The recommended learning process you should take is what I define as a three step learning process. The first step is to get an understanding of what the technology or feature does and why it was implemented. This step should be done from a vendor neutral point of view if possible. This can be done by purchasing the various books available or by just using the freely available white papers, RFC, etc. available on the Internet. The second step is to learn how Cisco has implemented the particular technology or feature. You can do this by using the numerous configuration examples, tech tips, and documentation available on the Internet and Cisco's website along with the Cisco Press books. Don't underestimate the wealth of information available on the Cisco DocCD. Now that you have an understanding of the why and the how, it's time to take the third step by gaining experience with the technology or feature through hands on practice. Although anything is pretty much theoretically possible, you can not expect to pass the CCIE Lab Exam without hundreds of hours of hands-on practice and/or real world experience on the routers and switches. In the CCIE lab they will be trying to test your experience and the main way they test experience is by seeing how familiar you are with the technologies and topics. Generally speaking, someone who is more familiar will also be faster. By faster I don't mean that they can type faster but that they can do a task faster than someone without the equivalent experience. So don't worry about your keyboard typing speed if it's not the fastest. If we break these three steps down into time frames the first step would consume about 15%, the second step about 20%, and the last step about 65%. This means that for every one hour of reading about a technology or topic you should expect to spend two hours doing hands-on practice.