This past weekend I was remotely coaching my friend Jane through baking her first loaf of sourdough bread. There were several points at which it was just impossible for me to describe the exact right step to take or how long to wait exactly between one thing and another. It made me think of another situation…
I’ve been looking at picking up a very old vintage Vespa as a restoration project. Something I’ve noticed play out over previous projects is that I do as much research as I know to do beforehand, but no matter how much I seem to do as soon as I actually get my hands dirty on the project I end up learning things that I wish I had known before I got started. The problem is, I don’t even know what questions to ask before I get my eyes and hands on it.
It all goes back to this concept you’re familiar with if you’ve been reading my writing for awhile: metis.
There exists an entire category of knowledge that is impossible to make legible and transfer from one person to another. No more can I describe all the subtle visual, olfactory, and tactile cues you’re paying attention to throughout bread making that you need to make adjustments based on than someone can write down all the specific possibilities and variables that could exist in a Vespa (or whatever) restoration project that could help you avoid a costly mistake down the road.
These are things that can only be learned through direct experience.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t find an answer to specific questions, but often times you don’t even know what questions to ask before gaining the experience.
What ever could this possibly have to do with fitness?
Your body and physiology is the ultimate example of metis in practice. No one will ever have or be able to have more direct first-hand knowledge of how it works, what it responds to, and so on than you. The only way to gain more metis is to go through the process, experiment, pay attention, take notes, analyze, and repeat. You’re only going to get so far, if you get anywhere at all, by looking for answers in articles or other forms of traditional, legible knowledge.
The only way to even know what questions to ask is to start the process.