When it comes to summing up our training philosophy in our coaching with the Consummate Athlete, you can think of three numbers: 80, 90 and 100. Peter includes these three ideas in his philosophy as a reminder to the athletes he works with (and to himself) about the most important things to remember when chasing health and success as a Consummate Athlete. We talk about them in our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, and you’ll likely hear us mention them in our podcasts and articles on this site. And yes, you’ve probably heard at least one of them before and it might sound a bit cliche, but try applying it to your training and see what happens!
These three tenets prioritize health and consistency:
80% is a Passing Grade
Whether we’re talking about the food choices that we make or how well we did on today’s workout, we always remind ourselves that 80 percent is a passing grade. Basically, don’t let an imperfect workout, meal, night of sleep, or meditation session ruin your day. This concept is applied through much of the year and for many goals (short of peaking for the Olympics or very elite goals, where the final 20 percent really matters). When you can focus really hard on your sport, you can push things harder and further, but in general, it’s best to leave some slack in the system. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but doing something is important. Don’t let perfect get in the way of done.
90% of Life is Showing Up
This addresses consistency and the need to show up often (and not do things that jeopardize that). It is logical that we need to show up for the goal and simply do the ‘thing’ we want to get better at often. There often isn’t much more to success than doing something for an extended period of time. And we also wanted to apply this concept to being a Consummate Athlete: Often, we turn down invites to things like backpacking trips or rock climbing or skiing adventures because we don’t feel like we’re good enough to participate. But almost every time, just showing up and trying something new will be fun, and pay off in big ways.
Much of the Training Process is Spent *Purposefully Not* Going 100%
I previously included the idea that we should do a lot of low-intensity time and considering how our training is polarized, but after reading The Little Black Book of Training by Dan Cleather, I found his tenant of purposefully not going 100% was more concise and fit nicely with the 80% and 90% concepts! We should not be maxing out or ‘testing’ our bodies often. Rather, we think about doing just enough to get adaptation, but not so much that we are ‘testing’ the capacity of our body since we want to come back again soon. Again, we want to leave slack in the system for unforeseen stressors and to adapt to training and life. At certain times in the year, we can really hustle and care a lot about timing/bests and maxing out the training time, but this should be accompanied by reduced stress from other parts of life (a shift in priorities). For most periods of the year, we just enjoy doing the sport we like to do. Much of the year is spent in this ‘general preparation’ where we are not at 100 percent, we just let the body adapt by showing up frequently.