Saturday, December 08, 2012

Aims and Scope (part 1)

The equivalent of a business' mission statement, the phrase 'Aims and Scope' will be all too familiar to those with a history of scientific publication. The concept is a simple but very useful one as it allows what are essentially a discrete set of disparate items - that is, a series of original research articles, review articles and editorials written by scientists from across the globe - to establish some small patch of common ground between them.

This commonality may be tenuous in the extreme, but it allows for easier searching of new and exciting literature by those who wish to read it. For example, you may be looking for new developments in a very narrow area, and knowing the handful of journals likely to carry such articles reduces trawling through volumes of paper significantly.

Why have I just explained this? 

The answer is that I believe the same concept to be applicable to the field of endurance sport blogging. I subscribe to an increasing number of RSS feeds linking to various blogs, and it's becoming clear to me that each has a (largely unspoken) set of principles underlying the type of content. I now know from experience as to where I am most likely to get information regarding nutrition, training, racing, equipment, etc. However, it's taken me a long time to figure this out.

The train of thought above made me think about this blog. What is it for? Who will benefit from reading it? On what topics will it focus? The first thing that struck me was that Question 1 ('What is it for?') is possibly better phrased as 'Why am I writing this?'. As such, it creates a third header for the title of this post: 'Motivation'. Once I started thinking about that, something stood out. In the course of a normal day, I have thoughts and insights into a range of topics that ultimately would be much more useful if I were to bottle them up, package them as a complete entity and store them somewhere for safekeeping. Otherwise, I am losing out on the potential benefit of my own advice, if you understand what I mean - I tend to forget the vast majority of what I am thinking. In addition, I forget the vast majority of what I am reading (whether it be a journal paper or a short article or even a one-line tip) and putting that information somewhere in a concise format will surely be useful. Lastly, I forget the vast majority of the conversations I have with others. This is another huge untapped resource that largely passes me by and should be distilled - to give an example, in the last 24 hours I have spoken to:

- A triathlete (in person) about detailed goal setting
- The same triathlete (on Facebook) about the way training heart rates change through the season
- Another triathlete (walking to my bike) about threshold bike training
- A marathon runner (via e-mail) about a technical problem with his Garmin
- A rugby player (at lunch) about strength/power supplementation
- A rower (over coffee) about the vagaries of a reoccurring injury
- Two scientists (in the pub) about mathematically modelling cycling time trial performance

None of these conversations were recorded, and if I allowed it to happen they would all be forgotten indefinitely. However, I am certain that each one contained potentially useful bits of information, both for me and for the other party.


- A huge amount of information, all of it potentially useful, comes and goes each day.
- The same information may crop up time and time again, but until it is immortalised in the cloud I am unlikely to remember it.
- Finding a way to put down that which I believe to be important will allow me, and others, to access this information at will.
- Once the information is readily accessible, it becomes a lot easier to apply, both on its own and in conjunction with other knowledge.

Next up

This post was meant to be a statement of the Aims and Scope of this blog. However, by the time you reach here, you will have found nothing of the sort. Whilst I apologise for the misleading nature of the title, I think it's now clear to me as to why I am writing on here. As such, the Aims and Scope will form a natural extension of the motivating reasons outlined previously, and will be more clearly presented in the next post.

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