by Niall Doherty

Last week I wrote quite a lot about training methods that helped me finish in the top 200 of the Crescent City Classic. There was one method I wanted to save for its own post, and here it is.

What is Hyperclocking?

I first heard of the concept in Tim Ferriss’ Trial by Fire TV pilot, which you can watch in its entirety online here. In that video (starting at about the 24:20 mark) Tim is trying to get faster at drawing an arrow, loading it into a bow and firing. He uses hyperclocking, a concept borrowed from computing, to do this. His description:

[Hyperclocking] usually refers to changing settings on a computer so the hardware runs faster than the manufacturer intended. In my case, that hardware is my nervous system.

The idea is to practice doing something at an outrageous level, so that, come the real challenge on the big stage, it’s relatively easy to meet your goal.

In essence, hyperclocking forces you out of your comfort zone, forces you to stretch yourself a bit more. And the more you stretch your comfort zone, the bigger it becomes.

How can you use it?

I’ll give you a couple of examples of how I’ve used hyperclocking to great effect.

For the Crescent City Classic, my goal was to finish in the top 200, meaning I would have to run the 10k in 41 minutes or less. To make that goal seem easier, I worked out what time I would need to finish in the top 100 (39 minutes or less) and that became my new target. It worked out to an average of 3:54 per kilometer, and so that’s what I aimed for. Of course, I ended up falling well short of that, but just pushing myself to get there ensured that I did finish well inside the top 200.

I’ve also used hyperclocking for practicing speeches. In Toastmasters, we have a time limit for each speech, and sometimes I find myself running up against it as I rehearse. Usually my biggest problem is not being able to recall different parts of the speech fast enough, so I’ll have lots of wasted time while I’m trying to think what comes next. To force faster recall and cut down on those gaps, I practice delivering the speech as fast as I can. I’ll race through it, trying to get everything said in half the allotted time. After doing this a few times, I revert back to my normal speaking pace and the real time limit suddenly seems like an eternity.

The possible applications for this are endless. I plan to use hyperclocking again soon to ramp up the emotion I display when public speaking. For my next speech, I’ll go way overboard with my emotions and gestures as I practice, then reign them back in for the real delivery.

If you’re having difficulty reaching a goal, identify what specific part of it is giving the most trouble, then brainstorm ways you can apply hyperclocking to help you break through.

Aim for the impossible, the unrealistic, the completely ridiculous. Even if you fall short, you’ll still be in a pretty good place.

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