April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
Athletics and sports can teach us all we need to know about mental toughness and the ability to continue through with something challenging and difficult. It’s difficult to believe children are born with mental toughness. It is a child’s natural instinct to cry when something hurts or is threatening to them. However, as we get older we learn that we can ignore these feelings and sensations, or at least develop tolerance to it. The way we respond to challenges displays the extent of our mental toughness.
If we learn ways to take us out of uncomfortable situations, this will become a habit. Now anytime we face adversity we find a way to avoid it or abandoned it.
It really comes down to two choices. When something gets tough we keep going, or we bail. Tough people find a way to get things done no matter how unpleasant it may be. Weak people find a way to get themselves out of that certain situation, however possible. Blame someone else, make an excuse, fake an injury, downplay the importance, or rationalize with yourself.
Mental toughness can be thought of as delaying gratification. Suffer now, enjoy the results later. If we are willing to do this, we can start building toughness.
Mental toughness can be developed in the gym of course. Pick the squat or deadlift for as many reps as you can at about 70% of your one rep max. If you don’t temporarily lose consciousness and forget where you are and what you’re doing, you didn’t go hard enough.
Or find a track and run one lap as fast as you possibly can. Similar results can be expected.
If we can develop this habit of pushing ourselves past previous expectations regardless of the pain and temporary suffering in the gym, results will carry over to, “real life,” as well.
“The mentality was I will do whatever it takes to win,” he added. “I was totally willing to have the worst pain. I was totally willing to do whatever it takes to win the race.” Tom Flemming, (two-time NYC Marathon winner)
Brad Gatens, CSCS