10,000 Hours

I’m reading this fantastic book right now called Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I love Gladwell’s stuff. He has this really insightful way of analyzing simple things and getting unusual, yet logical explanations for why things happen the way they do.

In Outliers, Gladwell asserts that one of the mitigating factors in being the “best” at something, or at least being a top performer in any field, is to practice. Of course, this is not a new concept, but he assigns a number. To be outstanding in a discipline, the magic number of hours to practice is 10,000.

When I read this I thought this wasn’t a whole lot. Now you now how daft I am with numbers. 10,000 is an awful, awful lot of hours to do ANYTHING. Let’s break it down: that’s 3 hours a day, 365 days a year, for ten years.

This year I’ve logged more time on the bike then ever before. Thanks to Bike Journal, I’ve been able to track my time, mileage, and calories burned to an exact value. So far after today’s ride (which was lovely), I’ve cycled 1669.82 miles, spent 111 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds in the saddle, and burned–get this–73,016 calories (why have I only lost three pounds? I wonder if Gladwell can answer that question with his fancy number crunching), in 2008.

This got me thinking even more. How many hours have I logged over my lifetime? I started riding a bike when I was five, so let’s see…some general estimates of bike riding from ages 5-15….I did maybe 320 hours. After 15, let’s face it, I was riding around in cars. Riding a bike was social suicide. I picked cycling back up at 30, and in that time, between a complicated pregnancy and a couple of abdominal surgeries to remedy my issues, I only logged (including this year) another 300 hours.

So in order to be outstanding, I have another 9,420 hours of saddle time ahead of me.

Good thing I like the trainer.



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