The older I get the more I notice that my metabolism seems to be moving slower than most glaciers. I was watching a turtle the other day make its way across the grass and I could have sworn that I heard my metabolism say, “Hey turtle, slow down…what is your hurry?”
It has become a monumental struggle to maintain the weight that I prefer. Other than eating the right foods, I have become a runner. That is right—a runner. It is the last thing I thought you would ever hear me say. A few years ago, it would have been more likely that I join a Polish circus as a fire juggler. Yet, here I am, a runner.
A concept that running has taught me is the one of “gradual adaptation.” When I started running, one and a half miles seemed unfathomable. As I lumbered around the track that first jog, it felt as if my eyes were rolling back in my head. I could feel my lunch making its way to resurface and my lungs gasped to grab all the oxygen in my time zone.
Now, as I glide past the 1.5-mile mark, I haven’t even gotten warmed up. What made the change? Gradual adaptation.
A fellow runner suggested that I run for 20 minutes at a slow pace. He convinced me that it was the duration and not the intensity that was important. I soon reported back to him that I was able to run 20 minutes with great ease at 6.3 mph. “Super!” he replied. “Next time you run, run for 25 minutes.”
In my mind, he might as well have told me to sprout wings and fly. Yet, I nodded my head and told him I would give it a try. To my amazement, the extra five minutes came easy. Within a few weeks, I was running 30 minutes, then 35, then 40, then 45 and then 60 consecutive minutes!
If I had started at 60 minutes, I would have most likely been wheeled to the hospital afterward and never run again. Instead, I chose the option of gradual adaptation.
Whether your goal is running, building a business or learning a new skill, the concept of gradual adaptation is one that you must implement to be successful.
Don’t attempt to change the world in a day. Brian Buffini says that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year (this is because they don’t practice gradual adaptation) and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade.
How to implement gradual adaptation:
- Decide what your ultimate goal is
- Understand this will also be a lesson in patience and do not rush the end result
- Establish stages or levels of the larger goal
- Focus on the next stage, not the end result
- Remind yourself of the end result to maintain excitement and passion while still focusing on the next stage
- Measure your progress with a chart
Realize that your results in any endeavor will be slow at first, but as you gain momentum the results expand geometrically. This is why most overestimate their accomplishments for a year and underestimate the possible accomplishments of a decade.
This six-step process will work if you are building a business, a workout routine or learning a new skill. Remember that no one ever ran a marathon the first time out of the blocks and neither will you.
Practice gradual adaptation.