Since I started training three and a half years ago, I've always been a big fan of "work smarter, not harder". It has gott...

Since I started training three and a half years ago, I've always been a big fan of "work smarter, not harder".

It has gotten me really far without any serious injury or illness along the way. I've dropped almost a minute on my 2k erg score, built out incredible base fitness, and learned to move a single incredibly efficiently.

But as my progress has slowed short of my ultimate goal, I have realized that working smarter is no longer enough. All of the athletes at the level I hope to reach are working smartly. They all have great training plans, great coaches, great habits and great boat skills.

Three and a half years is long enough to figure out the "right way" for me. And I think I've done just that–I'm on a training plan I love, in a place I enjoy training, with a coach I trust, in a boat that fits, eating food that makes me feel good.

It's time to start working harder at it.

Of course, that's easier said than done.

Unlearning the habits of three years of training is uncomfortable. No more calculations. If I pull 2:08 for another 1000 meters and then 2:02 for the last 300m, I can bring my split down by 2 seconds. No more strategizing. I can switch these two workouts and it will be the same volume but feel easier. Just work.
"Stopping thinking about the shoulds and the coulds—I should be lifting more or I could be fitter. Accept where you are and focus on just doing." - Krystal Melendez
There is constant discomfort during both training and recovery. I'm learning to accept, even embrace, it, rather than working to fix it.

During workouts, I've been searching for "flow", a concept Wil Heywood introduced to me several years back and I promptly dismissed. I find it best during my cool downs after weight-lifting sessions, when the lights in the erg room have shut off and it's too dark to see the Concept2 monitor. I set a timer on my phone, and just swing with the music until my time is up.

In the weight room, I've learned to stop thinking about how I'm going to finish the workout, and instead focus on just doing. I'm adding weight to the bar with no intention or thought of the repercussions—just to do it.

Most importantly, I'm learning to silence the voice in my head—the voice that tells me I'm tired, no exhausted. I'm learning to listen to the training plan and accept the wave of exhaustion that hits me midday on Wednesday, letting it drag my body through the riptide of Thursday morning and out to the calm seas of our afternoon off.

I expect it now. I know that fatigue and emptiness lingers with training or with rest and that sometimes the familiar discomfort of a long slow slog on the erg is better than the uncontrolled discomfort of moping in bed.

"Americans: they want everything yesterday." Guenter Beutter, coach extraordinaire

Now, I wait. You can never compare one training plan or approach to another, because you've only executed one of them. The most you can do is hope what you're doing takes you to your destination.

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