Mental toughness. Yesterdays workout

NYC Marathon

This fit woman is experience pain.  She has reached the much of her limits as a person.  An interesting fact is that the pain did not just start right at the finish line, the pain most likely started miles prior as she pushed her goal pace and raced this marathon.  You may think that elite or competitive runners don’t experience the pain because of their extremely high level of fitness but they do.  The biggest difference is their mental toughness and knowledge that they can keep going regardless of the pain, fast breathing, burning, etc.  Lots of people seem to have the mental toughness right from the get go but it is something that can be learned too.

How to you become more mentally tough?  Well, you have to say YES.  You have to say yes that one time when you want to say no more.  You have to finish the last 100 yards when you feel like walking.  Each time you say in your mind that you can keep going, you win the mental toughness battle and become that much stronger.  You begin to realize more of your potential to be able to go through the pain, discomfort, and fatigue.  Each time you do this, you inch closer to who you really are and what you really can do.

Yesterday was a mental toughness workout for me.  From the first steps of my 6 mile goal pace run my legs were burning and sore.  I felt stiff and robotic.  My glutes, calves, and quads were all tight and on fire.  This lasted for the entire run.  My body and my mind wanted to stop.  At the finish of my first three mile loop the temptation was strong to stop the workout.  It hurt.  It was uncomfortable.  It wasn’t fun.  I felt out of shape.

SO FREAKIN’ WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I kept at it.  I kept at it.  Until the last .01 of a mile I kept at it.  When I could see the finish line at my truck and thought “oh good, now I can walk the last .25 miles”, I scoffed, then chuckled, then kept running.  I had run 5.75 miles in discomfort and I tried to tell myself I couldn’t make it another .25 miles.  I kept at it.  I won the battle yesterday.  Self realization kicked in and I became happy for what was accomplished.  Some runs are so good that you feel great and others are so bad that you feel great (mentally).

I ran the 6 mile goal pace workout at a 7:38 pace in 90 degree heat with worn out shoes.  The shoes may have been the cause of the soreness when I look back on it.  I ordered some more and they will be coming soon.


10 Responses to “Mental toughness. Yesterdays workout”

  1. August 18, 2009 at 7:50 am

    That’s great-good for you for not stopping. I just started the C25K (now in level 2) and have wanted to stop in the last 15 seconds of an interval because I feel like I’m gonna pass out. But I did once and felt horrible, so pulled the rest of them out 100%! Glad it’s normal to feel defeated and even happier to see you can stick thru the pain/defeat and finish strong! Hope your new shoes come soon!

  2. August 18, 2009 at 10:11 am

    This is an awesome post! Say yes, when you want to say no. That goes for so many things in life doesn’t it? For me, as I was losing all my 150 pounds, I had to learn to say no first, so that I could become stronger for the physical things I wanted to do.

    Then, I said yes to things I never would have thought possible!! Thanks for the great post!

  3. August 19, 2009 at 5:32 am

    I hear you on the running through it. I have had to teach myself the difference between pain and PAIN. The first I can get through and feel better at the end of my run…the latter will haunt me for days and weeks as I have to recover. I need to listen to my body to not injure myself but not listen to the voice in my head that tells me to just give up now because its hard. Life is hard but not impossible.

  4. 7 the Ringmaster
    August 19, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Ugh, my last 5k race was like that. I went out too fast in my first mile–a rookie mistake that I should know enough to avoid by now–and it set me up for a tough run. Instead of the race getting increasingly difficult, it was just tough from the get-go. But even though it hurt, I pushed myself to finish, and finish fast and well. I think if running was only difficult physically, more people would do it. But running forces you to engage all of you, to be okay with suffering–sometimes–okay, a lot of times–for no extrinsic reward. In that race, at least I got an AG award. Sometimes, like in your training run (or some of my miserable hot-weather long runs), you don’t get nuthin’–except a life-changing way to engage your mind and push yourself, and the knowledge that you can.

    • 8 run4change
      August 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

      Boy have I experienced the wrath of going out to fast. Great job on keeping on and not quitting.

  5. August 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I always gave in to the feelings of pain and discomfort, and for the last few weeks (I’m on level 3 of C25K) I have been facing that feeling and plowing through it. This is a great post, because learning to suffer through the discomfort definitely DOES make you stronger – even if you never thought you were the “type of person” who could do it, which is what I thought about myself.

    As always, great post!

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