Persevering in the face of struggle, challenge, and physical demands.
Training to be healthier, fitter, and to compete puts us in tough moments. We call these the dark places when training — those hard moments where your mind is screaming nothing but negativity and pessimism. Equally challenging are those moments on long workouts and or endurance efforts. Deep into a 10k, marathon, and 100k race (distance is relative to every fitness level and where fatigue rears it’s ugly head) we find ourselves challenged with hard moments that threaten our very ability to complete our task.
What can we do in these training dark places to not quit, or survive, but thrive? How can we build our ability to build fatigue resistance and tolerance? What do those
As a forever student around performance, aerobic capacity, and a coach to hundreds of athletes I have gathered a few specific differentiators that can enable your best self. Smart training, passionate balance of loves, and proper rest are absolute baseline requirements — but, beyond that here are three secrets to unlock your capacity in these dark places.
3 Elite performing habits to succeed
- Mental Kung-Fu — DECIDE to like the things that are uncomfortable (this is a mental switch that is foundational for you in tough training moments. The work can still hurt, be hard, be boring, or exhausting. That doesn’t change the effort you put in will MAKE YOU AMAZING in your life passions. seriously the ability to decide to like these uncomfortable hard training moments is simple when you imagine how easy — that mountain will be to climb next month; how easy you’ll climb those hills on the run; how much longer you’ll be able to play with your kids in the yard before “having to sit down”. Decide by knowing WHY you are doing it, and the FEELING you will have as a result.
- Celebrate the micro wins — with extended efforts at “full speed response” the end may not ever really come. It may simply fade to our normal, as our base fitness improves what was hard yesterday becomes easier tomorrow. Thus YOU must appreciate the micro wins on what you are doing and celebrate those with yourself + teammates. Do not wait for external gratitude or reward. You will move the milestones — as is normal with anyone growing (we don’t really celebrate that we crawled today.. yet when we first did our parents took pictures and told all of their friends). Avoid tying yourself to milestones that you don’t control, you will be disappointed most certainly. Milestones maybe running a 3 hour marathon, but we don’t know when we will hit it and the factors of training, race day, and life may change the timing (for the better or worse). Instead focus on the micro wins and enjoy the process — if you are winning everyday on the journey, you have already won and the goals will be achieved when the timing converges with opportunity.
- Fuel your body, you must find a way to get 7 hours of sleep and eat NON-processed foods. This is non-negotiable in your life, simple. Less than 7 hours you are functioning similar to an intoxicated adult and eating poorly robs you of micro and macro nutrients your body requires to perform at the level you seek.
Athletes — rest
Smart training is something I refer to often. That means you do training that is balanced to your goals and reflective of your life challenges. Overtraining and under eating is so prevalent in healthy populations that it is paramount that we call it out here. YOU must train hard, smart, and then rest. Do not complete multiple workouts with the same intention (i.e., doing 3 20 min workouts back to back will result in injury and damage your fitness trajectory).
Instead, mix workout types and different intentions together. Join friends, have fun, find joy, and do the hard work. Then rest.
Every athlete professional or otherwise NEEDS:
- ONE full rest day (read a book, play with kids, sit on a boat, smile and laugh with friends at a brewery)
- ONE recovery day (move your body .. maybe 30–40 minutes of easy flow — think classic yoga (not power yoga); easy cycle; easy bike)
You will persevere by building a tolerance to fatigue, progressively
As a species, we are capable of facing and sustaining effort amongst extended demands for both our minds and bodies. This is our evolutionary benefit and advantage that has served us well. At times of challenge it is hard to imagine success forward, or even completion. Yet, as highlighted above YOU can develop a base of health and fitness that will open the doors to all your goals.
Mindset, focus, effort, and self care will yield the results we seek. If you don’t know where you are on this journey or have questions — ask. Seek them out. Measure if you can and journal when possible. These habits will help you SEE your progress and those wins are the ‘micro wins’ that are so valuable on this journey of life.
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I am a father, study of human behavior, strategist, cybersecurity veteran, and a coach and mentor on a journey to give more than I receive everyday. I lead teams globally, build products, and daily an executive for a leading company where I serve the largest companies in the world using the largest cloud deployments in the world impacting the financial services, healthcare, and fintech industries. I provide these publications and content through my media agency to deliver insights and advantages. Mindset, mental strength, mentorship, personal improvement, health, fitness, and humanist ideas are drawn from personal research and practice. Everything read and heard is my original works and my own perspective. All rights reserved for noted authors and sources. I produce research and strategy, as well as provide advisory services that include inquiries, briefings, consulting projects, and presentations on published findings as well as bespoke speaking engagements where I often keynote at conferences, seminars, and roundtables annually.