Moving forward in 2016

The transition from 2015 -2016, or really any year for that matter, is marked by a flurry of articles either praising or condemning the annual New Year’s Resolution tradition. Whether or not you agree with the timing, it is nevertheless, effective to take some time to reflect on where you are, where you want to be, and what it will take to get there. Inspired by a recent post by Nate Green, who recently published his 2015 personal retrospective, I thought I’d take a stab at the process and share it publicly on the blog.

Inspired by Phil Caravaggio, CEO of Precision Nutrition, Nate asked himself what did and did not work in 2015 and what can be done in 2016 to fix what’s not working, I’m opting to use a different framework, the popular “Start, Stop, Continue” framework. Under this model, I’ll identify behaviors I’d like to start this year, those I need to stop, and a few that I’d like to continue. For each one, I’ll identify a key indicator I’ll use to ensure that I’m on track or have achieved my goal.

Start…

Posting more frequently

There’s no debate that my posting frequency has been less than optimal. While I’d like to think that this is partially because it takes countless hours to research and write the posts on this site, I still think that it’s possible to maintain high quality content on a more frequent basis. With some shifts in my professional focus (more on that later), I’m going to post more ideas online on a regular basis.

Indicator: Post at least 12 times for 2016, averaging approximately one post per month.

Posting practical posts

A huge component of my website has been synthesizing over-arching philosophies to guide training program design by integrating various sources of evidence, with an overt focus on the scientific literature. Yet I’ve neglected a key component of that process – providing actual practical examples of programs. I have, and continue to feel, that taking the time to thoroughly review the evidence-base when formulating training philosophies is essential to the modern strength and conditioning and rehabilitation professional. Yet my approach shouldn’t be exclusive from the practical domain, and in 2016 I’ll provide increased examples of programming based on my current scientific findings.

Indicator: Provide some form of practical content (i.e. program templates) in at least 25% of the posts created in 2016

Giving credit where credit is due

This is a tough one as I think that I do an excellent job collecting the relevant literature for all my posts and citing them accordingly. I also spend time advocating for others to do the same. I’ve realized that my rationale for doing so was focused solely on the way that I work. Following many popular rehab and strength training sites, I see more claims than I know what to do with, and I often find myself wanting to find the relevant literature to confirm the claims these authors make. Unfortunately, I often come up empty handed. Providing citations is a way of helping your audience, and enabling them to verify the information you are providing.

I cite everything that I use to formulate my arguments on a topic, but I’ve often wondered how effective this is. Looking at long lists of references may be fine for someone with an academic background, but what about those who haven’t spent some time locked in an ivory tower? I’ve seen others provide direct links, to Pubmed or a full text when available, but this would be arduous given the often large volume of references in my articles.

So in 2016, I’ll keep doing the referencing as I have, but I will find a way to connect my readers with the researchers who have been so instrumental in shaping my training philosophies. While many in the academic community choose not to engage on social media, I’ll find the profiles of researchers whose work has been instrumental to the post/topic at hand, and share it with readers to make the connection.

Indicator: Highlight the contribution of a researcher whose work has been instrumental in the formation of a post on the site through links to their personal webpages or social media profiles.

Stop…

Ignoring my email list

I’ve been running my email list for a while now, and while I’m sure I could log into Mailchimp and check, I couldn’t tell you when the last time I sent an email was. I, like many others, prefer infrequent emails, and rarely subscribe to email lists. If you subscribe to my list, I appreciate that you’ve let me invade your inbox, and I’ll continue to do so only when necessary. In 2016, I’ll revive my email list, opting to send monthly updates on recent developments in the field of health and human performance.

If you want an evidence-based inbox, you can subscribe here.

Indicator: Achieve an email frequency of once per month to active subscribers.

Over-analyzing every idea

As a scientist, it’s hard not to feel the urge to spend weeks researching a topic, endlessly searching the web for any information of even the slightest relevance to the topic at hand. It’s not uncommon for me to cite 30-40 studies in a blog post, and the number of articles I’ve read or at least screened is usually triple this. One of the reasons I started this blog was to generate an audience to bounce ideas off of, and while this has started to work, I need to recognize that it’s okay to send some raw ideas out into the wild without having all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed. In fact, taking a collaborative approach would probably lead me to view these problems from perspectives I may not think of on my own.

I love to be thorough, and this approach was bred into me during my academic training, but, this often comes at the expense of time, and post frequency. This is a hard idea to measure, so I’m not sure exactly how I’ll quantify that I’ve achieved it. Either way, I’m going to relax my need to view every angle prior to releasing a post, so we’ll see how that goes.

Indicator: T.B.D.

Continue…

Resisting the urge to discuss single studies

I think I’ve been good at this one, but being honest, this was likely helped by my lack of posting. There’s no question that posting regularly is important to keep traffic up on your site, and given that new research is published on a daily basis, this has led many to focus on highlighting every new development in the field. Yet I find many of these authors, while well-intentioned, add to the confusion of the often conflicting results as these posts are often not framed in the context of the existing literature base. This is perhaps best described as “missing the forest for the trees”; we’re really great at making “trees”, not so much at looking at forests.

I prefer an integrative approach that considers recent findings, but places them in perspective of what we already know on the issue. For 2016, I’m sure I’ll discuss single studies, but each one will include, in at least some form, an acknowledgement of the existing literature on the topic. This may be a direct discussion or a link to a previous article I’ve written on the topic, and in actuality, this one won’t be too difficult for me to achieve.

Indicator: Any post focusing on the results of a single, recent study must provide either: 1) a link to a prior post or 2) a direct discussion on the previous literature relevant to the study at hand or 3) a link to a topical, open-access review highlighting the area of interest.

Moving forward in 2016

This is but a small smattering of what I have planned for 2016. Having just moved my family 2200 km back to Winnipeg, there will be a significant amount of change happening over the coming months. Having a simple list of goals for the website with clear indicators of success will help me keep this project on track amongst all the other irons I plan on throwing in the fire this year.

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Dan Ogborn