I started my post “Bad Workouts” with this quote from Alex Viada:
“For every four workouts you do: one will be great, one will be terrible, and two will be average at best.”
He was referencing the law of averages. You are going to have high, low, and average days, resulting in a year that was mostly….average.
Which at first glance seems disappointing, but let’s do some math.
Bank accounts. Some have more money, some have less, but so that we start on the same page, let’s say your bank account has $365.
You can do three things with the money – leave it alone, withdraw it, or make a deposit. And being a skilled money manager, you know the best way to take care of this stash of cash; deposit often, withdraw rarely.
Holding to these rules every month by depositing $150 and only withdrawing $50, the sum by the end of the year would be $1765.
Almost quintuple the starting amount in a year.
Follow two simple rules and a relatively small amount of money transforms into a glorious empire of wealth and riches.
So…why aren’t we all rich….?
Bills, Bills, Bills
We have obligations.
While it’s easy to say “only take out $50 a month”, the real world can make that difficult. Rent or a house payment might be $500 a month – already ten times the amount of you planned on withdrawing and more money than the entire account had in it to begin with. Combine that with food, transportation, and other expenses, and it’s easy to see how being a responsible and not homeless adult can hijack the journey towards riches and wealth.
While these are things are necessities, you can minimize these deductions by being smart.
A house is necessary, a mansion isn’t.
Through a combination of smart decisions, you can pay what you need to and not pay what you don’t. If your goal is to end the month with a positive balance and maintain the original plan, it’s possible, but being smart won’t be enough.
We need discipline.
That looks cool!
I think I need a new one of these!
Friends are going out wooooooo time to partayyyyyyyy!
There is a lot of cool shit in the world. I just saw a commercial for a $900 flamethrower. A FLAMETHROWER. No background check, throws flames 25 feet. TWENTY FIVE FEET. Do you know how much stuff you could burn with that?? A lot of stuff.
So. Much. Burning.
Ugh, I want it.
(I didn’t buy the flamethrower.)
We burn through money in moments of monetary weakness, and these moments come often. In a world where I can impoverish myself and my descendants by simply clicking “Buy” on a $20000 tank with a plush interior and premium sound system, it easy for our financial planning to implode in a moment of indiscretion.
Giant impulse purchases or being careless with our nickels and dimes, we can have a plan that works, but discipline is what makes it work.
Goodbye, quintupled wealth.
But if you don’t buy a flamethrower and you leave the Badonkadonk alone, you can, with discipline, still end the month in a positive balance.
The Training Bank Account
I know most people hate numbers, but bear with me for a second. We are going to apply of this money talk to training by using the highly complex numbers of two, one, and negative one.
Great training days = 2
Average training days =1
Bad training days = -1
Every day is a training day. Every day brings choices that add or subtract from your health or performance.
So, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll generally define days like this:
Great training days – 8+ hours of sleep, great nutrition, low stress, great workout
Average training days – 7 hours of sleep, average nutrition, average stress, average workout
Bad training days – 6 hours or less of sleep, poor nutrition, high stress, bad workout
Your yearly training bank account starts out with $365, and every day is opportunity to deposit or withdraw.
Now let’s bring back Alex’s quote and our initial disappointment with our year being mostly average: two average days, one good day, one bad day.
I’ll do the math for you – go the year sticking to our assigned numbers, and you will end up with $730 worth of fitness.
This is double the health or performance you started with.
Less disappointed in having mostly average workouts?
While you can’t assign this “doubling of fitness” to specific numbers (“my squat is 405 now so with a year of average workouts it will be 810”), you can use it as a collective evaluation of fitness – technique, experience, strength, endurance, mental training, etc.
Obligations and Discipline
But we’ve already seen things don’t always go as planned.
Obligations might skew the numbers. Responsibilities to family, work, and relationships, coupled with stress that can come with them and the energy needed to sustain them, can begin to chip away at our doubled balance. A new baby, a failing business, or a rocky relationship, and this chipping away at our mountain of fitness wealth turns into giant boulders crashing down and careening through the countryside, destroying cattle and small villages.
But, just for an example, let’s say that on average, you have one day a week where there was some kind of obligation that negatively affected training.
Then enters discipline. Bad food is tasty, binge TV is relaxing, beer is glorious. One lapse of discipline turns into two which turns into three which turns into….
You get the picture.
But, following our example, let’s say that on average, you accumulate one day a week of discipline errors that negatively affect training.
Combining these two subtractions together, the end of the year fitness balance is now $626.
An improvement from where you started? Yes, absolutely.
But I tell my competitive athletes that it’s not a race to be better than the competition – it’s a race to improve faster.
It might seem like splitting words, but it’s my thinking that long term success comes from focusing on increasing and maintaining the rate of improvement. Even if you’re not a competitive athlete, this concept applies – getting close to your goals faster and more consistently is a critical key to success for anyone.
We lost $104 because of responsibilities to obligations and lapses in discipline. What about injuries? What about programming errors? Mental burnout? What about doing a competition that needs a week of recovery? All these things happen over the course of a year, and deduct from the balance.
And here’s where things start to suck.
Even though it may not seem like a lot, our basic obligations/discipline fitness loss of $104 accumulated over three years is almost an entire year of improvement.
To get a picture of what this means, imagine that this past year of training and improvement never. happened.
If you want to be a competitive athlete, think about your competition having a three year head start on you, based on their combination of genetics and experience. Then think about the dedication they have to their sport, performing without the lapses of obligation or discipline you just experienced.
Now your competition has a four year head start.
The competition – 2920. You – 0.
And remember, based on averages, you’re only improving $730 a year.
But so are they.
So here’s the brutal math if it hasn’t clicked yet – at the end of the year, the people you want to beat will be still be beating you by almost 3000 points. In this race to improve faster than the competition, the gun went off, the competition finished….but you haven’t even moved.
If you’re not a competitor, the “you” you’re after is laughing from the finish line, and that finish line is a year down the road.
Yikes. Even typing that made me hate myself.
So bad I’m going to need to take a day or two to recover. But trust me, there is a plan.
Coming Wednesday: The Plan