Smarter, not harder and honest self assessments
Joe Friel wrote “It takes a great commitment to quality training to achieve at a high level in sport.” and I advocate all the time to train smarter, not harder. So, how do we make the most of our training and get the best results?
I have 8 weeks to go before I want to run a sub 1-hour 10k. Certainly I have to ask myself whether it’s a reasonable goal in the first place. Without a solid base yet and also very little time, I need to make the most out of every training session. Sound familiar?
The hardest thing an athlete sometimes has to do is to adjust. As a coach, I like to teach my athletes to learn to auto-regulate. I want you to make honest assessments of yourselves and adjust accordingly. Ask yourself:
- Did I get sufficient sleep and a good night’s rest?
- Did I eat well and am I properly hydrated?
- Am I feeling sick?
- What else is going on in my life? Am I distracted (sick child, puppy, work stress, …)?
- Did I stick to the easy training session yesterday so that I can truly push myself today?
Quality over Quantity
The quality of the work you do will always be more important to me than the quantity. Of course, I say this while keeping YOUR goal in mind. For example, if your goal is to run ultra distances, certainly there will be the need for a lot of mileage. In general, there will always be a reasonable amount of easy to moderate effort volume along with some high intensity training.
High intensity and injury prevention
Focusing on the quality of any given session is also one of the best ways to stay injury free. So, if you find yourself in a high intensity session and the quality of an interval drops (e.g., you slow down, cannot hit the power number, heart rate is too high, …), STOP! Training smarter may sometimes mean to know when to pull the plug. A good rule of thumb is to end the high intensity when you know you could only do one more. If you are not ready for it, do not do the last interval and go back through the questions to figure out what you can improve for the next time.
In the end, most of us are able to do a lot more than we think we can, and it needs to be an honest assessment of self that will lead us there.