Consistency vs intensity

In sports there is a mindset that you should seek fatigue when you’re working out. You should go to the point of failure, of pain. This has long been my mindset. There is something so satisfying about the feeling of pushing through the pain of a 180km ride or interval set. You finish and your legs are crippled, you can barely walk but you feel like you’ve really done something. ‘No pain no gain right?’

There is an alternative practiced successfully by many. The idea that you don’t go to pain, that you prioritise consistency over intensity. That the science backs this as well.

The idea is that if you go to 100%, you’ll be wrecked, not be able to train the next day, and less effectively the day after. It may also make you dread your workouts.

But what if you went to 70% instead, didn’t chase fatigue but instead did ‘enough’ to make sure you can turn up fresh the next day, and the next, and the next. Saving joints and tendons along the way.

By the end of the week you’ve run 35km if you did a 5km chilled run each day. The intense person has done 3 10km runs to failure and finishes the week with 30km, wrecked and sore.

This same concept can be applied to learning, work, family, strength training, cardio, spiritual practice.

I’m still somewhat confused to be honest. The pain is what I’m used to seeking and the satisfaction of pushing through that. But it probably goes a long way to describing why I have more of a hate relationship with my bike at the moment. The fact that you’re still able to have significant gains at low intensity but consistency almost feels too good to be true.

For 2021 focus on more consistency than intensity.

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