COMMENT: Adopting what works

I recently came to think about what drives changes in the methods and tools that we employ in all our works of life. Microsoft are launching Bing, a revamp of their older search engine "Live Search" and another attempt to challenge Google's leadership position on the search engine market.

Similarly, new training strategies appear to the runner all the time. Some are heavily marketted through books, seminars etc. while others are found only in a few esoteric scientific volumes. In business, the best products don't always win out. If you have more money its possible to put your own product at the top at the expense of better products. Running in this way is purer: Because in running only the method's that work survive. This doesn't mean that all methods that work survive or get through. Some are too difficult to understand, too time-consuming, or too expensive to be adopted by most runners (this show that apart from being useful, a technique, tool or method must also be "usable").

When I was about 19 years old, a I used to search the internet using a search engine called Hotbot. I had been frustrated by Yahoo and AltaVista just long enough never to return to those services. But on that day, one of my dorm-mates said, "you should use Google, it's great". Ok, I though, I did really like my Hotbot, but off I went and tried Google. And I never went back. One try was enough and I was hooked. I'm a simpler person with technology than many would think: I want mobile phones to ring up phone numbers (and would pay good money for a phone that didn't do anything else!!!) and I want search engines to return search results (the right one's). Google has never let me down.

However, I'm open-minded, so whenever I see a new advertising campaign, like Microsoft's recent drive for Bing, I go try the product. I did this and found quite quickly (only a few searches) that Bing wasn't for me. It doesn't return the search results I'd expect (in fact for my favourite running searches, the search engine seems to be way off in terms of prioritisation), and its main selling-points seem to be secondary features that add no value to the search (new picture every day. Great. The first thing that I liked about Google was the fact it was white!).

Take for instance one of my favourite websites "The Science of Sport". If I enter this phrase in Google, Science of Sport comes up as number 1. In Bing, I haven't yet had the patience to keep looking for the Blog (its beyond page 5 somewhere). Bing does offer the link "Science of Sport Blog" in the left hand side but alas even with that choice only yields Science of Sport down as number 5 on the list with 4 highly suspect and very commercialised sites up front).

This brings me to my point: If something works for you, you'll use it, and you'll keep using it. So I don't appear biased, I love Excel, I think its one of the best programs out there and I use it to analyze all my running on a regular basis. If something came along tomorrow and was better, then I'd start using that. And so with running, if a new technique is discovered tomorrow and I try it and I think it works great for me, I'll adopt it. If not, I'll leave it out. My rallying call to all is to reward the things that stand on their own merits, to adopt what works because it works and no other reason.

Not because it looks flashier, is more prestigious, more trendy, or a seemingly experienced coach told you. Well, that's my political piece for the moment...