One Percent

I was chatting to a few people I met today and they invited me out on Thursday night. I replied that I had swim training every Thursday, but that I’d try to join them afterwards.

Them: “Oh, what are you training for?”

Me: “A triathlon”.

Them: “Wow, that’s incredible!”

Me: “Not really. I’ll be happy just to drag my gasping corpse across the finish line. I have no delusions of being particularly competetive”.

Them: “Even so, it must put you in the top one percent of people in terms of fitness”.

That got me thinking…

I briefly talk about my reasons for entering a triathlon here (12th September in Weymouth, if you fancy coming to cheer me on!), but I neglect to mention that a lot of it really is just about fitness. I enjoy being fit, but I find it easy to find reasons not to go out and train. I’ll put it off, and then put on weight, and feel worse about myself. But having something to aim for is always a good motivator. Besides, myself and my co-triathlete Steve have a decade of music industry excess to shed!

But when I thought about it, I thought that the top one percent is actually something worth aiming for, and that it’s achievable for all of us. We idolise those who achieve excellence and often assume that such heights are out of the reach of us mere mortals. But I think that being average shouldn’t be a barrier to doing great things.

I consider myself to be pretty average in every way, but looking at it through the eyes of the people I met earlier today I can see how they think that doing a triathlon is special. And after a bit of consideration I suppose that I am in the top one percent of mid-thirties men in terms of fitness. Or thereabouts.

To acheive that top one percent may seem extraordinary. But to be better, to do more “incredible” things, than 99 percent of the population (or your age/peer group) doesn’t take any special skills or talent. It’s just a case of putting your mind to it. By just deciding to do something you already put yourself ahead of 90 percent of people. Then by achieving your goal you’re ahead of the the remaining 9 percent.

Of course, there’s always going to be the naturally gifted, and exceptionally committed, (those like Gebrsellassie, Messi, Bolt, Federer…) who make up the 0.001 percent of people. But there’s nothing stopping any of us achieving the top one percent in fitness, business, academia etc. It’s just a case of deciding to do it, then just doing it.

Don’t be shy. Tell me what you’re in the top one percent for…

*No actual mathematics, calculators or statistics were used in the formulation of this blog post.

6 responses to “One Percent”

  1. Wise words Neil. I guess I enjoy life and I want to keep living it so figured that getting fit, quitting all the things I enjoy (smokin, doing flip all, other “recreational” activities) was a good trade off.

    Now here’s the scary part. According to this website: I’m in the top 1%. Why doesn’t it feel like that?

  2. I’d like to say I’m in the top 1% of being an awesome father; at the same time, I wouldn’t want to put down or upset any other fathers out there. I guess that it’s relative to who/what you know/have experienced.

    Actually, I love your idea and it makes me think that maybe my goal of the half marathon in 2011 should be increased to include being in the top 1% of finishers.

    However, I believe in attainable and achievable goals. Am I saying that I cannot attain or achieve that target? Nope, not at all, but right now I don’t know how to get there! (I’m open to advice!)

    Good luck with your tri-athlon training, I’m sure you can achieve it. 🙂

    • Steve – brilliant link, thanks!

      Eye on Cardiff – yeah, I suppose it depends on what you measure yourself against. I generally considered it as a measurement against the wider public, or your general peer group. Just by completing the half marathon you’ll be in that one percent of fitness, or motivation, or whatever. Being in the top one percent of finishers might be another goal altogether! I’m thinking a sub 90-min time might be needed…


      • At first glance the idea of a time under 90 minutes made me break into a sweat. 😉

        However, if my math is correct, that would be an average of 8.7 mph. At the moment that’s not achievable for me, but a year and 3 months from now… I think that’s a good target to aim for!

  3. Read this post a few days ago and have been mulling it over.

    I didn’t major in maths but apparently I was in the top 1% (or thereabouts) of the internship that I’m currently on. There were 1,500 candidates and only 25 places. (The downfalls of doing an arts degree!)

  4. Eye On Cardiff – Good luck. 90 mins is a great time for a half marathon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it put you in the top 1%. Most first timers aim for breaking the 2.00hr mark. My best is about 1h40m. I’d love to train properly to break 1h30 though.

    Jess – that’s impressive. Just by getting up and doing it you’ve made it up to those dizzy heights! 😉

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