Posted On:
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Updated On:
Monday, December 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: You Don't Get Better at Cooking By Ordering Takeout

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A photo of a takeout container (hopefully filled with delicious noodles).

This week, I'm sharing something that is simple in words, but harder in practice:

Specificity matters.

Do the Thing

If you want to become a better cook, you will not become a better cook by ordering takeout. Similarly, if you want to become a better [insert athletic-related term here], you will not become better unless you do the thing.

So, if you want to become a stronger runner, you need to run.  If you want to become a better cyclist, you need to ride your bike.  If you want to become adept at push-ups, you need to do that specific movement.  If you want to become a stronger triathlete, you need to swim, bike, AND run (not just pretend the discipline you like least doesn’t exist).

As a coach, I often hear from athletes who are looking for “shortcuts” or ways to avoid this process. I get comments like “I want to get a personal best time at [insert event here], but I want to do [insert other things here].”

While it’s certainly possible to do several things over the course of a training block or season, the reality that exists is this: In order to make true, measurable progress toward becoming better at a sport, skill, or achieving a result that is better than one you have achieved before, you need to put in focused, specific, consistent work that progresses toward that objective.

Confront the Entire Iceberg

You’ve all heard the “iceberg analogy” many, many times over. But the reason why it’s used so much is that it’s such a great one: Achievements and results are so very often the tip of an iceberg; they are the result of layers and layers of work and time beneath the surface.

So, be honest with yourselves.  If you’ve set a goal that is important to you, take a hard look at exactly what that goal is, and what it is going to take to reach it.  If you don’t have a true sense of what it might take or if you have questions, ask a coach or someone knowledgeable about that particular type of goal who will be honest with you about what it takes.  

That honesty component is extremely important, as many people (bless their hearts) will tell you you can do anything you set your mind to.  While this is often very true in concept, often, the folks who make encouraging, blanket statements like this do not know the specifics of HOW you can actually accomplish what you are seeking to do.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it takes what it takes. You can do it or not, but you can’t change what it takes. If you want to become a better cook, you need to ditch the DoorDash app and spend time in your kitchen. If you want to achieve your athletic-related goals, you need to spend the time doing the things that will lead you to success.

Specificity matters.  It really is 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.

She can be reached at

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