Mind Over Matter

Blame Andrew, but I actually found myself enjoying shows on the military. The shock, the pure horror!! GASP! Are you still reading? Did I freak you out? It’s more like “one show” on the Discovery Channel, “Surviving The Cut.” Move over Shark Week. If you ever find yourself complaining about a few miles or a workout here or there, consider “the intense world of military elite forces training.”

It’s basically an hour of balls-out insanity watching military personnel go through rigorous training along with a healthy dose of physical and mental lashing. Here’s the kicker, listening to what the sergeants say to the trainees is brilliant. These men are pushed to the edge, but encouraged at the same time. The show talks at length about the mental capacity for conditioning. We all know that the military are incredibly disciplined, and it is because they are broken in training and taught to come back stronger.

Men’s Health has a quick read: “Navy SEAL Tips to Achieve Mental Strength.” It talks about the values you can apply to everything from a workout to a meeting with your boss.

I am so smart. S-M-R-T.

The more I train and the more I push myself to try new things, it is important to understand the capacity of your own mental strength. I literally decided on Sunday to run my farthest distance on Monday, and I went for it. You’ve all seen the racers crawling across the finish line during an Ironman, and it is their body overriding the brain’s signals to stop.

According to Runner’s World: How? Your mind interprets and shapes into strategy the messages your body sends it. When you’re competing, it decides whether you falter at the finish or pull off the win. Given this interaction, coaches and scientists alike now believe your mind determines, to a large degree, how far and how fast you can run…. To run 10 miles instead of your usual 8? You don’t have to go to med school. All you really have to do is fully engage your brain at the same time you engage your body.

Get a load of the “seven mental strategies to help you run longer and stronger,” courtesy of Runner’s World.

I am fascinated by Olympic athletes, Ironman, military, etc. because they have passion and willpower to conquer any challenge. Learning more about mental strength in exercising puts things in perspective for me.

Do you have any mental tricks you use during a tough workout? Are you like me and find that you talk to yourself while doing something hard?

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19 responses to “Mind Over Matter

  1. Well, I’m nowhere near the guys on that show, but I think setting goals helps. So if I’ve been going for 5 minutes then I’ll set a goal to hit 10. Then after that I’ll set a mile goal. Then I’ll say, but wait, I want to hit 25 minutes. Once I get the goal in my head I have to meet it–and from there I’m likely to set another.

    I’m fully aware this technique would not work if I were to do a Navy Seals workout.

  2. We don’t have TV hooked up yet (gasp! I know), so I haven’t tapped into this show yet, but the message is one to hold onto if you start thinking about more and more endurance training! I realized around mile 18 of my first marathon that I didn’t want to keep running 8 miles. I realized After that marathon that the main thing I needed to work on was my mental strength! Working on it during shorter runs that I’m just not that into does Wonders during LRs when I know I’ve been more tired/exhausted/burned out at one point, and “today” it’s doable.

    Anywho! You should pick up Dean Karnazez’s Ultramarathon Man. You’ll heart it like I did.

    And, I should stop leaving such novel comments on here. OOF.

  3. You’re right. The mind is such a powerful tool to help us push past comfort zones.

    And I need to be sure my husband doesn’t find out about that show. He would add it to the long list of crazy stuff he makes me watch.

  4. Omg I love that show! I sat there and watched the special about green beret selection after my 20-miler on Sunday and was like “omg, I’m sitting here feeling like death after a run and these guys are lifting logs and doing obstacle courses, what’s my problem?”

  5. Thanks for the link to the tricks. It totally depends on the workout for me. Running is harder for me b/c it’s so mental. I have to get out of my head, away from doubting and talk myself up. I have to think about relaxing and enjoying what’s going on around me and how strong it all makes me feel. As for lifting, lots of teeth gritting goes on, but I never really feel a wall go up like with running. Does that make sense? Other workouts don’t ever have that same barrier that I hit and think, I just can’t go any more or I’m gonna fall out.

    • Def make sense. I heard a guy grunt like his liver was exploding this morning at the gym, a touch too much of the dramatics for me.

      Running it’s constant, lifting is a whole other realm.

  6. Cool topic! Yes, I have mental tricks and I definitely talk to myself. I have a friend who was in an accident almost a year ago that left her unable to walk. Every time I’m feeling discouraged or tired on a run, I think of her and realize how lucky I am to be able to use my legs – it takes me on for miles! 🙂

  7. That show sounds extremely intense! But it sort of sounds inspiring in some weird way. I’m in awe of the things people can accomplish with really good mental strength. I think people often overlook the importance of training your mind. I learned quickly when training for my first marathon that getting through it was going to be more mental than anything else. The best mental tricks I use are to break a tough workout/run down into smaller pieces. I focus on just finishing that section and try to block everything else from my mind. When all else fails, I blatantly lie to myself (if you run to X, then you can stop!)…then I get to that point and lie some more 😉

  8. That is funny that you wrote about Surviving the Cut, I watched a mini marathon of it this past weekend and was in awe of these guys and what they put their bodies through.

    I definitely talk to myself when doing something difficult, like miles 20-26.2. I find that it helps to get me through.

  9. Fantastic post! I need to know when this program is on! I am watching! I am always fascinated by certain training programs. Did you ever watch Tough Enough on Mtv? The first season rocked! I loved seeing how these “fake” wrestler kicked their own butts. It was awesome and inspired me!

    I definitely talk to myself when I need to push through a workout! Oh and workout dvds…it helps when the instructor is in mint condition!!

  10. I definitely talk to myself during the toughest runs. I also break the run into smaller chunks, making the entire distance less overwhelming. The rewards of a tough workout – the sense of accomplishment – is always worth it!

  11. totally use mental tricks to get through tough runs. On sunday I was tired at mile 10, but still had 3 to go. So I “reset”. I ignored the previous 10 and told myself I only had to head out for a short 3 mile run. It worked!

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