As endurance athletes we are always pushing the limits of our body - both physically and mentally. We are fearless self-explores that want to see what we are capable of doing. The true challenge is not only the competition between you and the course, or between you and the clock, but between you and your mind. This causes us to not only be physically fit, but mentally tough.
Are you mentally tough as an athlete or are you one of your own worst enemies? Success in endurance sports all about your mental ability to deal with pain, fatigue, and lactic acid build up. It’s about your capability to go above the limits that you think you are capable of.
One of the first mental obstacles that you must address in endurance sports has to do with motivation. Do you obtain that inner drive to do what's necessary to achieve success? Do you have a meaningful and achievable goal that keeps you focused and moving in the right direction through brutal and sometimes tedious grind of training? Without a personal “why” or a big goal your motivation will most definitely fade. You have to be honest with yourself and ask yourself on a daily basis, is my goal important enough for me to sacrifice and hurt right now? Far too many athletes trade what they want the most, for how they feel right now, in the moment.
Here are 5 ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Start: The first step is always the most uncomfortable. All you have to do is show up. Lace up those shoes and head out the door. The battle is half won if you just get out the door. I get it. It's uncomfortable to start something. Once you start your workout, you may want to quit immediately.Whenever you start something, it sucks. Remind yourself that you made a decision. You are already committed and there is no going back.
Don’t quit: You've set your goals, you have started. You're not seeing results. It's difficult, it hurts. You want to quit. It's okay and to be expected. Just keep pushing forward. You're going to start thinking of a way out. Don't do it. Don't give yourself an out, no excuses.The point when you are just about to give up is the precise moment when the other guy gives up. At some point you are going to ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" You better have an answer. Remember what your motivation is!
Push yourself past your comfort zone: At some point, you are going to say to yourself, "I've never done this before" whether it is hitting a certain pace, or going a long distance and it’s going to hurt. This means that you have to know how to control your focus when you begin to hurt and how to neutralize the negative thinking and self-doubts that almost always come along with the pain.
Embrace the “suck”: You hurt, your uncomfortable--deal with it. And don't just deal with it-- welcome it. You know the feeling, just when you think things couldn't get any worse, it appears "the suck". This is what makes you tougher, it has arrived to make you better. Instead of complaining, celebrate the blessing that is the suck. You are building your mental and physical toughness.
Rise and repeat: Consistently practicing pushing the envelope. You have to be willing to regularly bust your butt get up and do it again. That is it, you must live the winner's creed, get comfortable being uncomfortable!
Why did you choose to be endurance athletes? Maybe as you trained for your first endurance event you felt certain qualities growing within yourself: good health, the ability to accept pain, the ability to face difficult situations, the ability to deal with failure…and simply the ability to endure in a tough world!