In the world of track and field, it's what separates the winners from the losers.
It's true that only one person really wins the race. This means that only one person is truly content, while the rest are left scratching their heads with questions of how to improve the next time out.
Winters are designed for such questions to be answered.
Put simply, winter is a time to sow the seeds of redemption, it's for those who know they've got more in the tank. If they have dreams of glory, it starts here.
Or, if you're a returning favorite, the job is as simple as continuing to hammer away at what's always worked.
You're either the favorite, or the underdog. And how you approach the off-season can determine how many steps you take up on the podium come May.
While NASCAR's greatest fictitious competitor once said, "If you're not first, you're last," that's not always the case, even if it feels like it sometimes.
The following is just a very small, ironically Denver East High-heavy, take on underdogs and favorites.
While there are more underdogs than favorites, there is one that stands out in my mind the most, and perhaps it's because of that shaggy red locks that flows in ways I'm familiar with, having donned the look myself (minus the red) decades ago.
The name Harrison Scudamore has been on the radar for several years now, and I, like everyone else, am wondering when he'll have his day.
Last year he had a rollercoaster of a track season, running as fast as 9:28 in the 3,200 (at sea-level), and as slow as 10:08, ending his season before the 2017 state championships, despite running 9:39 and finishing sixth at the meet as a sophomore.
He's finished fifth as a junior and a senior at the state cross country championships, though he redeemed himself at the Nike cross country regional meet, and the Footlocker Midwest regional meet, finishing seventh at both meets before going on to finish 13th at Footlocker Nationals last month. The finish was perhaps his most revealing yet, showing that he does have the wheels.
But he'll have a list of competitors to beat - including the top returner in the 1,600 and the 3,200, Charlie Perry who seems destined to sweep the distance events like his teammate Isaac Green achieved a year ago.
(Side note: Green won state titles in the 800, 1,600, 3,200, and cross country, though Perry is unlikely to run the 800).
Clearly, Scudamore has his work cut out for him, which is why he's a classic underdog.
While the knowledgeable observer will rightfully claim nothing matters until May 17-19, it's in these cold and barren months that the seeds of which blossom in May are planted.
It's not hard to fathom that each run and each stride down the final straight of Scudamore's home track doesn't go by without a quick daydream of entering the final straight at Jeffco Stadium in the lead with that head of red hair flowing behind him.
I would imagine that such daydreams have gotten many athletes through harsh winters, or hot summers.
Let's be honest, we can't talk about favorites without mentioning Arria Minor.
Minor casts a very long, dominating shadow across the vast landscape of Colorado track.
Minor is a name that's been around and on top of the podium so many times, I lost count in my attempts to add a number this article. Let's just say she wins a lot.
Bringing NASCAR's greatest fictitious competitor back into the lineup here, she's simply the best there is.
She's claimed a triple crown of her own the previous two years in the 100, 200, and the 400 at the state championships.
Did I mention she's a only junior this year? Clearly, she perfected the art of perfection, and then some.
While Scuadmore is likely daydreaming of his claiming his first state title on some quiet trail, Minor has already been making noise around the state - and the country on the track this indoor season (she currently leads the nation in the 60 with a 7.30, and the 200 in 23.45).
If anyone has any intentions of upsetting her in May, they'll be playing catch-up, because she's already hit the ground sprinting.
It's clear that when state rolls around, she'll be stepping onto the track knowing all she has to do is what she's already done before: win.
Despite coming out of the gates of her high school career on her toes, Minor has gradually been chipping away at her personal bests each year. It's likely she's more concerned with beating her previous self, rather than a field of competitors.
John Landy would know best, having broken the four-minute mile second (behind Roger Bannister). Landy very famously stated it was best to always train and race like you're second - because you were hungry to be first.
While Scudamore and Minor step onto the track from varying angles, and for different specialties, one thing remains the same: the desire to win.
That desire is seeded in these (typically) cold Colorado months. Whether you enter the off-season as an underdog or a favorite, one thing is certain: it's time to train.
Zack de la Rocha said it best: "It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?"