A little death…
The mind can be powerful, and the mind can be weak. It can propel us to unimagined heights or it can make us feel like a loser. Sometimes the outcome, or how we feel, can be determined by what we do before a large event, or before an event that requires the mental strength.
We have to take ourselves to that place where our mind will quit, or we will not be successful. We have to do this in order to grow. If we never take ourselves there, we end up becoming stagnant, or we end up plateauing. Taking ourselves there also gives us motivation. How many times have you surprised yourself by accomplishing more than you thought you would because you went pass that point your brain told you to stop. It felt really good, didn’t it. In fact, it felt great. You will never know what you can accomplish if you quit at that first moment the thought enters your mind, ‘this hurts, this feels uncomfortable, I want to stop’. We cannot go on living in our comfort zone. We are more than this. We need to grow. We need to be satisfied. We need to break out of that zone so we can grow, so we can become what we are supposed to be. If you don’t take that chance, you will always regret it. Won’t you?
Having said that, we need to be aware that that voice we hear, telling us to stop is not there for no reason. If we are pushing ourselves to the point that we could do physical damage to our body, the voice is there to get us to quit before we could do damage to our body, specifically our organs. If you have never run more than 3km’s, and decided to run a marathon at a time under 4 hours, it might be a good idea to listen to that voice. You haven’t prepared your body for this type of event and the voice telling you to quit is probably right.
So what can we do to minimize the impact of this voice and continue our workout, our event or whatever it is you are doing when your brain starts to question what it is you are doing.
- Be prepared – I like to use the analogy of having an exam to write. I know with myself, I am much more nervous if I feel I’m not prepared, I didn’t study enough. If I have put in enough study time, I go into the exam feeling confident, and not as nervous (there’s always some nervousness, it is an exam). If you are competing in a big event such as a marathon, or tough mudder, try to include into your prep something that mimics what it is you are doing. For example, if your event is a marathon, be sure to include a distance run that is about 90% the length of the marathon. This way you will go in to the event confident knowing that you only have to run that 10% more than your longest run in training. You’ve eliminating the unknown which can lead to fear.
- Nutrition – Make sure you are properly fueled. If you aren’t, you will exhaust yourself so much sooner, and this can lead to a drop in confidence and motivation leading to our friend the brain telling us to stop much sooner than you should be. Be sure to eat a couple of hours before your workout and try to have something high in carbs about 30 minutes before hand, something such as a banana or an orange. If your workout is intense, and lasts more than 60 minutes you may also want to replenish your glycogen stores by consuming something high in carbs such as dates, or figs. You can even try the gels that runners use. This will keep you going and lessen that voice telling you to quit and give in.
- The zone – Time to stop thinking about yourself, about the pain, about the fatigue. Try to think of something, anything else besides the work you are doing. You should find that your mind gets focused on this instead of the workout. I’ll do this when I’m running, I’ll think about the workout I need to put together for class, or I’ll think about my next blog post. Before I know it, I’ve completed about half my run. If the mind is busy with other things, it won’t be focused on everything that comes with the workout.
- Feedback – We do need to listen to our body when working out, we can’t totally ignore it. But, we need to listen to the important things. Finding yourself more tired than normal may be your body telling you that you need to consume some carbs. If you feel pain don’t ignore it! Pain during a workout is never a good thing. Typically that means you have injured yourself. Pain after a workout such as muscle pain is ok since this means you have been successful in creating micro tears in your muscle fiber which now need to be repaired. This is what leads to increased strength and muscle growth.
Do you want it
You desire it, but do you really want it? It would be great if we could just take a pill and just like that our cardio would be top notch, or we just added 10 lbs of muscle. Or would it be great? If you are someone who trains regularly, leaves your workout exhausted and sweaty, feel good about that because 70% of everyone else are doing nothing. Then there are those who do something but really will never see any gains because they never get out of their comfort zone.
I know you want it. I know this because you are hear reading this, reading my blog and I like to think I’m honest in what I say in my posts. If you keep coming back to read more, you are probably someone who wants to get the most they can out of life. Do it then. Don’t give in. You know what you want, go out there an grab onto it. You’ll embrace it with open arms knowing it’s right.
Yours in health,