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The importance of small good habits: the devil’s in the hundreds of details

Oct 15, 2018 | Posted by Cristina in Articles

This weekend I competed in a 21k race that was part of Bucharest Marathon‘s eleventh edition. The organizers of the event invited Robert Hajnal to hold a workshop about his performance in trail running. I’ve talked about Robert before, he’s our country’s best long-distance runner and winner of the second place at UTMB 2018 – biggest ultra-running event in the world, where the best compete.

During the Q&A session at the end of the workshop, Robert said something that I’d like to share with you. When asked what one advice he’d give to those about to run their first road marathon, he talked about how the devil’s in the hundreds of details. That means:

  • Having the patience to train constantly, day after day, no matter how boring it is.
  • Getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night and being well rested – not just physically. Our brain is the most important muscle and mental exhaustion has a huge negative impact over our performance, so pay attention to stress factors as well.
  • Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst case scenario: thinking about every bad thing that might happen and including training specifically for that. We don’t control what happens, but we can control how much we prepare, make sure we plan all the details and put them to a test.
  • Having the right equipment, of course. Wearing comfortable performance shoes and clothes, so you don’t get blisters or skin chafing.
  • Staying hydrated before and during the race. Having an eating plan and making sure you follow it.

And the list goes on and on.

There’s no one thing, one big secret or “growth hack” that makes people succeed. Instead, there are hundreds of small good habits that add up and, with a little bit of luck, lead to the best outcome. They might not look very “sexy” on the surface, but they’re incredibly powerful when they’re all working together.

And since I brought up the subject of small habits, I want to mention James Clear‘s new book, “Atomic Habits“, that will be out on Tuesday. Here’s what he writes in the first chapter of it:

“It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

Food for thought: what small good habits can you adopt today that will positively impact your life? Prioritize the long-term perspective over short-term gains.

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