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Friday, June 3, 2011

Mental Toughness. A few thoughts.

Even though we know how to train the body to achieve results, we also need to train the mind to support exercise/weight loss success. It's not always your physical or technical expertise that stops you from getting where you want to be -- but your mental toughness. To be extraordinary you have to hold your nerve, get uncomfortable, and consistently do the hard work even when you don't feel at your best.

Having a physiological edge that enables you to be consistent, confident, focused, and determined during high pressure situations in order to perform at maximum potential despite difficulty or consequences - to never, never quit; period.

The things which are going to determine how mentally tough you are:

1. Confidence -

Confidence is a positive state of mind and a belief that you can achieve the challenge you have set for yourself. If you believe you are able to succeed you are preparing yourself for success. Setting goals really can boost confidence. They need to be challenging but realistic. Seeing in black and white where you have come from and where you are going is very encouraging! When someone is confident they are more likely to persevere even when things are not going to plan, show enthusiasm, and be positive!!

2. Focus -

When you cannot stay focused; you will easily collapse in high pressure situations. Being able to block everything out and focus on what you are doing is going to increase your performance heaps, because you will be tunnel visioned to where you want to go and determined to get there. Visualization and Self-talk are a couple of great ways to help you stay focused in a positive manner on what you need to do. “Speak to yourself in the second person with statements such as, ‘You are going to give this every- thing you have,’” “Before you even step under the bar for a squat or pick up a dumbbell,” says Joe Stankowski, C.P.T., a former powerlifting and strongman competitor, “your set should be mentally done.” Imagine the steps you’ll take to get into position and the way your body will look performing the movement, and rehearse each repetition in your mind
The post I wrote on tips of beginning runners has some of these ideas in it -- I didn't even realise what I was doing -- I just knew it made running easier!! LOL

3. Control -
Emotional control is a prerequisite to getting into the "zone" when it come to performing in sports and running. Anxiety comes in two forms - Physical (butterflies, sweating, nausea, needing the toilet) and Mental (worry, negative thoughts, confusion, lack of concentration). Relaxation techniques and concentrating on breathing are great things to practise to help get control and be able to focus when under pressure. When you can manage your emotions you can perform at your best.

Consider this: “World-class endurance athletes respond to the stress of a race with a reduction in brain-wave activity that’s similar to meditation,” says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., a strength and conditioning coach and triathlete. “The average person responds to race stress with an increase in brain-wave activity that borders on panic.” This is a prime example of how getting into the “zone” athletes talk about—the cool-headed state that allows a per- son to perform optimally even under high-pressure conditions—can make all the difference in your performance. Achieving this state and holding on to it despite distractions, pain, and your own instincts to give in for the sake of self-preservation is the essence of mental toughness.

4. Motivation and Commitment -
Finding motivation is not always going to happen... the challenge is staying committed. The challenge is keeping on going even when you are NOT feeling motivated. As Mish says JFDI!! Keep on keeping on till you get to where YOU want to be.

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