Slacklining for 500 Days In a Row
In a recent post on Instagram, YogaSlackers teacher Erica McCormick celebrated her first send on a line she had been attempting, on and off, for almost two years. Towards the bottom of the post, in parenthesis, she mentioned that the send came on her 482nd day of slacklining every day. Although it was included, almost as an afterthought, Sam and I found that to be inspiring. 482 days!
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Erica to see what she’s learned since starting on her slackline-every-day journey.
What made you decide to start on your journey of slacklining every day?
I remember the first time we met you and Sam. It was at a Wanderlust event in Snowshoe, West Virginia. At the time I didn’t have a regular slackline practice, but I had been slacklining more often because it’s something my boyfriend Jon and I like to do together. During one of your workshops, I remember one of you saying that the goal isn’t necessarily to do a particular pose, it’s to stay on the line. And while I know that’s a seemingly simple concept, it’s guided my practice ever since. Skipping forward a couple years, we had both become YogaSlackers teachers and were working on our goal to become better highliners. When we would go highlining, I sometimes found myself feeling frustrated by the difference between how well I felt like I should be performing and how well I actually performed.
I started thinking about what I could do to improve, and one of the things that became apparent was that I simply needed to slackline more, I needed to stay on the line. I felt like I was slacklining regularly, but when it came down to it, maybe not as much as I thought. I told Jon, “I want to slackline more,” and he suggested we start by trying to slackline every day the upcoming month. That sounded like a lofty goal since we both work full time and often have plans in the evenings, but we decided to try it. Jon missed a day within a week, [laughs] but I kept it going.
Why Every Day?
I already felt like I was slacklining often, but “often” made it easy to find excuses to skip days. Every day meant guaranteed consistency. Plus, I like setting goals for myself and keeping track of personal records and stuff like that. It helps me stay motivated.
What Are the Rules?
No rules. I didn’t want it to feel like a burden so that I would stick with it and it would stay fun. Slackline for any length of time, every day, that’s it. But I know, and I remind myself, that if I only do one minute a day, I won’t see any big breakthroughs.
How has slacklining every day changed your slackline practice?
Besides the obvious, just spending more time slacklining, it really changed how I focused my time. Before, if we went out and setup a line, we would probably setup something long and my focus would just be on trying to send the line.
Doing it daily meant I could focus my time on the line differently, so I went through phases of focusing on different things and finding new ways to keep it fun. I’d make up games like red-light green-light where Jon and I would try to pause each other in hard to hold poses, or I would set random goals like staying on as long as I could. I practiced turning endless amounts of turns, and I had months where I would only allow myself to get on the line by sit-starting from the middle. I’d come up with weird ways to walk, switch between line tightness, etcetera – I’ve gotten used to looser lines and tight lines are hard now – does that mean I’m a real slackliner? [laughs] More recently I’ve been exploring yoga poses that I couldn’t do before or hadn’t tried. It also really helped me identify some weak areas (my legs) that I needed to strengthen.
What goals have you achieved since starting your journey?
Daily, it’s seemed like a lot of ups and downs with plenty of “I suck at slacklining days.” The big picture is where I can actually see some change. Once I made it a year, the improvements were so obvious that it even motivated Jon to start doing it with me… again. [laughs]
I’ve been able to stay on the line in our garage for almost an hour, fifty-nine minutes, actually. I’ve sent two short highlines. I’ve been able to turn, stand in exposure, and lay down on a highline. I’ve found success at walking on shorter rodeo lines, which seemed impossible before. I’ve sent some longer, at least for me, lines that I struggled with before, the most recent being the 120-foot line we have at home. More than anything though, I think it’s given me the ability to work on lines that are a little beyond my ability in a way that I couldn’t before. For instance, on one of the highlines we setup near our house, I’m now able to mount, stand, and walk on all of the sections of the line even though I haven’t been able to send it yet, where before I wouldn’t have found much success in the middle of the line.
What were the hardest days to stick with it?
Trying to find places to setup when we were traveling was tricky. Sometimes we would know that we weren’t going to have long because we might be asked to take it down. It was also difficult when I’ve been injured or sick. You learn a lot about your body and where your balance comes from when you slackline sick. Those were days that I didn’t spend a lot of time on the line, but I learned something on those days too. Weather also plays a factor, but we have a line setup in our garage, so weather isn’t an excuse when we’re home.
Any interesting/funny/sad stories to share?
Not really a story, but just something I noticed. Everyone likes goals and seeing people working towards them and reaching them. It’s been cool to see how supportive my friends are when I post updates about my streak on social media. Most of them barely know what slacklining is, but they’re still pumped for me.
How long are you planning to keep it up?
When I made it a full year, I said I’d keep it going but allow myself to skip on inconvenient days like when we are traveling. But as the number grows, it seems so sad to let one day take the streak back to zero. So, who knows? It will probably end up being something anticlimactic that breaks the streak, like I’ll just forget one day. [Laughs] Today (May 18) makes Day 544!
Any Last Thoughts?
I know in comparison to a lot of slackliners out there my achievements may seem pretty unimpressive, but you have to make progress on your way to being impressive. [Laughs] I think the point of it all is that consistency is a powerful thing. Whether it’s slacklining or some other goal, I think people of all skill levels can benefit from taking this approach. Plus, it ensures I make time to do something that I love every single day, and maybe that’s really the lesson.