“If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by one percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,”
I’ve come across two different strategies that both look at small incremental improvements over along period of time.
- Marginal Gains (improve 100 things by 1%)
- Compound Gains (improving by 1% daily compounds to 3400% over a year)
I like them both and see value in how they can improve your approach to training, below is a brief summary of each and some idea’s on how to implement these.
Popularised by the great Dave Brailsford of Team Sky and British Cycling this concept approaches improving everything by a small margin, i.e try to improve 100 little things each by 1% (to create the sum of ‘100%’) rather than trying to improve one big thing by 100% which in theory should be more challenging. the thought behind this is that the aggregation of these gains have a greater impact than a large gain in a single area.
British cycling did this by looking at how they could improve things just by a small amount to get ahead of their competition. Below are some examples:
- Warm ups and warm down areas at the start/finish
- Aerodynamics of bike set up
- Standardising ways to measure positions (to improve consistent bike set ups)
- Shape of chain rings (circular vs oval)
- Colour coding bottles and nutrition (to avoid mistakes)
- Team bus to reduce transit to hotel (increase recovery time)
- Aerodynamics of skin suits and helmets (seamless skin suits, 3D printed helmets)
- Sleep position (type of pillows consistent all year round)
- Mindset and psychological approach (hired Steve Peters as psychologists)
- Emphasis on hygiene to avoid illness.
Another theory i recent game across from James Altucher is that if you try to improve by 1% everyday, then as this compounds it will result in 3800% improvement over a year (that’s being 38 times better than you were at the start).
Of course this isn’t realistic to improve by 3800% put it puts in to perspective the benefit of constant daily improvement and how little gains on a regular basis can add up to a large sum over time.
Apply the 1% to your Life and Training:
There’s an endless list of improvement opportunities but sometimes they’re obvious and easy ones that could be making a real difference.
- Can you improve the consistency of your sleep by removing electronic devices.
- Try waking up at the same time daily or going to bed at the same time.
- Decompressing prior to bedtime to switch off quicker (try reading some fiction)
- Black out the room to fall into deeper sleep.
- Drink turmeric prior to bedtime (or boiled bananas) to help drop off to sleep.
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times and hydrate to the recommended amount, rather than relying on thirst as an indicator.
- Include electrolyte tabs in your drink to improve water absorption and replace lost minerals through sweat.
- Workout the exact amount of water you lose in training through sweat and make sure this is added to your daily intake.
- Schedule 15-20 mins warm up prior to your sessions.
- Arrive earlier to training to get a warm up done.
- Warm up the correct muscles and movements specific for your sport.
- Research the most effective warm ups for your sport.
- Warm up your mind as well as your body to ensure you get the most out the session.
- Include Beetroot juice in your daily diet to help improve oxygen absorption (which improves performance).
- Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to your drinks bottle to alkalies the body and aid recovery.
- Using glucose gels or drinks more frequently on longer races.
- Reducing caffeine intake and then using it tacitly before a session as a ‘pre workout’ once your more sensitive to it.
- Utilise ‘Magic hour’ the hour after exercise when your body absorbs nutrients the fastest by going to training with a recovery meal/shake.
- Ensure your clothing is the right fit for the type of training or racing, you could go down a size to improve aerodynamics on the bike or running.
- Invest in a skin suit rather than a two piece.
- Use an ‘Aero’ helmet for bike racing.
- Trial different materials and brands to reduce chaffing and improve comfort.
- Check the shoes you wear are giving you the best stability and grip for your sport.
- Wear racing flats for road running during a race.
- Invest in time trial bars for triathlon to improve aerodynamics
- Upgrade to a Time Trial bike if your serious about improved position and speed
- Pay for a professional bike fit
- Invest in a better wet suit that improves hydrodynamics and mobility.
- Check the bike gearing and swap for a better option suited for the particular course or race.
- You may have hit a plateau in your knowledge or become comfortable in habits. Ask someone different for feedback on your technique or habits.
- Read some new books from people you haven’t listened to before.
- Build a habit of trialling new techniques or methods
- Look at the competition to see if they are approaching training or racing in a different way.