Yea yea, I know I said I wouldn’t talk about training and exercise, but it’s an integral part of my life and thoughts come into my
tiny large brain so I need to vent them somewhere.
The toughest part to training is without a doubt, the mental aspect. The physical aspect of training is simple. All you have to do is put out 100% and and you’ll improve if you’re following your specified program. A mentor of mine said to me, and I’m paraphrasing, “Anybody can run as fast and as long as possible. It’s the mind that limits us. So when your mind is saying that you are too tired, you have to slow down, you can’t go any further, tell it to shut the fuck up.”
If you can detach your mind from what your brain is telling you, you will exceed any expectations you had. People always stress the physical aspects of training. That’s the easy shit. People rarely talk about the mental training and preparation when it comes to it.
Negative Inner Self-Talk
What I covered above is the beginning of it. Negative inner self-talk is, for example:
“I’m going to go for a run today. But I have so much to do, so maybe tomorrow.”
“I need to swim but it’s Friday and I’m sore.”
*While running 3 miles and currently on mile 2*, “I can’t make it, I need to slow down I’m cramping up, I need water. I’m going to walk the rest of the way even though I said I would run the whole time.”
“I can’t. I can’t do this. This sucks. I need to stop.”
(sidenote: trust your judgement, there’s a difference between sucking it up and hurting yourself. The more you train, you’ll know).
I’ve been there. I was there today. I needed to swim 250m at the end of my workout and I reached the mental hurdle at 100m. The good part about knowing my body and having been here before is that I was able to push past it. That’s how you establish mental toughness. By continuing to grind away at the hardships you see while training. The difference between Training and Working Out is: Training = you do what you must; Working Out = you do what you want.
It’s different for everybody in how you confront negative self-talk. First you need to be positive. *Do two more strokes then when that’s done, do it again, then again, then again, now one stroke, one stroke, one stroke and so forth. Another mentor of mine said to me, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Don’t focus on the whole thing, break it down into things you can mentally handle and keep pushing.
You’re not going to hit your long term goal in one day just like you’re not gonna eat an elephant in one bite. (Not literally, if you’re a poacher reading this, I hope you get trampled, sincerely: me and every elephant ever).
Small Victories/Bite Sized Goals
Exhibit A: Last year I was running a loop of streets around my house that total exactly 3 miles. I was running on the side of a road when there were a bunch of cars riding closer to me. I was forced onto the bumpy sidewalk and hit a ditch and rolled my ankle. I was at 1.8 mile mark. I gathered my wits, it hurt to put pressure on it, but kept going and jogged the rest of the way home on a rolled ankle.
I was able to push past the pain and discomfort because I focused on getting to the next driveway (bite sized goals). I wasn’t focusing on getting to my house, that’s the elephant. I was focusing on doing twenty steps. If I can jog twenty steps then I can jog forty. Breaking things down to the simplest of forms allows your mind to think less about the pain and more about empowering the muscles to perform.
Do I recommend running on a rolled ankle? No I don’t, but this taught me a lot mentally because I was able to jog home despite everything in mind and body telling me otherwise. I didn’t continue the pace, it was a slow jog because I didn’t want to hurt myself further, but nonetheless it was a significant learning point in my mental training.
(Need one of these)
In the simplest of forms let’s discuss sleep. Sleep is THE most important recovery tools we have and it’s completely natural. Ever hear somebody say, “Sleep is for the weak”? Next time you hear that, please let me know, and I’ll teleport to your location, and Sparta Kick them into next week.
Stop neglecting sleep and start taking it seriously. I have a sleep routine now and if I don’t follow it, I won’t be able to sleep in my room. Some people take a warm shower before bed, brush their teeth, hop into bed and fall asleep. I brush my teeth then blackout my room so no light can be seen. Then I either use the Headspace App and meditate to fall asleep or I just get comfortable and sleep. Get your mind off of the TV and IPhone stimulus. Put your phone somewhere out of reach and trust me, you’ll be able to get focused on sleeping rather than social media.
Practice breathing exercises. Breathe in for four seconds 1-2-3-4, then out for four seconds 1-2-3-4, for four minutes.
I’m no expert. I do what works for me. Do your research if you’re serious about training and literally ANYTHING for that matter, before going ALL IN.
The great part about the lessons you learn about mental toughness is that you can use these lessons and apply them to everyday life. Be ALL IN all the time and you’ll start to see positive changes.
It’s Friday, the weekend’s here, I hope you enjoyed my article