At some point in the athletic journey, you need to differentiate and specify. You can only realize your potential when you dial in on the path that will take you there. This principle is true at the most basic level of human life.
In cellular biology, cells have the ability to multiply, basically creating multiple versions of themselves. This is called proliferation. For example, stem cells can be anything they want. They proliferate and create a bunch of clones. An army ready to become anything! At some point, they begin to take on more specialized characteristics, thus making them functional. This point in the cell’s life is called differentiation and is when the cell specifies its identity. For example, a cell may differentiate into a muscle cell. It now has a specific task.
The same concept applies to human performance.
Take school, for example. We all enter elementary school as a blank slate. We can become ANYTHING we want to be. As we progress through elementary school and into high school, we find things we are interested in and things we would rather avoid. We are beginning the process of differentiation. When we leave high school, most of us have a general idea of what we want to do next: trade school, college, hike around Europe, etc. We follow this path, learn more about ourselves, and continue to fine-tune our skills and interests. These experiences guide us towards a ‘calling’ and define our path, thus further differentiating. Finally, we committed to something. A college major. Our first job. Marriage. Family. We honed our skills so we were really good at the thing we committed to do.
It is much like this in sport.
Kids enjoy being active. After a while, they gravitate to some sort of activity. As they get older, they begin to focus on one or two sports. Finally, if they continue into college, they focus on one sport; the sport where they are really good.
You are well on the path to differentiation. You identify as an endurance athlete. You want to explore your limits of performance. You want to be the best you can be.
We spent the last six months preparing you for a choice. You have undergone three phases: Preparation, Foundation, and Speed. You are set up to do ANYTHING you want in endurance sport. So… What do you want to focus on this season?
The choices are endless. You can pick sprint racing. Mid-distance racing. Long course racing. Or some combination. But now is the time to decide.
Now it is time to fully differentiate into the athlete you want to become. Identify your goal. Obtain the tools necessary to reach that goal. In order to be the best at something, you need to specify. Specificity leads to unlocking your potential. Once you unlock your potential, you have discovered excellence.
For those of you who want to specify their journey, I’m here to help you on that path.