“Go hard or go home”. Everyone has come across this at some point. It’s something that we often get told when it comes to training or competing. Have you ever considered that this socially accepted phrase could be hindering your progress?

Training programmes often include multiple workouts in a week. The majority of coaches vary the intensity of the workout depending on where their athletes are in their build up. Athletes train as hard as they can to achieve their goals. However, they will often hit a barrier in their performance. This can lead to athletes being encouraged to train even harder by their coaches assuming that they aren’t putting full effort into their workouts. This is when athletes often run into trouble; either by over-training physiologically or by suffering an injury. Once they are recovered and back to their previous level, this cycle begins again.

Commonly, there will be different signs presented by the body prior to either over-training or injury, for example, declined appetite, prolonged muscle soreness, weakened immune system or even declined libido. The most important thing to note here, is that changing mentality in how we view niggles or fatigue can help pick up these signs that the body is trying to tell you something isn’t quite right. This is when you need to pause and think what could be going wrong.

This common approach may produce a small percentage of successful athletes, the ones that survived the “make or break”. But for many, it comes at a great cost. Instead of being fixated on training harder each time, training smarter could be much more effective. And this is how:

Mindset: Stop thinking that training harder is the only method to get you faster or stronger. Training hard is important but training smart in the correct way is more important. But what does training smart actually mean? Start by understanding what you are doing and the reason behind it.

Understand: Take a few steps back and reflect on your training. Why is/isn’t it working for you? Make a note on which training works best for you.

Identify: When you reverse into a barrier with your car, you don’t try again a little harder to get through. We will try to figure a way to around that barrier. Training should be no different. By reflecting through your training journey, identify components that need to be changed in order to get you over that barrier.

Change: Making a change often sounds easier than putting it into action. Hopefully by now you understand what and why your training isn’t working for you. Ask for some help or new ideas to modify your approach in training.

Team: Building a good team around you is key to success. A good team provides physical, mental and emotional support. As well as a wider range of knowledge and opinions, strive to be better as a team.

Why is this important in physio?

Rehab is never a positive linear line. There will be lots of detours and speed bumps during the journey. When you hit one of these barriers, this is when we take a step back and review the situation. We identify these problems and reflect on our rehab journey. Education on the current position allows a mutual understanding on the approach. An approach that involves a multidisciplinary team and most importantly the client. A rehab plan that both client and the team created together can accelerate the rehab journey- our rehab journey.

Ed Leung is our newest Sports Lab Physiotherapist. He’s not really a new face though- he’s been hanging around with us for a while now, both for student placement before he graduated and on our events team, providing post-race care.