Posted On:
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: You Can't Buy Your Way Out of Hard Work

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It’s a good thing they don’t run out of Tuesdays, because I don’t run out of things to say.  It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!

Like many of my tips, this week’s tip is simple, but hard to execute at times.  And here it is: You cannot buy your way out of putting in the work.

I know what you’re thinking.  “This doesn’t pertain to me, Coach Coach Laura Henry!!”  Okay, friends.  Ask yourself: have you ever coveted that really expensive, top-of-the-line bike??  Have you thought that getting that new Garmin that was just released would take your training to the next level??  Have you thought about getting a new wetsuit because you think it’ll make you faster in the water??  Have you ever thought any thought like this, and thought, “Hey, that’s free speed!!”

Here’s the harsh reality, my friends.  Nothing, and I repeat: NOTHING, can replace putting in the work when you’re training for a goal.  Failing to put in the work, for whatever reason, is not something you can buy your way out of.

I have a base list of tangible things that I think do think make athletes more safe, skilled, and proficient depending on their sport and goals: a well-fit and mechanically sound bicycle; a helmet; goggles, fins, and a pull buoy for swim training; properly fitting and sized running shoes; non-cotton socks; a watch to time workouts.  Honestly, beyond this, it’s all about YOU and developing YOUR engine.  Without your engine, nothing else happens.  

So you could have a really fancy bike that retails for $10,500, but if you don’t put in the focused time into making yourself stronger and doing the right workouts for you, all you have is a nice photo op on race day.  You could have a top-of-the-line wetsuit, but that won’t replace a winter’s worth of focused work in the pool concentrating on developing your swimming proficiency, feel of, and comfort level in the water.  You could have the shiniest new Garmin, but if you don’t know how to interpret the data that it’s giving you and combine it with your own sense of perceived exertion, it’s just extra weight on your wrist.  And none of this is “free” speed since it actually costs you your hard-earned dollars.  “Free” speed comes from putting in the work.  So: hard work first, gadgets later. :)

If I may, I will add one more thing to my list above, and it’s something that actually helps you put in that work: a sound, safe training plan.  This is one of the best investments any athlete can make in themselves.  This could come in the form of a group plan, a personalized training plan that is developed for YOU, or working one-on-one with a coach who gives you regular feedback (and by regular, I mean almost daily).  Exercise caution when working with a coach who constantly tries to push new gadgets and gear on you.  Yes, at times, a good coach will make recommendations of products that can enhance your athletic experience, and I do this for the athletes who I work for.  But always circle back to this question: why is this person making this recommendation??  Is it really in MY best interest??  Don’t be afraid to ask those questions!!  When I make recommendations to anyone, whether in my work as a Team MPI coach or as a coach/fitter at Fleet Feet Sports, I always make sure that it’s pertinent to that athlete and that it will make them safer and/or more comfortable.  And I always, always make sure to explain why.  But ultimately, I always circle back to this one basic fact: no athlete can buy their way out of putting in the work.  So invest in yourselves, my friends, and not necessarily with your money.  Invest in yourselves by putting in the time and work that will improve your deficiencies, capitalize on your strengths, and help you on the path to your goals.

As you guys know by now, you’re welcome to contact me if you have any questions about any of this.  And if you want to know if something is worth your investment: you can ask me, and I’ll be straight with you. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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