No such thing as ‘Marginal Gains’

Welsh Ewe Coaching's Tracy Corbett drops some truth bombs

Originally published on

Nope, now way, sorry to say that line is a big fat LIE!

If you haven’t realised by now, the Team Sky marketing moniker is just that, a way to convince joe public and those big cheque signing sponsors that, yes, we really are different, we really can deliver with our ultra specific, super pedantic, no stone left unturned approach. The reality, an utterly shambolic paper trail when asked quite simply ‘what was in the Jiffy bag Dave?’.

Anyway enough silly Sky bashing, my point is this, have you got a cup of tea ready?

Racing, and racing at the top level certainly does require pedantic precision and endless pursuit for perfection. Its just that Sky never invented this theory, this is simply part and parcel of improvement and as far as fundamental strategies go it fails to show one very important aspect, ‘constant progression’.

‘What the hell is she going on about?’ I hear you cry, well think about it like this, when you have assessed all there is to assess, your eating, your sleeping, your position your state of mind. You have nit picked your way through literally years of training data and typically surmised your best performances are quite possibly behind you, then what? Where do you find the edge? With ‘marginal gains’ you hit a wall, you have the best kit, clothes, research, processes (*cough*) but still you feel you can’t see improvement then what?

Is all hope lost?
No, it never is, you have ‘plateau complex’ my own non-scientific way of explaining you are not trying to see improvement in all aspects of your life. ‘Incremental gains’ is an alternative strategy that produces significant results.

For us, the ‘normal’ majority, lets break it down.

Shut it all down sometimes and just zen the hell out.
Shut it all down sometimes and just zen the hell out.

Take stock
Declutter and destress, this is very important, a pillar if you will. Take five minutes to look around you and assess your situation. Is your school run a nightmare? Do your work deadlines ruin your routine? Are you a habitual snack grabber? Just take stock for a moment, all these aspects are manageable. Tweak them in your favour, I can’t change them for you, I want you to know what are the blockers and bumps in your day, because truth number one, nothing will change unless you commit your focus to changing it and improving it.

Find time to hit the office gym, try something new, breaking old habits with new routines is always a win!
Find time to hit the office gym, try something new, breaking old habits with new routines is always a win!

Routines break, them make them
I’m not expecting the CEO of a bank to clear her schedule just for her training program, I’m expecting her to incrementally change small aspects of her day to seamlessly integrate her goals. Elevate the feet under the desk, drink water, check posture, take an eye ball break, get out the building, hold back on the coffee, reward yourself with healthy treats, have cheeky stretch somewhere secluded better still sign up to the lunchtime yoga session…that type of incremental change can only serve to produce bigger results.

Get organised! Cut the faff, halve the excuses and get cracking!
Get organised! Cut the faff, halve the excuses and get cracking!

Home is where the heart is
But home is also where at least 60% of your challenges lie, you are trying to be a mother, a father a partner, a friend, a chef, a teacher, a scholar an EVERYTHING to everyone. Just be you, but understand you chose all of this, so again, make the small adjustments that accommodate change. Be organised, nothing wastes time like trying to find a heart rate monitor strap before a precious session. Ruthless repetition in all the small stuff, finish session, towel off, HR strap back in its little spot, grab shake, hit shower, stretch, drink, skins on, job done….now was that so difficult?

It never gets easier, you just get stronger!
It never gets easier, you just get stronger!

When it all falls apart
Its ok, really, it happens. But what is great about making a myriad of incremental tweaks to your day is that you get better and better at crisis management. Previous gains you made are never totally lost. You slip, but you’re not falling off the mountain, you are closer to your goal than you were a week ago, so dust off and get going again.

Incremental change and therefore incremental improvement sets you on an upward trajectory. This is not a flat plain we are on, this is an ever increasing full and total change to bad habits a refining of good habits. You need to make adjustments everywhere but you need routines that can help you quickly look back and ask yourself ‘well last week I did this, how can I do it better?’

So think differently, always. The same results come from the same inputs. Change the inputs you change the results….seriously you don’t need me to tell you this….er…..wait a minute 🙂

Go get em guys