The 50% WR Rule

October 10, 2019

The 50% WR Rule

As I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve become increasingly interested in being in shape and staying that way for the long run. Over the last few years I’ve been doing everything from powerlifting to 400 intervals, miles, 10Ks, and duathlons. I’m terribly goal-oriented, so of course I’ve had weight or time goals for all of these.

What I’ve realized in hindsight is that you can use World Records as a pretty good gauge for where most people want to be. Just take whatever the world record is, and make it half as impressive. That will be a hard but achievable goal for a person in relatively good shape.

Examples that have been useful to me:

Mile World Record: 3:43, In Shape Goal: 7:30

400m World Record: 43.03s, In Shape Goal: 80s

5K World Record: 12:37 (ridiculous), In Shape Goal: 24:00

10K World Record: 26:17, In Shape Goal: 52:00

Squat World Record (at 231 lbs): 739 lbs, In Shape Goal: 365 lbs

Bench Press World Record (at 231 lbs): 506 lbs, In Shape Goal: 250 lbs

Deadlift World Record (at 231 lbs): 858 lbs, In Shape Goal: 405 lbs (Other weight class records here)

I don’t think this extrapolates for everything. For example, I’m not sure there’s an equivalent for cycling (like total miles in one hour) or for jumping events. There’s also considerations to account for between ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs. I’m definitely on the endomorph side, so the weight goals are much easier, and I bet an athletic ectomorph would be looking at a 60% solution for running.

But for pure cardio and pure strength events, it seems like a decent formula. I haven’t hit the distance running goals yet, but I will. And when I think about moving up to something like a half-marathon it works there too. The World Record there is 58:17 (again, ridiculous), and my goal would definitely be 2 hours.

I also don’t see why these shouldn’t be true all the way until 50 years of age. They all still seem hard but achievable.

Greg Olsen
Hi I'm Greg. Occasionally, I do things.