What is it that you're really trying to accomplish? When that answer gets firmly established what to do to get there takes care of itself. Sounds easy? It is. The hard part is figuring what the what really is.
I think this takes years to figure out. Maybe even decades. Could it be found sooner? Perhaps it could with lots of self reflection and brutal honesty.
In my 20's I really wanted to get a trophy In a body building contest. I did but did I? Goal reached but not fulfilled. Later I wanted to join the ranks of the triathletes I was in graduate school with. hey seemed healthy, laid back. Popular. Ahh... Maybe that was truly it?
I joined the ranks. After a bit, not good enough wasn't enough, because now I wanted to be one of the best. Best of what? The impossible goal to ever hit. To quote Ricky Bobby "If you're not first you're last". This is true if we set the parameters up this way.
During my graduate school exploration I was around true triathletes who got it. My mentors were Dr. Frank Rohter and Gerald Gergley. They were representing decades 70 and 50. They did races and lived the fit lifestyle never bragging or obsessing over performance. They left a legacy of fitness and wanted to be fit. Simply wanted to stay as fit as possible.
Goal met. What did they do? Whatever it took. Does the average age group triathlete really desire the podium so much or is it what the podium represents? I guess if winning an age group award at a triathlon or winning a weight class is the end all be all of what you need, the the how does matter down to the minute. That's a risky proposition though, because the win could leave you empty still. I've been there. But if the what is being fit like Dr. Rohter in your 70's, 80,s and 90's, then the how just comes down to a daily dose of exercise.
The ironic thing is that the podium wins will still come, but they'll come as a consequence of lifestyle versus an unreachable obsession.
The what for me is being fit and feeling great. The how is making exercise a part of my every day, as well as eating as heathy as I can daily.