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Do you ever wonder how the world’s elite athletes do it?
They make it look so easy. Tom Brady executes a perfectly thrown ball for a touchdown. Usain Bolt outruns the field yet again. Clayton Kershaw throws a pitch with pinpoint accuracy on the black for strike 3. Phil Mickelson sinks an unlikely 30-foot putt.
What’s the secret? Well, if you ask Darren Hardy of Success Magazine, it’s about the grind:
It’s the hours in the gym that you don’t see.
It’s the thousands of balls they hit on the practice green that is not filmed.
It is the hundreds of gigs they perform in small seedy clubs for no pay.
It is the thousands of calls they make that DON’T result in a sale.
It’s the years of two-a-days in the hot sun and grinding it out in the minor leagues and doing meetings where no one shows up.
All those moments, despite the boredom and the mundaneness, they keep GRINDING!
Do yourself a favor and read the full article. It’s worth it and incredibly motivating.
You need to consider this when you start running. It’s not about race day. It’s about your growth as a runner. That growth is key and it comes first with a mindset of growth. You see, it wasn’t until I started training for my first half marathon that I began to harness the mental toughness to do another half marathon and even fathom I could finish a marathon.
In my experience, the mental toughness that produces a growth mindset is inevitably drawn from the 3 key areas I discuss below. These are important to remember as you embark on any worthwhile endeavor. You should keep them in mind as you begin your training.
1. Laying a foundation of persistence
This is where it all begins. It’s not how well you start. Don’t worry about how many times you had to stop and walk. Forget about what people say, do, or think. It’s simply about pushing forward.
The cold days will be freezing and the warm days will be sweltering. The point is (as Hardy talked about above) to keep grinding. Persistence is the foundation of mental toughness.
Being a persistent person is simple. You just get up and do it. I never said it was fun or you would always feel like doing it. So, yes, being persistent may be a simple concept. But, its implementation is difficult. That is how you become mentally tough and foster the growth mindset.
2. Having the confidence for the task at hand and other areas of life
Doing anything in life requires a certain degree of confidence. Driving a car requires that you’re confident merging into traffic, that you can keep the wheel steady, and that you’re able to properly (and legally) pass another car.
The same is true with running. You will learn your body as you run just as you learn your car. An experienced runner knows when they have pushed it too far. They also know when they can push themselves harder or that they are holding something back. The persistence and mental toughness acquired in the beginning breeds confidence in the middle stages of training.
Further, as you run more races and face competition, you will learn how you compete as a runner. It’s funny. When I race, I become a real competitive person. I’m not very competitive in everyday life for the most part. On race day, I’m out to beat you. No, I won’t be coming in first or even 20th. But, if I have you in my sights, you will have to work pretty hard to come in ahead of me with 4/10’s of a mile to go!
3. Seeing how achievement in one area brings about achievement elsewhere
I can tell you that crossing the finish lines for one marathon and 5 half marathons is incredibly rewarding. Not only did it require persistence and give me much-needed confidence, but it fostered a sense of achievement in me. It made me want to take that goal-setting mentality and drive to be more – and have it permeate throughout my entire life.
Since I have these difficult accomplishments under my belt, what can life throw at me that I can’t handle? If I can finish a marathon, I can find it in myself to be a better husband and father. I can train for challenging races, so I can learn how to make money online. If I can push through injuries and pains, I can better handle the demands at my job.
If you can finish the 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon you’re training for, what could you do? You can handle anything life throws at you. That’s what!
Grind it out. Foster mental toughness. Cultivate a growth mindset.
Stop thinking this will be a piece of cake. It won’t be. Persistence takes time. It requires a lot out of you because the confidence and achievement it brings adds much more to your life. Embrace the toughness, the pain, and the difficulty. You are becoming a better runner, a better relative, a better friend, and a better person for it.
Now get out there and grind!
How have running or other fitness goals changed your life? Are you sticking with it or finding the grind unbearable? Tell us your thoughts and experiences below.