The Sufferfest has some brilliant advice on mental toughness. It starts with a 3 point plan.
1 Taking the positive path.
2 Creating the excitement.
3 Fostering a strong will.
Taking the positive path is a mental decision. They give the example of a group bike ride, going up a hill, and you start to struggle. As soon as you think “I can’t keep up”, you are thinking you are going to drop off the pack, you think you’re not good enough, it was stupid to come out for the ride, you start beating yourself up and making it worse. That’s all before you’ve dropped off another inch.
Instead, as soon as the negative thought occurs, they say imagine a STOP! sign. Then picture two paths behind it. One leads to defeat and disappointment, the other leads to your ultimate goal, your Mount Sufferlandria. You have to STOP! the negative thought chain, choose the right path, then determine what the very first goal is past that STOP! sign on the path to Mt S, and don’t stop until you’ve achieved it.
Creating the excitement is about controlling stress. You think it’s your race in the morning and you aren’t ready, you can’t do it, it’s too much. Instead, STOP! and visualise yourself at the start line, pumped and ready to go. Review all the training you’ve done to get here, you are prepared. Do some deep breathing to calm yourself then picture yourself on the finish line, victorious. Turn worry and stress into positivity and excitement.
Fostering a strong will. Now this is where it all goes pear shaped. When you know what you want, and why you want it, nothing can stop you.
Why. You. Want. It.
My first thought is to say “I don’t know/ absolutely no idea” but that smacks of negativity.
So here we are.
Why do I want it?
Bolton (one of the hardest) Ironman
Lands End – John O’Groats
Sub 3 hour marathon.
First observation: those are all events that other people consider benchmarks. Is it a need for recognition and approval? Certainly not on any conscious level. The thought of it being that makes me despise myself just a little bit more.
I started all this fitness lark just to pass the army run test. Then found I quite enjoyed it. And thought I could do better next time. Then someone on twitter said about a half marathon and that was a massive challenge, did that and suddenly it wasn’t a big challenge, it was something even I could do, so 9 months later I did an Iron distance tri.
Perhaps it’s to do with me not being able to feel pride in my accomplishments, so always looking for the one big enough that I’ll be happy and proud of myself? Again, not consciously. I never expect to achieve that and I’m not sure it’s even possible for me, though I’m sure it would be nice.
I read a book in which people had 7 lives and then the bits of them that were interesting and unusual enough to distinguish them from the humdrum of the herd were kept alive in the virtual reality afterlife. That appeals on some level. A life less ordinary. I want my life to be a catalogue of extraordinary events.
Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s not other people’s recognition, or contentment and fulfillment I’m looking for, it’s just a narcissistic, vainglorious, futile attempt to give my life meaning.
Well, that wasn’t so hard.