“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.”– Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, theoretical physicist, and engineer
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Have you ever wondered about how you can improve your mental fitness for training and racing? If so, then I might have a few tips and tricks to help.
If you base your endurance sports and fitness goals on what other people around you are doing (anecdotal), you might be missing out on some AMAZING sh*t in life. The opposite of anecdotal thinking is first principles thinking. It’s a different but powerful alternative. You can apply this to anything from health, to fitness and all other areas of your life.
I focus on my sub 3 hour marathon accomplishment and how I used data from previous training and races to back up my reasoning on why it was possible.
A lot of people in this world reason and create goals based on analogy. In other words, people look at what other people around them have done and set their limits. This makes sense… before science and the internet!
I like to reason and set my goals based on first principle or what I call “My Discovery Process”. The concept is to break down complex problems or goals into basic elements. Then you can reassemble them from the ground up. It’s a great way to learn to plan for your own personalised health and fitness objectives. In the process, you might even unlock hidden creative potential and move from linear to non-linear results and success.
If you read some things I write or listen to my podcast, you might hear me mention or mumble something about “My Discovery Process”. I’ll admit that I’m the first person to jump on idealistic and “in the clouds” type of thinking and questioning. But I’ve been able to harness pragmatic usage through that same process. I think in its clumsy state, it’s worth it.
I use my Discovery Process frequently to help make immediate and future decisions in all facets of my life. Areas and goals like my personal, fitness, work, relations, etc. I’m sure most people have a system or process that they use, but I want to share my process with you as it may help you in your day to day decision making and other planning stages of life.
The best part? It’s a simple strategy that is easy to use and can be adapted to your needs as you progress further along in your fitness, health, wellness and general life journey.
My discovery process has three distinct parts that ebb and flow in no particular order, but this seems to be how the order usually goes;
- Part 1 – Evidence-Based Research
- Part 2 – Talking To Experts
- Part 3 – Pulling From My Experience & Preparing for Failure
Shortly we will explore those a bit further. I will talk about and then give a real-world case-study example of each part.
My discovery process usually starts with a hypothesis or objective. An example of this hypothesis while using a past example from my own training moving forward :
“Is it possible for me at my (then) fitness level to run a full marathon with very little marathon specific training and also not hit the wall while eating a moderate to low carbohydrate diet during the training up to the race”.
Earlier I spoke about how my “My Discovery Process” is actually just reasoning from first principles vs reasoning from analogy.
Elon Musk is known for reasoning from first principles and here is a great video of him explaining this phrase/
Or TLDR from Youtube User PetePreneur ;
- Analogy – Basing your ideas/reasons on what other people are doing/have done.
- First Principles – Breaking down the idea or thing into lots of different parts/characteristics and decide which bits are true/needed, so basically deciding based on the actual thing/idea you’re looking at, not taking into consideration other stuff that much.
Part 1 – Evidence-Based Research
This is an easy one and I’m sure you know about this or have done this before. This information is found in standard-specific higher education type manuals, books, courses, etc.
Also, this can be when you internet search articles and blogs written by experts that use scientific evidence and studies. Peer-reviewed studies cited from NCBI and Mayo Clinic tend to be where I hold my trust). Anecdotal, fringe or small sample trial evidence is okay, but take I usually take it with a grain of pink Himalayan rock salt.
Example: Research My Hypothesis or Theory
I read a lot about doing a marathon on minimal training and lower-carb dieting. Most evidence said that it couldn’t be done without specific training and just getting in the miles on the road. But a lot of my research also told me that my 5k and 10k times should be getting me about a 2:45-2:50 marathon. This is what intrigued me to go further and test the waters by doing this marathon.
Part 2- Contact Experts In Your Network
This is where you get more specific and narrow advice that can be particularly useful in your situation. It’s also nice to communicate with a real human being. Obviously in person is best, but even the phone, email, sliding into social media direct messages, etc. are all just as useful and productive if you can’t get them in person.
