In one of my latest articles I talked about the importance of the 10,000 hour rule. The rule postulated by journalist Malcolm Gladwell states that: In order to achieve mastery an average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is required.
Well what if you are already in the twilight of your racing career and don’t have time for 10,000 hours, or simply want to achieve mastery faster? Don’t worry there are a couple of loopholes to the rule that you can leverage. Here’s a quick discussion on the rule and loopholes you can use to make yourself more successful.
You can laterally move sports.
Six time undefeated 15K OCR World Champion Jonathan Albon probably has not spent 10,000 hours training or racing OCRs. However, he, along with most of the pros who are currently racing, are still successful because of their backgrounds. If you’ve already spent lots of time running and rock climbing, transitioning into OCR at a higher level is much more probable than someone who has never run a mile.
While we can’t control our background at this point, we can control our future and the futures of anyone else who may be interested in OCR by doing training that has a high degree of crossover. While the training may not be a 1:1 direct effect on OCR it will contribute to overall fitness leading to success. For example, mountain biking and skiing can build cardiovascular fitness and leg strength, which will cut down on your 10,000 hours. Rock climbing and weight lifting can build upper body/grip strength which can make learning OCR specific movements easier. Cross training, if aligned well with OCR, can have a significant impact on performance, especially if the break from OCR specific work can help you maintain training and racing for a longer period of time. The closer the cross training is to OCR, the more effective it will be in cutting down on the 10,000 hours of mastery.
You don’t have to be at 10,000 hours, but it puts you at a significant advantage to have more than the others competing.
Just because you train more doesn’t automatically mean you will win on race day. However, the more you race, the more unique situations, challenges and problems you will encounter. By building on this experience you’ll be able to troubleshoot on race day and likely perform better. If you’ve never run a race in the rain, you’ll probably have trouble the first time. You don’t want your first rainy experience to be at the OCR World Championships, so this means racing often in a variety of conditions.
Experience in OCR goes a long way, especially in a sport that is as young as ours. While you may be nowhere close to 10,000 if you have 5,000 hours of training and the next person only has 2,000 hours of sport specific training over their lifetime, I would put my money on the athlete with more experience (assuming all other things are equal).
To prepare for OCR World Championships you are going to want to practice both in training and by doing other races. This will leave you better prepared to tackled the challenges on race day. OCRWC has unique obstacles as well as ones from other series. So if you are only racing one specific brand as preparation for OCRWC, it might be time to expand your aperture so you are better prepared for the world championships.
Furthermore, I would strongly consider running all of the events the weekend of OCRWC. With a unique blend of obstacles from multiple brands and some OCRWC unique obstacles, this is the only time each year to practice and perfect many of these obstacles. Train hard, but more importantly be consistent and show up on race day ready to crush it.