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Sustaining Executive Performance: How the New Self-Management Drives Innovation, Leadership, and a More Resilient World by Steven MacGregor

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14. TRAIN

All that I am, I am because of my mind.

—Paavo Nurmi

It was a dark, cold November evening, and the slightly built Czech runner could be seen doing endless rounds of the track. He would pick up a stone on one side, run one lap fast, drop it off, rest for 30 seconds, and then do the same thing again. And again. Coaches would laugh at what they perceived as mindless repetition. But there was method in the madness. The year was 1952 and the runner’s name was Emil Zatopek. He would go on to win the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, and the marathon at the 1954 Helsinki Olympics, the home of his hero Paavo Nurmi—a feat which has never been repeated.

Zatopek’s innovation of systematic interval training would transform track training, and eventually ...

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