One of the important lessons I learned from participating in competitive sports is that in order to get better, you very often need to work at it. Additionally, more practice is not always the best approach. Rather, you need to practice with specific goals in mind.

If you want to run faster, you need to put in the time doing speed work. Riding a bicycle uphill faster than another person involves doing hill repeats to train your body to handle the increased load. Learning to race, in any sport, involves getting experience actually racing. Words like hard work, journey, and process all come to mind.

Along the way you will discover the tricks of the trade, or hacks, that will help you refine your training regimen. These minor adjustments to your diet, stretching routine, or perhaps your rest days will help you make larger gains over time. You’ll also likely discover specific gear that you like to use that will help amplify your performance. This may be more of a mental trick, but it’s important to consider nonetheless.

I found that I made the largest gains when my training regimen became automated. The less I had to think about where I was going and what I was doing, the more I could focus on getting in a quality workout. When the daily, weekly, and even seasonal cycle of train-rest-sleep becomes part of who you are, then life tended to just simply flow and consistent improvement became the norm.

Regardless, of what you are training for or working to improve, consistency and taking a focused approach is the key. If you want to race, then parts of your training regimen need to include speed work or simulated race conditions. If you want to play a sport at a high level, you need to practice at or above that level. Becoming faster involves training your body to work faster and more efficiently. Over time, this will translate into effective performance.

This line of thinking extends into other areas as well. Want to become more creative? Then spend more time creating. Want to become a better leader? Then spend more time organizing events and developing initiatives. Want to be perceived as someone who can get things done? Then spend time working on projects and bringing them through to completion.

It takes work to get to the next level.

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