10,000 hours of hard work. 10,000 hours of diligence. 10,000 hours of discipline. 10,000 hours of, well, endurance. The 10,000-hour rule, established 30 years ago by US-American psychologist Anders Ericsson, amounts to the same thing as the saying “practice makes perfect”.
However, 10,000 hours sound more scientific, they are quantifiable and relatable as well as accountable. They are an example taken from reality. Florian Grasel trains 20 hours a week, which makes 80 hours a month and 1040 a year (allowing for 14 days of holiday). Florian is 41 years old and he took up serious running about twelve years ago, which means he has invested about 12,000 hours to become really good at something.
“Really good” is kind of an auxiliary term though. Based on hard facts - results, to be more specific - Grasel is Austria’s most successful and best ultra-trail runner. There’s hardly a race he hasn’t finished as the winner, or at least on the podium, and at times he even triumphs during a final long training session before a season’s main event, as was the case in the lead-up to the 2022 Pitz Alpine Glacier Trail. What was only supposed to be a performance check for the UTMB (which proved to be less successful), turned into a real victory, yet another one in the athlete’s succession of achievements.
The running family man and IT entrepreneur with a comedic streak from Lower Austrian likes to call himself a “flatland Tyrolean” and loves Tyrol as much as his quaint home town of Bad Erlach. He drives west whenever work-related meetings allow for it, to cover several thousand meters in altitude or to run the Berliner Höhenweg in the Zillertal at the fastest known time - which, however, was bested before he even made it back home to Lower Austria. (“I knew that my time left room for improval but I didn’t think the new record would only hold a mere quarter of an hour.”)
Not only is Grasel the best that Austria has to offer on the Trail Long in June 2023, not only is he a successful trail runner but also heads a successful IT business with more than half a dozen employees who consult clients including the ÖBB, the Austrian Federal Railways, construction group Porr and supermarket chain Rewe in Microsoft SharePoint solutions. As a father of twins, his family keeps him on his toes too, and it is not always easy to reconcile all aspects of life.
“My #lifeworktrailbalance is extremely important to me.”
This is “Trailbeard Grasel’s” attitude to life and the BOA athlete’s hashtag is among the most relevant and important ones in the German-speaking trail running community.
He has not won any races at the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival yet, “which is why I am amped for the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships,” he says with a smile. Everyone who listens to Grasel speak about the WC in his home country will understand how much this event means to him. “I have participated in two WCs so far. It is a truly special thing, being able to officially represent Austria by wearing the red-white-red jersey as one of the best in the country. This is not only true for myself, but for all athletes, and it’s evident.”
“And that is why I am looking forward to Innsbruck-Stubai – to the atmosphere along the routes, to the perfect organization that we can expect in Tyrol, and, hopefully, to a great result.”
Grasel would have invested the 10,000 hours required to become a master. He grins as he says: “Obviously everyone participating in the World Championships will have invested thousands of hours in trail running. And obviously, several hundred hours more will be added until June 2023 – after all, every athlete wants to give the best they can when representing their respective country in Innsbruck-Stubai. Let’s enjoy the path that leads to this unique trail running festival in Austria!”
One thing is for certain: It is better to have those 10,000 hours than to not have them.
Images: © STLABS
Florian Grasel, Austria, born on June 28, 1981 in Wr. Neustadt, lives in Bad Erlach, and is a BOA. Selected successes include: Best marathon time under three hours. Best Ironman triathlon time: 10 hours, 10 seconds. 2016, 2017, 2018: Winner of the Hochkönigman; 2018: Winner of the Mozart 100 and ninth at the UTMB; 2016, 2019: Winner of the Großglockner Ultra Trail (GGUT); 2022: Winner of the Eiger 250 (with Tom Wagner/250 km and 20,000 meters in altitude) and the PAGT.