Jan 26, 2021 – Antifragility

Hi Everyone!  


I have to say, I am loving passing or bumping into many of you out walking or running when I am out. It’s just so reassuring to have these passing reminders that we really are all doing our things together even though we’re apart. Of course I know you’re all getting out, and I think of you out there, but it’s nice to have it reinforced with a passing smile or quick chat. It’s enough to keep me lacing up and running out the door in the hopes of a random encounter!  


What I’ve been thinking of this week is antifragility. This is a term which I believe was invented by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile – which I haven’t read. So what I’m about to tell you is my interpretation and feel free to correct me if you’ve read the book! What I understand is that antifragile is a word that the author made up because there was no current word for the opposite of fragile. Resilient means withstanding pressure. Antifragile means getting stronger with pressure. I like this. We always talk about the importance of resilience. This implies that you have to build yourself up before encountering a stressor. You have to already have resilience in order to thrive and come out unscathed. If your system is antifragile however, it is the actual act of the stress which makes you stronger.  


Antifragility in systems is ruined when too much control is imposed. Control can work to manage outcomes, but it does not make a system stronger. Antifragile systems thrive in randomness, volatility and disorder, and actually come out stronger. Examples of this are, evolution, political systems, ideas, technological innovations. Anything that when challenged, becomes stronger. When we impose too much structure, control and rules, we can inadvertently make things more fragile.  


I was thinking about this concept as it applies to how many of us have been approaching our running and training and virtual races over this pandemic. In most cases that I’ve seen, when we’ve set out to do a hard effort, we’ve let go of the impulse to control all the variables – even though we’ve had the opportunity. If we set out for a hard effort and it’s -12C, that’s what we do. If there is gale force winds, we accept that randomness. If our path is icy or muddy or lights change and we have to zig and zag, we accept that. We don’t wait for the best possible day and give ourselves a downhill route. We don’t run on the treadmill so we can be sure of controlling every variable. This does not necessarily mean we started out with a ton of resilience, but it DOES mean that we will be less likely to crack the next time we have a hard effort or race and we’re thrown a windstorm or muddy course or tough conditions. We are making ourselves stronger by accepting the randomness and stressors.  


So let’s think of this next little chunk of winter/pandemic/isolation time that way. We are not just enduring and being resilient and holding strong. We are growing and thriving and building ourselves stronger because we are antifragile. And next time there’s a downhill race on a warm day with no wind and a crowd to run with and lots of spectators to cheer us on, I guarantee you we will absolutely crush that shit!  


On that note, please see below for a note from Monica (and big Thank-You to Monica for organizing!)  


Congrats to everyone who participated in the LES Power Hour! Lots of quick paces out there, especially with the cold temps and strong winds over the past week. See below for top three Teams and top 3 male and female competitors.  


Seems like everyone enjoyed the friendly competition so we’ll look to do another LES challenge/race in a couple months’ time, stay tuned.       


Top 3 Teams:  

  1. Team #7 – 15.25km (Amy, Kerry, Cullen, Xavier)  
  2. Team #3 – 15.10km (Miguel Eleanor, Carolyn, Sam R)  
  3. Team #5 – 14.86km (Seanna, Chris, Lara, Kevin)  


Top 3 Men (KMs)  

  1. Cullen (4.17)  
  2. Dave K (4.07)  
  3. Xavier (4.02)  


Top 3 Women (KMs)  

  1. Seanna (4.09)  
  2. Brianna (4.06)  
  3. Roz (3.93)  


Onto workouts for this week:  


  1. 5-7 x 1K w 1:45 rest (most ppl should not do 7 but aim for 5 – especially if this is a recovery week) – pace ~ 15-20 secs faster than tempo (these can be done on our path as 600/400 loops or on any route by km’s on your watch)  
  2. 3 x 1K w 1:45 (as above); 4 min rest, 4 x 400 m a bit faster w 1 min rest  
  3. Tempo: 2 x 10 min w 3 min easy, 1 x 5 min  
  4. If your body is sore and you need a recovery week, do an easy jog, mobility and strides, and more easy jogging. This helps a lot more than it feels like it is.  


Have fun everyone!