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TRAINING SMARTER V. TRAINING HARDER
So which route is best?
Of course, there will be times when the Training Hard Path is the only route available. I equate this to race day, when you go “all out” to achieve your goals. If you or your running coach develop a nuanced race strategy, there will even be a specific time frame during your race in which you will go for it.
The path of the left seemed shorter, more direct, and easier to follow. We will call it the Training Hard Path. It was also steeper and riddled with scree, conditions similar to a sand dune. Training harder often means more miles, hills, and speed work. It’s a constant uphill grind and struggle.
The path on the right seemed longer and less direct. We will call it the Training Smart Path. It also had a more stable surface and a steadier gradient with more respite. Training smarter includes strength training, technique drills, proper nutrition, stretching, and, of course, mental preparation. It’s a longer route with a greater variety of conditions.
As I hiked up Volcan Acatenango in Guatemala during the final stage of my cross-training session, over 11,000 feet high in elevation, I encountered a fork in the path.
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Coach Munro is a lifestyle-athlete and a running coach based in Brisbane, Australia. He is certified by the Athletics Australia as a Level 3 Middle and Long Distance Running Coach.
Both routes provide a path to your goal. The condition in which you arrive at the metaphorical fork in the road, as well as the amount you will enjoy your journey, varies from case to case. Your ability to recover and climb more mountains will differ also. Lastly, the pace at which you want to achieve your goal will also vary. At times the Training Hard Path offers the quickest returns, and the Training Smarter Path route may even be faster depending on an athlete's conditioning.
Personally, I prefer the Training Smarter Path. When training for a PR event, training smarter includes specific training sessions for the requirements of the event, which will likely include hills and speed work as part of a balanced, and tiered, program. Training smarter involves a more holistic approach, which reduces risk of injury and burnout. The holistic approach engages more elements of fitness to propel the athlete towards their goal in a focused and sustainable manner. Also, as a lifestyle athlete, I enjoy cross training and the challenges of improving in different aspects of physical and mental performance.
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