Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Can I count to five?

Game shows are a great example of ordinary people, some of whom are very smart, making less than stellar decisions under intense pressure. I'm afraid I can't point and laugh too hard, because I resemble that remark; in flying, it's why I like my checklists so much.

In the gym, it manifests as a really hard time counting to five. Yes, five. Like the number of fingers on one hand, five. No, I can't move my fingers to track - they have to stay gripping the barbell, because my work set is, by design, the heaviest weight I can handle.

And when my entire focus is on completing this barbell movement, in perfect form, with the heaviest weight I can manage, straining the limits of my ability so I can force my body to adapt to an even heavier weight... it gets really hard to remember things like "Is that the third time I've accomplished it, or the fourth?"

This leads to technical errors, like sets of 6 where I'm so exhausted I flirt with injury as my form gets sloppy... because I was supposed to stop at 5, and lost count. (I default to more reps instead of fewer reps, in a "When in doubt, assume you have more work to do." Fitting right in there with assuming fuel burn is higher than estimated, there are no tailwinds ever, weather is worse than forecast, repairs will end up at double the cost and the time estimated, and there are never enough Eno's fruit salts to cover the whole crew*, it's a good way to make sure you don't get caught short. Some people call it pessimistic; they also tend to wonder why life is fond of hitting them out of the blue with unforeseen problems.) 

I will feel really, really silly if I end up getting a coach again, just so she can stand there and count to five for me. Maybe I'll bribe my husband instead...

*South African advert: "Is the bottom falling out of your world? Take Eno's fruit salts, to stop the world falling out of your bottom!"


  1. It's been a long time since my workout days, but this made me laugh. I thought I was the only one who lost count. I definitely assumed I had more work to do. Definitely neded up doig more reps than planned a few times.

  2. This sounds like a job for some simple counter circuit and a foot (or whatever) switch. But that would be/look awkward. And yet...

  3. Dunno if this would work for you, but I have to count to 20 or 30 (doing much less demanding, PT-type stuff) and when the attention lags, sometimes I switch to counting in a language I'm beginning to forget, or one I never knew that well. That seems to keep just enough of my mind on the numbers that I don't lose count.

  4. northier - nope, you're definitely far from alone!

    Orvan - that's a higher-tech solution than my fallback after bribing my husband, which involved dragging my foot in chalk-dust lines on the platform, to mark off my reps.

    Margaret - I'll have to try that! I can count to cinco, though not to pyat anymore. And I had to look up Fünf, because I can only count to four in German (yay Faderhead, for teaching me that! Yay internet, for eventually coming along and explaining that the german clubbing song "Tanz zwo drei vier!" was actually German for "dance two three four!", because it sure sounds like they're mumbling "Death sold light beer!" to a great beat.

  5. Don't worry about it, we all do that... :-D

  6. I have been periodically attempting to knit socks. The pattern I picked is considered extremely basic and easy. The body of the sock runs alternating rows of "knit 2 pearl 1" and "knit 1 pearl 2". I am apparently unable to consistently count to 1,1-2 in timing. I've given up trying to go back and fix the goofs, at whatever point I finish this sock it'll just be "different".