Early on in my athletic career, I functioned based on the idea that my success was directly correlated with how hard I worked. Only “how hard I worked” was determined by the number of hours I was doing things that I, then, deemed productive—sprints, lifting weights, getting on the ice, ‘getting a good sweat in. This is how a lot of athletes see the path to success:
More physical work —>stronger body (and mind) = better performance
But there is one crucial thing this equation doesn’t take into account; sustainability. In this strategy, we’re constantly looking for more work to do, so we’re constantly missing out on things like recovery. We stop paying attention to what we actually need in favor of fulfilling this need to do more work. We run into things like over-use injury, fatigue, loss of passion, and burnout.
When it’s all laid out like this, it seems fairly simple; just don’t overwork yourself. But when you’re neck-deep in these strategies, not listening to what your body or mind needs, you start looking elsewhere for direction.
Maybe you turn your eyes to teammates, to your coaches, to your competitors and ask, “What are they doing that I’m not?” These external strategies are predictably unreliable because they almost always lead us down a path that we cannot sustain for long periods of time. Eventually, we hit rock bottom.
The best of the best elite athletes know that their strategies for training, practicing, and recovering have to be sustainable. They have to allow them both to make improvements and grow but they also have to meet their values, care for their physical and mental state. In short, their strategies have to work specifically for them.
With all of that in mind… How are they working for you? How are your strategies not working for you?
“More physical work —>stronger body (and mind) = better performance.
But there is one crucial thing this equation doesn’t take into account; sustainability.”