“Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind – you could call it character in action.”
Everyone runs their own race
You can’t run anyone else’s race. In the end you will be asked – “what was your time?”. Not anyone else’s. Also, you can’t run a marathon at a sprint pace. Life is certainly the longest ultra-marathon you will run. You might be a tortoise but boy, you will still be going up the next hill when that youthful colleague of yours has run out of breath. Rely on your strengths and don’t despair when you can’t perform to meet someone else’s expectations. The race of life is against yourself.
Nothing new on race day.
This golden rule says you only use what you’re used to on a race day. No new shoes, new nutrition, new gimmicks of any kind. You have that big presentation with your client. Now is not the time to bust out the brand new projector or the fancy VR headset. Stick to what you know and what worked in the past. In your preparation you can incorporate new ideas and tools but save those until you are sure they won’t let you down when it is time to shine.
Make time for rest.
Probably the most important thing on this list. Our society thrives on hustling 24/7 never letting up on that big dream. Everything we know about this is wrong. Your body and mind needs time off to rejuvenate. If you don’t this will show up in your performance or your motivation. Something will give. Maybe it will be a ragged achilles tendon from getting too much mileage. Maybe it will be a relationship that dies from neglect due to priorities. Make time for renewal and for recharging. Look after yourself and the other things that will still be there for you when the (rat) race is over.
Self-denial builds mental toughness.
It’s 5am and the alarm clock has just gone off. Just 5 more minutes. Nope. Have to get up to do that weekend long run. And the more you do it the easier it gets. You have people waiting at the training so you can’t let them down. The same goes for other commitments. Get an accountability partner and join a gym. It’s easier to flock in pairs. You need someone to check up on you and help make your success a habit. Keep denying yourself little luxuries like 5 minutes more sleep and see how it translates into success or medals!
You will hit the wall.
At around 32km into a marathon the runner hits what is called “the wall”. It is exactly what it sounds like. Your body completely freaks out at this point. Depleted of carbohydrates it starts to burn fat reserves. Most people will never even run far enough to discover they have a second wind. Even seasoned runners hit the wall. The trick is to anticipate that you will hit the wall, work through it and then come out on the other side. Just don’t give up! This is what sets apart winners from losers.
Also posted this on LinkedIn as an article.