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1 July, 2024


The 7 out of 10 rule – The simple mindset switch to skyrocket the consistency within your training

I want to share something with you. Just one simple mindset switch that can make a profound difference with your running.

John Lilly 298 websize 1

I want to share something with you. Just one simple mindset switch that can make a profound difference with your running (and in life) and lead to.

  • Much improved consistency
  • Less pressure on yourself and greater enjoyment
  • Fewer bad days

Is there a runner on the planet who wouldn’t want these things? Of course not.

Lets dive straight into how to make it happen…

Lets get to it…

I want you to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things for a second, ignore technology and use your own instincts to gather feedback. Imagine you were to rate every run or training session that you did on a simple scale of 1 to 10. With 10 being that you felt incredible and smashed it, and 1 being that it was a disaster and that you couldn’t of felt any worse.

These are your starting points.

The 10/10 Days

These are the days where you feel incredible. The days when you could take the world on and absolutely nothing could stop you. You run fast but it feels easy. These days come along every now and then, but we don’t chase them. Simply enjoy them when they do happen.

Ideally if your planning and preparation is correct, then the 10/10 days will happen on the days of your big target races.

The 1/10 days

At the other extreme there will be the days where you feel terrible. Where the mind or body simply doesn’t want to know and regardless of how hard you try, nothing is happening. As frustrating as these days are, just like the 10/10 days, everyone has a stinker from time to time.

When a 1/10 day happens, it’s a case of trying to learn why if you can, and then moving on quickly. Usually there will be clues such as poor sleep, high stress levels, low energy, or not being recovered from recent efforts.

Everything Else

Sticking with this 1-10 scale, most of the time you will NOT feel incredible (9-10) nor will you feel terrible (1-2). You will likely feel somewhere in the middle (3-7).

In 20+ years of being a runner who runs every day, this is where I am at least 80% of the time. I’m not killing it, nor am I feeling awful.

This is where we get to introduce the 7/10 rule…

A rating of 7 is where you have managed to get the job done. It wasn’t perfect, it may not have been easy, but on the whole, you got what you were looking.

On some days the 7/10s will come to you easily, other times you’ll have to work to turn what may have initially been a 3/10 into a 7. It is these that we need to focus on, doing what we can to boost the rating up to a 7. Crucially we are NOT reaching for a 10.

These are the days that really count and are the ones that should give you the most satisfaction. I’m talking about the days where you get home from work, aren’t feeling particularly energetic and it is a bit of struggle to get out of the door.

Or being in summer it’s hot and sticky, and far from ideal running conditions. Despite not being at your best, you grind it out to produce a solid session. You just about hit your targets but need to put in a workmanlike performance to get there.

Ever seen the way top football teams grind out 1-0 wins at difficult away grounds when they aren’t at their best? This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

Turning 3s into 7s definitely is not easy at first, but the more you practice it, the tougher you will become and I promise it does get easier.

Why does it work?

Whilst initially it may sound quite negative, switching to 7/10 thinking will provide you with some great long-term benefits.

  • 7/10 thinking makes it easier to get out of the door in the first place – Especially on days where you aren’t quite feeling it or have had a lot going on elsewhere in life.
  • 7/10 reduces the pressure you place on yourself of having to be on your A-game all the time
  • 7/10 reduces the risk of injuries, illness or overtraining that come with trying to hit numbers that aren’t right for that day
  • 7/10 leads to much greater chances of days turning into weeks which turn into months which can eventually turn into years

Through my many years in the sport as both an athlete and as a coach, I’ve found that this 7/10 principle will work regardless of distance and irrespective of ability or experience level. Think what a difference being able to do this on a regular basis will make to your overall form and confidence?

This article was written by John Beattie – Great Britain runner, and coach for Move Better Run Better.

John Beattie

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John Beattie is a coach who helps ambitious marathon runners achieve their ultimate goals in both running and life, through 1:to:1 online coaching.

John has also been an elite runner for many years, and has represented Great Britain and England in track, cross country and road running.

Although now focussed primarily on coaching, John is keen to lead by example and show older runners that ‘age is just a number.’ Now in his late 30s, and 23 years into his own running journey, he is still competing at a national level and remains under 30-minutes for 10k in 2024.

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