Coach Tip Tuesday: The Secret to Proficiency Gains

Posted On:
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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Hey hey!! It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!

In sport, there are so many things out of our control.  The weather.  Who shows up to race against us.  The course conditions.  Illness.  And those are just a few!!

Unknowns such as these cause much angst to many of the Type A personalities that are drawn to endurance sports.  It’s very important to acknowledge that these things are, in fact, out of our control.  We can try to prepare as best we can for the variety of uncertainties that we may face in day-to-day training or come race day, but in the end, it is extremely important to acknowledge and accept that we don’t (and never will) have control over the uncontrollables.

While there are many things that *are* out of our control as athletes, there are two very important things that ARE in our control: our attitude and our effort.  It is important that we do not let the uncontrollables take over and dictate how we manage our controllables.

Our family friend Ken Halaby taught me something when I was much younger: Attitude is everything.  As a kid in Trumbull, Connecticut, I didn’t fully understand what he meant.  The reality is that Mr. Halaby, who had *so* much life experience by the time he entered my life, was trying to save me and my peers some years of life lessons learned the hard way.  As I’ve grown older, Mr. Halaby’s motto and lesson has stayed with me, and I’ve realized how right he is.

How we approach our sport defines us.  Do we approach it with fear, apprehension, procrastination??  Or do we approach it with a spirit of gratitude, a learning heart, and with passion??  Not only does this approach define us, but it defines our experience in the sport.  If the attitude toward the sport is negative, then our experience will follow suit.  But if we approach our sport with enthusiasm, joy, and inquisitiveness, then we will have a much more positive experience overall.

The effort we give our sport also defines us.  My friend Coach Mark Sortino says it well, “You may never have a perfect race.  But you can have a race in which you give perfect effort.”  Yes, indeed.  You have 100% control over the effort you give to your sport on a given day.  And thus, if you do the best you can, you can (and should!!) rest easy knowing that you did the very best you could.  You couldn’t do more.  And thus, you did give “perfect” effort.  And that is something that you should always seek to do, and always celebrate when you do it. :)

We can always look back on our training and racing and find things we can learn from or improve upon in the future.  But the reality is that we cannot change the attitude or effort that we gave in the past.  So when evaluating your training and racing, ask yourself this: Did you give your best effort, and did you have a good attitude while doing so??  If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then give yourself a pat on the back.  Be proud of your attitude.  Be proud of your effort.  And do so without reservation, without an addendum, and without qualifying it.  :)


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

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