The older and more experienced (and more broken) I become, the less and less convinced I am of the need for "gut bustingly hard" herculean marathon efforts to attain exceptional results.
I've known my share of world class athletes and many (if not most) were NOT the hardest workers. I know this because if they had been trying hard in practice, there was no way I would have ever beaten them. And yet I beat them often in practice... and they destroyed me in competitions.
The "elite" work hard... very hard... sometimes. They can turn it on when they want to or need to, but most of the time they are cruising. Most of the time they are just cruising, making forward progress steadily, and making small, meaningful adjustments along the way.