Working and Training Hard and Smart

 

 
You often hear swimmers say, “I’m not working harder, I am working smarter.”
 
This is a cop out.
 
A smug, self-imposed sense of superiority designed to foll yourself into thinking that you are somehow doing it more intelligently then the next athlete.
 
That somehow you know something previously undiscovered in the annals of scientific and anecdotal research into human performance.
 
And maybe you have. Perhaps you are the person that you has hacked the human code.
 
But, for the sake of being reasonable and appealing to a greater number of people, let’s assume that you just think you are doing things smarter.
 
That you are training with focus, with purpose, and that you are complimenting the work being done in the water with a lifestyle, nutrition and sleep that reflects your desire to be great.
 
Here is the kicker:
 
Elite athletes are working hard and training smart.
 
There is no either/or when it comes to kicking ass in the pool. You don’t have the luxury to choose between the two, and then feel satisfied that this will carry you to the top echelon of the sport.
 
Alexander Popov swam up to 14,000 mindful meters per day. What do I mean by mindful? I mean that his swimming was done with perfect technique or he was stopped mid-set and told to resume with perfect technique.
 
In the words of his former coach, Gennadi Touretski, a meter of swimming done at low intensity, but done with perfect technique, is not a wasted meter.
 
That’s working hard and working exceptionally smart.
 
Other swimmers believe that they can skate by on their talent alone. And while this might suffice in younger years, if you are looking to make waves at the top levels of the sport, having blinding levels of talent isn’t enough.
 
Whenever television commentators talk of Phelps at big meets they wax endlessly about his genetic gifts.
 
The wingspan. Big hands. Paddles for feet. An innate feel for the water.
 
But what doesn’t usually get mentioned as often is that Michael Phelps didn't skip a day of training for five years leading up to the Beijing Olympics.
 
Christmas? Yup.
 
Birthdays? According to coach Bob Bowman, multiple workouts on his day of birth.
 
Broken wrist from slipping on ice? Vertical kicking and up to five hours a day on a stationary bike.
 
Ryan Lochte is another athlete who is discussed with a near reverence when it comes to his indescribably advanced feel for the water. And while Lochte may give off the surfer-boy laissez faire vibe to the casual observer, there is no disputing how hard he works in the pool.
 
Lochte’s training load under Gregg Troy at Florida was already approaching legendary status, but he super-sized his training to add strongman training on his “off days” to compliment the distance work he was putting in.
 
The extra work included doing hours of heavy keg throws, chain drags, and tire flipping.
 
You aren't working hard enough.
 
Thinking that you are training smarter has the intoxicating effect of making you feel like a smarty pants, like you have all the answers, but without hard work it’s just a bunch of knowledge.
 
You might be lulled into thinking that because you believe you have a better way it means you don’t need to get down in the trenches and roll your sleeves up.
 
Success in the water requires hard work.
 
Period.

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