So often I come across people who over train and train like every session is an Olympic Games Finals.
Now my theroy is that you should always put in maximum effort to a session. This can be so different depending on the sessions desired goal and your overall goal. Here are a few examples;
Example 1: Maximum effort in a session which is 12 x 30m Hill Sprints with 1 Minute walk back recovery between sets means you go absolutly eye balls out up that hill every time it comes to the sprint phase. But in order to maximise the overall goal it is important that you take full recovery. This particular session is a high quality session so if recovery is shortened before fitness has increased then it turns into a low quality session.
The difference between low quality and high quality over this distance/terrain might only be 1 second in hill rep time but believe me when I say this makes a big difference. So lets apply 'Train Hard' and 'Train Smart'. Training Hard will mean you put maximum effort in and because you feel you need to push yourself harder you shortern the recovery and the quality of sets get worse. Train Smart means that you are still training very hard but you are keeping the session goal and your overall training goal in mind. Sometimes maximum effort can apply to keeping focused with recovery and quality.
Example 2: Raced hard Sunday and it is now Monday. 'Train Hard' will have that person turn into a hero and think 'NO PAIN, NO GAIN' and all that rubbish. 'Train Smart' will have that person doing a recovery session. Perhaps a steady Jog, Cycle or Swim. There might be some Mobility, Foam Rolling and Stretching too. The body needs to take time to recover. There is lots of reasons why the body needs the recovery. An example would be, when the body hits training hard it rips muscles fibres. This is a good thing becuase when they repair, they repair stronger. Now if your doing a hard session after hard session with no breaks these repairs do not take place, you do not get stronger/improve. Instead you get faitgued, you get annoyed at lack of performance and often you get injured. These people will then normally train even harder as they are not seeing the results.
As you know I have trained many national standard athletes and one person springs to mind. Now this person puts 'Maximum Effort' into every session and that would be 15 plus sessions per week including stretch/mobility. Now out of all those sessions what most people would see as 'Training Hard' you are looking at about 3-4 sessions.
Now if an international athlete is only doing 3-4 'heavy' sessions why do most people feel they have to do more to get results.
Have a look at your training, are you getting just quantity or are you getting quality too?