Posted by: Joe English | September 6, 2013

Mental Games — Dealing with Mental Toughness in a Weakened State

running-advice-bugMy friend Coach Dean Hebert wrote a piece yesterday that resonated with me on a couple of levels. Today I am going to write the first of two pieces on topics related to it. In his piece “Breaking Comfort Zones“, Coach Dean is looking at the concept of breaking out of your comfort zones through risk taking and practice.

Breaking out of our comfort zones in training requires what we call “mental toughness”. Toughness in this sense means being able to bear some amount of physical or mental pain in order to accomplish something. Much of the mental pain may be imagined, as Dean points out, being fear-based responses to what we don’t know. We think that “this is going to hurt” but by the middle of the workout we are starting to understand that we control how hard we push, so the amount of physical pain is really in our own hands.

It is necessary to break out of our comfort zones in order to get better and faster. We only increase our performance by pushing harder or longer than we think we can. Pushing past our comfort zone is what needs to happen to get better.

As Dean writes about breaking comfort zones “…the experience is a fearful one for most. It is uncomfortable (mentally and physically) for sure. There is fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of experiencing pain/discomfort, fear of embarrassment, fear of peer reactions, and though less uncommon fear of success.”

But there is a bar that we must pass in order to break through these comfort zones, even if it is one that is subtle or maybe even subconscious. We must have the strength to submit ourselves to those fears or to that real mental and physical pain that we will encounter in pushing out of our comfort zone. At the most basic level, if we are not capable of “going there” then that’s not a place we can go.

To continue reading on running-advice.com, click here.


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