In Part II of our Podcast with Under Amour’s Nick Arciniaga, Nick, who has competed in the last 3 Olympic Trials in the Marathon, discussed how he finds different ways to challenge himself:

"As I go along whether I am in a race or in training is it always important to me that I am finding different ways to challenge myself. It makes the entire experience more enjoyable. That's really important to me. I think that when you run as many miles as I do [140 a week at times] then if you can't find different ways to challenge yourself, its going to be more challenging to get through it."

There is a saying that goes ‘variety is the spice of life.’ And if you are going to have long term goals, it is vital that in order for you to have success in the long run, you are going to need to find different ways to challenge yourself. Here is not only why it is important, but different ways in which you can challenge yourself:

Create Short Term Goals to Help Boost Your Confidence Along the Way

If you have a goal that you are looking to accomplish that is several months away, odds are you are going to get board at some point. It’s not that you don’t want to reach your goal, more so, day after day of trying to achieve something gets exhausting without testing yourself and giving yourself other challenges along the way. Just like Nick, who is doing test efforts to not only test his fitness, but to give him another way to challenge himself, pick specific points along the way in where you will test yourself. That could be test in the weight room, in the batting cage, or on the track. Whatever it is, doing this will give you something to shoot for in the short term, when your long term goal still may be months away.

Do Something That is Not Specifically Related to Your Goal, But Still Challenges You

Running a 5k on the road [for example] encompasses lots of skills that are not just aerobic training. In requires building your strength, concentration, coordination, and [at the end of the race at least] anaerobic fitness. So why would you challenge yourself to just run distances at specific times if there are so many things that you will need in order to race at your best? As you heard in both parts of Nick’s interview, there are many different things that he goes through in training other than running that he needs in order to race at his best. So, having said all of that, set goals for yourself in your supplementary training.  I guarantee you that if you hit benchmarks in the weight room, increasing your ability to focus, and bettering your coordination [just for example] you will not only have a greater chance to race faster, but more confidence going into your competition.

Remember That How You Do Something is More Important Than What You Are Doing

As we spoke about last week, another way to challenge yourself is by focusing not just one the actual work that you are doing, but the quality in which you are doing something. Nick, who is not just training for several elite marathons throughout the year, but looking at make the greatest Olympic Team in the world every four years, even though he is running 140 miles per week, is much more about how is he doing his work than he is when It comes to what he is doing. There are no days that are just ‘junk’ days. There are days that are throw-away days. The quality in which he is doing it is much more important that just going out and making sure he just goes and ‘gets it in.’ So my question for you is, are you more concerned with what you are doing rather than how you are doing it? Is the quality of the work important to you? If not, what are you going to do to change it?

As you go along your own journey to achieving your goals, realize that there are many different ways that you can challenge yourself. Don’t let the monotony of training each day effect your passion for what you are doing. Find different ways to test yourself and challenge yourself each day. And if you can do that, and have do it each day effectively, then maybe one day, you can be on your way to training for your 4th Olympic Trials, just like Nick.

Click here to sign-up for our newsletters. Remember to follow us on Twitter @achieveinsports, Like us on Facebook at, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email us at any time at