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The 15% Rule

Posted by on August 4th, 2011 with 0 Comments

One of my rules for training (borrowed from Belinda Stowell) is that no more than 15% should suck.

This photo is from one of the 5 hour long stationary bike sessions I did during the winter of 2006-2007 in preparation for an April Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile marathon).  I’d throw in some cheezy action films, put all my water bottles next to the bike, strap on my headphones and spend a few hours non-stop at 164bpm heart rate and 88rpm cadence.  During the cold, dark winter months I spent virtually all my training hours freezing cold in the ocean, cycling indoors, or running in the dark.  Pretty much every workout sucked.  One day in the middle of sucking every step of a 1.5 hour run I just sat down on the side of the road and watched the traffic go past for an hour before I felt physically and mentally like continuing.  90% of the training sessions that winter sucked.

That year I made the podium in the 18-24 age group and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships but the process of training through the winter made me hate the sport of triathlon.  I hated my bike, didn’t want to be wet or cold, and was bored silly of the running routes around my house.

I knew months in advance that when I took my last step of the race in Hawaii that it would be the end of my triathlon career and thankfully I was able to walk away fulfilled that I accomplished very close to the limit of my innate ability.

Taking that lesson to windsurfing I spent the afternoons working during the coldest, windy, rainy part of winter.  While on some level it would be good training in good conditions to go windsurfing there’s also a good probability that the long run effects of spending a time hating every minute of days windsurfing are far worse than the rustiness that comes with time off the board.  It paid huge dividends – and now I get to go out and just live in joy every day I get to go windsurfing.


In short: Live the life you love.  Love the life you live.  Don’t suck (more than 15% of the time).

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