For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Off by 50

On my early posts and in my 'mission statement' i talk about wanting to be able to train for anything, but not just to be able to complete said mission, but rather to also 'do it well'.  I left the notion of what 'doing it well' meant purposefully vague - i wasn't sure yet what it would mean.  It's now time to offer up a more concrete criteria. 

I'll begin by admitting that, as i mentioned emphatically in my post on arbitrariness, these criteria are going to be largely (entirely?), well, arbitrary.  As i also mentioned before however, not only is everything else essentially arbitrary too, but arbitrary is simply good enough for me. and since it's my blog, well, i guess no more justification is required - so here goes.
Doing something 'well' (as an age group, non professional athlete) implies - at least when concerning athletic endeavors that are measured by 'time to completion' - finishing within a time no more than 50% greater than that of the world's top athletes in the given discipline.  In other words, you are 'Off by 50' or less. 
If you think that this sounds too easy - that 50% is too generous a cushion - consider the following examples:
  1. The fastest marathon time is just over 2 hours.  So by my criteria, an age grouper who runs a 3 hour marathon is doing dandy.  In fact, they'll qualify for Boston with time to spare - evidence clearly in support of my thesis!
  2. The fastest IM traithlon is somewhere right around (slightly under) 8 hours - so breaking that 12 hour barrier puts you in pretty good company.  The other thing to notice is that if you look at the results of most general registration (no qualifying is necessary) IM distance races on reasonably flat courses (the silverman is excluded from this category) - a sub 12 hour performance would put you in approximately the top 35% of the field.  Considering that there are no 'average' athletes running such a race and you get an idea of the achievement.
  3. This seems to roughly apply to shorter distance efforts too - a sub 4 minute mile puts you squarely among elite runners at this distance (WR 3:43). This translates to a good goal for an age grouper like myself being a sub 6 minute mile, or even at the extreme expression of the criteria (50% increase over the WR) a time of 5:35.
the real reason that i like this criteria, however, is that it pretty closely defines the edge of my own abilities - applying it across disciplines i find myself 'doing well' often enough to placate my ego and feel good about my efforts, but not so often that i have nothing to strive for.  And of course these are the two main ingredients in any successfully derived, arbitrarily chosen, measure of meaning.  It's just a matter of time before it catches on, becomes the industry standard, and enters our everyday lexicon:
Athlete A:  So how'd you do in your race saturday?
Athlete B:  Excellent!  I was only 'off by 50!'
Athlete A:  Man - you're really doing well!
Can't you just hear it? (:

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