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The 80% rule

… they should have made this picture with broccoli, or some other food not often thought of as a “treat”, as the good side. But you get the idea

I was just taking a moment to reflect upon my workout this morning, and my plans for workouts this weekend.  I was thinking how tired my legs are now a few hours back from the training, and wouldn’t it be nice to take a rest day tomorrow.  But tomorrow has a training plan that I have to stick to.

I started thinking a bit more macro scale about my ability to adhere to a training schedule.  I go to efforts to create a balanced training plan, considering all the activities I need to fit into a week, their timing relative to each other, and days with high and low probabilities of time available for training.  And after all this effort, I’m marginally (at best) successful at sticking to these plans.  For the most part, I think, it’s because I allow myself cheat days – days where the social or personal calendar trumps the training schedule and something fun happens instead of training.

I was thinking back to a conversation I had with a really good friend earlier this week about a new diet that she and her doctor were trying for her.  She’s cutting out certain foods to see if it will have a positive impact on her health.  But as she describes it, the doctor told her to follow the 80% rule.  “You’ll have times where you go to a dinner party and the host has made food not on your diet.  Or birthday parties with pizza and cake and ice cream.  Most people fall off a diet because they try to stick to it 100% of the time.  That’s not realistic.  And when they fall off, they fall off completely.  Try to stick to the diet 80% of the time – if you miss a day, or a meal, don’t feel bad and keep at it”

I think this same theory can help me with training.  I don’t have to hit my training plan 100% of the time.  And if I miss a day, the whole week doesn’t have to become a write off.  I think striving to enact my plan 80% of the time is a good goal – it allows for variables such as fatigue and unexpected social plans to an extent.  But if I’m starting to miss more than 20% of my training sessions, it gives me a benchmark to know when I need to work my plans around my training, instead of the other way around.  Doing this will hopefully help me feel less guilty when I miss a session, and get right back on the horse next day.

The trick, is to stop missing more than 20% of my sessions.  I can do this!


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  1. August 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

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