Coach Tip Tuesday: The Things That Work are Boring
With each passing year, I see more gadgets, gizmos, systems, and strategies being marketed to endurance athletes all promising to help achieve amazing results and/or shortcut the time and effort it takes to achieve goals. Case in point: My first Garmin device could record two types of activities (cycling and running) and three pieces of data (heart rate (with a connected sensor), cadence(with a connected sensor), and speed). When I tried to add them up, I literally lost count of how many activities my current Garmin device can record, and it can natively record all sorts of data points without external sensors.
While I have appreciated what each of these watches has provided me (and my coaches over the years!), the difference in these devices (read: the addition of more features and/or “new” things on them) has not made me a stronger or better athlete. Why? Because the things that actually do work to facilitate progress are boring.
Variety sells. Novelty sells. It’s easier to market and it truly appeals to our brains on a very primal and subconscious level. So, companies (especially in a capitalist economy like the United States of America) deploy this tactic. They come up with seemingly new ideas/products and put them out into the marketplace. Sometimes they are new ideas, but many times they are actually old ideas repackaged in a “different wrapper” to make it seem appealing to consumers.
I have bad news for these companies and their marketing departments (and maybe even for you, the consumer):
The things that work in terms of fitness and endurance gains are not novel; they are honestly time-tested and simple. That being said, just because something is simple does not mean that it’s easy. The things that work can (somewhat paradoxically) be hard because that simplicity can lend itself to feeling boring. However, the gains are made in the boring, in the mundane.
Over the years, I’ve coached literally hundreds of athletes to so many different goals. While each person certainly is an individual and I generally don’t deal in absolutes, there are particular core, foundational things that work for almost (read: 99% or more) everyone. Here are just a few:
Many - if not all - of these things might be less dull when they are new, but honestly do get to be quite boring once they’re repeated over and over again. It can be tempting to do something different and/or to abandon something when it’s boring. However, sticking with it when it gets boring is what is going to keep you laying down the bricks of a solid foundation, which will ultimately lead to a springboard for gains.
If you want to succeed at reaching your goals, it’s a long play. There are not any shortcuts. No matter how shiny it looks or how sexy it sounds, there isn't a single new device or system that will buy you out of having to do the foundational things that lay the building blocks of success. So, show up. Every day. Do the work - even if (especially if!) it’s boring. It’s as simple and as hard as that.
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.