Coach Tip Tuesday: Before You Worry About the Icing...Bake the Cake

Posted On:
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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A photo of some of the best cake I ever made - flower cupcakes for my sister-in-law, Ashley!

Last week, I asked you all to consider this: 

What technology do you really need in sport?  Are you actually using the data you’re recording?  Or is your reaction to it one of confusion or indifference?  If you don’t take action based on what data you record (i.e. use the data to inform how your training evolves), then that means you’re indifferent.  In that case, it’s truly best if you don’t worry about that technology or data.

This week, I’m following up on that specific idea with a broader concept:

Don’t worry about the icing until you’ve baked a really good-tasting cake. 

(Yes, yes.  I’m luring you in with another cake analogy.)

In endurance sports, it’s fairly easy to get distracted from what really will help you succeed.  Just think about it.  On any given day, you could be distracted by:

  • What your friends are doing in their training
  • What someone on Instagram is doing in their training
  • What your technology is (sometimes incorrectly) telling you
  • What you used to be able to do in your training
  • The type of gear others in your sport have (aerobars and tri bikes….I’m looking at you)
  • How fast the person in the pool lane next to you is swimming
  • What the weight of your running shoes is
  • Etc., etc.

As usual, I could go on and on, but I won’t.  (You can thank me later. ;) )  Truly, there are so, so many things that could take your attention away from you and cast it elsewhere.  I’m here to tell you this week that focusing on you is the very best thing that you can do to help you succeed in getting to where you want to go.

Focusing on ourselves can feel awkward because we’re told so often in our culture that focusing on the self is, well, selfish.  We’re told that focusing on ourselves means that we don’t have consideration for others.  We’re told that not focusing on ourselves is the model we should strive for.

As many of you know, I definitely disagree with this and instead believe in a balance between the two; the best way we can help others is by taking care of ourselves.  By focusing on our own selves, we can achieve our goals, set a good example for those around us, and place ourselves in a mental place where we have the ability to help others.

So yes, this week, I was you to focus on YOU. I want you to turn inward. And - as has become a bit of a theme here over these last few Coach Tip Tuesdays - I want you to look in the mirror.

What are you doing - or (probably more importantly) not doing - to help yourself reach the goals you’ve set for yourself?

Details like what style of bike you’re riding, how much your hydration pack weighs, if your running shoe is the fastest currently on the market, and whether or not you have the latest and “greatest” GPS watch are truly the icing on the cake.  The icing only really matters if the cake tastes good.  If the cake doesn’t taste good, the icing is just masking a crummy cake.  And really.  Who likes crummy cake?

In endurance sports, elements like the aforementioned details only matter if the foundation of your training is strong.  Are you:

  • Getting in workouts consistently?
  • Completing the workouts on your schedule as planned?
  • Doing the types of workouts you need to do (not just the types of workouts you want to do)?
  • Training in adversity so you can prepare yourself for any condition on race day?
  • Hydrating well each day?
  • Fueling well (i.e. getting quality nutrition) each day?
  • Cultivating good sleep hygiene?
  • Stretching and engaging in other forms of recovery movements?

Do simple well.”  It’s something Coach Derick Williamson told me when I attended a triathlon camp he was coaching several years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.  In a world where everyone is relatively distracted, we can stand out from the crowd and succeed by focusing on fundamentals and doing the basics well.  It is these steps that will yield true, good results over time.

So don’t worry about the extras - the complex, sexy stuff that sells and sounds good.  Focus on baking the cake, and worry about learning icing techniques when you’ve baked a delicious cake.

About

Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at laura@fullcircleendurance.com.

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