What I learned about becoming excellent from my high school track team

3 Quick & Powerful Lessons on Excellence from the Track

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” -Steve Prefontaine

Back in high school, I had a passion for playing sports. I never thought about why I liked competing and pushing myself; I just knew that getting better and better at something always felt amazing. I had a friend tell me about the track team and suggested I try it out. I did and never looked back…until now. I reflected on the top 3 factors that helped me become excellent as one of the top runners in the region. Here there are:

Start Off Powerful

After the tryouts for the track team, I was happy to hear that I had made it! The coach told me to show up to practice at 6 am the next day! Being excited about joining the team and being part of this new challenge, I was happy to commit. Waking up early in the morning and showing up to give my absolute best set the tone for the rest of the day. My mind and body started each day ready to take on any challenge I would face. I quickly started realizing how important an early start is.

Starting the day powerful helped me stay motivated to being the best throughout the day!

If you start your day being your best, you will be better equipped to keep that mindset through the end. Wake up early to start achieving your goals and begin your day with a sense of accomplishment.

Pace Yourself

Getting on the track for the first time, my mind was ready to win. It was natural for me to start with the end in mind, being number one! Very quickly I that to win I had to pace myself. I found someone on the team that I could keep up with through the laps. Over time, I learned to find a steady pace and continue improving.

Pacing myself helps me enjoy making progress a lot more!

We all have limitations no matter how much we improve. Everyone has a different pace, so it important to understand what works for you. The race is only with yourself. Start with a pace that works for you and gradually improve over time.

Take Small and Specific Steps

OK, well I didn’t literally take “small steps” on the track, but I learned improving my performance meant setting smaller and more specific goals. For example, keeping my arms at a 90 degree angle, close to my body, and keeping my hands relaxed would help my body from not twisting . So everyday for weeks I focused on my posture as I ran. That focus created immediate benefits improving my speed and conserving energy during my runs.

Making progress (big or small) became easier with small and specific steps!

Small and specific goals help us measure our progress more effectively and keep us motivated. Here are three goals statements. You decide which one might be most effective. 1) I’m going to try to walk more, 2) I’m going walk at least once a day, 3) I’m going to target 10,000 steps a day for the next week. While number 1 and 2 are easier to set, you will not know how you are progressing. Number 3 is specific and small enough to commit and measure to.

“The will to win means nothing if you haven’t the will to prepare.” – Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

I challenge each one of you take take these 3 simple lessons and apply them over the next week. Every night write down how you will start a powerful morning the next day, make sure the goals are specific, and pace yourself. Start your journey to excellence and share with us your story.

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I’m a passionate coach who loves helping people and organizations achieve powerful and lasting change.

This article also appears on Medium and is published here with the permission of the author
Title photo credit: flickr