Thomas Step

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Applying Effort

Applying effort is what takes someone from a casual participant to an active or competitive player.

Over the past two years, running has shown me this. When I played soccer I could ride the coattails of someone else on the team who was applying effort. Conversely, I could apply effort, but if no one else on the team applied effort then my application would not become apparent. Despite the many benefits of a team setting, this is a downside to working with a team.

The majority of my sports career was with a team until I joined powerlifting in college and then running after college. I remember workouts with the powerlifting team where the best of us were lifting far more weight proportional to their body weight than I was. Even though they could accomplish much more, they strained more while moving their weight than I did with less.

Now that I have completed two marathons, I want to start becoming more competitive. My goal is not to become a professional but rather to become more competitive against “the average” or my past self. The past two marathons and training blocks for the marathons, I have mostly not strained myself for faster paces. I would go so far as to say that I never applied any effort. I was present in the runs but mostly went through the motions. Even after only a few workouts at faster paces, I can already tell that I will need to apply effort where I previously did not.

I started thinking about the idea of applying effort to not only running but other aspects of life, and I believe that putting forth effort is what separates people. Everyone has surely had moments where they achieved better than normal results out of themselves and those results most likely stemmed from a more concerted effort. Effort applied to an activity over time yields not only better results in the short term but a higher ceiling in the long term. That is not to say that effort does not need to continually be applied.

I believe that this is what professionals (athletes, business people, or anyone who has achieved remarkable things in their respective field) mean when they say “it never gets easier.” We give effort to learn and understand the fundamentals. Once we understand the fundamentals, we need to give effort to learn deeper and more advanced topics. The ceiling on what we can do raises but the effort never vanishes. This is what separates us into different levels of achievement.

Moving forward, I hope to give conscious and continuous effort to the areas in my life that I want to improve upon whether they are athletic or not. While this might not be the most fleshed out nor original idea that I have ever had, coming across it and learning how to use the concept to my advantage is what matters.

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