervals of high intensity cycling.
To combat this physical forgetfulness, I’ve started doing intervals at my local trails to help get my recovery time down. The basics of bike riding are often seen as having the technical chops to guide the bike fast through obstacles on the trail, but you need more than this to keep the momentum of the ride going. The intervals help by reducing the rest time your body needs through periods of high and low intensity riding. After a couple of interval sessions I’m already starting to see improvements.
Repeating the basics can be applied to any profession or activity. Taking the basics of the activity and practicing them regularly help ensure you never go rusty or get out of shape. It’s a small investment in time and effort to stay sharp but it’s an investment I’m willing to make for the benefits in the long term.