Forty Percent


Digging deep

I didn’t want to write this post. I avoided it for two weeks. I told myself I was taking a well earned break from writing three weeks in a row. Four if you count the day that I posted a link to my “About” page and called it day. I must have earned a break, right? I read a bit and thought about potential writing topics as I ran, biked and worked, but nothing really grabbed me like I was hoping. I told myself I needed time to come up with better ideas. I proceeded to be paralyzed by the thought that I was potentially out of ideas.

So, I let last Wednesday come and go, telling myself that I would rather write nothing than write something that felt forced. I told myself that skipping a week wouldn’t upset my routine and surely I would have no trouble getting back into my writing groove. This is a boldfaced lie. Skipping a weekly post is the definition of breaking a weekly posting routine.

While I was actively lying to myself, I got to spend some time with my brother. We were talking about climbing, running and training when he mentioned something that he learned while he was at boot camp. Its called the Forty Percent Rule. The Forty Percent Rule states that when you think you have run out of energy to do something, you have only given 40% of whats really inside you.

His story goes like this: the trainer tells you to do one hundred pull ups. You say you can’t do one hundred pull ups, so they tell you to do as many as you can then take a thirty second break and do as many as you can again. Repeat until you reach one hundred. My brother said that he always got to one hundred.

This is a frightening idea. Its overwhelming to feel like you’ve given everything. What gives someone on the outside the right to say you haven’t given half? But I know from experience how accurate this rule is. Energy is a precious thing and our bodies don’t want to do more than is necessary to accomplish a task. At the first inkling of fatigue or discomfort our brains leap at the chance to say, “Yeah, this is good, you should probably stop.” This voice is vital to keeping us safe and injury free, but it usually kicks in long before we actually need to stop. Ignoring that voice in order to push forward is the first step towards growth, both in physical ability and mental discipline.

I am a huge believer in making personal needs a priority. Its the best way to ensure that I am balanced and healthy enough to give myself to whatever it is I wish to pursue. The buzz word for this is ‘Self Care’. In the face of a culture built around a puritanical work ethic, where work is done for work’s sake and taking time for one’s self makes you immoral, this idea is radical. The downside is that people, myself included, can use this idea as an excuse to succumb to insecurity. At what point does self care mean doing something that you don’t want to do? I found out last week its right at the point when you think you can’t do anymore.

So here I am, writing this blog post. Its not my best work and its a week late, but I’m still doing it. The hardest part was ignoring the voice that was telling me I had nothing more to give. Getting a few words down was a small but powerful victory. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I had plenty more inside me. After that, getting to one hundred was just a matter of repeating.

2 thoughts on “Forty Percent

  1. How very timely this blog post is for me right now!! Thank you for sharing, and the next pass will be doable because of YOUR reminder about finding what’s really left inside when all resources seem spent. Love you!


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