So, you want to know how to be mentally tough and running? Right now you feel like you're soft or maybe your coaches told you that you're soft, and you want to be better. Well, that's awesome, because that's the first step, having a desire to be more mentally tough. And today, I'm going to share with you one way and the key way to become more mentally tough and running.
If you've ever met anybody that's really mentally tough, you seem to think that they just eat up the pain, that they love it. And they have this attitude where they just can't get enough of it. If you go and listen to my interview with Chris Douglas, on my Smart Athlete podcast, I actually asked him a little bit about this.
He's part of a team of triathletes, who are some of the best triathletes in the amateur divisions in the country, in some in the world. I asked him have you met any of them, they’re actual masochists that, that seem to find joy in suffering? And he kind of tells us the opposite of what we would expect. He has met zero people on that team, and so far in his experience as an elite amateur triathlete that actually enjoy pain.
So, where does this whole idea about loving the pain and being a masochist come from? Is it a moniker that people that don't run give to us because they can't seem to understand how we go through the suffering? Well, it's part of the key of how you become more mentally tough. That key that I mentioned to becoming more mentally tough, is actually just deciding and telling yourself that you enjoy the pain.
Why do all those people that seem to do really well say that they enjoy the pain? Well, partially, it's a trick of the mind. It's them deciding, they want it bad enough that they're going to enjoy it. When you're suffering, they're going to enjoy and I did this myself. This is one of my mental tricks I use when conditions are really adverse, and everybody else didn't want to run, I decided I was going to love that.
Now, of course, I don't naturally just say, yes, I love one, it's super muddy out, and it's raining and it's 50 degrees, I'm going to be really cold, possibly break an ankle; it's the amount of focus. It's what you're focusing on that you decide, I love the rain, I love the mud, I love when everybody else is suffering.
The mental trick here is that you have an association with the word love. You don't have a negative connotation with that word. So. when you decide I love the rain, I love the adversity, I love the pain, and you tell those things yourselves; it becomes easier for your mind to deal with the actual pain that you're going through.
I wish I could recall the team, but I once read this story about a coach who made his athletes run hills for one of their workouts, and they did this religiously. He always made them say when they got to the top of the hill, “I love hills”.
Now, if you met anybody who ever run there are plenty of people that do not love hills. But it's that trick that mental trick where you're saying, I love hills, I love this, that your brain can't seem to deal with a contradiction between saying I love it and the dislike of the physical discomfort you're going through with the hills, and it makes it easier.
That coach and his team went on to win their conference championship that year. Now, maybe it was a fluke. Maybe it was just a simply a matter of very gifted athletes. But I don't think that is a coincidence he implemented that and they move past the rivals to become champions that year.
Using that trick and deciding that you love something is one of the main keys to becoming more mentally tough. Even if you can't do it yet, you decide, yes, I love this, I love the pain. And slowly, slowly over time, you'll find that you're able to endure a little bit more and a little bit more.
Just like your physical training, you need to step up the amount of mental discomfort you have over time, you can't just decide even if you can physically deal with running a marathon, couch to marathon, which is a terrible idea. But say you could physically deal with it, there's a pretty big mental aspect to it. And a lot of that has to do with the voice inside your head saying, no, you can't do this.
Now, I've talked about this before, it's that voice inside your head that doesn't want you to die. It’s the inner voice that we all have trying to keep you alive, preserve energy stay alive. What you can do is train that voice to be quieter. And you do that by making smaller and smaller challenges that are a little bit tougher just a bit at a time. Same way with your training physically, I make suggestions of not going over 10% mileage increases.
That goes right along with being mentally tougher. You don't want to jump from doing long miles to 10 times 1,000 repeats at 5K pays. It's too large of a mental jump, typically, for most people. Maybe there's a freak out there that can do it. But it's not necessarily the safest or best long term strategy for you.
When you take a longer term view of dealing with that pain and building up your tolerance and becoming mentally more tough. You actually learn a little bit more about what pain is, and the different kinds of pain that you experience when you're running.
There's a different pain between being injured and muscular injuries versus skeletal injuries, versus just normal muscular fatigue and the different levels of muscular fatigue. So, the mental strategy that you can also develop as you become tougher is that detachment from the pain.
Pacing is all about using that mental pain to determine how fast you're going, and that goes along with mental toughness. You can't maintain a consistent pace unless you're able to detach yourself from that pain that you're experiencing.
The best place to be when you want to run and be mentally tough, the people that exhibit mental toughness, learn to detach themselves, where they're observing that pain, and they're relaxed. They feel the pain but are also relaxed.
That's why if you're running on the track, you're real stiff, your coach’s looking at you and they're going, relax, relax. Because you're tightened up, you're too caught in the moment. Your ego is trapped inside of that pain and you have to allow yourself to detach from it. I know I could say detach a thousand times and you're like what do you mean?
I talked about this in another video where I work on a mental strategy, but it has to do with mindfulness and being able to observe that pain. But that's a whole other crux of being mentally tough, not being absorbed and pulled into the pain.
Just allowing yourself to experience it, own it and relax and observe it knowing that I'm driving my body and these maybe are the limiters in my body, but the body isn't in control of my mind. I'm the one driving, not the body and physical limits.
What's keeping you from being mentally tough? What challenges are you working with? Leave me a comment below, below the video scroll down there and leave me a comment. Let me know what are you working on? What can I help you with to be more mentally tough? As always, don't forget to subscribe to the channel for more episode of Runners High. I'll see you next time.