Apr 30

10,000 Hours

The “10,000 Hour Rule” is a common theme from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.  While I haven’t read the book in over a year, the idea behind it has been on my mind lately. If you haven’t read Outliers (you should), the general idea is that to become truly great at something, you must spend 10,000 hours practicing that something. Gladwell goes on to use examples such as The Beatles, who put in their 10,000 hours playing Hamburg, Germany, and Bill Gates who spent countless hours programming on the high school computer (yes, “computer”, there was only one) at the age of 13.

This topic came up in conversation with Jason and Jeff last month in Texas.  And even more recently, one of my Priority Health Champion teammates posted about the same thing.  So, it got me to thinking.  Where am I in this journey to 10,000 hours?  Well, since mid-2008 when Jennie got me my Garmin 405, I’ve been logging all of my data in SportTracks. Prior to 2008, I would log my mileage only in either a notebook or on whatever marathon training plan I was following, but didn’t log any times.


The data is as follows: 145 hours in 2008 (from 7/7 to end of the year), 452 hours in 2009, 571 hours in 2010, 680 hours in 2011, and 225 hours so far in 2012.  That brings me to a total of 2,073 hours.  Not too bad. 20% of the way there.  Assuming that I can maintain at least 500 hours per year going forward, I should be there in 16 years. 16 years from now puts me at 44 years old.  If Crowie can win Kona at 38, maybe I can at 44??? haha. 

Ok, so maybe the 10,000 hours thing isn’t an exact science.  But the simply correlation between how much time you spend training for something and how successful you are is a pretty easy one to make. Regardless of when I hit 10,000 hours or how much my performance changes between now and then, rest assured, I will continue to put foot in front of the other (or arm in front of the other, or pedal in front of the other) as long as humanly possible.

So, where are you in your journey to 10,000 hours?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2012/04/30/10000-hours


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  1. Matthew Smith

    That’s craziness! Not the 10,000 hours part, because I already knew about that, but the fact that you train like a boss and still are only at 2,000. Well, you’ll get there by 44, and I’ll get there by 90! 🙂
    Matthew Smith recently posted..Bad Boys, Bad Boys…PART II

  2. BDD

    I think, over that time, you learn to be more effiicent in your discipline, at the beginning, we have no clue what we are doing at the beginning, alot of trial and error, the more we do it, the more we learn on how to make ourself better

  3. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    funny you bring this up b/c I was just talking to my buddy Juan about this. we were discussing how to get to a sub 1 hour 2.4 mi swim. the 10,000 hours came up and b/c we don’t have the luxury of being full-time professional swimmers we removed that from the equation. what we did do though is say that if you focus as if it were the 10,000 hours and only on that session versus what was coming up later in the day or tomorrow then you will get there sooner rather than later. we have to truly foucs on quality while getting in the quantity.

  4. Jeff

    You just made me go back and look at my logs! I didn’t start keeping track of volume until the Summer of ’09 but it looks like I am around 1500hrs since.

    If 2012 continues as is then should come in between 600-650hrs but that will probably be in the high end as I am getting older. Hmmm…. I will be in my early 50’s by the time mastery occurs ..lol
    Jeff recently posted..I am jumping off a boat into shark infested waters on Sunday

  5. Jon

    I don’t even want to think about it….
    Jon recently posted..An Opportunity I Might Regret Not Taking…

  6. Christina

    I might get to 10,000 hours if I can live to be 102. My dad danced with his grandmother at her 100th birthday and she lived nearly 5 more years – so it could happen. LOL
    Christina recently posted..O Solo Me-O

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      I think I’d rather live to 100 than get in my 10,000 hours. That sounds like a much better accomplishment.

  7. Mary B

    I think I have that many hours logged in as a mom – I have not mastered it nor excelled at it – but have to say there is a lot of JOY involved. Just a different perspective!!!

  8. Viper

    I really enjoyed Outliers. I’ve been tracking my banjo playing time with the goal of achieving 10,000 hours sometime in my life, but I’ve never thought about it terms of my running. And why not? I don’t have an exact number, but considering I probably average 10-minute miles throughout the year, it’s fairly easy to come up with an educated guess of 725 hours (4,350 miles / 6 mph) … sheesh! Seems kind of paltry now that I look at it. Thanks a lot!
    Viper recently posted..How to Approach a Horse’s Ass

  9. Matt Oravec

    No clue and looking it up sounds like a lot of work.

    What have I taken from this post? You need to quit work so you can get this 10,000 hour thing taken care of this year!
    Matt Oravec recently posted..Some bike porn… and complete embarassment

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Dammit! No!

      What you should have taken from this post is that you need to keep better logs! I was able to calculate my hours for each year in less than 5 clicks and didn’t even have to take out a calculator. haha

      1. Matt Oravec

        502:13:50 h:m:s

        FOUR CLICKS!!!!!! TAKE THAT!!!!! hahaha.

        As of May 30, 2010. No swim time has been recorded. So I don’t know what this tells me except that apparently I have almost trained for a month straight haha.
        Matt Oravec recently posted..Some bike porn… and complete embarassment

  10. Beth

    I’ve heard that stat before, but never really thought about how much time 10,000 hours is. That is…. a lot. Post college I’m probably at 1500 hours total. Although if you count when I was a teenager I could be halfway there!
    Beth recently posted..Real Rest and Recovery

  11. DR

    seeing as how I dont track and have no logs…I guees Ill never know!

    but if Triathlon is swim, bike & run… does that mean 10k for each?!!

  12. Regina

    OMG! You’ll be my age! Loved that book!

  13. lindsay

    i’ve heard about that book but have yet to get around to read it.

    logged-running-time only, (not counting any bike rides, gym workouts, etc) i’m at 1316hrs 46mins and 34seconds. i have a long way to go…

    i could also disclaimer that there were a few months in 2006 when i thought “i’d never care to know my stats” so i didn’t log them. ha, what a fool. and i also have no record of my high school xc workouts/runs or those i did while on the rowing team in college. regardless, the running hours from all of that would barely be a drop in the bucket anyway.

    guess i better get to running! (and logging it)
    lindsay recently posted..ali asname

  14. elizabeth

    10,000 hours doesn’t seem like a realistic number when it comes to running/biking/swimming. Maybe for more cranial stuff…like playing the violin or painting or studying or writing or even gymnastics or ballet. But for our sport, I move that we should reduce the number by half. 5,000 hours seems more realistic.
    elizabeth recently posted..Hey, Was That an Elf I Saw Run By? or The Run-n-Retch: A Race Recap of the 2012 St. Luke’s 5k in Allentown, PA

  15. Carina

    First time reader (came from Trying to Tri’s link) and such an interesting idea! About 18 mos. ago, I’d totaled up my racing finish times, so the number of hours spent running road races (I’m not a tri person), but I can’t even imagine trying to add up all the training time. But I’m a data person, so I suspect I could if I wanted to. Makes me very curious and might be something that I’ll spend doing this weekend — though the numbers might scare me. I’ve been running marathons for almost a decade, at least one per year, but 2 years of both fall and spring marathons. But it’s a healthy habit!
    Carina recently posted..Niceness

  1. Weekly Link Love – May 4, 2012 |

    […] Gladwell’s books (the geek in me, I suppose), and the 10,000 hour rule is interesting. Kevin looks at his training totals, and his numbers are impressive! I’ve never added up all the hours I spend running, riding and […]

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