Coach Tip Tuesday: You Don't Have to Do A Lot of Stuff
As both summer (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere) and the pandemic stretch on, I want to offer you this tip for successfully reaching goals (even in times like those we currently exist in):
You don’t have to do a lot of stuff. You DO have to do the RIGHT stuff a lot of times.
I see it a lot in the endurance sports world: people (coaches and athletes alike) are trying to find “new” ways to accomplish the same thing. Based on my years of experience working full-time in this field, I can say the following with a lot of confidence:
Complexity sounds sexy and it tends to sell, but the reality is that repeating foundational things - and doing those things WELL - is what leads to success over the long haul.
As so many of you have discovered during these last several months, you actually crave routines. (Raise your hand if you felt lost for a long time once you were told to work from home and alter the routines that you had established for your lives.) The human brain LOVES repetition. LOVES IT. Repetition is what yields mastery over time; I’m sure most of you have heard that it takes thousands of repetitions (the actual number is disputed by researchers) before something becomes “muscle memory” for someone.
It should be noted that the brain and body also do enjoy variability and changing stimulus. The trick here is that both of those things be mindfully employed at the correct time. Basically, once you have done the right stuff really well enough times, you can make it harder, thereby giving the body the variability and stimulus that it craves.
However, seek to make something overly complex too soon, and you’ve effectively written a recipe for injury, frustration, burnout, and disaster.
As I said earlier, complexity is sexy. It’s fun to talk about. It’s easier in the beginning to get excited about something that is complex (which often honestly just translates to “different”). But here’s the reality: it’s much more challenging to stick to something complex over the long haul. Enthusiasm wanes early on, and it’s easier to find other options around something that is complex.
The right stuff - aka the simple stuff - doesn’t allow one to hide. It requires one to show up, day after day, and punch the timecard. It’s not glamorous. It might even be classified as boring. But it’s wickedly effective.
Doing the right stuff a lot of times might look like: getting in frequent, consistent runs; stretching each day; doing a dynamic warm-up each time you do a workout; hydrating well all day for many days in a row; hydrating well during each workout you do; getting quality sleep/rest; doing a series of five strength exercises that are applicable for you four times per week; not overdoing it on intensity in your workouts. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. You simply will not enjoy the highest level of success you could (or want to) achieve unless you do the right stuff a lot of times.
So, this week my tip is to chart a course that has you doing exactly that - the right stuff a lot of times. Do something. Repeat. Tweak it slightly (emphasis on the slightly) as you gain proficiency. Show up, do the thing, and then do it again. Rinse, repeat.
It’s truly as simple and as challenging 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.