Work Smarter, Not Harder

Work Smarter, Not Harder

📅October 19th, 2015, 18:04

jake runningMultisport athletes definitely know a thing or two about balancing training, intensity, and goals while focusing on honing their fitness in the water, on the bike, as well as on the roads. For this week’s blog, Recharge’s triathlete and recovery specialist, Jake McDonald, shares insight from his own training and recovery to share what it really means to train smarter in order to be your best….

If there’s one thing that has helped me reach new levels of fitness and speed in my own racing, it is the idea of “work smarter, not harder.” This is a saying that almost everyone has heard, but few actually understand the implications and the application toward their own training. Many athletes looking to take themselves to the next level find themselves in the mindset that they have to be going harder and doing more all the time, otherwise how would they reach the next level? This is a mindset I found myself in all the time. Here, I’m going to cover what it means to “work smarter, not harder” and how you can apply it to your own training.

Working smarter, not harder doesn’t imply that there won’t be hard work…it’s more of a reminder to stick to training smart to avoid dreaded injuries, plateaus, or overtraining. A rule I’ve been living by is making sure I go hard when it’s hard and easy when it’s easy. It is just as important to make sure you’re going easy when you should be as it is to get those hard efforts in there. As much as we don’t want to accept it, our bodies have to recover. You can’t argue with biology. It’s not smart to try and be in race shape all year, eventually a plateau (or injury!) will come and you’ll be wondering why your hard work isn’t resulting in better performance which can be extremely frustrating. Having a coach or someone to check in with is a great way to make sure you’re in the right shape at the right time. Having someone there to have an outside perspective on whether you’re doing too much or not enough is extremely helpful, as athletes tend to be the ones that try and push too far. Whether you have a coach or not, recording your training and having a long-term plan is crucial in working as smart at possible.

Are you feeling overly fatigued for more than two days in a row?

There are many ways of keeping a training log. Whether you use a GPS watch and upload it to a website like TrainingPeaks or use traditional paper and pencil, recording your training is probably the best way to work smarter. This allows you to look at your training and see where you can adjust depending on how your body is handling the current load. Are you feeling overly fatigued for more than two days in a row? Monitor not just your mileage and workouts, but keep notes on your recovery, strength work, quality of sleep, overall stress, and how you are feeling. This will allow you to get a better understanding of how to prepare your body for events coming up so it’s not a guessing game when it comes time to race.

ignore bodyLastly, and most importantly, listen to your body. Really pay attention and don’t ignore what it’s telling you. Nobody knows your body like you do, and you have listen to what it’s telling you if you want to remain uninjured and fit. When a little twinge comes up in a workout keep your mind on it and back off or stop if necessary. It’s better to lose a workout or two than to ruin a whole season because that twinge turned into an injury. Be consistent with maintenance work and recovery, and those issues will arise less often.

When you’re training smart, you’re maximizing your potential and it is incredibly rewarding. Keep up the good work and make sure you’re having fun. You’ll be unstoppable! 

Related articles on training:

How to Write a Training Program

Training with Purpose: More is Not Always Better!

Pump The Brakes: Why Training Breaks Are Important

When to Alter Your Workout Plans

Active Recovery Tips for Better Performance