The old adage, “give it a 110%,” is wrong. Pushing yourself that much isn’t possible at one time because research has proven you can only give it 102%.
This NY Times article highlights the research that used deception to fool cyclists and get them to ride 2% faster than they were previously capable of doing. It’s fascinating to see that the body holds reserve amounts of energy that seem to be limited by our perception of what we’re capable of doing. But, that reserve is limited too. Riders couldn’t go 5% faster – only 2% faster.
The question is: how do you tap into that 2%, so you can perform at a level higher than before? The researchers conclude that the deceptive methods used in the study could be replicated under the guidance of a good coach. (They admit this method is risky.)
In my opinion, deception should only be used once. Do it once to prove this 2% exists. Then, trust the research, it proves that you can do more than you think, and now your job is to find it out how to get it out of you. If you need a coach to help you – that’s cool – that’s what we’re here for. However, if you or your coach choose to use deception, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to find it on your own.
Why is finding it yourself so important? Because it’s not going to be the last time you go looking for it. You want to keep pushing yourself to increase your capacity by 2%. Not all the time, because that will cause your mind/muscles to breakdown. 2% may not seem like much, but these baby steps turn into huge gains when done consistently. It’s like compounding interest in a bank account.
If you have to rely on deception, you have to keep finding ways to be tricked. If you have to rely on a coach to push you, then save up, because you’re going to need that coach around all the time. If you can find it on you’re own, then you develop the skill to find it yourself and that makes you even stronger mentally. The ability to find that extra gear (physically or mentally) is one of the traits that separates world class players from the rest.
Giving it 110% was a great idea, it just unrealistic. 102% is doable. So go do it.