Mental Toughness Strategy #2 for the Workouts – “Making a Strong Connection with Your Will” (Part 1)

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The look of a person with a strong will.

(In previous post, I talked in great depth about the first mental toughness strategy – how to use the preparation to transform you into a aggressive animal. You can read about part 1part 2part 3 and part 4 by clicking on to the links.  Now in upcoming posts, I will discuss the importance of getting your will involved with your WODs.  Developing a strong and defiant will is crucial. The stronger your will is, the more likely you will be able to handle the demands from this program.)

Strategy #2 – You Must Make a Strong Connection to Your Will

Before you begin the physical part of this program, you must learn that perseverance is skill to be honed. Many of us learn how to persevere through our parental upbringings. Tough love is often a common parental approach to teach how to deal with frustrations and setbacks during early childhood. However, some of our parents didn’t instill in us the “never quit” attitude that is essential for those who are mentally tough. We often learn it the hard way through life lessons in our adult years.  Sometimes we can persevere through great hardship while other times, we give in and quit.  As a result, getting through adversity is too inconsistent for most. The ability to persevere becomes too abstract.

Through this program I will show you how to make perseverance a concrete skill. Like any other aptitude, it takes some guidance and practice.  It is never too late to improve this skill either. The programming of these workouts is designed to purposely cause you anguish. But, unlike the artificial setting of a science experiment, the psychological hostility will be real. Working through the suffering will improve your ability to overcome adversity, but more importantly get you in touch with your will.

Your ability to persevere all depends heavily upon your will. Your will is what imposes your thoughts and desire into action.  A strong will is a must if one needs to become mentally tough.  If this sounds too esoteric to you, think of your will as your determination. You can’t measure it on paper or time it with a stopwatch, but you know its within you. The more you put your will into action, the better it becomes accessible to you which is one the goals of this toughness program.

Most people don’t lack strength; they lack determination or a strong will. Having a relentless and aggressive will is how battles are won in the playing field, war zones, even fighting chronic illness –anywhere you must withstand extreme levels of pain. It is the hidden capacity of mental strength that we all have if we refuse to give up.

Most of you already have a powerful will, but just haven’t made the connection with how the mind can lead your body. If you are in this group, you are mentally disconnected. The goal of this program is to teach you how to activate your will to be courageous with a “never say die” attitude in the face of adversity. Your opponent in the training arena will be the workouts themselves. When fatigue from the workouts become so unbearable, you must remind yourself that what you are doing is honing your perseverance skills. This is how you get in touch with your will.

Your will must be so against the idea of you quitting, that if you ever did, you would be so fucken disgusted with yourself. This is the extreme defiance that I am talking about that comes from a will that is insubordinate to the wishes of a tired body. It doesn’t matter how bad you are hurting, a relentless will can push you forward during the battle, no matter how much your strength and endurance seems to be fading.

Notice I highlighted the word seems to describe energy levels. Strength and endurance, like pain, is all relative as it is highly dependent on your perception. What this training will teach you is that you all have large amounts of untapped mental and physical strength.  This extra supply of stamina is always within you. With a dominant will, you can learn how tap into this valuable source. Even though your body is getting beat up from the workout, it doesn’t mean your will is feeling the hurt. In fact, your will does not feel pain. It is impervious to the literally pain that is subjected on your body and only reacts to the discomfort. Your will can either cave in or get stronger because it senses your body is in trouble. With a strong will, it can deliver levels of strength that frustrates your opponent to no end because it seems to come out of nowhere.

This is the “second wind” great athletes have shown to harness from the power of their will. The more your mind practices pushing your body to do things it doesn’t want to, the stronger and more indomitable your will becomes. This is the ultimate sign of a person with a strong will: the ability to come back stronger than ever even when they are hurting the most.

When you can do this, you will be one scary motherfucker.

(End of part 1)

Today’s classic CrossFit WOD –

5 sets

Run 400m (A 400m run equates to one lap around the track. If you are not at a track, you can approximate the length. A run half way around the block and back or a fast pace run for about 90 seconds is sufficient)

Rest exactly 2 minutes in between each run.

You may think today’s workout is a light day. After all, it’s only five runs. However, if you challenge yourself and give it all you got with each 400m run. This workout is as painful as it comes. In order to make it through this WOD, you must have a will that is hard to kill. If not, you will falter badly and won’t make it pass round 3.

It’s hard to describe what your whole body feels like after the second 400m run. You lungs are so expanded that it feels like it going to split your chest in half. You can barely stand up as every muscle in your legs can’t stop trembling. You try your best to calm your breathing down, but just when you think is about to return a normal level, your two minutes are up. You got to do another 400m run. Your take off running and your state of discomfort reaches an all-time high with no end in sight.  An overwhelming nauseating feeling beings to leak out of your lungs and choke you like somebody sabotaged your Gatorade with rattlesnake poison. But, somehow you pull it all together by relying on your linchpin, your will.

I never look forward to doing this workout as it is the height of ruthlessness. But, I remember every single one I did. Hated all of them, but very grateful for teaching me how to connect with my will when I needed it the most. This WOD is superior in showing you how your will can override great degrees of intense misery.

There is huge misconception of those who are in the mentally tough club that we are masochistic in nature. This is hog-wash. I can’t stand the painful fatigue I felt for this workout and from the other ones. I’ve just learn how to manage my perception of pain better. Understand that fatigued is very subjective and is all about what your mind wants to call it. Remember mental toughness is about how you process information to your favor. 

In other words, the mind can also identify the extreme exhaustion that you are feeling as something very rewarding. If you can teach your brain to label the muscle discomfort as something positive like the releasing of muscle building hormones, you can tolerate and manage the pain much more effectively than those that quit very easily. The mental toughness foresight is that one can always covert the pain into joy by finishing the WOD.  The harder the WOD is, the more pleasure it will bring you when you are done.

Managing discomfort is not an easy task to do and is all predicated on the strength of your will. But, with this training, you are honing in and making your will a concrete tool or better yet, a deadly weapon against the threat of quitting.

Once you achieve this strong of a connection with your will, nothing will ever hold you back again.

Scaled back version of this WOD –

1. Rest as much time as needed between each 400m runs.

1. Run 200m runs instead of 400m runs.

Suitable substitutions for this WOD –

1. Run one minute and thirty seconds on a treadmill instead. Walking or running in place for a minute are also acceptable substitutions

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