A number of years ago I was sitting around after a race chatting with a few people. The conversation trended towards upcoming events and someone asked my buddy what he needed to work on before the next race.
“Everything. I need to get better at everything.”
Everyone chuckled, but I always appreciated that answer. It might seem vague, but I believe it conveys the notion that improvement is a fluid option regardless of how good you (and everybody else) thinks you are. Nevertheless, we need to bring this broad application into a simplified focus if we are ever going to actually ‘get better at everything.’
Any time I seek to achieve something new, particularly with racing, I start with a blank sheet of paper. In many ways, this signifies an infinite amount of possibilities of where you want to take yourself, but as soon as begin to write anything down, you narrow your scope and begin to focus on what really matters to you.
I start with this simple process:
What is the goal?
Write it down.
Okay. Now, how do we get there?
This is where things become a little more tangible, but its also where you can get lost. I keep things basic as I only have one sheet of paper to work with. I want to be able to see everything I want to achieve, and have to do, at the same time, all the time. This might include goal workouts, collective training goals, mental training, etc. You should be able to fit everything on one piece of paper and you should be able to read it from several feet away.
I can remember being in high school and having a math teacher that allowed us to bring in one sheet of paper with anything we wanted on it for our final. People spent more time writing down as much as possible instead of actually learning the material. The more they wrote, the worse they did. Their preparation lacked application.
This is my way of saying: don’t say too much. If you have too much to focus on you will end up focusing on nothing. Instead, use this exercise as way to clearly see what you need be doing every day to become a little better at everything. Once you achieve that, set new goals and move on.