Mental Toughness- not just pain tolerance
Mental Toughness has many definitions and is not limited to athletic performance and pain tolerance. I have known many athletes throughout my life who I would define as “mentally tough.” Much of mental toughness is simply attitude and self-esteem. If you do a search online on the subject, you will see a variety of mental toughness techniques, articles, stories of remarkable physical performances and brave acts of heroism overcoming insurmountable odds and fear. Personally, my philosophy has always been quite simple when it comes to mental toughness as well as increasing your body’s ability to withstand pain. Though like I stated, my way is NOT the only way, just the catalyst I have used in the past to develop what I call mental and physical toughness. I believe that in athletics especially, through tough workouts you will build mental toughness.
Mental Toughness requires tough conditioning, but there is a fine line between pain and injury, of course. This takes hundreds of reps of exercises. Repetition will create increased ability to withstand and increase pain tolerance through training. You really have to get the body to know what pain is before you can endure it longer. BUT once again, PAIN is not injury. If you push too hard through pain, you will be setting up for injury, so knowing your training limits is necessary as well. Then the next day, you feel like crap and you have to WILL yourself to work out again, or do one more rep, THAT too is mental toughness. Persistence and determination are all factors. Other terms used to describe mental toughness are inspiration, self-motivation and confidence. I guess in the end to define such an intangible quality is almost impossible. There have been many people who do not exercise at all who bring themselves out of horrible childhoods of poverty, neglect, and illness to become heroes, mentors, and millionaires. That takes mental toughness in my book. One thing I do know is that physical training programs will help your self-esteem and confidence, which is perhaps the first step to gaining mental toughness for some. But…mental toughness! How do you get it? Are you born with it? Can you acquire it? Arguments to this question have occurred for years. I am of the personal belief that mental toughness is born through tough physical training, proper mindset, and a high level of maturity. This toughness is what propels you through several tough situations in training, racing, and in life.