The One Percent Solution

By Dr. Michael Cerami  1%

After 3 big races this summer I’ve had a number of observations that I think can help all of the aspiring athletes out there. I know it’s easy to say but I think it’s hard to own: Getting faster is all about staying focused over the years.

My personal experience and improvement in my swimming has been due to a regular commitment of getting to the pool 3 times per week and doing the combination of written workouts. For a long time I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere but slowly (very slowly) I started to see improvements and my times started to drop. I’m now swimming straighter in open water and 5 minutes faster than my 2012 70.3 race times with even less effort. My point is that that I have some perspective on my history I feel I can look ahead to the 2014 season and expect that if I get a 1% improvement per month for the next 9 months, I may be able to get down into the 32 minute range for St. George 70.3 in May 2014 with just the regular practice that I’ve been doing for the past 10 months.

I believe these tenants will hold true for you whether you are a multisport athlete or a single sport athlete. What I lake about this approach is that it creates somewhat of an “equation” of predictability. When we are in the throws of hard training it’s easy to get demotivated or distracted and frustrated after a not so stellar workout. If we follow the 1% solution rule, and “zoom out” it gives us the perspective to remember that we need to keep out head down, keep working and the results will come.

Take a few minutes as the racing season begins to wind down and play with your times and numbers if you are trying to get faster, play better or even lose weight. What would 1% look like for you? How long would it take to get you to your goal? Sounds crazy I know, but it really works!

Helpful hints:

  1. If you are serious, get yourself a coach. Its much more efficient to have an expert write your training plans than you personally trying to navigate your emotional, physical and social rollercoasters while trying to be consistent with deliberate practice.
  2. Books: Mastery by George Leonard:
  3. Magical Running: Bobbie McGee:


Dr. Michael Cerami owns Utah Sports and Wellness and has been a competitive triathlete for over 18 years.  He is available for a no charge consultation one Saturday per month at The Salt Lake Running Company (700 East store) by appointment. He can be reached at  801-486-1818 or online at

2016-11-30T03:52:48+00:00 September 4th, 2013|