2011 Streak Day 231/365 (Friday19 Aug): Distance 5 miles Time - 48min 50 Weather - sunny and quite warm, a big change after yesterday
Another run where I stopped on the dot, which shows not only that it was a bit of a struggle but also I am a bit dumb. Yesterday's hills were quite hard so I should have eased back with a gentle recovery around the park. As it was my calves were tired and there was no zip.Tomorrow must be a rest day.
This got me thinking about Bounce, which I mentioned in the last post. Matthew Syed's thesis is that champions are made rather than born - it is not a matter of innate talent but of hard work. He follows the Malcolm Gladwell line that it takes 10,000 of practice.
My body is not capable of putting in those sort of hours. It needs time to recover or it breaks down. This suggests talent and genes have a say in the ability to put in the necessary hours. Those who have the innate ability and a suitable constitution can both, see the rewards and put in the hours. It is very difficult to stay dedicated if you are getting nothing back.
Yet initially the book seems very convincing. Good evidence is presented about the importance of practice and one is easily carried along by the advocacy. But as I read it I had the same uneasy feeling I had when reading Oliver James about the importance of parenting in forming a persons character and emotional stability - yes it is important but is it sufficient to explain everything? I have always been amazed at the intellectual energy spent on a nature vs nurture debate that sees it as an either/or. By all means argue about the percentage split but don't dismiss one or the other. It is exactly the same with talent vs practice.
As a key piece of evidence Syed cites the 1993 study by Ericsson (as does Gladwell) that looked at the hours of practice accumulated by the best, good, and less good violinists and showed that there was a distinct difference in the average hours of practice for each group. In other words the best practiced more.
This article from The Science of Sport, which is a very considered response to Bounce, includes something rather surprising about the Ericsson study - although he showed the average practice times for the different grades of violinists he did not show the variance, i.e. he did not show the standard deviation within each group. It is perfectly conceivable that there could be people from the less able groups putting in more hours than some in the more able group but not seeing the result. Conceivable but I do not know because the study withholds the information.
When weight is be placed on a study you would hope it covered everything openly. You would also hope it accorded with a broad range of other studies but as the Science in Sport article shows there is contra evidence.
Bottom line is that you can get a very long way by working hard but I still believe champions have something extra.
However that is not of much personal concern as I will never be a champion. I can only hope to do the best I can and be satisfied with that.
That best includes the concept of rest and enjoyment. Hence my picture of someone, at ease, reading by the canal. A waterway for slow paced boats and slow paced runners.