Seeking the 0.5% edge – Article 1: Recovery

by TimGoodenoughZA on November 22, 2013


Yesterday I attended a quality lecture by Sports Scientist Ross Tucker. In it he shared that on average, the difference in performance in the modern Olympic Games between 1st and 4th place across multiple disciplines is 0.5% in performance.

What an incredible number! In Raising Talent I share my philosophy of trying to improve 1% per week so cumulatively you may be 66% better after a year, a key metaphor for High Performance. Small gains over time add up to big differences.  If I was to adjust this metaphor for elite Olympians, the % improvement daily that will result in a 0.5% difference gain on your opponent over 4 years to medal are ludicrously small – the 0.5% edge is found in tiny details. Gold Medalists know this.

This series of articles is based on some of what I believe to be the next level of edge, I predict in this Olympic cycle athletes and teams who follow these ideas will benefit from that edge, before it becomes commonplace and we all have to look deeper and with fresh eyes to find the next thing.


It makes sense that to give 10/10 in training, your body needs to have recovered 100% from its training load by your next training day – typically the next day, so that instead of giving 8/8 or 9/9 or you can give 10/10.

In recovery the usual suspects are: cooling down protocols and stretches, ice-baths, proper timed nutrition (including the use of adequate water), recovery clothes/garments and quality sleep.

There are already some challenges here; not all cooling down protocols are created equal and the science behind ice-baths for recovery is inconclusive. Nutrition is of course always controversial including the best use of quality supplements (if at all?) which is always an interesting debate. Quality sleep and recovery clothes/garments is also an area where there are lots of theory’s and supportive aids, some of them are really interesting and others quite bizarre.  What is a 0.5%er to do?

Well the answer is to partner with experts that you can work in the various domains that you have identified as important to you. As a team you can collectively challenge trends, research and marketing speak, to sift through it all and work out what is best for you.  The idea I want to offer you is related to my area of expertise.

My theory is this: Previously I wrote an article on the mental side of rehab where I shared Bruce Lipton’s research and theory from “The Biology of Belief” that on a cellular level, the cells in our body are either in a Growth state or a Protection (fight/flight) state. Only one can be optimally operating at a time. Lipton went on to share that for the body to go into fight/flight the mind has to perceive a threat, whether the threat is real (walking around the corner to find an angry tiger growling at you) or perceived (the stress and anxiety we hold in our head as an example) the body responds in the same way – the body initiates Protection and slows down Growth/Recovery.

Many elite athletes are tasked to do daily questionnaires on various indicators; sleep, positivity, muscle soreness, level of fatigue, level of stress, etc . This allows Sports Scientists to dynamically shift their training load when needed and take action on “warning flags” But what if the athletes themselves initiated their own  de-stressing protocol after training if they scored more than 3 out of 10 for (de-)stress (some stress is very useful and positive- this is of referred to as eustress) this would allow the sleep process to truly aid in their recovery as the athlete will fully be in a Growth/Recovery state and support the athlete arriving 10/10 the next day.  It would be the equivalent of stretching more or going to a physio if there is a small niggle, except the mental physio is the athlete him/herself who has been upskilled to do the work.

There are various different de-stressing protocols in the world of mental coaching and sports psychology, including what I believe to be a series of accurate,direct and quick to use tools that have been developed in Raising Talent. I will share what I believe to be a best-of-range in a future article so that you can find the tool/process/method that is best for you.

Here’s to your 0.5%!

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