For Endurance Training Use The 40% Rule, While Avoiding Bad Pain!

You can do more than you think you can!

the 40% rule

Or the 40% rule of Navy Seals!

“When you think you’re done and have reached your limit,

you’re actually only 40% done.”

“The 40% rule, the SEAL explained, is the reason why even though most people hit a wall at mile 16 during a marathon, they’re still able to finish.” Sidd Finch

the 40% rule: cycling pain face

Classic cycling pain face!

Pain is a normal part of any serious training program.

For instance, I find the cycling leg of Ironman to be the most painful component. It becomes a battle between one part of your mind saying stop, and another part saying no.

Take care to tell good pain (training) from bad pain (injury on the way),

and you can become really fit.

This takes a little practice, and some mistakes.

It’s all part of living an active healthy life.

My last article, on listening to your body, could be used as an excuse, “If my body says stop, I should stop!” Nothing could be further from the truth.

the 40% rule: Photo of FitOldDog running converted to oil painting by AlienSkin

You can do more than you think you can, if you can distinguish good pain from bad pain. “Shut up legs, let’s get this done!”

I’m reminded of Kung Fu training in my 40s. The teacher would have us learn about the pain of effort, using buckets of sand or water. We’d be instructed to hold a heavy bucket in front of our chest, with both arms out straight. We had to hold it until our shoulder muscles were screaming with pain. If we started to lower the bucket, he would say, “OK! Just another 10 seconds.”

Then another 10, and another ten.

It was remarkable how much longer you could hold up the bucket, than you thought you could.

You should listen to your body, but that does not mean that you have to agree with everything your body says.

Bodies sometimes whine a lot!

During the last 10 miles of an Ironman race, or a hard endurance bike ride, the only way to keep going is to say, “Shut up legs!” They do, and you finish, feeling fine.

Other times, you know your legs have a genuine complaint, and the run is over.

This learning process is all part of the art of any physical effort worth undertaking.

Our friend, Amanda, told me about the 40% rule, of the Navy Seals.

It’s a good one. Thanks, Amanda!


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.