If you were listening to last weeks Friday Fat Black, then you may have picked up on a couple of key pieces of information from our guest, Greg Muller. If you didn’t get a chance to listen jump onto iTunes or the website and get your ears around Episode 32.

It is absolute gold.

Greg mentioned two things will be familiar with many of our athletes as Kristian and I have been really focusing these recently:

The fundamentals.

And the One Percenter’s.

As Greg said in the podcast, any team, athlete, campaign is built up with the fundamentals required for that sport.

For Ironman and 70.3 racing as an AG athlete – this is Training, Nutrition/ hydration, Recovery/ sleep, Life (which really means work, family, kids, or anything else that requires your attention).

The synchronicity of these areas are crucial to performance.

Meaning that if one or more of these areas are ignored, or neglected in part, then eventually the other areas will begin to suffer. If you place 100% of your attention and focus into just training – ignoring recovery, family, work, nutrition etc…then you will most likely fall into a heap due to injury, strained relationships, and a body that simply cannot sustain the demands. Giordana Toccaceli has great advice about relationships and how to succeed in them.

Ignore the fundamentals (or worse, don’t take time to understand them) and it is impossible to achieve success – regardless of your pursuit.

But there is more to it than just that. If you really want to be successful at what you do, then you must learn to look for the smaller details.

When Greg mentioned this, it reminded me of a kick-ass post  (where the image above came from) that I read a few months back by a guy called James Clear, who talks about the aggregation of marginal gains.

Or simply put: paying attention to the small details that align with the desired outcome.

Now obviously this only matters if at first you have established the fundamentals. But when you have those in place, you have to start looking for the smaller areas in which to direct your focus.

This means identifying all the daily and weekly aspects of everything that you do, and looking for ways to improve.

Maybe you aren’t recovering as well as you should be – so you start to look for answers there: are you taking time to properly prepare the body before a session (things like Trigger Point Therapy, and RESET’s).

Or maybe it’s because you haven’t slept well for a few nights so you start to look at why – (things like tuning off the TV earlier, or taking more time to relax before sleep, even reducing caffeine intake).

The are marginal gains to be found just about anywhere in your day, and in any situation. What matters is that you are looking for them and putting dedicated focus into those little details.

This is why we get frustrated as coaches when athletes get caught up in the bling factor of equipment without putting real focus into the smaller details of their training.

An aerodynamic advantage is null and void if your body is a sleep deprived, under-nourished, stressed-out mess and cannot sustain the actual speeds required to gain that edge.

Sure, when you have all of those factors in place, then any little advantage becomes extremely beneficial. But not before the other details are taken care of.

Taking care of the finer details means you have to really scrutinise every aspect of what you do. How does this work for me? Can I improve this or that?

It’s sort of like a regular audit of things – looking for areas that you can enhance.

Because all of those small details, when combined, all of a sudden become a lot more. They stack up.

And it is the neglect of those finer things that can eventually destroy the strength of the fundamentals that you have spent so long  developing.

As James alludes to in his post – it’s about optimising the efficiency or effectiveness of those minor details that builds a stronger and better athlete, because everything that can possibly slow you down is being addressed and taken care of.

Nothing is being left to chance.

That’s not to say that you magically become impervious to bad luck or things going wrong. Stuff happens, but the better prepared you are, the better equipped you are to deal with situations.

Conversely, if your habit is to simply leave everything to chance, then when thins do go wrong, your problems become much larger than they first appeared.

Those 1 percenters don’t go away. They work for you or against you.

It’s a trap to think that the little things don’t matter. They do.

Small problems become big problems very quickly. This is how a small niggling injury left un-attended develops into a full blown, show-stopper.

So a really easy way to identify the small things that you can do to improve your ability is make a list of ALL the One Percenters that you can think of that pertain to the fundamentals of the sport.

The more detailed you are with this the better. When you have that list, then you need to establish a plan for each one – how are you going to get the most out of each one? What is required?

This gives you a plan of attack to ensure that all of these little details are being addressed.

Nothing is left to chance.

This is incredibly beneficial for those athletes that struggle with focus, as building this list helps to draw your attention back to the importance of what you are doing. When you are focused, you are in control.

What you will find is that the one percenters – once identified, are actually really easy to take care of. They wouldn’t be ‘minor’ details if they were complicated.

Spending times looking for ways to improve within the everyday things that you do is a guaranteed method of becoming successful. Don’t ignore the little stuff – look for the marginal gains, and build them into bigger ones.

Coach Pete

* The title graphic is based on a description in Jeff Olson’s, The Edge and as shown on JamesClear.com