Going Hard

Going Hard

Training Insights

While athletes often prioritise intense training, true progress hinges on a delicate equilibrium of effort and ease, urging a shift from brute force to flow and balance.

We kneel at the altar of going hard right. Train hard, work hard, that’s our party line. Don’t be soft, rest when you are dead, yes, all of that noise.

But like all things, homeostasis rides on the back of the two sides of every coin. If it goes up, it comes down. If there’s a day, there’s a night.

Too much of a good thing ends up being not so good, because when we lose balance, we lose progress. Without context and contrast, we end up losing focus and we stall.

Here’s the thing about being a complete athlete; without the balance of stress and rest, we lose the capacity to develop.

You are working against an immutable law of life itself; flow requires balance. That balance is about more than just stress and recovery. It’s about flow, it’s about learning how to rest even when going hard. Not many in triathlon talk about why balance and flow are so important. In fact, I rarely hear the word “flow” used and it should be.

We like to sell each other on how hard it is. Truth is, it’s only as hard as you make it.

Now, if you make every session hard, it’s not the session that is hard, you are making it so. Before you even start, you are forecasting difficulty. When you tell yourself it’s hard, you are making it hard for your body.

I’m now giving you both barrels of 26 years of raw coaching experience. If you go hard all the time, you lose your ability to go easy, even if it’s just a perception.

Everything becomes half way hard. That ability to float and relax that is developed when you go easy translates when you put the hammer down. Drop the mental tagging and labelling.

Triathlon start first discipline: swimming
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

When you are working on speed and threshold, challenge yourself to relax into the effort. Don’t reinforce the idea that it’s hard. It’s not, it is what it is. Just accept it and leave the tagging out of it.

The mere word “hard” hints at the tension hidden in it. How much energy do you lose in the expectation that you will be losing it?If you think you can feed yourself negative expectations and expect your body to perform at the highest level, you are kidding yourself.

If I had to give only one piece of critical advice that I would offer to any aspiring athlete, that is it!Mix your easy and make it easy.

Mix your speed and your threshold and make it relaxed, flowing, and accept what comes. Make checking your tension a habit.

Let go of forecasting. Let go of negative expectations.

Let go of all the bullshit you tell yourself and other athletes and watch what happens.