Steve Prefontaine was an obscure distance runner made famous by Jared Leto…
Actually “Pre” was a record-setting distance runner that is cemented is mythology by tragically dying in a car crash. “Pre” believed that there was no such thing as talent: it was a myth and he was merely willing to suffer more than anybody else. He was great at suffering but as it turns out he was very talented. His VO2 max was 84.4 ml/kg/min, which to put in perspective is higher than Lance Armstrong’s VO2 max. To further put in perspective VO2 max, you can very nearly maximize whatever your lot is in ~ 6 weeks of very dedicated VO2 max training. And Pre smoking weed on his couch for 6 weeks would likely still have a higher VO2 max (I don’t know if he in fact did smoke marijuana but I’m using it to make a point about the lack of train-ability of something like VO2 max).
While there are a host of things that can be trained and substantially improved, and you have to go out and really try to find them in order to see what the limits are, the fact remains that we have limits. When you reach that limit, how will your training change over the course of your life as a result?
The 21 Convention
As previously mentioned, I’ll be speaking at the 21 convention next Thursday. The topic of my talk is “Great Expectations: Training over a Lifetime.” I’m going to mostly be doing a live version of my “manifesto” regarding training, defining your own goals, being smart, science of achievement, talent, and limits. People don’t like talking about inbuilt limits; hell there has been a slew of books recently about talent being a overrated (even the aptly titled “Talent Is Overrated“). Especially in our cozy puritanical society, it is comforting to believe that with just a little hard work anybody can be the best at anything. This is in fact false and I’m going to discuss much of this at the conference, not to dishearten people, but to put control in perspective (some of which I discussed in my “Trichotomy of Control” post). Make no mistake hard work is required but no amount of hard work is going to push you passed the ceiling of your talent; some people win with more practice because they’ve realized their potential versus a person who, while having a high potential, has not worked hard enough to realize their potential. You can work 20,000 hours and still lose to someone with a higher talent who has worked just as hard.
The rest of the talk is going to be about clients I have over the course of their training careers, basically finding new challenges that they don’t have control of (age) and some that they do (picking new activities/sports to work toward personal bests in). It’s going to be personal experience meets standing on the shoulders of giants; I cannot wait.