That’s how long James Clear in an essay for the Huffington Post says that it takes to form a new habit. Some folks say 21, but this article looks at research that says that on average it is 66, depending on the person, the activity, and the circumstances.
I was curious about this because it feels like I am moving into a new phase of skating, one in which I am (surprise!) actually doing some things right much of the time. My body is aligned, my hips are under me, I am bending and pushing correctly, I keep the proper lean into the circle (heck, I am actually making a circle), and I am on edges. Who would have thought? I still have to think hard about doing things correctly, and stop myself when I revert to old habits (usually when I’m tired or not concentrating). But this is way better than it was.
One of the nice things about keeping this blog is that in reading past entries, I can tell that my proprioception and muscle control have improved a lot. I credit both of my coaches as well as PT Sarah with figuring out which muscles weren’t activating. I can actually feel where I am over my skates, and though I don’t always get to the right positions immediately, I can usually fix things by lifting more through the hips or bending my ankles and pressing through my feet.
Here are some of the things I’d like to make a habit of by May 19:
- Skating with a good lean. This doesn’t just happen through putting my foot down and hoping I will be in the right place; I have to make it happen by putting my body weight into the circle. Maybe I could think of this as “skating assertiveness training.”
- Sending my energy through my skating thigh bone. Maybe if I do this, I’ll have thighs like the pros. (Was thinking of writing a song, “Meryl Davis thighs” to the tune of Kim Carnes’s “Bette Davis Eyes” but then seeing the weird costumes and proudly synthetic fabrics of her video reminded me of how strange this all is, and I had to stop–thankfully for you all.)
- Rotating my trunk appropriately so that I am balanced correctly (see my last post for details).
- Knowing when to rotate the thigh internally. This is especially true of the free leg thing on back inside edges.
- Achieving optimum head position. Lifted, looking in the right direction.
- Bending, pushing, stretching for continuous flow. This one has been a tough one for me, not just because I am somewhat lazy (me break a sweat?) but also because I have never felt quite confidently balanced enough to keep from checking my flow. But I think a big difference is having more ankle and foot mobility as well as improved items 1-5 above.
So the 66 day challenge begins. Here to wish me luck are good skating friends, and two dogs (who belong to my son’s music teacher), who remind me of what I have to look forward to after a vigorous session of continuous skating flow!
- Exercise: inside mohawk, back change edge, back-to-front choctaw. Lean toward new leg on back inside edge, turn in free leg on inside edge (rotate legs in hip sockets), generate speed with back edge pull, push on all strokes,
- Exercise: chasse, syncopate, cross cross, outside edge, repeat. Maintain lean.
- Exercise: mohawk, push back, inside three. Pull, pull, pull! Opposite arm on inside edge coming out of three (face outside circle).
- European threes. No delay before the three, entry edge, arm/torso rotation, and lean should deepen edge automatically. Straighten legs; thighs touch before anything else does. Make sure the correct arm is in front sooner. Don’t forget the ankle bend and push on the back inside edge after the three.
- Outside outside open mohawks (Viennese). Do real edges throughout; don’t let the free foot coming in to pull you out of your lean. Face where you are going, and don’t allow the free side to head backwards after turn.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”–Arthur Ashe