I was in the enviable position of doing a 4x2km workout with my wife the other day and this is the song I had in my head . Probably not the kind of song you would expect to have stuck in your head during a really hard run workout (though I tend to get Guy Clark songs stuck in my head quite often) but the refrain from this song was ringing ever true for me. “Stuff that works”

I think there’s an important lesson for athletes coming through Guy’s lyrics. Here we are at the onset of the 2013 season. A lot of athletes have made changes: they’ve changed coaches, they’ve hired a coach, they’ve read the greatest, most awesome new sports science paper and they are searching for that new edge that will take them closer to their true potential. But here’s the thing, I see so many athletes (and coaches) forget – The Stuff that Works. They become blinded by promise and they fail to reflect on their own success no matter how great or small that success may be. This often leads to an overzealous pursuit of a new road towards “success” instead of building upon the road that led them to where they are and slowly laying down more asphalt so that that road becomes a highway upon which they can carry more load at faster speeds.

It’s appropriate to look for competitive advantages, stay up to date on the literature and take risks for improvement – and at times it’s absolutely appropriate to build or take a new road – but in the process reflect back on what’s worked for you and build on that as you go. (Equally import of course is to consider what didn’t work to ensure that you avoid those pitfalls.) I’m not here to try to define The Stuff that Works for you, that’s your job and the job of your coach, I’m just here to remind you to isolate components of you past success and let those work for you as you go. It’s the stuff that “holds up”.