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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

We Can't Train Like We Christmas Shop

There's a concept in the project management world called Parkinson's Law. Essentially, it means that the more time you have, the longer you will take to complete the task. If the quiz is tomorrow, you're hitting the books hard tonight. If the quiz is in two weeks, you might study a bit each night, and by the time the quiz comes, you'll be ready.

Parkinson's Law describes how we Christmas shop. A few of you start the project months in advance. You always have your eyes peeled, slowly acquiring the right gifts when you see them. By the time Christmas rolls around, you've got great presents to give your loved ones.

Then there's the rest of us. I'm in this group. I wait until the thought of not having gifts to give on the 25th becomes a(n all too real) possibility that I get it done. The gifts I give are decent, though some years, I realize I could do better if I had started earlier. I guess it's the thought that counts?

The graph below illustrates this idea. The less time you have (or give, in the case of my Christmas shopping), the greater the effort is needed to complete a project.


Translate this to training. Too often, we rely on a scheduled race to get started with our preparation. What these pandemic times have shown is that races will show up with little notice. Those who have been preparing all along will be ready. Those who haven't might still show up. But like my Christmas gifts, they won't quite measure up to the competition.

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