The goal here is to say “Oh hey, this person is real, and not some mythical creature I’ve read about.” And “Oh wow, they have actually done this thing and based it on other evidence. That’s cool” Or something like that. For me, this makes it much more of a tangible thing that I want to do because another human has tried or done it.
Example: Talking To Exports
I spoke with a few running experts that were in my inner circle and most of them were neutral about it. I had my podcast, Master of Some co-host Phil Cross, who is an NLP Certified endurance, business, and life coach tell me that I’m not a real marathoner until I run sub 3 hours. Ridiculous but motivating.
When I told him that my marathon personal record was 4 hours, he scoffed at me. Which only meant, “Challenge on good sir!”
Part 3 – My Own Previous Experience & Assuming You Will Fail
This is a cool one because there really isn’t too much scientific evidence unless you are like me and do obsessive analytical self-experimentation on a regular basis. This is going on your gut feeling but also having some similar prior experiences to back up your claims.
While I am the first person to say “F*ck Your Feelings”, your feelings are an important and a decent place to start. Your driving “Why” (insert link here) is usually a great fire starter to do most things. Don’t ignore this emotion. It’s also a good opportunity to do a quick mental audit of how things went when you tried something and then you can apply that to doing something else.
Example: My Own Previous Experience
I knew my two prior marathons all taking me 4 hours meant that something went wrong before and/or during the event. After each event, I after knew exactly what it was. I also knew that I was doing well in half marathons over the past 3 years and all that was needed was to put it together for the full marathon dance. I decided to adapt my training 6-8 weeks out from my DIY marathon time trial to inch closer to my race pace times.
I also knew that my body was extremely fat-adapted through many different low-carb training sessions fully fasted and that I didn’t need as many carbs as most running coaches and nutrition experts said I would.
Assuming You Will Fail
While this could probably a post on it’s own, assuming I will fail is something I do a lot. It’s loosely rooted around fear setting and stoicism. Mark Manson calls it “Negative Self Help”, and while I do love the honesty of that title, I wouldn’t go far.
I just assume that I’m wrong. I know there is a 1% chance I might be right because I have a gut feeling that it’s cool, but I also know that I have to play by the rules of the universe and this world. And usually if someone hasn’t done it that means that either it’s not possible right now, I don’t have the resources, or I’m not the right person to do it.
But the beauty of failing and assuming I will fail is akin to thinking like a scientist. Let’s map it out for fun;
- Failure is just a data point
- Many failures give you a bunch of data
- A bunch of data greatly informs your upcoming future decisions
- Informed future decisions give you experience and time
- Experience and time give you wisdom.
- Wisdom means you make wise choices and usually start succeeding more
See how failure works? It’s such a great thing!
How This May Help You
The Discovery Process is important because it’s 2 parts evidence and 1 part you. At 66% that’s a pretty good predictor that what you are planning to do or want to do has a high chance of getting you closer to accomplishing/failing to hit your objective or proving or disproving your hypothesis.
In September 2018, I completed my 3rd Marathon attempt in 2 hours and 59 minutes proving that you can run a sub-3-hour marathon on minimum marathon training if you have a combination of genetic aerobic fitness/speed, proper endurance training history, and fat-adapted tendencies.
Remember this is my opinion and I love to explain why I’m right. Feel free to comment below or contact me with any feedback you have, agreeing or disagreeing with me.
I’ll end it with a few words from health and wellness guru Mark Sisson.
“Do I cultivate a mindset of self-discovery? I’m not talking about solipsistic navel-gazing that inflates my ego or isolates me from the rest of the world. What I mean here is maintaining a curiosity of self. Do I know everything there is to know about me? I hope not. The day I decide there’s nothing more to learn about how I see the world or what I’m capable of, I might as well pack it in.”– Mark Sisson
Based on my definition of a discovery process, have you ever used something like this to prove or attempt to do something that was slightly out of reach? Do you have your own Discovery Process? Did I miss anything with this?
If you need help using your own discovery process to help your health and fitness journey, I am offering one on one coaching sessions for a limited time and only have a few slots! Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org to say whatup!