This was a mental toughness workout.
“One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. On foot…”
The rain was starting to fall now, too. Cold, rain, and running. The perfect storm, right?
I plodded along one foot in front of the other, as self-directed, and kept running. And it worked, for the most part. I got back to my barbell for one last set of squat clean thrusters and took off running.
For the tenth and final time.
My strategy paid off nicely as I was able to overtake the lead on the last 200 meters and cross the finish line with a 2 second victory. Not the most glorious performance of my fabled fitness career but it was a success.
Mental toughness kept me on track when I wanted to stop and phone it in. I didn’t want to, but I willed myself to. It was a bit more of a mental slug fest than I was used to. Looking back I can say with certainty there were times when I would have abandoned my pace and just coasted in. Or worse yet, quit.
Ever notice how some days it is easier to be mentally tough than others?
I think I’m preaching to the choir here, right? I mean there are two types of people in the world: those who have days when mental toughness is just harder to conjure. And those who are lying.
I’ve been paying close attention to those days for both myself and my clients. And with enough data points I’ve been able to identify 4 things that actually make mental toughness easier to conjure. Ready?
4 Things That Make Mental Toughness Easier
1. How I’ve Eaten Recently
Your diet and the eating habits around your diet should be a whole book unto itself. That is why we offer nutrition coaching at Strong Tower. But I’ve noticed that with almost 100% correlation when my clients self-rank their nutrition as a 6 or below, their performance suffers. Either quantitatively (their scores drop) or qualitatively (they reported being sluggish and mentally weak).
On the other hand, when athletes self-ranked their nutrition as a 7 or higher, they almost NEVER reported subpar performance or mindset.
Eat real food, in quantities that support exercise but not body fat, and you will almost certainly have an easier time summoning your mental strength.
2. How I Slept Last Night
#TeamNoSleep is a team setting themselves up for failure. And sleep science supports that. Aim for 8.5 hours of sleep or it might be difficult to call in those mental reserves when you need it most.
In one study that I like to quote, researchers followed the sleep the Stanford University’s men’s varsity basketball team. When players boosted their sleep from fewer than seven hours a night to 8.5 hours over a five- to seven-week period, their performance improved.
They cut their sprint times bu 5% from 16.2 seconds to 15.5, their free throw percentage improved by 9% and their three point percentage improved 6%.
In the search for that 1% advantage I would take those returns on my sleep any day.
3. How I Handle Stress
Will power is finite and can be exhausted, just like fuel for muscle contractions. Spend time making stressing out, especially about things you cannot control, and your performance will suffer.
Take time to breathe and pray. Learn to give those things that are outside of your control over to God. Create a practice of daily self care to stay ahead of the stress.
Start by setting a 60 second timer on your phone and spend those seconds just listening to your breath. No distractions. No multitasking.
4. How I View My Workouts
Is exercise punishment or is it to celebrate what your body can do? Do you “have to” workout or do you “get to”? Is every workout a competition? Or do you take opportunities to just enjoy training?
Exercise is not punishment. It is not a way to earn food. Listen to your internal dialog when you are preparing to workout take note of your thoughts. They just might need re-framing.
We can help!
Coaching is what we do. And we do it to the fullest. Not just fitness, either. I personally am a former pastor and certified Life Coach and I love to personally mentor and coach people through life, spiritual, relational, and career paths.
It’s what I love most!
Need help with developing mental toughness? Jump on a free coaching call with me and let’s explore your situation together.
Yours in hope,